I will not be distracted – Chief Minister Francis told the Sierra Leone Telegraph

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 February 2021:

Sierra Leone’s Chief Minister – Professor David John Francis has today told the Sierra Leone Telegraph, that he will not be distracted by fake propaganda, stressing that his “focus is on His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio’s New Direction agenda of accelerated delivery”.

Speaking exclusively to the author of the Sierra Leone Telegraph, following request for his response to the barrage of allegations of impropriety in his office published by the Africanist Press, the Chief Minister said he will not be drawn to responding to or commenting on unsubstantiated allegations.

But he spoke about the Audit Service Report and the work of the Office of the Auditor General.

Speaking about the 2019 Audit Service Report, the Chief Minister urged full implementation of the recommendations, as he acknowledges what he referred to as the “outstanding role of Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) in the scrutiny of public institutions on the use of public funds.”

He confirmed the invaluable role of ASSL in scrutinizing public institutions in the use of public funds. He also recalled highlighting this invaluable role in the GTT Report submitted to President Bio.

He confirmed that the New Direction Government led by President Bio will support the full implementation of the recommendations of the ASSL 2019 Report.

The Bradford-trained Professor said Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of Government are all subjected to the Constitution, Acts of Parliament and Policies in the utilization of public funds.

He affirmed that every MDA has a Vote Controller who is principally responsible to account for the use of public funds.

Referencing the Public Financial Management Act of 2016, he said the Act is very clear on the role of Vote Controllers in managing public funds. In this regard, he said that Government Ministers only provide strategic leadership to their Ministries and do not sign cheques for the operations of any Ministry.

The Chief Minister Commended ASSL for producing and disseminating the 2019 Audit Report to the public. He encouraged the public to read and engage with the ASSL Report for their own edification and understanding of how public funds are expended and audited.

He however stated that persons or institutions culpable for the alleged misappropriation of funds will be held accountable as required by law and accountability institutions, including the ACC and Parliament.

Chief Minister Francis then went on to speak about his achievements since he assumed duties in 2018 as the country’s Chief Minister.

According to Professor Francis, “even though the outbreak of the Corona Virus Disease is taking its toll on government wide operations, the Office of the Chief Minister (OCM) has made giant strides, and in some cases – innovative ones that are contributing to good governance and service delivery,” as he highlighted the following achievements:

Hosting of the 3rd Cabinet Retreat

The key object of this Retreat was to take a critical analysis of the New Direction Government’s progress on the implementation of its eight Governance Priorities on the Economy, Free Quality Education (FQE), Energy, Health, Infrastructure, Agriculture and Mining.

President Bio urged Ministers and Public Servants to focus on service delivery in the interest of the people of Sierra Leone. A key outcome of the Retreat was that Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to recalibrate their interventions to enhance service delivery in their various sectors.  

Performance Management and Service Delivery of Ministers

Every Cabinet Minister Signs Performance Contract with the President. Each Contract in part, states the milestones to be achieved, based on the Medium-Term National Development Framework and the Manifesto Commitments. In 2020, the OCM successfully assessed Ministerial Performance and submitted to the President for his gracious consideration and action.  

The OCM has created a Dashboard wherein the President, the Vice President and the Chief Minister can, at a click of a button, track the performance of every Minister based on their performance contract.      

Mid-term Review of the New Direction Government  

President Julius Maada Bio instructed the Chief Minister to conduct a mid-term evaluation of His New Direction Government. This event was the first of its kind to evaluate a sitting government. The outcome of the Review was that Ministers identified their successes, challenges, and formulated strategies for effective delivery on their Ministerial Mandates.

Measuring the successes of the Manifesto Commitment of the New Direction Government

The Manifesto Commitment was the basis on which the New Direction Government was voted into Office. To measure the extent to which the Manifesto Commitments have been delivered, the OCM has developed a Compendium of the Manifesto Promises and what has been delivered mid-Term, and commitments delivered outside the Manifesto Commitment. So far, 34 Manifesto Commitments have been delivered out of the total of 38 as promised by President Bio.    

Institution Building and the Consolidation of Peace and Governance

Re-engagement with the Constitutional Review process: The President mandated the Chief Minister to initiate actions for a recommencement of the Constitutional Review Process before it was delegated to the Office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.    

National Disaster Management Agency: The OCM led Policy and Legal arrangements for the establishment and operationalization of the National Disaster Management Agency as a Statutory Institution. During the launch of the Agency, the President lauded the effort of the Chief Minister for taking the exceptional leadership in the establishment of the Agency.  

Independent Commission on Peace & National Cohesion (ICPNC): The President made a Manifesto commitment to address the deep cleavages that continues to undermine national cohesion, peace and unity in Sierra Leone. In this regard, His Excellency the President authorized the Chief Minister to lead on the establishment of the ICPNC. The ICPNC Bill when passed into Law in 2021, will bring into operation the ICPNC.  

