• August 8, 2023

Another 5yrs of Media Isolation? PRESS SEC JAMIRU’S DIVISIVE MEDIA APPROACH

Another 5yrs of Media Isolation?  PRESS SEC JAMIRU’S DIVISIVE MEDIA APPROACH
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Media practitioners have lambasted the new Press Secretary to the president, Solomon Jamiru, for what they termed as a ‘divisive media approach’ after the president’s new pressman decided to meet certain media houses while clearly avoiding others.

According to media house bosses that confided in FORUMNEWS-SL.COM it is as if Jamiru wants to play the game of divide and conquer with the media.

If Jamiru thought that his move to engage the likes of the Africa Young Voice -AYV, AWOKO and Concord Times has raised hopes in the media about an open relationship with the presidency then he should know that the media in the main looks at this move with serious doubts. Jamiru’s obvious selection of certain media houses that people say are friendly to the regime has raised more suspicions than anything else. With the media considering the regime as capturing all other state and non-state institutions and with the independent media being the only estate in government left to be captured by the state, then his decision to engage certain media houses has been seen as a continuation of the divide and rule policy of the former Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahaman Swaray that reportedly deceived his principal so much so that many people have blamed the ex-MIC for President Bio’s ‘questionable showing’ at the 24 June polls.

With the kind of media bashing the president received from 2018 to 2023 under Swaray’s regime as Minister of Information and Communications, for which he routinely sidelined instead of engaging such critical voices, FORUMNEWS-SL.COM was hoping for Jamiru to try doing things differently this time around. We do not expect him to continue the policy of his predecessor by making the same overtures to certain media houses that led to an isolated presidency, forgetting the fact the Presidency of the government of Republic of Sierra Leone belongs to all and sundry. Hence there is no need for this divisive media approach.

Instead of taking the presidency to the people, the past Minister of Infomation and Communications, Swaray was accused of not only isolating Bio from the media he was also accused of deceiving the president and the former Press Secretary Yusuf Keketoma Sandi of having made key media alliances.

It is obvious from the kind of backlash President Bio has received for his second term electoral ‘victory’ that his past media people did very little to make him the people’s president. After the whole country was taken aback with the announcement of Bio as the winner of the 2018 elections with 103.0% of the vote, his media people did nothing to clear this obvious aberration in the tallying of the ballots then, which is the same situation we now find ourselves in that the whole world is begging the electoral management body of the country to clarify.

His refusal citing the lack of a law to make him release the polling data result has not gone down well with people who would have appreciated he released the result, even if we have to change the laws.

It was our expectation that the president’s media handlers would have by now come up with a strong media response to all that has and continues to happen in our Government of Sierra Leone. But they have failed and are now courting certain media houses they consider their friends to propagate the president’s second term policy messages while the people in the main still have a problem with how President Bio ‘won the elections’.

‘Look, the president was isolated for the past five years. Much was expected of Solomon Jamiru and the government’s crop of media relations people, even the Ministry of Information and Communications to engage the whole media fraternity, not just certain media houses. Any government that is serious about how the people feel, that is seeking the interest of the people they claim to serve will pay especial attention to what they consider as opposition media houses who don’t call themselves that. If incumbent regimes pay half of their attention to what they term opposition media houses that see themselves as speaking for and on behalf of the people, then the government’s problems would have been solved because no sooner than they address what the people are complaining about, they would be considered as heroes for responding to what really interests the people,’ a media house proprietor told FORUMNEWS-SL.COM.

By openly selecting certain media houses instead of the whole media landscape we see that the government has told us which media houses they are willing and ready to work with. While the presidency has been accused of capturing Civil Society Organizations, the judiciary, the police, the army, the heads of Ministries Departments and Agencies – MDAs and the electoral management bodies, we see this move by Solomon Jamiru and the Bio presidency as a means of capturing the media through the old Western approach of divide and conquer.

Media houses across the country are being advised to be very weary of Jamiru’s overtures as they are meant to render the media as an appendage of the Ministry of Information Civic Education as well as Innovation and Technology.

If Jamiru was honest and intends well for the media, he would have cascaded this move to include all media houses.

If Jamiru continues or is allowed to continue on this footing we see him end up deceiving President Bio the same way the Mohamed Rahaman Swaray-former Minister of Information and Communications is accused of deceiving and betraying the president because ‘money that was meant to engage the media was not used as intended.’ Instead of engaging the media directly the money we were informed was used in a way for the ACC to have taken notice. As a sign of his obvious failings and the fear that he would not be named to the president’s second term cabinet, the former Minister of Information and Communications put out a public relations type article in newspapers he had neglected for five years. He engaged them to save his job and continue enjoying the president’s largesse, in the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security.

FORUMNEWS-SL.COM expected much more from the president’s former Deputy Minister of Information and Communications. Jamiru, if he was serious about creating a formidable alliance with the media to enhance the president’s visibility and allow us access to cover the president’s programmes and activities the last Minister of Information and Communications failed to do, was expected to have called a press conference inviting every media house.

We don’t see Jamiru succeeding where the former Press Secretary to the President and Minister of Information and Communications failed woefully because he is engaging their same approach. Sadly, though when he was Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Jamiru had a poor relationship with the media.

Therefore if Solomon Jamiru as Press Secretary to the President wants to form strong alliances with the media, if he wants to create a “ring of partners” to enhance the president’s image and visibility, wants to give us the kind of access to the president we have been craving for the past five years, if he expects a relationship based on transparency and open communications, then being selective and being obviously divisive is the wrong way to start.

Considering the role of the media in shaping democratic good governance we don’t expect the presidency should be that selective in reaching out to the media failing to note that other outlets have been and continue to cover the presidency and the government.

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