Sierra Leone’s eloquent and erudite Information Minister, Alhaji Alpha Kanu has described the Special Executive Assistant to President Koroma, Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, as a dangerous, demented rumour monger. The scathing attack, made during a press briefing at the Information Ministry in Freetown the capital, comes after Blyden, who doubles as publisher of a notorious local tabloid newspaper, known for excessive use of profanity, and sometimes unwarranted vicious attacks on public officials and politicians, went on the rampage and made a personal attack on the country’s Health Minister describing her as incompetent and saying the government has failed to contain the recent Ebola Virus outbreak.
Blyden has recently taken to Social networks with vile rantings and using her newspaper to viciously attack the Minister of Health and Sanitation with derogatory words and sometimes invectives with a personal twist, calling her names and describing her as unfit for her role – indirectly questioning the president’s judgement in appointing her as a cabinet minister. It is difficult to comprehend why a so called senior member of the president’s inner core would engage in unsavoury language to describe a much more senior member of the government in such a manner. Blyden who has always been controversial even before her appointment, seems to now realize the writing is on the wall as members of the State House Communications unit recently launched another scathing attack on her, calling her a mental case. It is understood from reliable sources that Blyden has not been at her desk in State House for the past 3 weeks but interestingly continues to draw her salary despite not reporting for work – an unethical practice from someone who claims to be the moral flagbearer of the people.
Blyden recently described the Health Minister as half naked when the Minister addressed Members of Parliament with updates on the Ebola crisis. She said the Honourable Minister was not properly dressed: “half-dressed in seductive, sleeveless attire and breast parts left with little to imagine in a manner most unbefitting her ministerial status”.
After carefully examining the attire the Minister wore, i personally couldn’t see anything sexual about it. She was merely expressing her femininity in a decent manner as any woman is entitled to do. Maybe, her exceptional beauty was just too much for the SEA to bear. Minister Kargbo was well dressed and appropriately conducted herself in parliament and to suggest that her dress was sexually provocative is simply ludicrous as she is beautiful enough to attract the opposite sex without the need to seduce anyone. Something Blyden may have had difficulty achieving without extraordinary effort. The writings of the SEA are the stuff of imaginative inventiveness that characterises and has all the hallmark of a bad spirit and an envious mind. And this is not the first time Blden has attempted to denigrate a female cabinet minister.
Across Africa, women are taking a pivotal role in shaping the continent’s economic and development agenda. Women are now featured in prominent roles in their national government’s political structures than ever before. Women are now contributing to changing the economic and social landscape of the African continent. One such woman playing a huge role in transforming the country is the current Health and Sanitation Minister, Miatta Kargbo. As a former adviser to the President on Health Matters at State House, Miatta Kargbo brings to her current job a wealth of experience in the Health sector and a management expertise that has now become extremely useful as the country faces a rare confrontation from the deadly Ebola virus that has consumed the country’s hinterland with extemporaneous terror leaving many dead and more vulnerable. Something the country has never seen before and probably never anticipated and as such ill-prepared to deal with the accompanying menace and loss of life. Despite the constant vilification by Blyden in the media, Miatta Kargbo has stayed steadfast and focused and is tackling the issue head on and ensuring all loose ends are tied to prevent the disease spreading further. Border authorities have been sensitized and in the east of Sierra Leone, in the Kailahun, Kono and Kenema districts, 13 checkpoints equipped with four medical staff carrying cellphones, chlorine and disposable thermometers and gloves, have been established. When you have porous borders with other countries in the region, it can prove difficult to contain the spread of a virus like Ebola.
Sierra Leone is a typical example of how women’s role in governance have changed significantly as the head of state, President Ernest Bai Koroma has made it his priority to narrow the gender gap by appointing women to important positions in government to help steer the nation’s agenda for prosperity. It is with this view that the President brought in Sylvia Blyden to government. Hoping she will contribute to help validate the need to have more women in government. But Blyden has refused to shake off her controversial past and instead of taking her job seriously, she continued her personal vendetta against those she saw as threat to her fiefdom as the natural women’s leader and advocate. Sylvia Blyden thrives on controversy and would take on issues unrelated to her job in an effort to impress her boss the president, and in the process attempt to denigrate others to make herself look good and present herself as the one who has all the solutions to the country’s problems. And she would stop at nothing to destroy those she believe are stealing the limelight from her. Her passion to use her own media apparatus to promote her persona and position can only be matched by her ruthlessness in dealing with her so called detractors.
The incessant and ruthless drive to demean others as she recently described the manager of State House Communications unit as a junior staff, is indicative of how she sees herself, and constant comparison of herself to cabinet ministers is how she yearns to be recognised as Very Important. She says her job carries a cabinet rank but i doubt whether she has ever attended a cabinet meeting. There is a big difference between carrying a cabinet rank and being a cabinet minister. The Minister of Health and Sanitation is by far senior to Sylvia Blyden in government in any shape or form. She is the head of an entire government department whereas Blyden’s job carry no portfolio and can only perform duties delegated to her from time to time by the President.
Blyden may have a problem with successful and brilliant women in government and may see them as a threat to whatever political ambitions she may have. But she may have finally reached her waterloo in this debacle that may soon see her booted out of State House. Her writings are also laden with threats and she sees herself as untouchable – but the next 48 hours will define the beginning of the end of the bloated SEA. For too long i have observed from the sidelines as Blyden take on members of the president’s family, politicians and members of the establishment with unbridled tenacity to cause the maximum damage to their reputation. Her relentless use of her ragtag sheet to denigrate outstanding public servants has been going on unabated. well, until now. Her continuous rantings and attacks may have inadvertently been the sole determinant of her demise as news rock the media world of her imminent sacking.
Blyden should not be with any illusion that her sacking should precipitate a recipe for attacking the Head of State or members of the government . This will instigate a more than proportionate reaction that will be difficult to contend with. An option clearly open to Dr Blyden now is to resort to resuscitating her medical profession and engage in family practice. As this might provide the appropriate haven to reminisce on a life wasted bringing other people down.
The arrogance that has accompanied Blyden’s tenure as SEA did destroy the potency her appointment carried, and the fact that she saw herself as infallible may have kindled a self-belief that she might one day be at the heart of the presidency. Far-fetched as that is, no one can rule out Blyden nursing the ambition to go for the highest office of the land. But her apparent unregulated self-confidence or perhaps arrogance for a better word, has now played a significant role in diminishing these possibilities and her attack on the fine Minister of Health and Sanitation may have now resulted in pay back time for Haja Zainab Bangura.
Sylvia Blyden may be spending the weekend preparing to return to familiar walls of her offices at the Awareness Times Newspaper HQ. The banks of the SEA may have finally given way.
© 2014, Ahmed M Kamara. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.
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