Rotten to the core: A call for radicalization in Sierra Leone’s governance – Op ed

Alpha Amadu Jalloh (The FOX): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 March 2024:

Sierra Leone, once hailed for its potential to thrive as a democracy, now finds itself ensnared in the clutches of corruption and nepotism. The very institutions meant to safeguard the rights and interests of its citizens – the Parliament, the Judiciary, the Police, the Army, the Anti-Corruption Commission, and more, have all become privatized entities serving the interests of a select few, rather than the collective good of the nation.

The phrase “orders from above” has become a dreaded mantra, symbolizing the erosion of democratic principles and the consolidation of power in the hands of a select elite. Sierra Leoneans live in a perpetual state of fear, where dissent is met with repression and speaking truth to power is a perilous endeavour.

The Judiciary, once revered as the bastion of justice, now operates as a tool of the ruling regime. Justice is no longer blind but beholden to the highest bidder. The rich manipulate the legal system with impunity, while the poor languish in a cycle of injustice.

The Police force, entrusted with maintaining law and order, has devolved into a political instrument used to suppress dissent and consolidate power. Nepotism runs rampant within its ranks, with loyalty to the ruling regime valued over competence and integrity.

The Anti-Corruption Commission, tasked with combating graft and malfeasance, has been reduced to a toothless watchdog. It targets low-level offenders while turning a blind eye to the egregious transgressions of the political elite.

The revolving door of corruption continues unabated, with corrupt officials being rewarded with lucrative positions rather than facing accountability.

The Army, meant to defend the nation from external threats, has become a breeding ground for tribalism and nepotism. Those not aligned with the ruling regime are purged without regard for merit or competence, jeopardizing national security in the process.

Even the Audit Department, charged with ensuring fiscal transparency and accountability, has fallen under the sway of political interference. The dismissal of former Auditor General Mrs. Lara Taylor – Pearce and her deputy for daring to challenge the status quo serves as a stark reminder of the lengths to which those in power will go to maintain their grip on authority.

In the hallowed halls of Parliament, party politics reign supreme, overshadowing the voices of the people. The recent scandal involving the Clerk of Parliament, Paran Tarawally, underscores the pervasive culture of corruption that has taken root within its walls. Parliamentarians, more concerned with self-enrichment than public service, have betrayed the trust of those who elected them.

It is time for Sierra Leoneans to reclaim their democracy and demand accountability from those in power. A referendum to make key institutions such as the Speaker of Parliament, the Chief Justice, the Inspector General of Police, and the Army Chief of Staff would help break the stranglehold of political interference and usher in a new era of transparency and accountability.

Sierra Leone cannot afford to remain shackled by the chains of corruption and nepotism. It is time to tear down the rotten edifice of governance and rebuild a system that truly serves the interests of all its citizens. The future of the nation depends on it.

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