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.