Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 January 2016
There are many forms of corruption and abuse of office in Sierra Leone, but this must go down in history as one of the most bizarre.
Here you have Sierra Leone’s ambassador to Ghana – Osman Yassaneh, also acting as the Secretary General of the ruling APC party, who never took up office in Accra to serve his country and people, but yet receiving pay as an ambassador – along with all the privileges and entitlements that goes with the post. Shameful and corrupt to say the least.
This week, the not so ambassadorial Yassaneh, who is one of the most powerful men in the ruling APC was in Accra, Ghana, perhaps for the first time in his official capacity as ambassador, to pack up and quit an office he never occupied.
According to State House, Yassaneh was in Accra to bid farewell to president Mahama, to make way for madam Umu Jalloh – Sierra Leone’s former Chief Justice who president Koroma has appointed as the new ambassador to Ghana.
Confused? Don’t be – welcome to Sierra Leone, a country that for the last decade has found itself at the bottom of the global corruption index, as one of the most corrupt in the world.
But the not so ambassadorial Yassaneh is not alone in this pathetic behaviour of collecting State funds for doing absolutely nothing, other than peddle ruling party propaganda and manage the affairs of the APC party.
Please step in vice president Victor Foh, who for a long while was in Freetown taking part in plotting and executing the ruling APC party machinations against their enemies and opponents.
Victor Foh was appointed Sierra Leone’s ambassador to China, but after a year or so, he went AWOL from the job and was seen fluttering around the corridors of State House and APC party office in Freetown, where plans to throw vice president Sam Sumana under one of the imported red Chinese buses was hatched.
Was Victor Foh collecting salary as ambassador whist in Freetown? You bet he was. And not only that, he continued to stay in Freetown for over a year and until the job of killing off vice president Sam Sumana was executed.
And who was appointed as the new vice president by president Koroma? Ok – stop guessing. Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh.
This may sound like a scene from a James Bond movie, or a chapter in one of Agatha Christie’s novels. But this is Koroma’s Sierra Leone, where anything goes: No rule of law, no transparency, no respect for due process. Plundering of state coffers has become the vogue.
What tax payers are asking is: How much did both Yassaneh and Victor Foh collected unlawfully and collectively from the State, whilst loafing about in Freetown in their ‘not so ambassadorial duties’ – $2 million?
Should the Anti-Corruption Commission not be investigating this serious abuse of office and misappropriation of State funds? No. President Koroma will never use the law against his henchmen who are responsible for his stay in power.
According to APC party newspaper – Cocorioko: “Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary His Excellency Osman Foday Yansaneh was at Flagstaff House, Accra last week to bid farewell to the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama. This farewell courtesy call on the Ghanaian leader by H.E. Yansaneh marked the end of the diplomat’s tour of duty as Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Ghana. The impressive ceremony was graced by high-ranking officials of the Ghanaian Government.”
Did they say ‘diplomat’s tour of duty as Sierra Leone’s ambassador to Ghana?’ Can Yassaneh publish his Report Card of his performance and attendance record, whilst acting as Sierra Leone’s ambassador to Ghana? Fat chance.
But then you have to feel really sorry for the Ghanaian president who with a straight face – no giggles, had to look at the absconded and loafing Yassaneh and say: “Please remain a good ambassador of Ghana wherever you go”, knowing all too well that Yassaneh had collected a lot of cash from his poor taxpayers for many years as an ambassador, without showing up for the job in Accra.
There are just far too many crooks in the Koroma government, that are making the job of rebranding the country, all the more difficult.
But forget about Mahama’s embarrassment and take a look at what Yassaneh told the Ghanaian president with a bold, straight face – some would say lying tongue:
“Your Excellency, may I take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for graciously granting me this audience to take formal leave of your Excellency at the end of my tour of duty as High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to Ghana.”
Take formal leave of your Excellency at the end of my tour of duty as High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to Ghana? Why so much lies? A duty you never performed? The fact is that you never turned up for the job, so how can you now take leave of absence?
Yassaneh continued: “May I equally take the opportunity to extend to Your Excellency, best wishes and salutations for the New Year from your brother and colleague, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.”
Ok – that message from Freetown, we believe, because after all, you have spent the last eight years at State House, scheming and plotting plans for the survival of the ruling APC as Secretary General.
Mr ‘not so ambassadorial’ ambassador Yassaneh – when was the last time you entered your office in Accra? Can you name the staff working at the embassy in Accra? Do you know what they look like? Of course not – but yet you continued to collect your salary as ambassador to Ghana.
Yassaneh told the Ghana president: “Your Excellency, I wish to now personally inform you that His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in his wisdom has decided to re-assign me to another function in Sierra Leone.”
What new function could that be? After all president Koroma has not informed the people of Sierra Leone about any new appointments.
Is the not so ambassadorial ambassador going to be the new head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, or is he going to take up a ministerial appointment?
Now, here come the most notorious piece de resisitance:
“Your Excellency, during my tour of duty over the last eight years, I have had excellent working relationship with the Office of the President, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other MDAs in Ghana. I wish to therefore take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for all the support I received from all sectors of Ghanaian society. I have always felt at home and regarded Ghana as a second home.”
Really? Mr. Ambassador, how much time did you spend in your office in Accra to feel at home; and what did you achieve, other than promoting your own personal and selfish goal?
“It might interest Your Excellency to know that in fact during my tour of duty, I had the opportunity to register and read Law at the University of Ghana, Legon as a part time student. I graduated in 2011 with an LLB Hons degree.” That’s it?
“I will return to Sierra Leone with fond memories of Ghana. But as I have stated earlier, Ghana being my second home, I will always be back.”
But ambassador Yassaneh – you hardly left the shores of Sierra Leone to perform your duty in Accra. So how can you then say that you are now returning to Sierra Leone?
Poor president Mahama had to listen to all that drivel – simply because protocol says that he must. Sierra Leone is in deep trouble.