Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 June 2018:
There are growing calls for president Bio of Sierra Leone to publish the contents of a report produced by a government governance committee that he established, just weeks after he was elected in March 2018.
The Governance Transition Committee which is chaired by the chief minister professor David Francis, was expected to have published its report within six weeks of taking office. But there are fears the president has backtracked on his promise to hold the previous APC government accountable.
This is a report written by Sierra Leonean activist Elkass Sannoh, demanding that the president publishes the report without delay:
Many Sierra Leoneans, within and outside, have called on President Julius Maada Bio to urgently release the Governance Transition Team report headed by Professor David Francis (current Chief Minister).
ACCOUNTABLE AND TRANSPARENT LEADERSHIP
If the New Direction of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) was built on accountable and transparent leadership, there is need to publish and make available the Governance Transition Team report.
The most important result of accountability is trust, which is essential in any governance structure. Accountability and transparency inspire confidence and therefore those who are leaving should account for their stewardship from 2007 to 2018.
President Julius Maada Bio is not the first President in Africa to set up a Governance Transition Team with prescribed mandates. In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari set up a Transition Committee headed by Ahmed Joda.
The 8000-page report of the transition team outlined a list of prompts, medium and long-term decisions President Muhammadu Buhari must take.
Ghana’s Transition Team was co-chaired by former Member of Parliament of the NPP Party Ofoase Ayirebi. In South Africa, a Special Investigation Unit was set up to investigate corruption made in Parliament in response to the Presidency’s Budget.
In Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa excluding Sierra Leone, all the investigation team/committee reports were published with strong recommendations. Why is Sierra Leone an exception?
Going through memory lane, President Bio should be reminded that there were a lot of denials between the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s led-Government and President Ernest Bai Koroma’s All Peoples Congress (APC) Government over the amount of money left in the national purse.
This is why Sierra Leoneans are demanding for the immediate release of the “Prof. David Francis Investigation Report” to put an end to the public suspicion on TRUST.
ABOUT THE TRANSITION TEAM
With almost two months in existence, the Government Transition Team was set up to take stock of the state of affairs during President Koroma’s tenure; serve as focal point to interface with the outgoing APC Government; conduct an immediate stock taking exercise of the current state of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies and to finally submit a comprehensive report to President Bio and his Vice President for immediate consideration.
The team comprises Dr. Abass C. Bundu, Dr. Morie Manyeh, Mrs. Kona Koroma, Mr. Jacob Jusu Saffa, Alhaji Kanja Sesay, Dr. Alie Kabbah, PC Charles Caulker, Mrs. Melrose Kargbo, Hon. Suahilo Koroma, Lawyer Umaru Napoleon Koroma and Dr. Denis Sandy as the Secretary to the Governance Transition Team.
In as much as Sierra Leoneans have commended the SLPP led Government for establishing the Governance Transition Team of eminent personalities from different academic disciplines, they should also know that Sierra Leoneans are impatiently waiting to read and make informed judgments on the report.
It was promised that the report was going to be published and made public. This assurance was made on Televisions and some prominent radio stations, so there is no need to undermine this sacred promise.
PRESIDENT KOROMA’S JUSTIFICATION
President Bio did not set up a Commission of Inquiry contrary to what former President Koroma did in 2008. Like many other African Presidents, President Bio only set up a team to investigate or give us a clear picture of how the APC Governed the country (2008-2018).
When President Koroma took over political power, he justified why SLPP must be investigated. Today, some miscreants within the APC party are demonizing the Governance Transition Team.
On Thursday 30th April 2008 whilst opening the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) offices in Makeni, Northern Sierra Leone, former President Ernest Bai Koroma justified that the setting up of the Commission of Inquiry is a complimentary tool in his Government’s commitment to eradicate corruption in the country.
“Some people are talking about witch-hunt, but what I am saying is that the people have a right to know about monies sent to this country in their name. It is everybody’s right to know, and then we would be able to correct the system.” President Koroma said the Commission of Inquiry was going to even serve as a signal of deterrent for functionaries of his government to beware of any ill intention they might have developed.
