By: Sylvanus Blake – Assistant PRO-ACC
As the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) continues to roll out customized sensitization campaigns targeting beneficiaries and other community stakeholders in the sixteen (16) project Districts, on the Social Safety Net (SSN) “Hep Fet Po” project; a team from the ACC, led by the Director of Public Education and External Outreach, Patrick Sandi, on the 1st and 2nd June 2022 had engagements in Kpombu, Malen Chiefdom Pujehun District and Mattru, Jong Chiefdom, Bonthe District respectively, on the role and importance of the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM), the work of the ACC and the many reasons why all Sierra Leoneans should support the fight against corruption.
Declaring the purpose of the meetings, ACC’s Pujehun and Bonthe District Monitors Thomas Tamba and David Garrick respectively, stated that the World Bank and UNICEF funded SSN project implemented by National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) and monitored by ACC, provides unconditional cash transfers to poor vulnerable households, to help mitigate the devastating economic effects of COVID-19 pandemic. They stated that since its commencement, the ACC through its district and community monitors, coordinated by the SSN Project Desk have helped to promote and enhance integrity and accountability in the project. They encouraged their audiences to be frank, and bold, adding that, these engagements are aimed at soliciting grievances from beneficiaries and work on addressing same accordingly.
In his presentation, Director of Public Education and External Outreach Department, Patrick Sandi, updated the people on the work of the ACC, zooming in on the four years reign of Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. as Commissioner. He stated that over Le:45 Billion has been recovered and paid back to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, over 95% conviction rate out of all cases charged to court, giant strides in the prevention of corruption in MDAs, massive nationwide public education and sensitization work to name but a few. These successes Mr. Sandi underscored, have informed the consistent and persistent incremental scores in national and international corruption perception ratings/rankings of the country.
Mr. Sandi stated that the war against corruption is calculated to save the soul of Sierra Leone that for long had been sandwiched by endemic corruption threatening its very existence. He stated that this war is not targeted at anyone and it will only go to people, places and institutions that have questions to answer without any biases. He called on the people of Pujehun and Bonthe to speak up against corruption and do so fairly and fearlessly.
Addressing participants on the GRM platform within the SSN project and its impact on beneficiaries, ACC’s Assistant Public Relations Officer, Sylvanus Blake, stated that the platform was introduced to mitigate the possible pracrtices of bribery, extortion and other forms of corruption that had in the past negatively impacted pro-poor development projects. Mr. Blake stated that, informed by past experiences, the ACC had been effectively partnering with all stakeholders-the World Bank, UNICEF, NaCSA, Rokel Commercial Bank, (the paying Bank) and the beneficiaries which have helped to reduce the incidences of alleged corrupt practices reported to the ACC on the project implementation.
Mr. Blake reassured the public that all concerns/complaints from beneficiaries channeled through the GRM system will be dealt with by the Commission and outcomes communicated to them. He admonished the people to stay away from all forms of corruption and report all allegations of corruption to the ACC.
Responding to ACC messages, Section Chief of Kao-Kuno Section, Malen Chiefdom, Sheik Abass Bockarie Lebbie, appreciated the Commission for the monumental gains made in the fight against corruption. Lebbie stated that the ACC was doing just the work of God. He assured the Commission of Allah’s divine protection, guidance and support. He also said that anyone who fears Allah and disdains evil should avoid corruption and should help Sierra Leone and the ACC fight it to a winning end. He pledged that the thirteen community mosques under his watch and even beyond, will receive the good news from ACC through him. “We will all contribute to the fight by preaching against corruption in our daily sermons “Kutubas”. He called on his people to despise corruption, fear Allah and obey His commandments.
The interactive social accountability engagements were climaxed with questions which were all responded to by the ACC.