Sierra Leone’s anti-corruption avant-garde

Abayomi Tejan: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 September 2019:

President Julius Maada Bio has dared his government and public servants; there will be no more safe haven for those who steal government money. And fortune seems to be in his favour.

This is Sierra Leone’s first and last opportunity to do the right thing – to take poverty away from the people. Without president Bio’s resolve to give a freehand to three strategically placed public servants – the Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Francis Ben Kelfala; the Chief Executive of the National Public Procurement, Authority, Ibrahim Brima Swarray ; and the country’s Auditor General, Lara Taylor Pearce , the fight against corruption would have been lost before it had begun.

The Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Francis Ben Kelfala; the Chief Executive of the National Public Procurement Authority, Ibrahim Brima Swarray ; and the Auditor General, Lara Taylor Pearce are key public servants, who are ensuring that President Bio’s fight against corruption succeeds.

Thus far, these three have demonstrated absolute fortitude and unflinching commitment to do the right thing for once, and end the travesty of corruption and ill-deserved poverty in Sierra Leone.

The procurement of goods and services by government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) has been a main source  for embezzlement and all manner of dishonesty the human mind could contrive. But this is about to change under the stewardship of Mr Swarray – the NPPA boss, who has restored sanity to an institution that had been rendered irrelevant by the former government.

Encouraged by president Bio’s resolve to be the bastion of circumspection for all public servants, Mr Swarray has demonstrated that he is prepared to do his job exactly as prescribed by the laws governing public procurement. He has made significant savings on government expenditure, running into billions of Leones. (Photo: President Bio).

That being the case, the stage is set for foreign direct investments, increased donor confidence, lesser domestic borrowing and the stabilization of the economy.

Even the country’s Local Content Policy would gain traction, encouraging more local companies and entrepreneurs to compete for contracts without fear of manipulation by heads of MDAs.

The Auditor General, Lara Taylor Pearce, is beyond question an astute professional that is above politics, when it comes to the execution of her mandate. Her reports so far speak volumes of the invidious squandering of government funds by heads of MDAs over the last decade.

She has manifested profound independence of partisan politics, and that is certainly not going to change under President Bio’s New Direction agenda. Her next report would capture any misappropriation of funds since 2018.

The ACC Commissioner, Francis Ben Kelfala, is the man in the middle of it all. Heads of MDAs, and indeed all public sector enterprises would be running a grave risk trying to beat the system. (Photo: Lara Taylor-Pearce).

As corruption has permeated the entire fabric of the country, the general public, too, must play its own part by resisting corruption when faced with a situation. It is they who bear the brunt of the hardship that has been thrust on the nation by corruption.

There is no corrupt act too petty or trivial; petty crime offenders languish in prison for stealing a phone or Le 50, 000. Surely, the ACC Commissioner needs the cooperation of the entire citizenry, whose indulgence in politics during elections is quite visible.

If only citizens would be as much involved and enthusiastic in the fight against corruption, the instrument of their poverty, Sierra Leone would become the envy of other African countries and a haven for business.

Already, president Bio has earned himself a lot of respect in the international arena. An avalanche of goodwill and support for Sierra Leone is on it’s way. Soon, the economic storm would calm, and the citizens would realize the virtue in honest and disciplined leadership.

Sierra Leone, the country, is rich; but the people are poor and hungry. The vast majority, that is. There has always been a handful, a tiny minority apart from genuine business people who, by virtue of their position in society, be it political or civil, enriching themselves through corruption at a viral scale. And they have been getting away with it, making mockery of a criminal justice system concentrating only on the common man whose poverty and need for basic daily sustenance leave them no option but to steal for a living.

As the saying goes, they will ‘share their poverty with the rich who won’t share their riches with them.’ Corruption festers violence and crime. If corruption is seen to be crushed with no discrimination, there would be law and order as a necessary end. Poverty will be reduced.

There are rich men, poor men, beggars and thieves in all societies. But woe unto a nation whose leader is a thief; that nation shall never prosper or be at peace.

8 Comments

  1. I want to thank those who are at the front in the fight against corruption. The fight against corruption is a national fight. It will be won.

  2. Alusine Fallay Hahahah, hahahaaah; wow, wow, you made my day bro. Hahahaah. I must say you do have a sense of humor after all. All along, I thought praise singing the SLPP leadership despite their corrupt practices was the only thing you are good at. Alas, you have just added another medal under your belt — a comedian.

    Now, on a serious note, I am not surprised at the level of naivety being displayed by fanatic supporters like you. One of my best friend is a die-hard SLPP supporter like you. Prior to the elections, he spent a huge amount of his money to support Bio, including traveling to Salone just to witness the elections. He told me he eventually held several meetings with Bio. Six months ago, while I was in town, he wanted me to meet a few of the ministers whom he said they are his childhood friends, IIhumbly decline.

    Like you, he thinks Bio is a God, hence he should be worship by all. In fact, he thinks the only party worthy of ruling Sierra Leone is SLPP. Not a given day past Without receiving messages i considered propagandist from him. I can see a lot of similarities in you. Time and again, you have presented false narrative in this platform to suit your praise singing job.

