By: Aruna Kamara (BO)
The new Chairman of the Independent Media Commission (IMC), Dr. Victor Massaquoi has said that he will provide quality and accountable leadership that will build the image of the IMC, help the media profession grow and at the same time protect the hard earned reputation of citizens.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the three days retreat held at the Galinas Paradise in Bo last week Friday, Dr. Massaquoi said that the retreat was to look at the things done for the past three years as he was not working with the Commission.
He said that they need to plan with the other commissioners including the new ones and the planning should be in line with the new IMC Act, noting that it is good for the new commissioners to learn about the IMC.
According to him, the parliament has said that that the IMC is the most under resourced state institution and we are aware of the financial challenges of the IMC and thus the reason the BBC Media Action came in to support the retreat plan.
Dr. Massaquoi said that all the places he has worked, they know him to be a man of action and result oriented and that in the last seventy two hours, there have been successes at the IMC, much to the satisfaction of the staff.
“I have been part of the Media landscape for over 30 years and I know the problems that the Media is grappling with,’’ the new commissioner revealed.
The new IMC Act 2020, he noted has made it clear that Media houses should pay their reporters and also meet other statutory obligations including the payment of their NASSIT and NRA, whiles pointing out that journalists should exhibit responsibility in the discharge of their duties.
Dr. Massaquoi spoke about the seventeen strategic things that they want to achieve among them he noted are building the image of the IMC, helping the media profession and protecting the image of the community people.
He said that the IMC under the leadership of his predecessor, George Khoryama had recommendations on electoral processes from the UN observers and I want to build on the work of his predecessor, adding that I want to ensure that the next year election is professionally covered by the journalist.
He said that the IMC is independent in its work and it is not arm twisted to do its work.
The President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalist, Ahmed Naserella said that this is the first IMC retreat that SLAJ has been invited to take part and highlighted the good work done under the ruling government, citing the repeal of the part 5 of the 1965 public Order Act, paying the subvention to SLAJ every year, review the IMC Act.
According to the SLAJ boss it is prescribed by law that journalist should be paid a decent salary with their NASSIT and NRA paid as according to him he is working on addressing media poverty through the media Investment Conference.
The Country Director of the BBC Media Action, Dr. Idriss Mamoud Tarawalie said that this is not the first time they are supporting the IMC and its work to regulate the media noting that they are involved in Media for development.
He said that they are poised to support the Media Ecosystem to develop and to ensure that the Media houses have the capacity to provide the space for the citizens for their voices to be heard and also to hold leaders accountable for the services provided.
Dr. Tawarallie said that they will be providing the support to ensure that the reviewed IMC code practice is popularized in order to guide the practice of journalism.
According to him the traditional media is facing a lot of challenges and the Media investment conference slated for April this year, which was the initiative of the President Bio who recognized the importance to help the Media as the social media is shrinking the advertising space of the traditional media.
The representative of the Civil Society at the Independent Media Commission, Commissioner Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai Esq said that there should be democratic tolerance to freedom of expression in Sierra Leone, adding that journalists should adhere to the IMC Code of Practice.
The Resident Minister in the southern Region, E. K Alie said that he has a cordial relationship with the Media and called on the Media Practitioners to uphold the tenets of democratic values that will promote the development of the country.