By: Bernard Abass Kargbo, Public Education Officer-ACC
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) through its National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) Secretariat, on Wednesday March 22, 2023, held an engagement with the top management of the Sierra Leone Students’ Loan Scheme (SLOAN-SL) at the office of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Paul Amara, at the Milton Margai Technical University, Brookfields Campus, Jomo Kenyatta Road in Freetown.
This engagement aimed at establishing an Integrity Management Committee (IMC) at the SLOAN-SL, which will guide and pattern the institution’s drive and commitment to achieving a corrupt-free working environment.
The IMCs are structures that are formed within MDAs and Local Councils to serve as a watchdog body against corruption and enhance the integrity, transparency, and accountability of staff within a particular MDA.
Delivering her statement, the Deputy Director NACS, Zainab Othman underscored that, the Strategy was borne out of the provisions in the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) which mandates member states to develop an anti-corruption Strategy that has a national outlook through consultation. Madam Othman also stated that the Strategy is a deliberate effort to bring the fight against corruption closer to the people emphasizing that “the National Anti-Corruption Strategy is Sierra Leone’s national effort to orchestrate anti-corruption effort in the fight”. The Strategy “seeks to bring on board the various pillars of integrity in the fight against corruption with the main object of improving the delivery of public services that are effective in the prevention and control of corruption”, she averred. Madam Othman further informed all that the strategy entails periodic monitoring to ascertain the degree of compliance and that the Strategy is a five-year work plan and that the country is rolling out the fourth (4th) Strategy. Concluding she stated to her audience that the IMC will take the lead, while the ACC will only serve as a guide.
In his presentation, the Manager of the NACS, Wilfred Bangura explained the processes and procedures of establishing an IMC. He also said that the Strategy has 4 thematic areas which are audit, procurement, administration, and human resource, which are also subdivided into various action points. Mr. Bangura admonished the top management that the Strategy is theirs and that they should take ownership of its implementation. “The IMC is like a channel through which the ACC talks to MDAs and it is a pre-condition in the fight against corruption, Wilfred noted.
The SLOAN-SL is an initiative of the Government of Sierra Leone, established by the an Act of Parliament and tasked with the responsibility of providing financing for higher education in the country, meaning that, they will be handling public funds and therefore needed to establish an IMC to instill a culture of integrity, transparency, and accountability in the institution. “We just want to make sure that we are compliant with what Government and other institutions working with public funds are supposed to do,” noted the CEO, Paul Amara.
He assured the ACC of the full cooperation of his staff, who are all aware of the establishment of the IMC and the visit of the Commission, “the Management and staff are aware of this and whatever we do we must be on the safe side.” Mr. Amara furthered assured the ACC that they will work very hard to fight against corruption, while emulating the high scores of other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Staff of the SLOAN-SL commended the Commission for the swift move to establish an IMC in their institution, which is a mark of ACC’s pro-activeness and diligence.The engagement was climaxed by questions, answers, and comments session.