Audit Service must be allowed to function independently – Leave Lara Taylor – Pearce alone

Hon Kandeh Yumkella MP: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 March 2021:

The Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) was created under Chapter VI, Section 119 of the 1991 Constitution to perform one basic function: promote accountability and good governance. However, to effectively “carry out audits on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which the audited government entities use their resources in carrying out their responsibilities,” they should be allowed to function as an independent institution.

As opposition presidential candidates, the work of ASSL allowed us to challenge the excesses of the previous APC government, between 2015 – 2018. Using evidence from reports produced by the Office of the Auditor-General, current President and former SLPP Presidential Candidate, Julius Maada Bio and I harangued the past government for four years.

Launching his party’s manifesto in Port Loko, President Bio promised to fight corruption and improve accountability. He lauded the work of ASSL for “the publication of a series of robust annual audits providing evidence of leakages…” during the previous government.

The New Direction Promise

For several months now, Sierra Leoneans have watched as the ASSL has come under attack, and its Auditor General, Lara Taylor-Pearce under siege. The campaign intensified after the release of the 2019 audit report and the Covid-19 special audit.

The government used the current audit service and forensic audits reports to substantiate its White Paper. Yet, the same government, six months later, turns around to wage war on the audit service for exposing their own malfeasance. It is hypocrisy, effrontery, and total disregard for the Sierra Leonean people.

The fight against corruption, fiscal consolidation and discipline promised us, will be meaningless if Sierra Leoneans fail to call out party operatives who are bent on the systematic dismantling of the Audit Service – an institution that has shown exemplary service and resilience for 15 plus years. As father of the nation, President Bio should lead that call!

President Bio promised in his manifesto to “ensure the full implementation of all recommendations in annual audits of the ASSL and of Ministries, Departments and Agencies.” He promised us a New Direction “with a committed political leadership in the fight against corruption” and one that will “ensure the efficient political and economic management of the state and its natural resources to capacitate our country to pay for and finance all our basic and essential services…”

The Role of Parliament

However, our parliament has an important role to play, too. When it comes to institutionalized corruption, like institutionalized leakages, we, parliamentarians will inadvertently aid and abet bad behavior by negligence and willful dereliction of responsibility.

It is so ironically convenient that we are all painted as personally corrupt just after we call for parliamentary hearings. Will our parliament be used to bully Auditor General Lara Taylor-Pearce? Will we allow Parliament to be used to disparage the Audit Service reports or support the auditee to tell the auditor how to do its work?

Unless Parliament says otherwise, the Audit Service’s budget and revenues are managed by the institution itself. By compelling the audit service to surrender its funds to the single treasury account, you are forcing them to receive instructions from (and be controlled by) the government. In other words, the tail will wag the dog; the auditee will tell the auditor when to audit, who to audit, what questions to ask, and what reports to prepare.

All the decades of World Bank capacity building for prudent financial management and accountability will be flushed into the cesspit.

Silence of Convenience by International agencies and donors

The United Nations, the World Bank, and other donors who lecture us about accountability, International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), internal controls, etc. cannot pretend not to see this drama. If Ms. Taylor-Pearce is harassed enough, she will resign. Then for the first time in two decades, a party loyalist will be quickly railroaded through Parliament.

Where is UNDP – the agency for good governance? All donors know that by IPSAS standards, auditors are independent. By keeping silent, they are aiding and abetting the government to run the Auditor General out of town. Is it not double standards that the fight against corruption is only about the past?

Where is UN Women? What happened to all those proclamations about women’s rights and empowerment?

Is it not a shame that during the week of the celebrations of international women’s day, Lara Taylor Pearce, the brave Auditor General of Sierra Leone, faced the worst barrage of threats and disparaging attacks by the government’s media lackeys? Is it OK for the Chief Fire Officer to become the arsonist? (Photo: Author – Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella – MP and leader of the NGC Party).

In my earlier professional life, I spent six years working on Minority Affairs and was appointed the first Assistant to the Dean for Minority Affairs in the College of Agriculture, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. We learnt that one way institutionalized racism gets rid of prominent minorities and women is by attrition through racist and sexist innuendoes.

Auditor General Taylor-Pearce should hold on. However, she needs our support. In 2018, the Chief Justice and Governor of the Central Bank all hastily resigned for one reason or the other, even though their offices and tenure are protected under the Constitution.

Will Sierra Leoneans sit back and allow the ASSL to be torn down and politicized? Are the District Councils next to be decapitated and made monolithic? When will we wake up from our slumber?

Leave Lara Taylor – Pearce alone! Hands off our Audit Service Sierra Leone!

Editor’s note:

Please note that reference to Lara Tayor Pearce being described as the first female auditor general of Sierra Leone has been corrected.