    Few days ago, you falsely declare that, SLPP has always humbly accepted election defeat. On the contrary, that has never been the case. While Solomon B humbly accepted the 2007 elections, the rest of the SLPP hierarchy never did. As for 2012 elections, none of SLPP leadership accepted the result, a law suit was filed, only to be thrown out by the high court. But none of these facts matters to praise singers like you, all that matters to you is to suit your masters.

    Now, in regards to corruption, again, only a naive/die-hard regime supporter will believe that there is absolutely no corruption taking place. The notion that a magic wand has been waved resulting to a complete eradication of corruption cannot be anywhere close to being absurd. By all indications, even the president, whom you consider a deity, is very much aware of corrupt elements within his inner circle. Like many politicians, the only time he will take action is when information leaks in the public. Lastly, may I remind you that the president himself is mot a saint when it comes to corruption? Most of us are aware of the passport sale, gunboat deal, and other schemes engineered by the president during NPRC to dupe the poor citizen of our nation.

  3. Oh what a well balanced article! The author made me laugh my sides out with the following comment: “But woe unto a nation whose leader is a thief”. Ernest Bai Koroma, did you hear this?

    President Julius Maada Bio, Francis Ben Kelfala, Ibrahim Brima Swarray and Lara Taylor-Pearse may be in the front row of fighting corruption in our country. But much credit should also be given to Mr. Abdul Rashid Thomas, the proprietor and editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph. While other journalists were receiving brown envelopes to turn a blind eye on corruption, especially between 2007 and 2018, Thomas was quick to expose the powerful in Sierra Leone who thought that they would rule with impunity while taking the country to the cleaners. Thomas continues fighting relentlessly for his country to this day.

    It is impossible to totally eradicate corruption in any society. However, corruption can be drastically minimized anywhere with goodwill and determination. Sierra Leone is a better country today than it was just sixteen months ago. I urge president Julius Bio, Francis Ben Kelfala, Ibrahim Brima Swarray, Lara Taylor-Pearse, Abdul Rashid Thomas and all patriotic Sierra Leoneans to not abandon their fight against corruption.

  4. In my personal opinion, this is the “DREAM TEAM“ that will eventually change Sierra Leone forever, by the end of the first term of His Excellency President Maada Bio. I like the balance of the team – 2 men and a woman, although I should have preferred the other way round.

    With your permission again Young4na, this time around I will like to reveal your real name JOHN FORNAH to the ACC as a person of interest and ACCOMPLICE, which in summary means: A PERSON WHO HELPS ANOTHER COMMIT A CRIME. If you are a US citizen I hope the New Direction government will ask the USA government to first use the preferred interrogative method used by former president George Bush which is Waterboarding on suspected terrorists on you, in order to reveal the name of your corrupt friend that confided in you; and hopefully, you will be extradited along with the former APC transport minister – Balogun Koroma.

    Just for clarity, I’m not accusing you of being an APC member because I have read your book on this forum – “How to prove that you’re not APC“. Finally, the ACC will appreciate your patriotic cooperation because they and His Excellency President Maada Bio believe that Corruption is a National Security Threat which in my opinion is equal to terrorism.

  5. “Corruption festers violence and crime. If corruption is seen to be crushed with no discrimination, there would be law and order as a necessary end.”

    Indeed, the fight against corruption can be easily won when there are no sacred cows and the rule of law is applicable, devoid of political affiliations or tribe. It’s an open secret that corruption permeates itself within the fabric of our society. In fact, the practice has become a culture; if you are in a lucrative job and appears to desist from corrupt practices, you are deemed as an outcast.

    As we speak, countless of the officials in the new regime are busy amassing wealth in the form of building mansions overnight, while sending their wives and kids on expensive foreign trips. I have a friend of mine who coalesce with many of the key officials in the current regime. He confides in me with many of the happenings. In fact, he himself won a contract from the new regime and he is almost completing a massive mansion within 8 months. For now, the fight against corruption is focused on the former regime; time will tell if the Bio regime will indeed go after those within his inner circle.

  6. In my view, anyone who sincerely thinks they can make a difference in the fight against corruption must be encouraged and be given the opportunity to do so. Only time will tell if many of these people are honest and trustworthy. Partisan politics must be put aside when fighting corruption. That’s the only way things will work for the benefit of all.

    • The fight against corruption is gaining an unbelievable momentum. Corruption is our greatest enemy and the greatest challenge to our country’s development. If we win the fight against corruption we have arrived. The fight against corruption must be swift, collective, indiscriminate and goal driven.

      There must only be one goal for fighting corruption – NATIONAL INTEREST. At IPAM we have started seeing some positive results already. The introduction of the CCTV camera in examination halls and finger print system have completely removed examination malpractice. This was clearly reflected in this year’s first semester results with over 70% failure – the highest ever in the history of IPAM. Corruption must be eradicated everywhere.

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