Dr. Sama Banya (Puawui): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 January 2020:
I have over the years come to admire and appreciate the integrity, fearlessness and sincerity of the lady called Lara Taylor-Pearce, the daughter-in-law of the Man of God who himself has remained as straight and upright in character as his physical stature.
Year after year, Lara Taylor-Pearce has produced her annual Auditor General’s report without bias and without fear or favour. From 2007 to 2018 of the APC administration, those reports were never discussed in Parliament, let alone in the public domain.
Dust-laden copies could be found on the shelves, and many times on the floors of the offices of Permanent Secretaries and heads of MDAs. But she has never lost hope, nor her faith and determination. She has just gone on doing what she was hired to do. And as the saying goes, looking neither left nor right – but mindful only of the task ahead.
For eleven years, the APC ran this country as though it was their private property; they ruled with impunity; they showed no respect or regard for laid down procedures or regulations. All they cared about was whether their actions suited the plans of their party to hold on to power come what may.
One of the things they treated with their usual contempt was the Auditor General’s annual reports, but that didn’t discourage nor humiliate Lara Taylor-Pierce (Photo). After they assumed power in 2007, one of their first functions was to look into the governance of the SLPP administration of former President Alhajie Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah.
SLPP Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and heads of Government agencies were instructed to stay in office until a formal investigation of their record had been done.
When the report was presented to the former President Koroma, he passed it on to the ACC. And as if he had gone through the documents, he joked that they were not going to spend a normal Christmas holiday because of the enormous task ahead of going through the report.
The impression was that they would be fully engaged in going through the unpleasant reading of the task force report. In the end it appeared that it had been much ado about nothing. The only significant result was the setting up of the Justice Samega Commission of Inquiry into the activities of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
There was no talk about “rules of engagement” on which the APC’s persons of interest and their Lawyers made much noise over the setting up of the current Commissions of Inquiry. Before the Samega report was out, there was the usual loose talk among their supporters of a ghost college and buildings which the ministry had claimed to have constructed.
Much to their dismay when the Commissioner arrived on the site, they were amazed to see huge structures which the APC without any apologies began to use as a special University with special privileges which supported only APC sponsored students and at great expense to the people of Sierra Leone.
Fast forward to 2018, in the Auditor General’s report covering the period 2015-2018 the Auditor General had identified serious financial discrepancies without mentioning the word ‘corruption’. She asked relevant questions and demanded that the records be put straight.
The APC were cock-a-hoop with excitement, assuming that the reports of missing billions of Leones were due to the SLPP administration of President Julius Maada Bio.
They didn’t stop for one moment to reflect that President Maada Bio was declared winner of the 2018 runoff election on April 3, or that it took the Task force more than a month to investigate the administration of the erstwhile government of President Ernest Bai Koroma; nor did it occur to them that it took almost another two months before the ministries and agencies became fully operational under the Bio administration.
The Awareness Times Newspaper and its publisher who are now the unofficial mouth-piece of the opposition APC, were almost shouting with glee that SLPP supporters were shaking in their pants because of the 2018 Auditor General’s report. They must have been hoping that the financial irregularities identified in the audit report were the doings of the new administration.
Because of those discrepancies, the ACC took an active interest and went through the pages of the report with a fine tooth comb. In the end, it turned out that nearly all of those discrepancies occurred before the Bio administration became fully functional.
The current Financial Secretary Sahr Jusu received special commendation for already identifying some of the irregularities AND TAKING STEPS TO PLUG THE LEAKAGES. The silence of the APC and their supporters can be cut with a blunt knife.
I will not go into the details of the report as outlined by the Commissioner of the ACC because as already stated they speak volumes.
The main problem and all the talk about a divided country emanate from the opposition’s refusal to admit that they are no longer in governance; or that from the rapid strides of the Bio administration, they are likely to be in opposition till 2028 and beyond.
That notwithstanding, they continue to spend much money, time and space especially on social media seeking every opportunity to criticise.
The Chief Minister by virtue of his position and influence is currently their target. There was a diabolical attempt to involve him in an alleged incident that took place in Hamilton, even as the man was out of the country.
But as Siaka Stevens used to say “den faint late!”. That means that they have missed the boat; what they had hoped and prayed for, just did not happen. What next APC?
My advice is that you accept the status quo; accept that you have lost power and influence; concentrate on putting your house in order because as my friend and brother Alpha Khan said recently – “there are no more political strongholds”.
Parties are judged by whether they deliver to the so-called former APC strongholds which they had created by Yuki yuki,” and which is now hunting them in Falaba, Koinadugu and the Northwest.