ACC saga raises more questions about how corruption is tackled

Abdulai Mansaray: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 September 2019:

Sierra Leone is fast becoming a nation, loaded with paradoxical ironies. These paradoxical ironies do not only manifest themselves in the relationships between our rich mineral resources and abject poverty, but even extend to the violence and corruption that seems to have infested our country, right through its social fabric.

It goes without saying that as a people of a nation, we are unapologetically poor. We can also agree that 90% of the causes of our poverty is down to the reckless abandon with witch corruption has been transformed as a way of life. It is not surprising then, that right from the lowest rung of our society’s ladder, right up to the high heavens, the penchant for corrupt practices is visibly present.

But what makes it more gut wrenching is the level of acceptance and normalcy we have accorded to corruption; to a point that it feels that it is criminal not to be corrupt. How many people recall the phrase “nor cam poil ya o”?

The Anti –Corruption Commissioner (ACC) Kaifala has come under serious scrutiny, since his commission is reported to have paraded individuals alleged to have been involved in school exams fraud. Since the event, it has received praise and condemnations from various sides of the argument.

We all do agree that corruption should be tackled, the difference is in the methods used, or the punishment levied against would be, or guilty culprits.

Many have described the act of naming and shaming the alleged individuals as a political prank and gimmick, aimed at deflecting the criticism that has followed the reportedly 95% failure rate in the recently released WASSCE results; as if to show the kind of fraud that resulted in such monumental failure.

The detractors have wasted no time in concluding that President Maada Bio’s Free Quality Education programme has failed. They are even blaming the government for an educational shambles that has gone on for far too long. They may even want to give credence to the adage that good things are not free, and free things are not good.

Others conclude that with the Free Quality Education as one of Bio’s flagship policies, such an embarrassingly high failure rate is a hammer blow to the very core of Bio’s presidency. They believe that it is in response to this that the ACC has decided to name, shame and parade these individuals.

Like many people including President Bio, who has since apologised publicly on behalf of his government for this stunt, I do not subscribe to this method. However, some of us can understand where the ACC is coming from. Was the ACC trying to remind corrupt individuals that there is no hiding place for corruption?

But to all intents and purposes, shame can be a soul eating emotion; but it can also corrode the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.

While the behaviour of the ACC has drawn the wrath of many arm chair critics, who have not failed to remind us about the principles of justice; that it is built on the foundation of the presumption of innocence until found guilty, others have defended “the stunt” as having parliamentary blessings that empowers the ACC in Section 7 (1a) that ““the objects for which the commission is established; to take all steps as may be necessary for the prevention, eradication or suppression of corruption and corrupt practices”.

Some people acknowledge the power of the ACC that has been mandated by parliament to fight corruption. Nevertheless, this lantern parade is seen as an abuse of power, while others believe that it is an act of social justice. But like corruption, is social justice another cancer in our society? Can social justice destroy individual responsibility? You be the judge.

 

During his 52 page report presentation to President Bio at State House recently, Kaifala catalogued the increase in conviction rate, increase in the revision of systems and processes to entrench prevention activities, to name but a few, President Bio reaffirmed his belief and drive that “the fight against corruption is a fight we will fight and win”. Can I get an Insha Allahu to that?

But despite this encouraging report, there is a glaring absence of Hosanna for it. But meanwhile, the queue to condemn the ACC, for what many will see as an error of judgement appears to be endless.

It is this kind of hypocrisy that has continually lived to gnaw into the very entrails of our social psyche and attitude to corruption.

When these alleged victims were caught, did we realise that they and including the students were not only cheating themselves, but you, me and the entire nation? Did we realise that these people were putting an entire nation’s potential for development and a brighter future at risk?

Do they even know that education is not about the learning of facts, but training the mind to think? It is an undeniable fact that like many countries and especially in Africa, getting a job is far from meritorious. It is about who you know and most often shrouded in nepotism and “connectocracy”.

