He maintained that “in my other life, I will love to be a journalist so that I can be sending text messages to especially 3 people who care about their reputation seeking clarification on allegations.” He added: “That will be the beauty of my retirement job, and I hope my would-be journalist colleagues will give me their fullest support if I am invited to the police. And you know what, I got an alert from google few moments ago that the journalist is still searching for the missing evidence against that technocrat of a Chief Minister. Maybe, that’ his own political baptism. However, google is concerned that the journalist may finish all the data that SALCAB has to offer. But again, he will not be the first or last to embark on this kind of search. I understand my friend, Dr. Samura Kamara, is still searching for the missing evidence of that imaginary $18 million US dollars that he alleged I had embezzled when I was Head of State and he was Minister of Finance during NPRC. Sometimes debates can be very tricky especially if you are constantly fighting with the microphone. Oh, by the way, I understand that the Honorable Vice President and Dr. Samura Kamara are now planning a joint visit to the Basharia Mosque at Bombay Street for another Juma prayer after that very unsuccessful initial visit by the Honorable Vice President.”
He explained to his audience that he is profoundly delighted to host journalist at another media cocktail especially at a time when he had been reliably informed that journalists were yearning for him to host his first press conference with the media.
He used the opportunity to single out Francess Barnard and Esther Marie Samura and expressed his regret for the unfortunate incident at the national stadium involving a presidential guard. He assured his audience that women in the media would be given space to practice without fear, threats, intimidation or violence. He stated that being in opposition as a party can also be very challenging especially when the support of your party has collapsed in all by-elections but one.
“It is no surprise that one political party has now described themselves as the “bread and butter” party holding press conferences on the “cost of living”. Well, to our friends in NGC, as the Father of the Nation I also care so much about the “cost of living” and we are taking actions to alleviate the challenges my compatriots are facing. But like Dr Kandeh Yumkella said last year, “there can be no quick fixes to our problems”.
President Bio added: “However, whilst government has demonstrated such unprecedented goodwill to repeal the criminal libel law, we also call on SLAJ to reciprocate by calling on its membership to also become beacons if not deacons of responsible practice through peer review processes and increased collaboration and cooperation with the IMC to curb the excesses in journalism. Also, my campaign promise to SLAJ for annual subvention to support its activities has been fulfilled through the Ministry of Information and Communications to the tune of 200 million for the financial year 2020. To further demonstrate our commitment to press freedom, my government through the Ministry of Information and Communications has signed the Media Freedom Pledge on behalf of Sierra Leone at the Media Freedom Conference in London in July this year. The Pledge sets a high level of ambition and calls on Governments to undertake four concrete actions that will not only strengthen Media Freedom Coalition but maintain our commitment and address emerging threats to media freedom. Furthermore, my government has deepened and strengthened its relations with SLAJ and its affiliate bodies through dialogue and cooperation. This was exemplified recently following the outcome of the investigations on the beating of Female Journalists by a member of the Presidential task force. The actions proffered by the recommendations of the committee have been carried out accordingly. On capacity building, the government through the Ministry of Information and Communications has also provided training opportunities for journalists abroad and for the financial year 2020, the Ministry will sign MoUs with community radio stations to enhance their work through financial and capacity building support. As part of strengthening the partnership with WIMSAL, 12 the government will also ensure that female journalists will be supported financially to enhance their proposal that was submitted to the Ministry. Similarly, to address the proliferation of fake news and ensure that we bridge the communications gap with citizens and the international community, the Sierra Leone News Agency has been revamped; its derelict office structure transformed and is now positioned to disseminate credible news about the country in this day of fake news.”
“Tonight I want to inform you all that a final list has been approved and I have instructed the Minister of Finance to speedily ensure that they should do everything financially possible for press attachés to depart for their various stations in the New Year. On this note, let me leave you with the words of William Bernbach who once said: “All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level. Tonight, I call on all of you to use the media to lift our great country to a higher level.”