11 Comments

  1. Gentlemen – I have always maintained that the man in State House is unfit to rule Sierra Leone;The SLPP didn’t start their contentious tactics overnight, it has always been there like a handkerchief tucked away inside a coat – Its a badge of disgrace that their supporters have arrogantly embraced and chosen to wear with great pride since the days of our Independence.The legendary Old Stevens was a man that understood how the Criminal SLPP Cabal operated;He once mentioned I was told,that they were poisoned swords with double edges – any way you chose to handle them was dangerous and unsafe.Now why are they all of a sudden having problems with the hardworking Auditor General – one of Sierra Leone’s finest,honest and brightest public officials.

    No surprises at all folks;We are fully aware that bloodthirsty hyenas are always wary of brave Eagles soaring the beautiful majestic skies that see them coming from afar and then hasten to alert a herd of vulnerable impalas that they were in imminent danger – Deal with it – the Eagle Lara Taylor Pierce has built her nests in the highest cliffs and tallest trees,out of reach and out of sight for even the most audacious aggressive SLPP hyenas to even attempt to climb.These incompetent SLPP Criminals now in power have forgotten that they have their mind-boggling mistakes and failures to brood over, yet their priority is to harass and slander someone with far more credibility and integrity than what all of them put together can ever boast of in their miserable lives.(lol)

    The Constitution of Sierra Leone is not a worthless meaningless document Old Soldier;If you truly feel that upholding the principles of Democracy is a hard thing to do,then do us a favor,”TAKE THE HIGH ROAD” and resign – I guarantee that you and your bunch of freeloaders will not be missed.Do the right thing soldier without a plan and step aside in the interest of our beloved nation. Let those Market women in King Jimmy be given a chance to hold those esteemed government positions and I will bet you my last dollar in the bank that they will outshine and outperform your imposters posing as Professors like candles being overshadowed by the brilliance of the eternal Sun.(lol)

  2. Fantastic and fascinating message there by one of Sierra Leone’s most respected politicians and potential President and Commander in Chief of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Dr Kandeh Yumkella. Dangerous men with no self respect are ruling our country sadly. Many thanks Mr Yankuba Kai-Samba for drawing that conclusion. This was what Dr Kandeh Yumkella asked me – “When will we wake up from our slumber?” and this was my response – we will wake up from our slumber if you help us with all the political tools at your disposal, rally the entire country behind the opposition, kick their butts out of power in 2023.

    Will the Bio SLPP kakistocracy ever care about women? Tu Parles. They only care if money from the consolidated fund is to be dished out for bogus and dodgy women’s/girl’s projects. God bless Dr Kandeh Yumkella, The Auditor General, Mr Yankumba Kai-Samba and the women of Sierra Leone who have been neglected by these dangerous men without self respect ruling Sierra Leone. Yeah.

  3. “It’s easier said than done”. Thank you Hon. Paran Tarrawally and Hon. Tawa for letting us to know that even leaders of political parties in parliament do not show due respect to accountability. The ACC report is out and is accessible to all who may want to know. When accountability issues are raised, we have people and politicians that speak different things. But all that matters as a fact is about accountability. Auditor General was simply asked to account for revenue collected for her office on behalf of Sierra Leone and deposit same into the consolidated fund (our bread basket). Does it need quoting constitution or making any lawsuit about it? For God sake, other institutions collect monies and deposit these monies into the consolidated fund. Do we say that those monies collected by them are not useful for the smooth running of their independent institutions?

    It is within his reign (Dr. Julius Maada Bio) that Doctors and nurses strike for increments in salaries; Teachers Union did the same for condition of service, and very recently the Academic Staff Association (ASA) at our universities. All these pressure groups have the same aims and objectives directed towards money. Don’t you know how badly these strikes have affected the public functions, the health sector and education in recent times? Because their claims are genuine, this government went all out to address their issues. Therefore, if someone is asked to account for money collected on behalf of us, why quote constitution or bring lawsuit when he/she is working in that capacity for the interest of the public?

    To my audience, let not our minds be swayed off the subject of this discourse which is accountability. People are there who are capable to work in that office and perform well as Lara Pearce. I only wish she can end this marathon by showing to the public that she is indeed in support of accountability. Why ask for UNDP and UN women intervention? Why rally around women and pressure groups when accountability issues are raised? Audit is good for growth. Audit gives an insight into the know and unknown. So many people want to audit others, but very few people would like themselves to be audited.

    • The Constitution is the basic structure of every government that clearly lays down all the legal and cultural aspects under which a nation and its government will be governed. It protects the rights of all people in Sierra Leone and not just its citizens. The State must respect, promote and fulfill the rights highlighted in such an invaluable document. The Constitution is supreme law; this simply means that the constitution is the highest law in the land – no person even an overly ambitious President can go against it. It seems to me SLPP supporters cannot grasp the real importance of the Constitution and its basic principles that determine the powers and duties of the government.