National Reforestation and Timber Governance Agency: The Office of the Chief Minister led preparation of the Policy and its translation into a Bill for the establishment of the National Reforestation and Timber Governance Agency. When turned into law, the Agency will have the Statutory Mandate to regulate Timber Resources, improve revenue generation management and Governance, scale-up reforestation, and invest in sustainable utilisation of forest resources in Sierra Leone. It is hoped that the Bill will be passed into law in 2021.  

Establishment and operationalization of the Human Capital Development (HCD) Secretariat

Human Capital Development is a key Flagship Programme of His Excellency, the President. In this regard, the Office of the Chief Minister led in the full-scale operationalization of the HCD Directorate.

The HCD operates on three key portfolios: Education, Health and Agriculture. President Bio’s HCD initiative is now a model for implementation within the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS).  

Inter-Ministerial/Agency on the Road Sector

His Excellency the President mandated the Chief Minister to lead on the Inter-Ministerial Agency on the Road Sector. All Ministries and Agencies with bearings on the road sector prioritized roads and bridges that either required construction, rehabilitation, or improvement. The Plan of Action developed by the inter-ministerial agency guided the Ministry of Finance in the allocation of resources in the last Budget speech to the Houses of Parliament.

Inter-Agency Coordination of strategy on Lands and Water Catchment Areas along the Western Area Peninsula

The President directed the Chief Minister to lead on this intervention. Deforestation of water catchment areas along the Western Area poses environmental and security threats. Key outcomes of the inter-Agency meetings are:  

Demarcation of green-belt zones along the foothills of the Western Area Peninsula

Additional recruitment of Forest Guards to protect the forest reserves

Joint deployment of Police and Military Personnel to patrol the western Area Peninsula

Protection of the Guma Valley Water Dam.

Finally, in conclusion, the Chief Minister confirmed to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, that the New Direction Government led by President Bio remains committed to the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone. And he said that he wants “journalists to come to my office to clarify any information that is doubtful to them instead of misinforming the public.”

12 Comments

  1. True, Mr Young4na, the Chief Minister’s self-proclaimed successes are in essence a lot of hot air. He seems to be in love with his own voice and seizes every opportunity to luxuriate in it.

  2. Hooray for England! Hooray! A crooked mouse and a puppet in our State House are England’s gift to Sierra Leone. Folk’s, not long ago your SLPP mouse packed his bags full of rags and sailed in the hail and rain to England a faraway land. Yep, in England the mouse hustled and bustled, gnawed and chewed books in the day and at night, nibbled and gobbled until he fell deeply asleep. As time rolled on, the crooked mouse lost his appetite for books and so he turned to the tricky ways of politics to get a fresh taste of something thrilling and fulfilling; BEHOLD there it stood waiting – an enormous chunk of delicious, mouth-watering government cheese that was left unsupervised under his care and control.

    Hooray for England that tutored, nurtured and groomed a shady mouse strictly only on books who will later become a crook, that spooked my fragile beloved Sierra Leone. Yup, the mouse that stole a huge chunk of the poor people’s cheese is like a breeze that carried many tall trees away; he says he has the ‘Right To Remain Silent’. Nothing at all to say, and why not? His mouth is full of stolen cheese(lol) Why must the SLPP thief be DISTRACTED from his criminal and thieving ways?. (lol) Hooray for England, for an imposter they are not even ashamed to call a learned Professor Emeritus. And lastly here is to the penniless, clueless, struggling, gullible people of our beloved Sierra Leone for making it all possible – transforming our beloved nation into a cruel den of merciless SLPP thieves. SHAME on you all.(lol)

  3. This is my predicament always if Ernest Bai Koroma can re-elected in 2012, why not Bio? All what some of us are beating drum for, is the coming of 2023, folks the party is doing well for the country. If the APC supporters are not fed up and tired with the party leadership, and try to make changes, let me predict to you that, there would be no success for the APC party ever in the future period. Do not call me a sorcerer, I am not one of them. Can we forget about the comment “The government come 2023?, it is hardly to do one term administration in Africa. Some lucky ones are on their third term, even the former president; Ernest B. Koroma he was not lucky because, President Donald Trump did not expose his desire at the time or else, there was another story in Sierra Leone today. Who benefitted? Guinea Alpha Conde and Ivory Coast Watara. Folks,the SLPP government has a candidate that is getting ready prepared at any given time, that is (H.E.RTD.BRG. DR J.M.Bio. Long life to you Papa.

