By: David Yusuf Kabia, Public Education Officer, ACC
Sierra Leone's historical nomenclature before 2018 in the fight against corruption was clearly depictive of Government's unwillingness to control the prevalence of corruption in a bid to better the lives of its citizens. This abysmal output was equally responded to by International Anti-Corruption watchdog institutions by exclusion from all Indexes that measures countries performances across the world in the fight against corruption. Key among these institutions is the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a United States of America backed entity that exists to partner with other countries in providing grants to them in tunes of hundreds of millions of dollars for developmental purposes. In 2017, before the ascendance of Brig. (Rtd.) Dr. Julius Maada Bio to the political hegemony, Sierra Leone score was failing at 49% on the MCC scorecard.
In 2018, with the political will and hence the foremanship of Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. in redefining Sierra Leone's meaning in the fight against corruption, the country made its maiden pass score of 71%, a score which announced to the rest of the world the country's seriousness in addressing corruption beyond the usual veiling of the political class. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) then became ever fired up with the zest to continue 'nipping corruption to the bud 'irrespective the person(s) involved’. This determination surely paid off in 2019 when the country made its second ever pass on the MCC scorecard with an impressive 79% further accelerating it to heights never known for in the fight against corruption. With more actions taken by the Commission to better address corruption to wit: the amendment of the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act in 2018, which provides for strengthening of the punitive provisions and more, Sierra Leone again neatly passed the MCC scorecard with an alarming 81% in 2020. The country soon became a Beacon of hope where mostly young people began to change their opinions about how corruption has been handled in the past due to the changing narrative. The war on corruption soon was joined by many Sierra Leoneans especially the young by using various ways to exposing corrupt officials. This faith in the Commission by the people of Sierra Leone energised the graft fighters to remain consistent and ever more determined to put Sierra Leone above all else.
In 2021, an unbelievable impressive score of 83% was hit again by Sierra Leone on the MCC scorecard. It then became apparent that the success behind fighting corruption is never impossible to achieve rather, with determination and the political will, achieving it lays bare on the floor.
Nonetheless, that the country all this while made impressive scores on the 'Control of Corruption' Index does not exclude it from poor performance in other areas. For example, in 2022, while the country scored an impressive 83% on the 'Control of Corruption' Index, it failed on the 'Fiscal Policy' Index with a 27% score, failed in the 'Regulatory Quality' Index with a 44%, and on 'Land Rights and Access' with a 40%. These scores in other areas are proof of the lack of control and influence by the country on the outcome of the MCC scorecard and further evidence of the unscripted nature of the fight against corruption.
These steady improvements in all of the Indexes showcase the country's determination to maintain a nomenclature beyond what it was known for in the past. If anything is to be made abundantly clear, it is the fact that the fight against corruption is no longer shredded in secrecy where the political class enjoy behind the veil of 'Sacred Cows' because it is now an inclusive fight where information on corruption is accessible to all and sundry.
It can therefore be maintained that, Sierra Leone's consistency amidst challenges is evidence of an unscripted war against corruption where it cannot determine the outcome of the Indexes.