Sierra Leone Telegraph: 1 July 2019:
Sierra Leone’s president Julius Maada Bio last Saturday, called on fellow heads of state from the West African region to take strong measures to tackle corruption in the region’s representative body – ECOWAS.
Since coming to power over a year ago, president Bio has made the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone, one of his most important battle grounds, in improving governance and increasing economic prosperity.
Speaking at the 55th Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Governments which took place in Abuja, Nigeria, president Bio said that regional leaders must take strong action to curb corruption in the Union.
“Public probity and accountability are not optional to good governance. We cannot afford to continue to see corruption as a minor inconvenience to ignore just because the thieves may be our own countrymen. As leaders, an adequate response to corruption on such a massive scale is not just perfunctory expression of discomfort at seeing our own nationals named and shamed,” he said, adding that ECOWAS must be alarmed that corruption at that level could undermine the integrity, vision, and efficiency of the Commission and the union.
In a 16 December 2018 press release the report of the Auditor General of ECOWAS Institutions, which was presented to the Council, recommended that the Commission’s Management should oversee a transparent, comprehensive and rigorous forensic audit.
To achieve this recommendation, president Bio said that the Commission must re-engage external auditors for a further 90-day period, so as to undertake deeper investigations into inconclusive matters and provide a comprehensive report with solid, incontrovertible evidence.
“All persons named in the report must stand down from their positions to allow for unfettered investigations. May I remind Your Excellences that at the commencement of investigations, the Sierra Leonean ECOWAS Commissioner for Finance was asked to step down in hope that the Commission would launch a full-scale investigation into the alleged financial impropriety and hold those responsible fully accountable for their actions,” he said.
President Bio also called for urgent comprehensive institutional reforms to avert future acts of corruption.
“Corruption is a threat to the governance of the Commission and we must confront it resolutely,” the president warns regional leaders.
Lead by example. Those fine words of fight against corruption from Bio rings hallow when he is under corruption investigations in his own country. Also the Ecowas leaders should have boycotted this gathering given that Nigeria’s Buhari continues to restrict free press and has closed his Western land border to states in West Africa.
Better late than never, I say! Our President has asserted his position on the international stage by showing others he is ready to show them how best to bring us all out of that morass of poverty and change our mentality for progress. You see, he is not so much looking at what we see now, as he is the potential. And that is ideally the true character of this our visionary leader. Let us all support his agenda and encourage more people to come onboard.
Peter A. Kortor Swaray
Very courageous leader, we need such leadership in West Africa to help clean up our system of governance and to guide against corruption,which has remained a stumbling block for the progress of the entire region. Kudos to you Mr. President and the people of Sierra Leone.
A step in the right direction but could have been achieved earlier!