It is an open secret that our standard of education has fallen to abysmal levels, thanks to decades of neglect by successive governments. Today, students cannot even write a love letter starting with “No date but love”; not to talk about writing a CV. Our teachers have been so badly treated by successive governments that there was a time; landlords at Fourah Bay Road stopped renting out to teachers; because they were never paid.

Our teachers used to tell us that they had not been paid for up to 6 months. Even their back pays were halved; if they were lucky. We know that new teachers have waited for many years, just to get “approval”. Only God knows what that means.

Many of us do not subscribe to the tactics the ACC has used. The apologists have not been scarce to read the riot acts on Human Rights. But how many have stood up to shout for the rights of the teacher to average living wage? Have we tried to fathom why some teachers have gone to such levels of indecency?

This is not an excuse but what has happened in this saga is a clear reflection of our relationship with corruption. As a people, we all know that corruption is rife in our society. As a people, we agree that it is the bane of our society. As a people, we all want it to reduce, if not stop it. But as a people, it is how we fight corruption that marks the divergence of opinions.

When the Commission of Inquiry was set up, certain people of a particular political persuasion described it as a kangaroo court. Rightly or wrongly, it was accused of bias against certain groups of people that speak a different language. The COI was accused of a witch hunt against a particular colour of the rainbow. It was also accused of vengeance against people from a different geographical landscape.

We know that corrupt politicians are good at making the other five percent look bad. This time, the body charged with trying to stem the blood flow of corruption is now lambasted for its unorthodox method; understandably so. But what does this tell us about our love hate relationship with corruption?

The list could be endless, but suffice it to say that we are happy to condemn corruption but reluctant to fight it. We know that in fighting corruption, corruption is always ready to fight back. As a nation, it is a sad truth to admit, but corruption seems to be so etched into our social fabric, that it will require a total reincarnation to reboot it. We have normalised and accepted corruption so much, that it sounds treasonable to fight it. Fighting corruption is like fighting a monster.

So we all agree that corruption is killing us. We all agree that we need to kill it. But we must also agree that fighting corruption is everybody’s business, because it affects everybody. In its bid to spear head the fight against corruption, the ACC may get it wrong at times.

This latest aberration is what our American cousins will call a misdemeanour; in the big scheme of things. But that should not blind side us from the good things and achievements of the Commission. They may not be as fast paced to everyone’s liking. The results may not be block buster proportions for now.

However, now that the little fish have been named, shamed and completed their lantern parade, is it time to see the “big Alayjos” cough up what was allegedly stolen from those of us living at Kroo Ton Road and Fullah Ton ( the average Sierra Leonean)? Or does it look like we hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office?

But while you are it Mr Commissioner, the ACC should be careful and see to it that in fighting this monster called corruption, you don’t become a monster yourself. You cannot be judge and jury, and cannot hang someone and try them later.

And to all those shouting from the roof tops about the human rights of those individuals, I applaud you. But what about the small matter of the right to good education, devoid of fraud and cheating eh? The ACC and all those fighting corruption need our support, and that means you reading this article. If you can read this, thank a teacher.

Don’t forget to turn the lights off, when you leave the room.

12 Comments

  1. After listening to the back and forth defending tactics put up by both brothers – Abdulai and Saidu, I will not hesitate to state here clearly that,the act of shaming those teachers publicly without trial or even found guilty,was just flat out wrong.If this incident had happened in Europe or America,where the tenets of democracy,human right violations are fully watched, implemented and protected,no doubt the ACC boss would have stepped down or be relieved off his post.Because the act was just too gross to be left unattended to. But Africa’s democracy is too young and lacks the were with all to fully implement the core principles democracy comes with.In that regard,we are left with no Choice but to do what I called “aw for ducracy”…Lol..

