OVER DIPLOMAT’S KIDNAP: CRISIS COMMUNICATION IN CRISIS
We appreciate the safe return of our deputy high commissioner, General Nelson-Williams even though we wonder how a General and former head of a whole country’s army was kidnapped by people whom we suspect were hoodlums. We are told no ransom was paid to those criminals who held the man for more than a week. We congratulate his family for being strong at a time when many others would have cracked.
We know the Nigerian government is embarrassed by this kidnapping of a diplomat on their soil, but they themselves are in deep trouble with criminal elements in the northeast corner of their country. Nigeria is a powerful country and many Sierra Leoneans trusted them to deal with the kidnapping professionally. And they’ve delivered.
However, we observed something in the first TWENTY FOUR hours after the news broke in terms of the way our government communicated with us on the matter.
1. Is De Pa’s government really telling us they have no plan for such emergencies? In a world as uncertain and cruel as this is, why did we look so unprepared for something like this – a kidnapping?
Ok, for a Sierra Leone, a country not used to kidnappings and all that, it is understandable that ordinary people like us were rattled but why was the government communication so rattled – in fact completely clueless!?
2. The communication around the issue when the news broke was all over the place. We are not that concerned about the grammar “wahala” in some of the press releases including the one which was issued to correct the previous one – important as that aspect may be. Why did it appear as if there was no central command or incident room dealing with the issue? Didn’t we have such a structure during Ebola?
3. There are many other questions we want to ask about how our diplomat came to be kidnapped on the far north of Nigeria but we will hold those questions back for now and allow the euphoria around his release to die down.
4. We are very interested in the gory details of his release. Let’s keep our focus on the ransom question and a few other issues. Our colleagues in Nigeria are telling us interesting things. Hollywood might be interested in our script when it’s completed.
5. We were also very shocked that following his release, instead of taking the diplomat to a hospital to check his health and all that we were told he was taken to the office.
6. And finally, for now, where was HER EXCELLENCY our dear High Commissioner to Abuja herself – HAJA ABUJA?
Anyway, Salone na interesting place! We will be back on this.
UNIMAK, WE ARE CHECKING YOUR MARKS IN STUDENT ACCOMMODATION FAIRNESS
Maybe someone should tell the Vatican that Sierra Leoneans, especially those in the north of the country, are very grateful for the establishment of the University of Makeni (UNIMAK). The college has been doing pretty well tapping into the void left behind by the sleeping giant, FBC. UNIMAK organises frequent public lectures and there seems to be a high level of creativity. However we are very concerned about what seems to be the pattern across learning institutions in the country – namely the unfair treatment of students for whom these institutions exist. For now we will limit ourselves to accommodation at UNIMAK. Despite paying for electricity as part of their rent, the authorities turn off the light on occupants of the college hostels to save electricity cost on them. Our investigations have shown that the students only get electricity from 7:00PM to 1:00AM. This switch-off is happening even though all appliances, including less-consuming fans, have been taken out of their rooms. Would you believe it! And this in a town that has nonstop electricity, which makes it even more painful because the students see electricity in the surrounding houses. Add to that the fact that occupancy per room has been increased from two to three. If the UNIMAK authorities don’t stop this “un-Jesusly” practice we will be left with no alternative but to inform Pope Francis. This is not right. We know they are better than FBC where the authorities have kept the hostels unoccupied predating the ascension of Jesus, let alone the death of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
A FERRY SERVICE IN TROUBLE, TIME TO ACT DECISIVELY
We believe there is something seriously wrong with the ferry service to Lungi. It’s both to do with the ferries themselves – or whatever is left of them – and the way the system is administered. We are not experts but we speak as ordinary Sierra Leoneans who use the ferry daily.
We also firmly believe that we are not being told the truth about the seaworthiness of that service and all this talk about new ferries coming, bla bla bla. Is the MAHERA a disaster waiting to happen? We pray we never get to that stage but there are people who should do what needs to be done to prevent disaster.
Our minds go back to the whole NASSIT FERRIES fiasco that ended up with a dubious out-of-court settlement inside the anti-corruption commission (ACC) building at Gloucester Street led then by the current Attorney General. That whole thing was suspect! One of the ferries never worked, while the other worked briefly after more money was wasted on it. Then it broke down again and nothing has been heard about it since.
The nation was calling for criminal prosecution but look at what we got. Let’s do the following things about that vital service as a matter of urgency.
1. Let the managers tell the people the truth of the Kissy ferry service – is any one of the ferries really seaworthy or not? Is it constantly being patched up to be kept in service albeit pretentiously?
2. Is a new ferry really on the way to this city from somewhere in Europe?
3. Many kites are flying around this issue. Which one should we look at? We are fed up with the half-truths and pretences especially after there was so much noise about a so-called state-of-the-art ferry commission few months ago at the Govt Wharf! This country and impressionism galore! Hahahaha! We taya sef!
4. Is anybody being fooled anymore by Maritime bosses always rushing down to the terminal with TV cameras in tow every time there is an emergency? The whole country knows those are publicity stunts that could be avoided if a proper system was in place.
5. Can we just close down this ferry service and put TEN Logus Koroma buses between Freetown and Lungi? It may not solve the problem but that move could save lives. Depending again on how many buses are truly on hand.
6. Or let’s put all the money we have in this country into building the bridge between Freetown and Lungi as envisaged by the late Alhaji Tejan Kabbah. That’s not BAD HEART. Is it?
HOW DO YOU SPEND 200 MILLION LEONE LOTTERY WIN?
There was another massive win in the MERCURY 4/50 LOTTERY two weeks ago. The woman and her bankers should be having a great time right now. This is the second big money win since the game started here a few months ago.
In fact this is the biggest. God, they say, MOVES IN A MYSTERIOUS WAY. So, a certain poor woman wakes up in the morning, like millions of other Sierra Leoneans, thinking about how to make ends meet. But by late afternoon she cries “Alleluyah, in God’s name!”
Now the woman has the money stored away safely. We are however concerned about just how people who win big lottery in this way spend the cash. We will get round to interviewing the winner later but here are some of what we think will happen:
1. Many old friends and many more new ones are going to call or visit the winner ostensibly to congratulate her. In reality, all they want is a piece of the pie.
2. Church organisations are going to be sending envelops for all sorts of thanksgiving programmes or church development projects. And they will expect very fat ones upon return.
3. And for good measure, the mosques will come around to offer post-Ramadan prayers. Some extremely nice Zakat should be in place. They will argue that after all we all worship the same God!
4. Watch out also madam, you may be visited by people who are planning their weddings. These days we are dealing with this ridiculous practice of people writing letters all over the place asking for support to go to the altar. Is that really other people’s business? But this is Sierra Leone. The wedding season starts in October.
5. We urge the woman to tell the whole world that the money is in a BANK not in her home. We don’t want any ARMED ROBBERY incident at her place. Let the woman spend the money on her family. Good Luck. By the way we don’t charge for our services so we are asking for nothing for these pieces of advice. Enjoy ya mama!
© Politico 15/07/16