  4. The interview of the Chief Minister (CM) by the Sierra Leone Telephone dated on 25th Feb 2021 was an interesting read; one that presents a huge level of excitement to response to. Brushing the allegations levied against CM and his office is not something he could say “I will not be distracted”. Is this really a distraction or an accountability issue? As some commentators have already expressed, the failure of the CM to provide Sierra Leoneans with a narrative that could have countered the Africanist Press’ claims will hunt and “distract” him further. These are not claims that the CM could brush under the carpet and think it will just go away, it’s accountability and a responsibility on his part to set the records straight. I was really interested in the CM’s response to the Africanist Press’ allegations against him and his office, he decided to omit this very important allegations from his interview. This has left me with many questions than answers. Does the CM really understand the running of government institutions? Being a CM for Sierra Leone is a huge responsibility, one that requires the holder to be able to explain and clarify all government issues to the people whom he serves.

    I think the CM is under-estimating how much scrutiny he and all government officials including the president will face as Sierra Leoneans are becoming more aware about the affairs of state through modern technology. At least a reasonable number of Sierra Leoneans are becoming more politically conscious and are starting to hold to account those that are put in charge of running the affairs of the state. Big and fanciful terminologies won’t deter the people of Sierra Leone from asking for answers. Although the CM did well to attend the Sierra Leone Telegraph’s interview, I expected him to have come out earlier than now to defend his name and reputation – but he failed to do so and I commend the Sierra Leone Telegraph for giving readers the chance to hear the CM’s side of the story. It wasn’t convincing by any means because even the 34 out of 38 government achievements he presented lacked detail and substance.

    Mathematically, this means the government has already achieved nearly 90% of the 38 commitments that CM highlighted. If we could take the CM by his own words, the government’s achievements in nearly three years of its tenure in office is huge, however, the realities in the lives of the ordinary Sierra Leoneans is getting worst. I hope he will provide Sierra Leoneans with more clarity in due course. The CM mentioned the government’s achievements for Reforestation and Timber, Human Capital Development, Guma Valley, Road Sector etc. but failed to go in detail about how successful these commitments have been. There are water shortages in Freetown, reports of corruption in the timber trade etc. The current government of President Bio was mainly elected to office because he promised to end corruption and block the leakages in the management of government funds and affairs. However, the failure of the CM to address one of the government’s key manifesto promises in this interview especially addressing the allegations that were levied against him and other officials by the Africanist Press has left me disappointed. This will come back to hunt the CM and the government come 2023. However, the current government must be applauded for their bold step in setting up a commission of enquiry, I believe the requirements in the current White Paper will be used as a template for all in-coming governments in future.

  5. The Chief Minister claims with great satisfaction that he and his government have already met 34 out of their 38 Manifesto commitments. Could the learned gentleman go a little further and explain how that spectacular success of theirs has impacted for better – obviously not for worse – and in concrete terms the needs of the poor – those men, women and children from down below?

    • Honorable Yillah, in regards to your rhetorical question, when it comes to utterances coming from the PAOPA leadership, my humble advice is for you to perceive such statements or declarations as a grain of salt. Logically, if the current regime has implemented and actualized 34 out of 38 (90%) promises made to the Sierra Leonean citizens, how is it that our economy and all other developmental indices are currently at the bottomless pit?

      Have you forgotten that the current financial secretary was on record promising to fix the economy within six months if the SLPP wins elections? Oh, need not I mention the food sufficiency, judicial reforms, corruption mitigation, Lungi bridge and a host of other FAKE promises are yet to see the light of the day. So so empty BIG TALK na e den man den ya get!! Nor hat u head bra!!

  6. Strange that David Francis should use The Sierra Leone Telegraph, located thousands of miles away from Sierra Leone, to nebulously attempt to clean up his soiled name. The only real consequences of the move is to enhance the distinguished reputation of The Telegraph and to unquestionably confirm what A.R.Thomas categorically said last year that members of the Bio government were reading the online Paper. This was in answer to a question a member of the forum had asked. Congratulations to Mr Thomas and his Paper.

    The most effective move by the Chief Minister, however, should have been for him to hold a press conference in the heart of Freetown lasting hours to clear his name. Before fielding questions he would tell journalists not to hold anything back and to ask questions which they might think to be below the belt. But to use The Telegraph based in England in a kind of monologue to wash off the dirt that has been thrown at him by the Africanist Press, portrays a politically broken and exposed man, feebly running for cover where there is none in sight. The sad fact is that David Francis has become so toxic, that even the university where he taught in England will have trouble re-hiring him again after his political stint in his country of birth. Why would they, when they know that he never had a moral compass and hence no conscience? David, you are in more trouble than you ever contrived.

  7. And there you have it – exactly the cowardly response I expected was going to come from Prof. David Francis. His arrogance and non compliant attitude in this matter speaks louder than War Trumpets signaling surrender and retreat blown by a totally subdued enemy trapped in the foggy trenches of warfare. He has become hostile and defiant because he’s dejected and traumatized with fear as he remains stuck in the deep muds of gut-wrenching defeat. My grandfather once told me not to ever walk away from a fight in which someone was trying to tarnish my good name but to boldly stand up and defend my reputation tooth and nail from Sunrise to Sundown if needs be.

