SECURING SIERRA LEONE'S EARNED CAPITAL IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
By: Sylvanus Blake
The Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Francis Ben Kaifala Esq., has stated sensationally, that there have been importunate and consistent endeavors by some to hijack Sierra Leone’s recently earned Capital in the fight against corruption with deliberate moves to weaponize same and use it against their opponents.
He made these comments on the Epic Morning Show, Epic Radio FM 99.3 FM, in Freetown, on the 22nd September 2021, where he served as the studio guest, on the program hosted by Mohamed Jaward Nyallay.
The ACC Czar believably stated that, ‘’some want us to do their biddings and we cannot. They have been resisted fiercely and now they are attacking every genuine effort by the ACC in the fight against corruption, which have and continue to receive stunning local and international approbations to make us look bad. They may not even know that taking such route will make our Sierra Leone look bad. The same international and local ratings and rankings that used to score us unfavorably are otherwise speaking positively of our nation’s efforts to combat and control corruption in the past three years.” Ben Kaifala further stated that for some, until ACC arrests and detains a suspect they have complained, regardless the merit of their complaints, it was not fighting corruption. This scenario the ACC Boss termed ‘’their own corruption”.
Refuting the unsubstantiated argument by some that the ACC is cherry-picking in the fight against corruption, Ben Kaifala Esq. stated that, “what is not corruption as provided for by the law, is not corruption. If anything has to be done, we have to go back to our Parliament and have those issues added to our laws. The ACC shall and will only do what the law provides for”. He stated that reports and publications of alleged corruption, motivated and driven by figments of imaginations and unpatriotic people, cannot frog match the ACC into actions that are against the law, logic and sound judgment. We are a professional institution, guarded by ethics and values, Ben Kaifala underscored.
The ACC Commissioner assured the public that the ACC under his leadership was well positioned to address corruption in all its forms, and shapes, regardless of who, when and what was involved. Once it is corruption, we shall deal with it and be accountable to Sierra Leoneans, as we (ACC) owe Sierra Leoneans a duty to account for our stewardship and my obsession for this is unshakable, he stated.
Sierra Leone, a nation that has gone through numerous hard-hitting periods, has continued to manifest brazen resilience in the face of humbling and debilitating predicaments for far too long. Beginning from the days of the struggle for and partitioning of Africa by colonial powers, pre independence struggles, post-independence political upheavals that culminated into over a decade long civil war, pandemics like cholera, the deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever, the Freetown mudslide on the 16th August 2017, to the now COVID-19 pandemic; Sierra Leoneans, a resilient and spirited people have always galvanized the to confront their adversaries.
The “Sierra Leoness” in us as a people has distinguished us over the period. As a resilient and courageous people, throughout these battles, there strangely seem to linger among us, albeit, by our implied and or express permission, a common enemy within (Corruption), which has added even spiteful ramifications on us than the afore-stated predicaments.
The question then begs, what can Sierra Leone do to tackle this enemy within? For some there is a seeming resignation to faith. Indifferent statements like “watin for do now, pass we lef am so, we nor go able, nar so we meet am, norto me business” etc, in our local dialect-Krio, had quietly and but gaudily crept in and replaced the warrior instinct in many of us. This fight against corruption to some is a publicity stunt aimed at appeasing donors. For over two decades since Sierra Leone commenced her crusade against corruption following the enactment of the 2000 Anti-Corruption Act the tone has never been set better before than now, to if not win the war against our enemy from within, but to make it the exception that all abhors and can condemn publicly and not the rule.
Our over twenty years span in the fight against corruption indicate that though we have done handsomely well, but still we need to do our best, if this enemy within is to be defeated. In the past three years, since 2018 to be specific, we have seen that the impossibility is now the possibility. What remains the missing link to my young and probably not much experienced calculations is a “united front against corruption”. A united front that targets corruption because it is our public enemy number one, a front that cannot be dissuaded against the genuine course of fighting our enemy within, based on figments of political, ethno-social and other sentiments. That feeling in some that it is corruption when the alleged perpetrator is not my kinsman but my political rival should be purged if we have to win this battle.
The characterization of corruption based on who is involved and not what has happened is the missing link. How can this link be bridged and cemented for a united front against corruption?
This fight against corruption is winnable