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Diversionary Tactic! -MYS Boss Terms Request for County Meet Financial Report As ‘Blackmail’ -What Is He Hiding?

Youth and Sports Minister, D. Zeogar Wilson has termed efforts by The INQUIRER Sports Desk to access the financial reports of the 2018-2019 National County Sports Meet, as an attempt to blackmail him.
In an unusual approach, the MYS boss claimed that the first article dated November 18, 2019 under the caption “As 2019-2020 County Meet in Sight…MYS Is Yet To Provide Financial Report” was carried without reaching out to him. Min. Wilson who has boasted that he owes nobody any explanation about County Meet’s financial report, quickly pointed accusing fingers to the writer of the articles, thus terming the approach as “Blackmail.”
Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, defines ‘Blackmail’ as “Extortion or coercion by threats especially of public exposure or criminal prosecution, the payment that is extorted…” and people who are engaged in such actions are generally referred to as “Blackmailers.”
Also, Webster’s New Universal UNABRIDGED Dictionary quantifies ‘Blackmail’ as “to coerce into doing something as by threats. Anything, as money, extorted by means of threats of exposure or danger.”
Though the Trenton-based, imported government official did not disclose in totality how and to what extent he was blackmailed or felt blackmailed by the reportage, the spontaneous and simultaneously published articles on acquiring or accessing the 2018-2019 County Meet’s financial report, is part of the fundamental right to public records.
While accusing the media of blackmailing him, the MYS boss also failed to disclose how he warned other senior executives at the ministry to avoid opening up on the report in question, as he will take administrative action against anyone caught giving out said information.
Wilson, and the MYS have deliberately and knowingly ignored, and brushed aside visible reportorial attempts aimed at accessing the financial report from the County Meet, only to be told that the reports have been submitted to members of the National legislature, and that interested persons can access them from that end.
Ironically, the very ministry that prepared and submitted the financial reports to the lawmakers as Min. Wilson claimed, has reneged on sharing a copy with the local media to avoid public scrutiny.
Ambiguously, Min. Wilson is attributing his defiant posture to provide copy of the County Meet 2018-2019 financial report, because he said, they (MYS) have already presented copies of the report to the lawmakers, and it was done to prove that the ministry had nothing to hide.
If that is a reasoning thought, how does the reportage on accessing the report relate to blackmailing? Logically, it is the blindfolded approach of the Ministry of Youth and Sports for public scrutiny that has elasticized the situation, thus making it appear like they have other things under their sleeves, and may want to hide them from the public.
Minister Wilson should by now understand the exact interpretation of blackmail since he could not state exactly a point in time where he was coerced or reportedly threatened to extort money from him owing to conceding the facts.
The quest to gain access to the County Meet’s financial report is a statutory venture for the public to know, referencing Section 3.2 of the FOI Law which states that every person, irrespective of their nationality or residence, may request, receive, reproduce and retain any information held by (1) a public authority or (2) private entity that receives public funds or engage in public functions or provision of public service; provided that in respect of private entities, the information shall relate to the public funds, benefit, functions or service.
As a public institution, the MYS is not exempt from making proactive disclosure of public records as in the case of the 2018-2019 County Meet’s financial report.
What is even troubling, is that Minister Wilson has forgotten that while relaxing in the USA, in September 2010, Liberia became the first country in West Africa to establish a comprehensive right to information law and the sixth in Africa to undertake such venture.
As a reminder, Min. Wilson and folks at the hierarchy of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, need to come to the realization that the intent of the law was to encourage, promote and protect the effectiveness, equitable and affordable exercise of the right to information.
While Min. Wilson is pushing to overshadowing the right to know debate with his Blackmailing claims, it is worth knowing that the ministry takes note of Section 2.5 of the FOI Law which provides that without prejudice to the general publication scheme established in the Act, every public authority is obliged to publish, and maintain published, certain key classes of documents/information as soon as they are generated or received by the authority, irrespective of whether a request has been made or not made for them.
Procedurally, the ministry has failed to live up to the statutory mandate of the law as the report, that was earlier submitted to the lawmakers, cannot be found anywhere near the ministry’s social media pages, website or any functional online instruments in their domain.
The consistency in such reportage is part of a fundamental procedural requirement towards accessing public records, something which has been difficult acquiring due to the overly protective posture of Minister D. Zeogar Wilson and the MYS crew.
It is almost a year since the 2018/2019 NCSM was concluded, and customarily, the organizers (MYS) would announce the total amount generated from the competition including what was raised at each stage including sponsorship support.
To date, the MYS knowingly and blatantly brushed aside calls to make public what was collected in totality. Disappointingly, the ministry has even ignored a previously guided precedence thereby insisting that they are not answerable to the public.
How does Minister Wilson expect the public to critique the credibility of the NCSM financial report, and why is he even frightened by attempts or calls to make the report public? These are many unanswered questions the MYS boss has failed to address. Instead, Min. Wilson has solidified his position and remained firm in quarantining the County Meet’s financial report from public consumption in the name of “Blackmailing Attempt.”
It is no secret, Minister D. Zeogar Wilson is under legal, moral and national obligation to disseminate copies of the 2018-2019 County Meet’s financial report to the public, and failure on his part renders him unfit of public trust. Writes D. Webster Cassell

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