    Its crystal clear to me now that David Francis is avoiding the bright lights of scrutiny because he has something shady and unscrupulous he desperately needs to hide from the public. Answer – if someone falsely accuses an impotent man of defiling a woman left in his care, what should he do to clear his good name.(lol) Should he not say; “liars, liars, here are my recent medical records that confirm that I have been suffering from Impotence (Erectile Dysfunction) since I finished my long arduous semesters of College Education many years ago?” (lol) What a golden opportunity this really was for the Chief Minister to come out GUNS BLAZING on the Africanist Press and his countless other detractors but he chose to scurry away like a nibbling mouse fleeing from the merciless claws of a hungry cat. (lol) What happened to you sir?

    Seriously, how did your integrity wash away so easily like lipstick on the face of a newly wed groom? Are you not thankful that the Sierra Leone Telegraph gave you this rare priceless opportunity to defend yourself on a world stage? Then why did you let it slip and slide away like a slippery fish caught in the firm grips of a heedless fisherman but allowed to go free? Have you forgotten so very quickly that you and our President are only custodians over the things that belong to the poorest of the poor among us? Do not be mistaken sir, to even think that you can callously trample on the rights and privileges of homeless beggars, disabled people and the mentally ill and allowed to go free without anyone uttering a word of rebuke or protest against you in Sierra Leone, my only precious home.(lol) Nope, nope – not ever going to happen Sir – better believe that!

  8. That is interesting. The Chief Minister came out trying to clear himself from this grave allegations. But he did not deny or accept the accusations against him. These were his words; “he will not be drawn to responding to or commenting on unsubstantiated allegations”. But, Mr Chief Minister, we need clarity. However, I respect his courage to come out and say something. Will the First Lady, Dr David Sengeh and their operatives follow suit? We want to hear their side of the story. Have to.
    Finally, the Chief Minister ended his story by saying this – “journalists to come to my office to clarify any information that is doubtful to them instead of misinforming the public”. Mr Chief Minister, I do not believe anyone will mislead Sierra Leoneans. The consolidated fund belongs to the people of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leoneans are asking for people like you at the helm of authority to be held accountable for your stewardship. “C’est tout, Le Ministre en chef”. God bless the Chief Minister for his courage. He has not yet convinced me. Anyway, I take note of his words. Yeah.

  9. Many thanks for this great report, Mr Thomas. The Chief Minister details his ministerial mandate and the successes he has achieved so far. On the face of it, a brilliant score card of diligence and commitment, pointing to a bright future for our country. Especially so when as he claims his government has already met 34 of the 38 Manifesto commitments it set itself on assuming power, and this just half way or so through it’s five-year term.

    However, is this faultless score card real? Doesn’t the Chief Minister’s refusal to take head on the ever mounting allegations of impropriety in the way his office operates suggest otherwise? If indeed he has nothing to hide, is it not in his best interest and that of his ministry to provide evidence showing those allegations to be without foundation? After all, as a scholar himself, the Chief Minister knows only too well the weight and value of written evidence. All he needs to do is to get his Vote Controller to come forward with his Ministry’s record of spending from the time he took up his appointment to the present. We will then weigh that evidence against the reports made by the Africanist Press.

  10. Dr. Francis, as a professor, more than anyone, you are supposed to know, being in a public position or the public eye especially someone who was never voted in that position, or never tested your credentials, by putting your name forward in a ballot paper. It is only right, when allegations like this are made, you come out and defend your name. No one is trying to soil your name or engage in character assassination, or trying to clone your person into something you are not. The rule of law and accountability, implies everyone is subject to the law. When EBK, the former president and many others were accused of wrong doing, they were summoned by the ACC to account publicly. This is what is exercising many Sierra Leoneans. The title of passive double standards being practiced by the ACC. Wha ever way one looks at it, it is a blow to some of us, who observe these things from the outside and the see how justice is being unashamedly applied by the ACC, selectivity. It is only fair to say accountability and the principle of the laws of the land being applied equitably, should be the basis on which everyone is held to account for their actions.

    It will do the ACC, no harm, if someone like you, in such a high profile position, with easily recognisable name amongst the general population, can be seen to be cooperating with ACC, publicly, not even private correspondence denying the allegations. What that does, it will give jitters to the small would-be corrupt individuals, who if they continue with their corrupt ways in the government ministries, it will only be a matter of time, before the Anti Corruption laws catch up with them. By virtue of being the Chief Minister, your cooperation, will greatly enhance the work of the ACC, under Ben Kiafala. Enough food for thought for the rest of the country and the small fish swimming in the ocean of corruption in our country.

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