    When you are not fully equipped to do something you wanted to do,it become a difficult situation for you.like the old krio adage saying; Trorki wan nak bot em an short!…AFRICA’S democracy is so ill-equipped to fully implement its core values.But yet,you have the educated elites Calling for equal implementation of democratic core values just as it is done in Europe and America,when if fact not even a viable detective system to probe certain issue is available.Thats where the problem begins,rather than end.

    While Mr A. Mansaray thinks it is not a sackable offense and Mr. S. Conteh does, we all can agree that,where a real democratic principle of human rights protection is guaranteed,such a blunder by the ACC would have come with a heavy price…what that price is,in the Africa setting like Sierra Leone is everyone’s guess….

    • We can all agree to disagree Mr Jalloh. Let’s keep the big conversation going. By so doing, we can keep our fingers on the pulse. Patriotism is about defending the people against its government. Little by little, the fly with eat the dog’s ear.

  2. Mr Mansaray – no hard feelings,my brother.If you feel a need to get off this train,then its alright with me,its fine. Indeed,many men have confessed with regret,and in agony,that train rides can be excruciatingly long,and painful with Saidu Conteh on board.(lol) Do your thing man! You don’t need me to tell you,that you are an intelligent,and competent person – your articles speak loudly,and clearly for you in that regard. What I oppose are just your questionable tactics,and methods,that’s all. And so the ride ends here.

    Next time some crows cross your paths,while you are soaring in the midst of a convocation of eagles,say cautiously to them: There’s a Lion down there lurking in those tall,evergreen shrubs,and wild bushes,that is a merciless hunter. Do whatever you can to warn the raving wolves,and babbling hyenas of imminent danger – impress upon them,to be alert,and mindful of him….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  3. Saidu Conteh, is a man on a mission. As usual, always insightful and as sharp as a razor. Is the ACC boss still refusing to apologise to our hardworking teachers? This is not a good thing for the rest of the world to hear. I hope he changes his mind and ask for forgiveness from our brother, the teachers.

  4. Mr Mansaray – no hard feelings,Mi Hermano. I’m just calling things as they are,and like I see them. I love reading your articles – you are a very smart guy,but sadly,also an SLPP sympathiser, who is discreetly promoting their policies behind the scenes. And that’s alright,its fine – but what troubles me are the subtle disguises,and questionable,hidden tactics,you have been using – to those with undiscerning minds,you may appear as very sound,unbiased,and objective. But to me there are Red Flags,everywhere signalling,and warning me to tread softly,that objectivity has been outrightly compromised,like a field,with landmines embedded,everywhere within its bowels.

    Here’s a mirror for you to look at that charming face of yours,Sir! (lol) “Despite the encouraging report,there is a glaring absence of Hossana for it. But meanwhile,the queue to condemn the ACC,for what many will see as an error of judgement is endless.” A glaring absence of Hossanas – an endless queue waiting to condemn the ACC – carefully chosen words indeed; sounds clearly like someone who is expressing discontent,sadness,and regret because things didn’t go as they wanted,planned,or expected. And again,here’s another reason why your article can be seen as an arsenal, loaded with ammunition to defend the Bio administration – Here’s just a few of the many grenades you threw at us, in defence of the ACC, hoping we will all run for cover; ” In its bid to spearhead the fight against corruption,the ACC will get it wrong at times ” (lmao) Nope,they are highly trained,and paid professionals, dealing with people lives,arresting,and ruining families is not a small,insignificant thing.

    There is no room for errors,and mistakes at all! Friends,all throughout his article no genuine concern,or empathy was expressed by Mr Mansaray towards the victims the ACC publicly abused,and humiliated – only subtle,and abstruse condemnations. Sir,Here’s another explosive you threw,in the midsts of a crowd of Teachers who were disgraced,and humiliated by Kaifala; “Did we realise that these people were putting an entire nation’s potential for development and a brighter Future at risk?” Wow – amazing! Are the teachers the ones responsible for the poor state of education in our country today, or our inept,and visionless leaders? I’m flabbergasted, at loss for words! Listen,my only interest in Politics,is to watch the backs of the little guys in out society…and rest assured I will go to hell,and back to ensure that they are not exploited,but treated with fairness,dignity,and respect…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • Mr Saidu Conteh, the rising sun will rise again, NO MATTER HOW LONG THE NIGHT MAY BE”. Are you saying that I have never criticized the Bio government? I need to get off this train, but rest assured that when government does something good, I will unapologetically trumpet it. When they get it wrong, I will do so with a clear conscience.

