By Bernard Abass Kargbo – Public Education Officer, ACC
The National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) Secretariat of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has completed a five-day extensive engagements with key stakeholders of Local Councils in the Southern Region and the Eastern District of Kenema as part of efforts to foster compliance and ownership of Integrity Management Committees (IMCs) by the top managements of Local Councils. A Team from the NACS Secretariat and the NACS Steering Committee, which oversees the implementation of the Strategy, conducted the engagements, which ran from 9th to13th May, 2022.
The specific objectives of the engagement, as explained by the Director of the NACS Secretariat Nabilahi-Musa Kamara, were to strengthen the effectiveness of oversight in the implementation of the Strategy by Local Councils, to ascertain compliance with the actions allocated to Councils and track their performance relative to the NACS 2019-2023 Implementation Action Plan. “We also intended to deepen ownership and accountability of the process of the implementation and enhance the functionality of IMCs,” he noted.
Mr. Kamara said 79 public bodies were monitored in the last quarter of 2021; of these, 57 were MDAs and 22 were Local Councils (representing all Local Councils across the country). Of the 22 Councils, he said, the total agreed action points were 677 across the board and 416 of these action points were fully implemented. He said although no region achieved 100% compliance status, the overall achievement was an average compliance status which makes the implementation of the action points full of hope for the future.
The main reason for not reaching total compliance, according to Mr. Kamara, was due to poor coordination and lack of Managements’ commitment and willingness to support the implementation process. He said the top managements of most of the Local Councils viewed the NACS implementation as purely the business of the ACC rather than the Councils themselves. Deputy Director of NACS Secretariat Edita Fofana underscored the improvements Local Councils have made in implementing the Strategy so far, but insists that more needs to be done if the Strategy is to get its desired goals before the end of the implementation date of 2023. She admonished top managements of the Councils to be committed to the Strategy by working in tandem with the IMCs, noting that the Strategy is a national document and all stakeholders should take ownership of the document.
During the course of the engagements, ACC recommended that the Internal Auditors and Procurement Officers of the MDAs be seen as holding important and strategic positions in ensuring effective service delivery and making Councils achieve a 100% compliance. The NACS Team therefore recommended for the holders of the two positions to be given a seat at Management meetings as they play a pivotal role in preventing corruption.
A representative of the NACS Steering Committee Winston Mella Jalloh entreated Council authorities to own the fight against corruption through the IMCs. He encouraged the leadership of the Councils to lead by example and ensure anti-corruption measures are mainstreamed in the MDAs. He commended the Pujehun District Council, citing them as a good example that other Local Councils should strive to emulate. “The fight against corruption has an economic benefit attached to it. A corrupt free society will lure in investors and investment which will in turn create jobs for a lot of people,” he concluded.The Mayors/Chairpersons and Chief Administrators of Local Councils assured the visiting team that going forward, they will own the implementation of the NACS by strengthening and monitoring the operations of IMCs in their Councils. They welcomed the ACC for such engagements, as they help in developing confidence in dealing with the Commission