''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 8 No 5

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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State House in Freetown has announced the creation of a new office - that of the Chief of Staff and the first person appointed to hold that post is Dr Kaifala Marah believed to have been seconded from the Commonwealth Office in London.The new State House Chief of Staff Dr Kaifala Marah - will he bring accountability to State House?

Dr Marah's duties have yet to be made public but given the goings-on at the seat of power with various factors jockeying for power, influence and financial benefits it would not be surprising to hear about roles becoming blurred with the resultant infighting that would make him a frustrated man. That is unless his boss, the President himself gets his acts together and clearly defines the man's role in the melting pot of influence wielders and the greedy who would see him as an obstacle to the ear of the President.

Dr Marah has the unenviable task of giving a kind of face-lift and respectability to the Presidency that should see, given his background, a State House that is more transparent, accountable to the public and more importantly seeking the welfare of voters who wanted to see a change that would have bettered their lives.

Dr Marah would have to move mountains in clearing the heaps of corruption within the offices, nooks and crannies that constitute the rabbit's warren of corruption, nepotism and all the ills that had, in the past, made State House the deal centre of the Presidency.

He would also have to ensure that his duties are clearly defined to help him identify areas that he "controls" while ensuring that he does not engender a culture of "civil servants vs political appointees" given the fact that there's a Secretary to the President as well as a host of other lesser mortals of the Civil Service who would not want to see political appointees making a mockery of their traditional roles and values.

In the United States one source gives this role of the Chief of Staff -

The duties of the White House Chief of Staff vary greatly from one administration to another. However, the Chief of Staff has been responsible for overseeing the actions of the White House staff, managing the president's schedule, and deciding who is allowed to meet with the president. Because of these duties, the Chief of Staff has at various times been labelled "The Gatekeeper" and "The Co-President".

And this, if Sierra Leone is to use the US template would mean that the axe would have to fall on the Chief of Protocol a very influential post where the occupier, in the past decides who should see the Pa, the President and when - with stories from the corridors of State House that "businessmen and women" had to part with resources that go directly into the yawning pockets of the Chiefs of Protocol. It is even said that the Chief of Protocol then acted as the "receiver of gifts" that the President would be too shy of taking directly from State House visitors.

Dr Marah will have to be very weary of these temptations as well as another ugly aspect - the presence of somehow shady characters demanding direct access to the President based on links that are best left to the imagination!!!!.

(That's not forgetting how to cope with the President's hand-picked human rights abusing security detail headed by the beast in human form Idrissa Kamara aka "Leatherboot".)

One US newspaper article has this on the visit of Andrew Card a former Chief of Staff explaining his role at the White House to a class at the Harvard Business School.

(1) Care and feeding of the President: This must be the top responsibility of the Chief of Staff, and its core is the President's "eating, sleeping and being merry." The Chief therefore engages in, among other things, scheduling, planning for events inside and away from the White House, overseeing personal aides, butlers and groundskeepers, and coordinating with various White House offices. Secretary Card explained that there are an "infinite number of people who want to convey an infinite number of ideas to the President, but there are only twenty-four hours in a day."

Therefore, Card must "pay attention to every minute of every day" and make sure the President has time for such basics as reflecting, calling the First Lady, eating, relaxing, reading a book - even going to the bathroom.

(2) Policy formulation: As someone with a front row seat at critical policy meetings, Secretary Card strives to provide "good, wise and candid counsel." He stressed the importance of the President having "really smart" and competent advisors who share the President's overall philosophy but who nonetheless hold diverse views and opinions. With such a team in place, the President is better able to consider an issue's facets and arrive at optimum decisions. A critical aspect of the decision making process is timing, and Card pointed out that the Chief of Staff must see to it that decisions are made in the proper context and at the right moment.

(3) Marketing and selling: Once a policy choice has been made, it must be communicated adeptly to the American people, Congress, other governments and the various members of the Cabinet (to name a few).

On the last item, (3) that is, Dr Marah has to pay special attention to the antics of a Press Officer at State House who continues to use state resources in running a tabloid newspaper resulting in the State House official website becoming an extension.

He also has to advise the Civil Service, if not take a direct action on Press Attaches, who have now taken upon themselves to publish directly into the public domain materials that have not passed through the proper channels at the Ministry of Information and Communication - the official and constitutional ministry that is responsible for all matters relating to government information and such dissemination.

Take this press release or so from the man occupying the press office in London announcing the appointment of Dr Kaifala Marah.

He starts off with Dr Marah and in three subsequent paragraphs states

"Marah has made great strides in the Commonwealth...."
"Marah’s untiring efforts...."
"Marah has also recently developed...." showing a clear lack of respect and no sense of protocol.

You would think he and his "Marah" were once members of a certain "Poht" where gambling, drug-taking and trafficking was a way of life and that he should refer to him thus because of their affinity for the same pleasures of life.

We notice that Philip Neville saw through this anomaly and lack of respect and protocol and made the necessary corrections.

Nice one Philip. Continue being the professional you trained to be and not become a point-man for the government.




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©Sierra Herald 2002