He said: “I said it during campaigning, but some people thought I was joking. I was serious about it, and now the time to give account is here.” He said that the State would protect anyone that has no case to answer, “But if you have skeletons in your cupboard, we will open it so let us all give account for our stewardship.”
APC COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
The setting up of a Commission of Inquiry is not strange in Sierra Leone as it is a constitutional provision. Since independence (27th April 1961) Commissions of inquiry have been set up by successive governments. From 1967 to date, different Commissions with certain mandates have been set up.
The National Reformation Council (NRC) did set up various Commissions to investigate and report on the act of corruption and other financial malpractices in public offices. The Beoku-Betts Commission of Inquiry on Special Coffee Deal in the Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Board (SPMB) was set up in 1967.
Fast forward, the Forster Commission of Inquiry on Assets of Ex-Ministers and Deputy Ministers, the Percy Davies Commission of Inquiry on the Activities of the Freetown City Council, the Justice Showers Commission of Inquiry and the Shears Moses Commission of Inquiry among others were set up.
In 2008 the All People’s Congress government set up a Commission of Inquiry headed by a Gambian hired judge-Sameja Jammeh to investigate the SABABU Education project that was developed and implemented by the SLPP government. The Commission was also mandated to probe the state of affairs at that time.
President Koroma was the first to have spoken of the need to set up a Commission of Inquiry. His statements were buttressed on a daily basis by some government officials. In view of that the APC government placed stiff travel restrictions on the past SLPP officials.
First it was a ban and later a police clearance from the Inspector General of Police. Indeed, the former officials faced embarrassment and molestation at the Lungi International airport. It is totally wrong to repeat the same (political intimidation) but totally correct to allow the Governance Transition Team to tell us the state of affairs in establishing the platform that will allow justice to prevail.
WHAT PRESIDENT BIO SAID
President Bio has vowed to implement the New Direction to the letter with fundamental priorities to revamp the economy; overhaul the current education sector and replace it with quality; institute a disciplined governance structure with an accountable leadership devoid of sentiments and an aggressive war on poverty.
At State House, President Bio recently told members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps during IMF High-Level Forum on Economic management that: “During the Presidential campaign, I told the people of Sierra Leone that the economic situation is appalling and requires hard choices which I am strongly committed to deliver on. Initial assessment by the Governance Transition Team reveals that my administration will be faced with the worse economic situation since independence.”
If the SLPP truly inherited such an awkward economy, according to the Governance Transition Team, there is need to submit their findings and make it public to justify this claim. Another reason is to tell us whether the “bigger economy” or huge amount left; according to former President Koroma-in his handing over note is truly true.
The unanswered question is, amid the accusations and counter accusations, who is saying the truth? This could be a fine reason to release the report.
MEDIA AND CIVIL SOCIETY CONSORTIUM
Journalists, prominent Civil Society Organizations and the Executive Director-Center for Human Rights and Rule of Law (CARL)-Lawyer Ibrahim Tommy had earlier called on President Bio not only to set up an investigation committee but to publish the findings and recommendations of the committee’s report.
In fact, Lawyer Tommy urges President Bio to investigate financial mismanagement and all human rights violations that occurred during the ten years of APC rule. “While you were campaigning, you highlighted instances of financial mismanagement in government projects, public procurement, and misappropriation of funds meant for disaster response, among others. I urge you to investigate allegations of financial mismanagement and human rights violations under the previous administration with the view of recovering funds and prosecuting any crimes arising therefrom. It is important to rectify wrongs of the past for the sake of the future.”
In a letter written to President Bio, Lawyer Tommy said: “The laws exist, but nothing will change until there are consequences for flouting rules. Holding to account those who committed misdeeds in the past will convince the public of their government’s commitment to stop corruption, and ensure efficient resource management and disciplined leadership.”
Global Africa Media in their press release called on President Bio to be decisive and make sure that the report is made public.
The former Presidential Spokesman, Abdulai Baratay, stated in his article that: “The whole exercise will be fraught with political scandal and dismissed as yet another boulevard…If this happens, then it would be nothing short of some lazy government poised to diverting the public from the inadequacy of addressing the social demands of its people.”