      My friends have argued that under Mr President our country has been transformed into a Banana Republic where every now and then even though we don’t grow and export bananas it is a guarantee that one might slip on a banana peel wickedly left behind by SLPP anarchists in order to ensure that things never work as they are were originally intended to do. Mr President the Auditor General needs your unwavering support; when will you ever begin to govern our Sierra Leone with a clear and decisive, all inclusive vision Sir? Are our struggling poor people going to wait in vain?

  4. If our country is governed according to the laws written and enacted by parliament, which is embedded in our constitution, it will help contribute to the basis for good governance in our country. In which the politicians that are elected to make decisions on behalf of the people are held to account. And to ensure those decisions are made on behalf of everyone’s interest. By so doing, it protects individual freedoms, and fundamental human rights which are the very foundations of a well established and functioning democracies around the world. Therefore, the constitution should be seen as set of laws that is used as a template to govern a country. Any deviation to that is the road to dictatorship. Which is not always sign posted.

    But in practical terms, the end result is always oppression and suppression of fundamental human rights, and free press. That is why the judiciary, which has the enviable task of interpreting the laws, together with the criminal justice system effectively enforcing those laws, are meant to be independent. And should be seen to be independent when the task is brought before them.

    So this sniping at Mrs Lara Pearce – Taylor, no doubt by politicians within this Bio government, and Parliamentarians that are accused of wrong doing, not only sought to discredit the good work she is doing for our country, but its like they are throwing spaghetti of mistrust on the wall, and see what sticks. Or sowing seeds of doubt about the effectiveness of the job she and her team are doing. And the loser in all this is Sierra leone. Because we will never be able to fight corruption.

  5. Politics is a game of brinkmanship. Those who think a certain political party will maintain power in perpetuity are mistaken, and should consider themselves among the biggest FOOLS. The policies, laws, and actions that you enact today are bound to affect you once your moment is over. So political fanatics be aware. Your party in governance today will surely be an opposition tomorrow. Nothing will change this fact.

    The political demi-gods you are worshipping today, allowing them to ruin your future and children’s future will leave you behind and enjoy their loot in a foreign land. Stop being used as a toilet paper by these ingrates, unpatriotic criminals. We only have one mama Salone. What is good for me, should be good for you. Let’s stop the bastardization and dismantling of our independent institutions. Let’s stand with ASSL and its leadership!!

  6. This is just an opener because of the trappings of time. Here we have it – Dr Yumkella at his vintage best, morally and technically standing up for what is unambiguously right. He couldn’t be more correct in forcefully declaring that the monumental wish of Bio and his outlaws right now is to get rid of Auditor General, Lara Taylor-Pearce and replace her with a “darcay buua“ who will become part of the extraordinary ring of criminals who try to pass themselves off as professionals. Lara Taylor-Pearce should go no where. The nation needs her. True Sierra Leoneans should join future president, Dr Yumkella in this fight, whatever course it may take.

  7. In a country bereft with corruption, no public institution should be beyond reproach, especially the auditor general’s office. Accountability must be our watchword for all and in equal measure. No sacred cows please.

  8. I have no specific party-political leaning but do recognise the intellectual acuity and presidential potentiality of some of our politicians currently in the opposition. Dr Yumkella seems to belong to that category of our parliamentarians as evidenced by his full and thorough grasp of the nature and function of the office of the Auditor General in a society that operates on the principles of democratic governance where accountability is at the heart of the way those in charge of say the nation’s finances conduct their business.

    For the good of every living soul in our beloved nation, the power of government, in particular the power of its functionaries, should be constantly monitored and if need be, held in check as provided by our CONSTITUTION – the very embodiment of the sacred law of the land and to which both those who govern and those they govern are equally subjected. We dismantle the mechanisms and institutions that enact such democratic oversight and accountability at our peril.

  9. Its about time that more voices are publicly heard about the independence of the Auditor General(AG) and ASSL which is a concern to well meaning Sierra Leoneans. We have a President who pretends not to be aware about critical issues until they get out of control. That style of leadership and aloofness bears no fruit in our governance system. You would expect a President who is not complicit in the high-handed tactics of public officials to oust the AG, to come out and express confidence in the AG.

    Its also about time that we lay the blame squarely where it belongs – at the door step of the President. Dr Kandeh Yumkella as an opposition leader has expressed full confidence in the AG and ask others to do the same, including the President of Sierra Leone.

  10. We truly have dangerous and unprincipled men in control of our country’s affairs, who are determined to politicised every institutions and fill them with their party fanatics and lackies. Our lady, Lara Taylor Pearce is going nowhere.

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