Cornelius Oguntola Melvin Deveaux: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 February 2021:
Sierra Leone’s main opposition All Peoples Congress is sadly caught up in a complexity of setbacks which are seriously limiting the partys ability to cement the blocks of the foundation of that nation we seek to build on the principles of accountability, transparency and good governance.
Another court case! And God knows how many more litigations to come. However, before delving into the issues of the APC and calls for unity, let me take a moment to bring to the attention of the public the blatant misuse of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system and how the All Peoples Congress remains placid even as the SLPP voraciously erodes its legacies of good governance.
The All Peoples Congress government of former President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma introduced a Treasury Single Account (TSA) system as a good governance fiscal policy to block financial leakages, enhance effective public expenditure control and the efficient management of public finance, promote transparency and improved financial accountability, and to enhance and enable the consolidation and optimal utilization of government cash resources.
In his handing over notes to the incoming Julius Maada Bio administration in April 2018, former President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma singled out the introduction of the TSA system as one of his key reforms in improving transparency and accountability in the management of public finance.
The architecture of the Treasury Single Account system is to ultimately have a single bank account at the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) to which all revenues or monies collected by the government are deposited and from which all government disbursements are made. It is in line with the provisions of the Fiscal Management and Control Act of 2017 that President Julius Maada Bio on his assumption of office issued an Executive Order to the effect.
The Fiscal Management and Control Act of 2017 compel all MDAs to deposit all revenues into the consolidated revenue fund (CRF). Section 5(1) of the Public Finance Management Act (2016) entrusts the responsibility to manage and control public money through the management of the Treasury Single Account and the planning and forecasting of cash flow on the Minister of Finance. Section 23 of the Finance Act of 2019 and TSA manual launched by the SLPP government in 2020 reinforces this.
Allegations of corruption which have been made public by the Africanist Press and borders on the egregious loot of the consolidated revenue fund is indicative of an opprobrious conduct for which public officials should be censored and held accountable.
(Photo: President Bio and First Lady enjoying a lavish holiday in Lebanon a few months ago – costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, amidst rising poverty and raging global covid-19 pandemic).
Yet the Anti Corruption Commissioner, even as he gallivants with an international accolade, sees no reason to probe the veracity of the allegations being made by the Africanist press.
The Bio government should be accountable to the people and should speak to these allegations if it should pride itself as a transparent and accountable government.
Regrettably, the government continues to take Sierra Leoneans for granted and think it owes no moral and constitutional obligation to be transparent and accountable to the people and to respond to these allegations.
The huge financial losses highlighted in the 2019 audit report in tandem with the allegations made by the Africanist press shows a bizarre level of fiscal indiscipline in the management of government spending and an obvious misuse of the TSA system by the SLPP government.
The APC Members of Parliament should call for a probe into the allegations made by the Africanist press. The allegations from the Africanist press are alarming and demand affirmative action. Affirmative action obliges the government to speak out. For the opposition APC, affirmative action should go beyond issuing a press release.
As the main opposition and hope of a nation disgusted with this SLPP administration, history will judge the All Peoples Congress as failing in its obligations to uphold democratic good governance and hold the SLPP government accountable.
The rank and file, and by extension the general public, is not oblivious the APC is laden with an internal strife the preponderance of which are the polarization of party executives across all structures by flagbearer aspirants; an intense horse-trading with the ruling SLPP which jeopardizes the safety and security of well meaning comrades and is undermining the unity and effective functioning of the party as the main opposition in a democracy; a compromised leadership lacking focus, morally and legally questionable and, due to vested interest, have a stranglehold on the ability of the party to position itself as a government in waiting.
The internecine social media warfare is deepening the acrimony and widening the divide. Equally problematic and repulsive, perhaps even more than the court cases, is the high level of sycophancy and hypocrisy being exhibited by the elites of the party.
As a party, we should be responsive to the urgent need for a united and focused APC if we are to effectively hold this government accountable and win the 2023 elections. Or else, we are failing our people.
Comrade chairman and leader (Photo: Ernest Bai Koroma), should provide leadership in uniting the party more than ever before. Unity in the APC is the craving desire, not just, of the rank and file but of a nation and people desperate to vote the SLPP out in 2023.
We must come to terms with the fact that there can be no unity in the APC without a genuine reconciliation that seeks to put the party interest above all other consideration.
One of the recommendations of the Nine-Man committee was to reconcile the party. A committee led by Comrade Alimamy Petito Koroma was established by the secretariat but it seems this committee has not been given preference and as a matter of fact many more have been hurt and the acrimony is nauseating.
It is my view we reconcile the party before convening a national delegates conference to elect new officers and flagbearer. It should be reconciliation before convention and not the other way round.
In conclusion, reconciling the APC is the most important task at hand. It is a sure precursor to ending court cases and the repositioning of the party. And while we may be entangled in the complexity of setbacks, let me urge our APC MPs to demand a parliamentary probe into the veracity of allegations from the Africanist press regarding the misuse of the Treasury Single Account (the consolidated revenue fund) by the SLPP government.