Sylvia Blyden, the controversial writer and owner of the Awareness Times Newspaper and most recently Special Executive Assistant (SEA) to Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is to be sacked a section of the public demands. In less than a year into her new job as the SEA to the President she has step on few toes whilst discharging her duties. For this and many other reasons; a section of the public is calling on President Koroma to sack Sylvia and the Office of the SEA to close down permanently. The SEA is viewed as a waste of resources and duplication of functions – taking over the work of the Vice President and Senior Ministers relegating them to mere spectators in running the affairs of the nation. Those oppose to the SEA argued that permanent closure of the Office would save the country millions of Leones that would be better spent on development purposes. It would also provide leverage for the elected representatives to do the work they are paid to do without intrusion from the SEA.
You could recall when the Office of the SEA was created early this year a section of the public expressed doubts over its creation and the responsibilities it would carry. They opine that the establishment of the SEA is a ploy for the President to suppress and marginalise high profile Ministers and the Vice President from the administration of the country. And to add salt to injury, President Koroma the custodian of our Constitution turns a blind eye while Sylvia continues to muddy the political landscape of Sierra Leone. In effect, the SEA is a disguised political double agent to do the work of the elected representatives the President despises.
Meanwhile most Sierra Leoneans are still searching for answers regarding the SEA and her inimical actions in the corridors of power. With the SEA acting in place of the President on certain issues leaves the public with no option but to assume that the SEA is the President because her work is no less than the President. Her presence is all over the place doing the work of the Vice President and Senior Ministers, hence raising the question whether the 1991Constitution make provision for the President to create a position that would do the work of the country’s elected representatives as it is the case of the SEA. President Koroma has some explanations to do vis-à-vis the creation of the SEA and its role in running the affairs of the nation.
Alongside this, discontent among Sierra Leoneans against the SEA is increasing; calling for the SEA to be abolished with immediate effect. Her recent visit to Bonthe in the name of the President is the sticking point for members of the public to ask the President to sack the SEA. In Bonthe she was flanked by Security Personnel, taking the high table much to the annoyance of the public discussing the crisis with the people of Bonthe on behalf of the President. “Under strict political protocols and by virtue of our Constitution it is the Vice President that should act in the capacity of the President and not the SEA. The SEA is an observer to report on events and not preside over them in the name of the President. The SEA should be seen sorting official documents for the President and reminding him of pending meetings. Above all, a bag carrier for the President while attending national and international meetings. In short a diary keeper for the President”, a prominent female politician (name withheld) told me.
From indications all is not well in the APC quarters, as Ministers and party functionaries are worried that the President is setting a bad precedent with the SEA usurping the powers of the Vice President and Senior Ministers. For now the President is satisfied with the work of the SEA and for the disgruntled Ministers, it is take it or quit altogether but the SEA is here to stay despite strong opposition from the public.
On the other side of the spectrum, the argument against the SEA is boosted by the main Opposition SLPP taking sides with those oppose to the SEA. Although the SLPP continue their usual cry of foul play in the November 2012 Parliamentary and Presidential elections, they have linked up with people critical of the SEA to condemn President Koroma for violating the Constitution of the country through the creation of the office of the SEA.
In the midst of it all, Senior Ministers are the biggest losers being victims of systematic oppressive leadership directed at them by the President and the SEA. For the next four and half years it would be a litmus test for the Ministers as their importance in the national politics diminishes while the SEA continues to do their job. The question now is; would the Ministers speak out against the SEA and risk being fired from office by the President or continue to live under such adverse conditions where their usefulness in our politics is no longer significant if they fail to speak out against the SEA.
In a nutshell would anyone blame Sylvia for doing a job she is paid by State House to do? She has the full backing of the President, who is determine to bulldoze our Constitution and instil fear into our representatives through the use of the SEA to side-line them.
Sylvia Blyden, the onetime whistle-blower, the town crier and the call to action iron lady is now the SEA otherwise she would be the first person to accuse the President of setting a bad precedent through the creation of the SEA.
On this premise, would the public judge Sylvia for the work she does or would they call her a betrayer, a boot leaker or a total sell out? You decide.
By Mohamed Sourie Kargbo
Political Analyst and Commentator