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President Koroma’s turbulent journey

President Koroma’s turbulent journey

President Koroma of Sierra Leone seems to be fighting a major tsunami in his political life. Life, corruption.  It is like a commander with rocket propelled grenade in one hand and a sub-machine gun in the other. Recent events of corruption cases being brought against members of his trusted cliché of the ruling political party and spectrum of the ordinary spheres of life has left tongues wagging. In the president’s determined drive to curb the menace of corruption, he has appointed members of the Diaspora and local technocrats to rebrand and revamp the country from the doldrums of corruption and decade rebel war. It is unfortunate that most of the trusted lieutenants are now embroiled in alleged corrupt cases. The alarming rate of corrupt cases is a major concern to any government and good citizen of such nation.  An unimaginable amount of money is being spent to curb or fight against corruption, something that should not be if only the people or citizens of the nation could be conscious of their integrity and value it above any other thing.  (Photo: Ibrahim Mansaray, author)

In Sierra Leone, the cases of alleged corruption culprits emanating from the corridors of Maritime Administration, Attitudinal Behavioral Change, NASSIT, Water Quay, Immigration, Energy and Power ministry are all a perennial headache for a president who has won international recognition amongst his colleagues for his stance against corruption.  This by no means has dampened his zeal to fight this malaise. It is therefore no hidden secret that some trusted citizens of the president have fallen prey to corrupt practices. It is really unfortunate and embarrassing to the people of a beloved country.  No matter what one may be inclined to say, President Koroma can be described as a crop of the new generation of African Presidents. Like any other president in the planet, he has his pitfalls and strengths.  His fight against corruption has been commendable on some fronts whilst some still expect the commission to bite harder and  refurbish the Pademba Maximum prison for invited guests.  From the look of things, the prison will soon be a nice guest house for those who consider the country as a free for all. Some trusted bureaucrats of the country are attempting to increase their level of compensation by lobbying lawmakers and politicians and by engaging in other activities to influence the political system and maximise benefits accruing to them. Many civil servants also illegally increase their compensation by providing services to interest groups that seek favors from the government.

Corruption is often believed to arise from the clash or conflict between traditional values and the imported norms that accompany modernization and socio-political development.  In Sierra Leone, many people see corruption as a practical problem involving the “outright theft, embezzlement of funds or other appropriation of state property, nepotism and the granting of favours to personal acquaintances, and the abuse of public authority and position to exact payments and privileges”. Most civil servants regard their offices as a business from which they are to extract extra-legal income. Individuals are said to be engaging in corruption when they are granted power by society to perform certain public duties but, as a result of the expectation of a personal reward or gain (be it monetary or otherwise), undertake actions that reduce the welfare of society or damage the public interest. The spate of corruption cases have allowed inefficient producers to remain in business, encouraged governments to pursue perverse economic policies, and provide  opportunities to bureaucrats and politicians to enrich themselves through extorting bribes from those seeking government favors.

As the Anti Corruption Commission continues to squeeze public and private officials, the aspect of asking certain officials to pay minimal fines should be discouraged by the Commission. It would be foolhardy by the Commission to impose minimal fines on corrupt officials while the president continues to fight this menace with vigor.

On the other hand, if the president’s dream of transforming the country into a utopian nation is to be achieved, the following steps should be introduced:

Everyone should play a role in curbing corruption – the government of the nation, institutions, the citizens and the international communities. The Anti Corrupt Commission should introduce strong but flexible codes of conduct as a vital tool to curb corruption. The agency should be re-empowered and repositioned to keep on with the good fight until sanity is brought to the system of such nation. The agency should have good and time-tested leaders, have independent status, staffed with honest and competent personnel and sufficiently funded.

Good leaders should be elected into government as there should be good punitive measures and disciplinary procedures for those that are guilty of the act of corruption.

The cankerworm of corruption is a very bad act and it eats deep into the progress and growth of any nation. The strides taken by the president is worthy of emulation. It must be the duty of all and sundry to fight against corruption in all its forms. Sierra Leone will have a better people, better society and better world if we all rise to stop corruption and be watchdogs in whatsoever society we find ourselves and ensure that corruption is displaced in the society and given its rightful place, history.

Ibrahim Mansaray

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