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APC government needs to revamp media offensive abroad

By  | 23 June 2016 at 04:14 | 1313 views

Before I say what I have to say today I would like to apologize to readers for the fact that we have not been updating contents as frequently as before lately. This is because we are actively working on significant changes on PV we will outdoor soon. We know you will like those changes, so be patient.

Now here is what I have for you today:

I have been closely watching the Mammamah airport project debate in recent weeks. I personally think a new airport on the mainland will be beneficial to our country. It will not only energize the economy, but would make life easier for travellers who currently have to endure three to four hours of a grueling ferry ride across the ocean from Lungi international airport to Freetown, the capital.

The Mammamah airport, when it’s ready, will provide thousands of jobs in the hospitality industry and tourism generally not to talk of the number of investors that will pour into the country. With a modern airport on the mainland near Masiaka town, it will be possible for a visitor from London in the UK to spend the weekend in Sierra Leone, do what they have to do and then fly out Sunday night and arrive back in London without any hassle. Think about that.

Supporters of Sierra Leone’s main opposition party, the SLPP are against the Mammamah airport project simply because they know it would be the greatest legacy President Ernest Bai Koroma would leave behind when he retires from active politics in 2018. They also know this is a project that can easily return the APC to power in the next elections, without much effort on the part of party barons.

The talk about the cost of the project is totally irrelevant because it will not cost the Sierra Leonean taxpayer (the few that pay taxes) anything, at least in the short term. The Chinese have repeatedly said they will bear the cost and give us a grace period before beginning to recover their money over a lengthy period of time. I guess they will be doing that through the various airport taxes.They just want to help us actually; it’s not about the money but the desire of one country trying to help another.

What all of this means is that the APC has to revamp its media offensive especially abroad where people, especially foreigners, tend to be grossly misinformed about what is happening in the country. Sierra Leone’s economy is still donor-driven, we need all the help we can get from the international community and the only way to get such help is keep the outside world well informed about what is happening on the ground. Countries like Ghana and Kenya with a very good media machine get a lot of help from the Western world and of course China. The Presidents of Kenya, Guinea-Conakry, Gabon and Ghana regularly post on my Facebook timeline. My Sierra Leonean sister at the UN, Zainab Bangura, also does the same. That’s how things are generally done in 2016.

Our press attaches and even Ambassadors have to find a way to reach out to editors and publishers in the West in the same way some government officials do in Freetown. Writing brilliant press releases is not enough, you have to call or send email messages to editors after you have sent your press release to make a personal connection; many editors and publishers appreciate and like that. If you make ten calls a day, you are likely to get at least one or two editors out of those ten that would be willing to do a story from your press release or ask for an interview. Our press attaches and Ambassadors should learn from what American diplomats do in Freetown: The American cultural attaché and Ambassador know almost all the editors and publishers in town. They sometimes even visit editors and publishers in their offices, invite them to lunches, dinners and cocktail parties.

That’s what I call an appropriate media offensive, all proper and legal, diplomatically. You can write press releases until you are blue (from black to blue) but if you have no connection with editors and publishers, that is, if you do not respect them, they will just ignore you. They are under no obligation to publish your press release, okay?

The SLPP should never be under-estimated. They normally like to fight in the shadows or underground while the APC will fight openly. What you see is what you get, that is the APC style, while the SLPP likes to go underground (to Morrka as we say in Temne), infiltrate all offices with their spies (their spies are probably at State House as I type these words).

SLPP agents in organizations like Tegloma are all over the world, in any city abroad that you can find at least twenty Sierra Leoneans. They are even here in Vancouver, Canada, where I live and work and I know some of them. I know I am a major target to them as a pro-APC media person but I know there is nothing they can really do to me because I fervently believe that any man or woman’s downfall would have to come from within him or herself, not from others.

The modus operandi of SLPP agents around the world and in Sierra Leone is to spread lies and misinformation about their targets, make APC supporters and government officials fight among themselves and lay hands on all sensitive government documents through their agents in all government offices and even in the private sector. They will then hand over this information to their media warriors who will create a storm over them. I know we have a Freedom of Information Act in place but even in advanced countries, there are certain documents that are not accessible to the public.

To conclude: The APC needs to modify it’s media strategy, especially abroad, and it also needs to carefully screen people appointed into sensitive positions or people with access to sensitive documents. The opposition is not idle or lazy, far from it. They are actively fighting, mostly underground, day and night.

This is only my personal opinion on current events, not that of the Patriotic Vanguard, collectively. Thank you very much.