      While some will struggle to acknowledge the good, the bad and the ugly, I have no allegiance to restrict me. I try not to just look for the bad in people. When it’s good, I we’ll say it. If it’s bad, we’ll say it too. If that’s criminal, then I am guilty. It might help if you go back over 10 years to see what has been my stance. Never mind, let’s keep the conversation going. I am sure that some readers will disagree. Hahahaha.

  5. Mr Mansaray – your insinuations are totally incorrect – way of the mark,far far away from acceptable standards set for logical,sensible,and prudent thinking – Yep,you heard me – as far as the North Pole is from the South. (lol) Ever come across,or seen a pride of ferocious, merciless Lions incapable of showing empathy to their fragile little ones? Wait don’t answer just yet! Are good wives married to bad husbands,not able to think,and act judiciously,and honorably on their own? Hmmm! Are things get clearer for you now? Do all priests who practice the same religion,have the same attitudes,impulses,and inclinations?

    Some Priests are pedophiles,and child molesters,others are as holy as their master,and savior Jesus Christ,who once walked on water. Same religion – different attitudes.Clear enough? Think for a minute,over and again,about the erroneous pronouncement you are making,and ask yourself – Is it mathematically possible ( in percentages and figures) that everyone – an outright 100 percent of those who are affiliated with a certain party,ideology,or belief lack the abilities to be unbiased, and even handed in their interactions,and discussions with others?Truly laughable! You are dead wrong – Mi Hermano!

    Being neutral doesn’t make someone sensible,or clever,but rather it shows a glaring lack of strong convictions, decisiveness,creativity,and aptitude. Again,neutrality is attractive to men like yourself,because it allows you to remain in the shadows,ACTING impartial,pulling strings,enticing others,but never accepting the consequences of your actions – looks like plain,and simple,spinelessness to me! lol.

    Truthfulness,and sincerity allows you to stand up for something,or for someone,unafraid – it means only you are responsible if all hell breaks loose,for the decision of taking sides – It signals,clearly that you are ready to accept,with open arms, the blame,shame,or glories that comes with your actions – and to me,without a shred of doubt in my mind,the man who embraces,and identifies with something,or someone completely,guided by his deepest convictions – be it evil or good is one of a kind,incomparable. In my view,such a man can be counted among the greatest men that have ever lived,breathed,and treaded upon our beautiful,majestic earth….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • Thanks Mr Saidu conteh for the lecture. Unfortunately, you missed my point. This was no attempt to arrest your opinion. The point I was making to you was that, in spite of your views which some people can relate to, your last sentence “Rising sun will rise again” deprives it of the credibility or objectivity. The tendency is for other readers to conclude that your views are guided by your Political persuasions. That creates a risk of your message being lost in translation. That was the thrust of my message.

      Your accusation that implies that I don’t stand for something is so far off the mark, and I can see your emotions flaring up in your writing. I am sure that our readers can tell you that I stand for something, and that’s “standing for salone”, or I try to be. In case you are wondering, I believe that I have more of the DNA of the rising sun in me than you can ever imagine. There is a good percentage of people in Bio’s government that are my brothers, thanks to my university days and other walks of life. But you can never tell in my articles, as I try as humanly possible to “PUT SALONE FIRST”.

      I am not perfect but I try and look at issues from various lenses. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have a view or an opinion on issues. I just try and treat issues like a big canvass, and try to paint it with the different colours available. In that way, I believe that readers can make their conclusions take their own perspectives. I try not to IMPOSE my views on others. What I try to do, I am not sure if I am succeeding, is to encourage independent thinking.

