Foreign Service personnel, including former press/information attaches recruited by the government of former president, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma-led All People’s Congress (APC) supervision, and posted, with assignments to Sierra Leone’s various diplomatic missions abroad, worked very well.
The information/press attaches in particular were all professional journalists with vast experience in mass media and communication with mainstream local and international news agencies.
Under the collective supervisions of the then Minister of Information and Communication, Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo and his Deputy, Sheka Tarawallie, they proved their expertise and performed extremely well on their various assignments at the initial stage of their duties, to the peak of making press/information attaché position an enviable job in the media circle.
Don’t be surprised to see the mad rush of high profile pro-ruling party journalists lobbying for press/information jobs under the present administration. And don’t say you don’t want to be a diplomat, when seeing the prospects attached to the position of press/information attaches serving at foreign missions abroad.
Apart from privileges provided for information officers and other diplomats at the country’s embassies abroad by the last government, the attachés themselves did well because they were all appointed based on merits, as trained and qualified journalists, who had worked in the mainstream media for considerable period.
They didn’t go there owing to widely held perception by opposing views that they were all APC card carrying members.
However, most of them were later distracted by personal ambitions of wanting to become Members of Parliament to represent their constituencies, but eventually lost the party tickets to other party members in a highly stage managed APC primaries for MP and councillor seats. With such diversions, they lost focus on their professional jobs to political campaigns; their only hopes which were also dashed by regime change. And their political incorrectness landed them in double trouble; they lost symbols and parliamentary seats and ended up losing their jobs to beneficiaries of the new regime.
Besides, the impressive performance of the then press attaches were also predicated on constant periodic monitoring, supervision and evaluation by their senior colleagues in the persons of Minister of Information and Communication, Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo and his Deputy, Sheka Tawaralie who jointly made sure that their subordinates delivered on their jobs in accordance with their various terms of references.
By so doing, former press/information attaches were all able to adequately inform the country and beyond with daily happenings from their different former diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom, United States of America – New York and Washington, the People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in sync with Foreign Service standards.
Information/press officers were also regularly informing the public back home about news worthy events, programmes and diplomatic missions’ activities from the Africa Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Germany, Belgium, Ghana, Russia, the Mano River Union Basin-Liberia, Guinea and La Côte d’Ivoire, and from the Federal Republic of Nigeria on series of diplomatic issues as well as serious matters that were concerned with the welfare of Sierra Leonean communities in their different countries of residence.
And vital information on public interests regarding works and activities of their ambassadors, permanent representative and high commissioners were always in the Sierra Leonean, and most times in foreign media, which brought the country’s embassies closer to the people back home, for which they all must be commended.
That is now the exact opposite of the present dispensation as if the people of Sierra Leone do not deserve the right to know how their tax payers’ money is being spent at diplomatic missions.
This form of media and communication professionalism displayed in public information management system by the very old man, Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, his Deputy Sheka Tarawalie and the rest of the team full of seasoned information/press attaches, strongly positioned Hon. I. B. Kargbo as the best information and communication minister Sierra Leone has ever produced.
The scenario above was made possible owing to their professional backgrounds with vast experience in the field of journalism. That was why the team collectively succeeded in rebranding, reforming perceptions and marketing Sierra Leone’s huge touristic and investment potentials. The last government’s development blueprints; the Agenda for Change and the Agenda for Prosperity to the world at large and were in turn able to bring home the desired goodies as diplomats for the mutual progress of all Sierra Leoneans.
Besides, their journalism and communication expertise, to a very large extent, enabled them to coordinate well in that they were swift in responding to misinformation mischiefs by the then opposition detractors and emerging issues against the last APC government.
Most of them, especially those who were posted in the United Kingdom, the People’s Republic of China, the United States-at Sierra Leone’s Permanent Mission at the United Nations in New York, Washington DC, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia were all always prompt in informing the country about events at their Foreign Service missions, most times, responding directly to detractive tendencies aimed at misrepresenting the country and tarnishing the hard earned reputation of the government.
However, again except for few lazy ones who failed to learn on the job, yet a good number of them were still diligent expert communicators who performed very well because they knew why and what they were posted to do at those embassies and diplomatic missions for and on behalf of Sierra Leone.
As for their bosses, Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo and Tarawalie they were always alert to handle government communication business at home and abroad as they responded to interviews from anywhere in the world.
And from the then Office of the President under the last administration, State House Communications Unit, with a small team of only four editorial staff, names withheld, regularly provided real time media visibility to former president Koroma by way of communicating works and visions of government from top to the least person. For God’s sake, you don’t consider such a team as unprofessional and lazy workers.
So, by every stretch of imagination, there is no way anybody can pull down those former diligent diplomats and professional communicators who represented Sierra Leone at the country’s various foreign missions abroad, that they didn’t deliver perfectly on their mandates, despite minor hiccups their professionalism proved beyond reasonable doubts.
Though poor ending with the sackings of Kargbo and Tarawalie who were replaced by Alpha Kanu and later incompetent Mohamed Bangura worsened the campaigns for the past APC government and we pray that never again such happens!
So, we must therefore hugely commend our last information/press attaches for their excellent performances in their different capacities at Sierra Leone diplomatic missions during their various tours of duties.