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Page added on July 6, 2012
A former editor of the Chicago Tribune once despairingly called the situation when media practitioners intensified their attempts over two decades to target selected sections of society as “conquering an audience for advertisers”. This was when the media across Europe manifested itself in the rapid growth of ‘niche market’ titles, aimed at highly specialized homogeneous interest groups. Colleagues in the field of academia, especially in the communications arena will attest to the above mentioned fact. (Photo: Umaru Jah, IA, Germany)
The purpose of this piece is not to open an academic discourse about marketing or communication proficiency. Rather, I will give a contrasting view of the above mentioned to that of the APC’s success story, which in its catch-all strategy to say the least, has attracted not only the attention of the international community, but also specialized and heterogeneous people within the length and breadth of the country.
This is reflected on the recent defection of mostly former SLPP flag bearers to the APC-led government, mainly as a result of the development programmes undertaken by the Ernest Koroma administration. Some will say their allegiance is based on their quest for political ambition, but there are clear evidences that while the media’s strategy is to ‘conquer the audience for advertisers,’ Ernest Koroma is using his development strategy to conquer opponents for the good of the country.
I will take a pause to again inform readers, as I did in my previous articles, that achievements of the APC-led government remain the core of my exposé. This article is no exemption but will slightly attempt to elucidate how people, especially detractors, interpret certain meaning as opposed to many schools of thoughts and how the APC’s success story has led to the entry of many new players in the political font.
In a matter of all seriousness, detractors are always detractors even when there are remarkable improvements in what they staunchly claim to be otherwise. This is what distinguishes them from being critics. Because critics are constructive in their criticisms, and often acknowledge some specifics, while those (I will refuse to call them opposition) marauders from the other side linger with less sophisticated and baseless criticisms. Never have I seen, besides the international community’s appraisal, a slight recognition of the development made by the Ernest Koroma’s government by opponents but rather, trying to bifurcate the people who have already conceded with the facts and realities on the ground. But this has however proved futile given the fact that the Ernest Koroma administration, despite its international recognition, has seen a variety of actors on board, in an attempt to work in partnership with his visionary leadership.
In focusing on how detractors interpret the meaning of what we call success or achievements made by the APC-led government, there is a division between those, on the one hand, who have very instrumental interests in the construction and dissemination of persuasive meaning regarding what the Ernest Koroma administration has done but not in a comfortable position (because of their political affiliation) to openly admit that ‘the pa dae woke’, and a more diverse and viscous group, on the other hand, who are interested in a wishy-washy concept to misconstrue the watch word of the Ernest Koroma administration-Attitudinal change, for ill motivated reasons.
Even the blind, deaf and dumb can feel and see the progress made so far including President Koroma’s quest to improving service delivery, introducing performance monitoring for ministers and public sector employees and maintaining “zero tolerance” to corruption. So the question remains how former governments´ gate keepers would admit to the fact that progress has been made in areas were deemed unsatisfactory especially when there were evidences of former SLPP government’s inability to deliver basic services or respond to the needs of the people due to corruption and mismanagement of public resources? This situation became a source of tension during the Kabbah administration, leading to the smooth transition of government during the 2007 elections. So I will not bore you with questions of how people interpret meaning regarding tasks they have failed to fulfill and the APC-led government has succeeded in doing. This is why their interpretation regarding the APC success is vague, prompting many innuendos of them doing nothing but what a colleague, Pasco Temple, aptly described in his article as ‘a failed strategy.’
With the Ernest Koroma administration, the situation in Sierra Leone has changed. He has impressed international donors with bold pronouncement to run Sierra Leone as a business concern, combating corruption and reducing dependence on foreign aid. Laws and regulations including a more transparent tax code have been set aside to attract foreign investment. Commercial agriculture, improved infrastructure, health and education are strong pillars of the ‘Agenda for Change.’ Since he (Koroma) was elected in 2007, he has been seriously engaged with not only development partners but mainly Sierra Leoneans to identify solutions to the country’s development problems, particularly those relating to immense suffering of the majority of Sierra Leoneans including poverty reduction. These are all priorities set within the framework of the Agenda for change which has witnessed an increase in rehabilitation and construction of many roads in Freetown and at District level.
In the Agenda for Change, President Koroma believes to work in tandem with the people to ensure social and economic sustenance. This is because the people have fully demonstrated their commitment to building a democratic and flourishing nation. And the only way to acknowledge such efforts is, according to the President, “…work in partnership with every stakeholder to address wide spread poverty, hunger, unemployment as well as high infant and maternal mortality.”
In an effort to ensure participatory democracy, the APC-led government established platforms to ensure transparency and accountability in their administrative functions. The Open Government Initiative (OGI) African Preview Mechanism and the Diaspora Project are attributing factors leading to government’s concern to sense the people’s rhythm thus understanding their felt needs.
Based on the foregoing, a lot has been achieved and with the effort of the people, who democratically elected the APC-led government, many could now boast of increase in employment figures especially in the mining sector, infrastructure, agriculture and tourism, which has recently created employment for approximately five thousand people, with a total contribution of $ 36.9 million into the country’s coffer.
These achievements coupled with sound government policies and programs, many have come to realise that this is not a moment of idiocy and arrogance, orchestrated by warriors of Satan to infuse or ignite hate amongst people, but a moment of cohesion, in partnership with government’s endeavor to develop the country
This is why we are now witnessing tactical crossovers, made by the opposition heavy weights, to the ruling APC party. Among them include former SLPP presidential aspirants, Usu Boie Kamara, Ishmael Sengu Koroma, Ambassador John Leigh, and many other strong supporters of the SLPP party. When this sudden and dramatic turn took place, a barrage of news mongers retell nuggets of information to the public, claiming that the defection has political undertone. When contacted by cocorioko to explain why the sudden change, one of the former SLPP contenders, Ishmael Sengu Koroma, openly said that it was due to the development that has taken place in the country particularly in his Kailahun district. “I was so thrilled and delighted that I told myself that this is the kind of progressive man I want to work with and I immediately switched over my allegiance to the APC.”
I will conclude by referring to a quote from an article written by my colleague in China, Pa John Baimba Sesay, when he critically analysed the ingression of new players into the APC-led government strategy:
“President Koroma has not only succeeded in impressing his supporters, party loyalists and the international community, but even those who were at some point his political opponents, have not only declared their support for him, but have today join hands in advocating for the country’s development.”
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