      Now you see why I am not angry or emotional about you attacking my personality? I believe in the values of emotional intelligence. Like you, we are all trying to do our bit for our motherland. I am aware that it can be difficult to soar with eagles, when you fly with crows. But we should not stop flying. One day, we will surely get there. Ok, I may not get there with you, but let’s keep the dream and the big conversation going. But “Tay bansa” Torfla mbor.

  6. This is a well created article which proves that not everyone can be a journalist because it requires a lot of hard work. I personally believe that most Sierra Leoneans haven’t realized that we are the least developed country in the world when it comes to human capital – plus we are the poorest and third hungriest country on this planet. As long as almost 50% of our population perceived the fight against corruption as a witch-hunt, tribalism and regionalism , we will continue to occupy those position forever.

  7. Indeed,the right thing to do,would be to thank a teacher, if you can count yourself fortunate,to be among those who are able to read,comprehend,and write with ease..Thank them,shower them with praises,and lavish gifts,but do not for any reason whatsoever,publicly humiliate, tarnish,and degrade them in the eyes of the world. For it is a known fact that gratitude, replenishes the human soul,and causes it to easily bloom,and thrive with happiness,and Joy.

    All the Saints, Buddhas,prophets,and enlightened masters, have always maintained, that whenever you torture a man,you inflict pain,not only on him,but upon his entire family also. Think about that for a minute,or two! The same things applies to publicly humiliating someone,not only is their reputation shredded to pieces,but their family name becomes tainted with shame,blame,and disgrace forever. What was once considered as an asset,a shining light, overnight has become an eerie,unwanted darkness! And who is it,upon the face of the beautiful earth, that can replace a good name,already tainted,and stained like fabrics soaked in dye,with filthy money?

    In countries like India,and Japan people have been known to commit suicide because of public humiliations. True. And remember,it was arrogance,pride,and lack of empathy, that made men like Hitler,Mussolini,and Amin belittle, torture, demonize,and kill millions of innocent people. Strangely,Hitler never apologised for his heinous crimes,and atrocities, neither did Amin – those monsters are feared even now by the devils in hell, assigned to set them ablaze with fire.(lol) Yep,they are being burned,daily for having set the standards for ruthlessness,and mindless barbarism.

    Kaifala not apologising,is nothing strange – he’s also just toeing the line! This is a serious matter – the man is holding a Public office,and he is answerable not only to the President but the citizens of this nation also,yet he thinks he is above the law. A Camel with a broken hump,that refuses to kneel for its master to climb,and ride is useless. If Kaifala cannot take a knee,and apologise to the nation,and those he has terribly hurt,and disgraced,then he needs to go – fired,without delay. And all those blowing loud trumpets for the SLPP must be reminded,that the office Kaifala is still holding is now worthless, lacking integrity,prestige,and credibility.

    Who is going to be so silly,gullible,and naive to support,and believe anything the ACC does ever again? Forgive Kaifala’s actions? Fine with me! But he has proven to us that he is unfit to lead,and for that reason, I strongly believe,he deserves to be sacked,and investigated,because of his unethical,shady and unscrupulous ways….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • Well done Saidu conteh. I don’t subscribe to kaifala’s antics. I don’t think it’s a sackable offence, in the grand scheme of things. Interestingly, there is nothing about the perpetrators. I know that we are used to glorifying thieves in this country. But in spite of your brilliant comment, your last sentence deprives your take on this matter of the credibility it should deserve. That’s the luxury some of us enjoy – No Political Party Affiliation. That’s what I call, freedom of thought – the real freedom of speech.

    • Alas…you and the strange minded of Sierra Leone still do not understand that WE are being robbed of everything due to an acceptance of flagrant moral breaches and that is why we are ALL in a mess today!

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