Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 June 2020:
Yesterday, Chief Executive Officer of the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) – Ibrahim Brima Swaray, presented his 2018 Public Procurement Assessment Report to President Dr Julius Maada Bio, which outlines details of procurement spending by government departments and agencies under the former APC government, as well as president Bio’s New Direction government.
Discussing the report, which is yet to be made public, Ibrahim Brima Swaray said that over the years most of the leakages in national spending had come from procurement activities, adding that when he took office he knew exactly what the government wanted and how to go about it.
But he did not say how much money his Authority has saved the government since taking up office.
The procurement chief also stated that in line with global best practice they, as a regulatory body, will ensure a thorough analysis of how much government spends on public procurement and how that money is spent.
“This report has already been tabled in Parliament. It covers how monies were spent in 2018 by the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs. We were able to dive into 134 MDAs for 2018.
“The 2019 process is on-going and we will ensure a detailed report is done. I assure you that year in year out this report is tabled to you and it will be tabled to Parliament. We are the protective arm in the fight against corruption because we prevent incidents from happening,” Ibrahim Brima Swaray concluded.
In his response, President Bio said that he is delighted to have the report because it is in line with his government’s promise to ensure the efficient running of state institutions, and making sure that public funds are properly spent.
He commended the NPPA boss and his team for their leadership in the New Direction.
”I want to encourage you to make sure that due diligence is done and regulations are followed and people’s monies are well spent. The document gives a very clear indication as to where monies have been spent. It also helps in development planning and knowing how to block the leakages that have created so many challenges in this country,” the president said.
The NPPA was established in 2004 to perform oversight functions and advise the Government of Sierra Leone on public procurement management.
The country’s National Audit Office, in their report, found that in 2018 alone, millions of dollars were either wasted or misappropriated by government officials through departmental public procurement.
The investigation report of the Anti-Corruption Commission has been the focus of the recently concluded commissions of inquiry, but as yet there has been no legal action taken to either recover stolen public funds or seek custodial sentence for the millions of dollars that disappeared in 2018.
The report of the commissions of inquiry is now gathering dust at State House. The contents of which remain classified.
Talking of leakage, as a student in one the secondary schools in Makeni, One of the first demonstrations I was involved in against the government of President Joseph Momoh, was for us to turn up for classes, only to be sent home. Our teachers instructed us to tell our parents that they are on strike for late payments of salaries. When things got really heated up, the government sent the notorious SSD police unit, and Members of the RSLAF, from Tekoh barracks to intimidate us. Suffice to say, it didn’t work. And it would not have worked. The student body was united behind their teachers. We as students knew our rights. As students we just couldn’t understand why the three months late payments of salaries for our hard working teachers. So the APC party Congress was coming up, and was to be hosted in Makeni. The government took a different approach.
The then speaker of Parliament Hon. Musa Kabia, was sent to speak to us the students. When asked the reasons why our teachers have not been paid, he said the government of President Momoh is taking a review of the ministry of education. And they have identified a problem. His new mantra was his war against economic indiscipline. What ever that meant. That his government had discovered throughout the country the existence of” GHOST TEACHERS ” on the payroll of majority of primary and secondary schools in the country. Ghost teachers conjured all sorts of images to the innocent mind. Skeletons wearing white overalls and delivering lectures. That was exactly the case. Even teachers that had passed away were still drawing up salaries. At the end, people from the ministry of education used to come in 4x4s loaded with sacks of money and paying the teachers directly.
With President Bio’s new direction government, I think one of the areas government needs to look at is awarding of contracts, and delivery of services. For far too long governments have wasted public funds to contractors that have dubious records in terms of delivery. The only qualification these people have for winning a government contract, is because the director of a company knows Mr Fix It, who is either related to a minister or a member of certain political party, or they went to school together. And the loser in these shadowy deals is always the country and the people of Sierra Leone.
Good to read your comments regarding ‘Ghost teachers’ Mr. Jalloh. The late former APC education minister, Dr. Mikailou Bah spent his entire 10 years tenure chasing after ghost teachers. I began my formal schooling in the early 90s and I had no idea this issue had existed for such a long time. Definitely learning from your historical narratives a lot. Thanks again for being a true patriot.
Thanks brother. We have been fighting corruption or highlighting it since we started to realise tribal politics, and corruption is real. As a Fulani growing up in our country its not easy. You are constantly reminded of who you are. Whether it is the school playground or classroom. The police used to set up check points in Pamlap just outside Makeni, targeting mostly Fulani cows traders retuning either from Liberia or Freetown. The passenger vehicle will stop, and the traffic police officer will wave his gun, and say all number eleven get down. By the way number eleven is the two tribal markings you see on either side of the cheeks of Fulani people. So my father advice us on the pain of death not to wear them.
Majority of Fulanis don’t carry them anymore. Its like the Jews symbol of the star. That’s the reason I hate people who stoke up tribal divisions in our country. After all we are Africans first, then Sierra Leoneans. And this division was created by white men in the Berlin conference of 1885, when our colonial masters carved up our continent. And here is a surprise for all of us, the British government colonial representatives went out the night before, and was still drunk when he arrived around that table. If in doubt look at the map of Africa, and see how the lines divide tribal communities right across the continent. We are still living with the consequences of that drunk.
Blocking leakages is a welcome news not only for President Bio but for the citizens. Now what we are expecting from the New Direction government is for this development to change the lives of the average citizens by increasing the minimum wages for all workers with the hope that in the near future, our country will be classified as middle income country. The finance minister Mr. Jacob Saffa also has a difficult job to do in terms of messaging, because during the election campaign he promised to tackle the “ bread and butter” issues and I personally believe that he is on the right track. But most citizens just take it literally ( especially APC supporters) that he promised to supply them bread and butter every morning and even though they are enjoying the Free quality education they are still unappreciative.
The Bank Governor also should encourage local private financing in order to create more jobs within the private business which should be the backbone of our economy since the government is incapable of creating jobs, and in reverse the government will benefit from the the taxes from the jobs created. I hope the Accountant General and parliamentarians will do a follow up of this report. Let’s continue to pray for the New Direction government to recover more money so that the lives of the citizens will be improved.
Yeah! President Bio is really in control, when it comes to respecting social distancing rules. The report is yet to be made public, but what has been made public, is seeing government officials not respecting the social distancing rules. Government officials must remember, that these pictures are seen by thousands of people, who are expecting much from government officials, when they appear on globally respected online newspapers like The Sierra Leone Telegraph. They should set examples that others may follow.
Even when President Bio is trying to teach them with the basic social distancing rules, some have the audacity to break the rules in front of President Bio. Some would argue, it’s because he was using the microphone. That is no excuse. You can still wear your mask and speak using a microphone. See that lovely second picture. What an example that all Sierra Leoneans should be proud of and follow. This is a typical example of the SLPP party I knew. Discipline and fairness for all. But, I don’t know why things have change. God bless President Bio and the SLPP party.