The public press war between Sierra Leone's perennial trouble monger Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, the Special Executive Assistant (SEA) to that country's President, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and David Tam-Baryoh, the home buddy of the Vice President Sam Sumana seem to be turning from ugly to ungodly. Just when neutral observers thought the madness at State House could not get any worse, it has now become a full scale exhibition of lunacy.
Olayinka Blyden, the former RUF rebel activist, whose short tenure at Sierra Leone's Statehouse has been marked by one unnecessary media crisis after the other, due to an unfortunate tendency of writing without regard to her new public role, is a woman constantly on the prowl for controversy and in a new heightened state of paranoia, she now sees an opposition conspiracy in almost every negative thing happening in Sierra Leone today.
Over the past month President Koroma withdrew from a trip to engage in various activities in the United States of America, including an address to the United Nations General Assembly. Olayinka duly informed the world, on Facebook, that the President would not be attending these engagements, citing an injury sustained in a game of squash and his intent to send members of his team other than the Vice President to represent him in these overseas engagements. Some on social media and in the press then started questioning loudly why lately, the Vice President has not been representing the President in public engagements. This question seems to have rubbed the always irritable and irascible Blyden the wrong way.
Even before the grumblings about the Vice President being sidelined, Tam-Baryoh and Olayinka had had a public falling out over different stances on rape allegations made a few weeks ago against one of the country's Deputy Education Ministers, Mahmoud Tarawally. MinisterTarawally had lured a female student looking for scholarship to a hotel and had proceeded to climb on top of her, allegedly without permission.
The female student had rushed to the police all bloody, and accused the Education Minister of brutal rape. The Minister with the libido of a billy goat, was hastily relieved of his duties and he has not denied that there was sexual intercourse, but has firmly said it was consensual, even though the fact that he was a government Minister and the lady a mere student already creates a very unequal relationship in the first place. Even if there was consent, the power play in the relationship, the apparent abuse of office, the undue influence,are all variables bound to raise questions in the mind of Sierra Leoneans intelligent enough to look beyond party label.
Blyden and Tam-Baryoh had expressed different perspectives on the rape case, with Blyden siding with the victim and Tam-Baryoh seemingly coming out for the accused minister, especially when he took to his popular Monologue radio program and made disparaging statements about the lady alleging the rape, making her look not like an innocent victimm, but like a woman with loose morals and a gold digger.
Sylvia came out swinging against Baryoh's characterization expressing disappointment and publicly chiding Tam Baryoh for his ridiculous position. In response, Tam-Baryoh came out with a scathing article against Sylvia, making reference to a particular unnamed lady in the corridors of power who had been raped by a relative, causing her to abandon her child to her mother, a retired civil servant living in London. Of course one did not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that Blyden was close to State House and her mother was a retired civil servant living in London. The rest is as they say, go figure!
Following the war of words, David Tam-Baryoh made a direct appeal to his "friend" President Koroma to get rid of Sylvia, accusing her of bringing the presidency into disrepute amidst an endless parade of public scandal. This direct threat to her job and free traveling privileges rubbed Blyden the wrong way and in characteristic fashion she has come out swinging against Tam-Baryoh, aiming for the jugular of Tam's friend and Kono kinsman, the Vice President Sam Sumana, aka "Sumana Timber"
Just a day ago Sylvia took to her Favorite medium, Facebook, and accused those who are complaining against the Vice President not representing the President at the recently concluded UN General Assembly of rudeness and pointedly asked the Vice President if he was not embarrassed at having people being rude to the President on his behalf. Pretending to be very angry for added effect the Special Assistant made references to several countries in the sub-region, including Liberia and Nigeria, claiming that there was no 'noise' in the media around their Vice Presidents and even referenced America, apparently unaware of the historical bad blood that has existed between some American Presidents and their Vice Presidents since the declaration was signed.
If the leaders of our Sierra Leone were not running a country, with their actions affecting the daily survival and lives of so many people, the current Sierra Leone government could have been likened to very bad play with actors who do not know their lines or a badly directed c-rate horror movie that is mistaken for a comedy.
The Universe' Best
Here is a country in which the Special Assistant to the President, who just a few years ago was an opposition mouthpiece, is now publicly writing nonsense about the Vice President, a man who has been so undermined that even the messengers in his office now have a clearer role to play than the VP himself.
It is reported that the falling out between President Koroma and Vice President Sam Sumana occurred almost immediately after 2012 national elections. The genesis of the executive conflict is a mystery to many, but some are of the opinion that President Koroma did not want the Vice President to succeed him at the helm of the ruling All Peoples Congress and loathes the idea of him ever becoming President of Sierra Leone.
This previously rumored bad blood between the President and his Vice was recently manifested by the fact that the Vice President Sumana was completely disregarded in the last APC party leadership election, in which the future leaders of the party where handpicked by the President from among his close buddies and regional cronies, with Sumana left out in the cold.
Sam Sumana's case is not help by the fact that President Koroma, who has a weakness for regionalism is surrounded by cronies who do not see Sam Sumana as one of them and are happy at the current state of affairs, as it will ensure that one among them will one day inherit Koroma's mantle instead of somebody they've never been truly comfortable with. Sam Sumana, one of the diaspora imports into Sierra Leone politics has never attempted to get truly involved in Sierra Leone politics and is viewed in APC circles as an extrmely aloof pretend bourgeois.
|The New Stars|
Many in Sierra Leone now realize that Sylvia's public outburst is a reflection of what the President thinks at the moment and view her as the new barometer of APC politics. Her public pronouncements are a better indicator of the real going ons in State House than all the lame press releases that seem to be coming out these days with the rapidity of a misfiring automatic rifle. With the SEA publicly denouncing the Vice President, the Koroma-Sumana quiet quarrel is official. The SEA is like the child you send to insult your neighbor, because they do not care about the outcome of their behavior.
Sam Sumana was not much schooled in the intricacies, double dealings and back stabbing of Sierra Leone politics before he plunged in head first and is now having to learn the hard way that the average Sierra Leone will be calling you sir, while shoving his finger up your nose. After five years of being quietly celebrated in the country, the Vice President is now increasingly starting to look like a five year old once beautiful shoe, that has started to develop holes.
The ultimate curse of Koroma politics is being linked to the opposition. Blyden knows that by publicly associating Sam Sumana with the Sierra Leone opposition, he will be viewed with suspicion by the largely uninformed party supporters, especially those who are waiting for the Agenda for Prosperity, after being left behind by the Agenda for Change.