By: Amie Massaquoi, Assistant Information Officer.
In every aspect of society, from business to politics to community-based and religious organizations, good leadership is required. Leadership is the ability of making sound and sometimes difficult decisions, creating and articulating a clear vision which establishes achievable goals and providing followers with the knowledge and tools necessary to achieve those goals. A good leader is someone who possesses the ability of creative and innovative thinking, management skills, perseverance in any situation he or she is faced with, willingness to take risk, self-confidence and who seeks the interest of his followers.
Francis Ben Kaifala has shown these characteristics as the leader of Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and also during his regime as the President of the Network of Anti-Corruption Institutions in West Africa (NACIWA) from 2019-2022.
Ben Kaifala’s leadership at the ACC since his appointment by President Julius Maada Bio in June 2018 pursuant to Section 3 of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2008 (as amended in 2019), has been exceptional. As the youngest ACC Commissioner, some citizens were doubtful of his successful leadership, given the criticality of the job, his age and experience. But year in and out, this young man proves that his readiness to tackle the problems was more than that of the Israelites to leave Egypt while his experience to tackling graft was more than that of Methuselah in the Bible.
Firstly, he initiated the process of amending the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, in order to strengthen the Commission’s mandate in the fight against corruption. As previously stated, leadership involves creating and articulating vision. Commissioner Kaifala expressed this attribute by pushing for the establishment of a special Anti-Corruption Division in the High Court of Sierra Leone. This effort to have such a Division paid dividend when by Constitutional Instrument No.4 of 2019, the Parliament of Sierra Leone added a Special Division for the ACC to prosecute its matters. His vision was to ensure that Anti-Corruption cases are tried expeditiously in the High Court of Sierra Leone.
Also, in the past four years, he has kept his mind vigilant on investigation and prosecution, with more senior government officials convicted and more are being prosecuted for various corruption offences.
The ACC Boss, Ben Kaifala, under his leadership has led Sierra Leone to progress in international Indexes such as the Transparency International Corruption Perception Survey where Sierra Leone has for the third time moved upwards from 129 in 2018 to 119 in 2019, to 117 in 2020 and to 115 in 2021 out of 180 countries; with an increase score of 34 above the Sub-Saharan average.
In the four years of Kaifala’s leadership, corruption has become a high risk and low return venture.
Francis Ben Kaifala at just 38, holds upwards the banner of hope for the younger generation and the grassroots. He empowers the younger generation and other members of the public through his public lectures to students and staff of various universities and town hall meetings on topics of utmost interest to Sierra Leoneans. During these public lectures, he puts emphasis on values of honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability, the dangers of corruption and examination malpractices and its impact on their livelihoods.
When it comes to good leadership and for becoming competent, he has received numerous awards, accolades, laurels and recognitions. In fact, in all of ACC’s history, Francis Ben Kaifala is the only Commissioner to be recognised by many institutions both within and withoutSierra Leone. Some of the professional/Academic Awards are: in 2019, awarded by All Walks Of Life (AWOL) National Achievement Awards as “Public Servant of the Year, The Bai Bureh Heritage Award for “Inspirational Leadership in the Fight Against corruption”; Diaspora Focus Award 2019 for “Extraordinary Leadership in the Fight Against corruption”, “Obama Africa Leader 2019” by the President Barrack Obama Foundation, “The Best Public Sector Leader 2019” by Council of Chief Executives and Sierra Leone Leadership, “African Achievers Award 2018” for Excellence in Leadership in the Fight Against Corruption, “The Best Public Sector of the Year 2018” by the Sierra Ovation Awards, “50 Most Influential Young Sierra Leoneans 2018” by Institute of Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Development (iLead). These are some of the many awards Commissioner Kaifala has received for the past four years as Commissioner of the ACC.
Quite recently, he was honoured by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of Nigeria and the Network of Anti-Corruption Institute of West Africa (NACIWA) and WAPIS Programme of the International Criminal Police Organization, for his trail blazer, commitment and exemplary campaign against corruption on the African continent.
The ACC Czar was also recognised as alumnus of the year by the Queen Mary Centre for Commercial Law Studies and named among 25 competitively selected leaders under 40 by the Africa Leadership Institute for Africa’s most prestigious leadership programme which is the Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu leadership programme, leading to the grant of the Tutu fellowship.
Against this backdrop, it is safe to say the International Anti-Corruption Champion as he is recognised by the United States Government, has proven beyond reasonable doubt with hard work, commitment and discipline that the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone is winnable. He has demonstrated excellent leadership qualities at the ACC. It is therefore no surprise that Gail Sheehy once said:“The secret of a leader lies in the tests he has faced over the whole course of his life and the habit of action he develops in meeting those tests.”
The Commission under this fine gently spirited young man has seen more following of the Commission by people both locally and globally. Commissioner Kaifala (Sierra Leone) has just recently been elected as West Africa Regional Representative on the Executive Committee of the Association of Africa Anti-Corruption Authorities in the just concluded 5th Annual General Assembly Meeting at the Royal Palace Hotel, Conference Centre in Bujumbura, Burundi.