Why always ACC?
Sierra Leone is endowed with mineral resources that if managed well, will lift the country to higher heights. However, such divine benediction does not actually show in the welfare of its people. Outsiders may wonder why this is so. I always wonder too. For most Sierra Leoneans, correcting whatever might have gone wrong would appear like solving a difficult puzzle. In fact the puzzle is more complex when one set of citizens tries to solve it and another set is bent on making it insoluble. However, I belong to a school of thought that believes it is soluble. Present and past administrations have made untiring efforts in identifying and utilizing an important piece to the puzzle. The Anti-Corruption Commission is no secret such an indispensable piece in solving our puzzle of destitution.
During the Tejan Kabbah administration, the ACC was established. It was neither established to serve a specific person or persons, nor was it established to serve a particular tribe or religion. The ACC was established to work in the interest of every Sierra Leonean. I believe it is against that backdrop that in its wisdom, the Ernest Koroma administration during its early days fortified the Commission with one of the most robust Anti-Corruption Acts in Africa.
Over the years, ACC received coveted accolades for the good work it has done. In all these, cynics, especially few media practitioners, think it has done nothing good. Some even go to the extent of saying that the Commission is useless. Well, with all the convictions it has had, with all the accolades it has received, I believe it is unfair for a minute group of people or a particular individual to be seeing nothing good in the institution at all. For me, such people are living in a different world. They are living in a world wherein they do not seek the interest of the people but that of their pockets. The logic here is simple. It is only a witch or a wizard that sees nothing good in a witch-hunter.
One thing the public should know is that, media practitioners (not excluding myself) believe that we are living in a very dark society. We also believe that we are holding a very big torchlight to show the way and expose wrong doers in this so dark society. Well, if we are not biased in doing it, if we are objective in doing it, if we are fair and honest in doing it, why should anyone worry? But is that the case with some media practitioners? Besides, as we illuminate the dark path and expose potential wrong doers along the way, who in turn is illuminating in our direction? Our direction obviously is dark because we are not pointing at ourselves for others to see who is doing something else that is against the ethics of journalism. If the light we point along the way could just bounce back at us, it will be fair enough for the public to see.
I am of the view that some people see the Commission as an adversary. No wonder they are hell-bent in seeing that it crumbles. But for goodness sake why should any media practitioner crave for the downfall of the Commission? OK, one may not like Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, right? Well that is comprehensible. As for me, I do not even wish for the day when everybody that knows me says good things about me. The day everyone starts saying good things about me, I know I must have been a corpse. It is a fact. People hardly say good things about others until they are paying tribute to that person as a last respect. It is unfair to always castigate people especially when they are doing the right thing.
The truth here is, whilst others are hell-bent in bringing down the Commission, the Commission on the other hand is busy fighting tirelessly to minimize corruption, if not eradicate it entirely. That is why Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara is always the first person to report for duty before 7:00 a.m. every day. I would not mention the Commission’s Directors and staff that are working round the clock for the benefit of every Sierra Leonean.
As a media practitioner, I have no doubt that, for Sierra Leone to be free of corruption and at the end prosper, the media must take a lead role. Without the media getting on board, the Commission will make little or no headway at all. Let us put politics aside. Let us put friendship aside. Let us put all things that could serve as deterrence to the progress we have made in the fight against corruption. If we could all rally behind the Commission as we do for our different political parties or political leaders as the case may be, I see no reason why Sierra Leone is not going to be free of corruption. If the Commission succeeds, the benefit goes to every Sierra Leonean. But I can understand. There are some who believe the status quo must be maintained by having a few that enjoy the resources of the Country. For me that is selfishness to the nth degree. If that is the case, then I see no point in trying to build strong institutions.
Some of us are just giving lip service to the people we pretend to represent. But have we stopped a moment and think about the damage we are creating to the potential growth of Sierra Leone and even our very selves? Having unlimited access to the media does not mean we should use it negatively. It is good to criticize. Yes, our profession makes room for that. But I do not believe there is room for unconstructive criticism in our profession. One should criticize to effect positive change and not a change that is destructive.
With all the indefatigable efforts, with all the success stories, with all the fact that the Commission works for the furtherance of Sierra Leone, is it fair for disparagers to see things differently because of self-seeking interests? The constant baseless bashing of the Commission from a particular source is not doing Sierra Leone any good. I am not surprised because, it was done to Christianity and Islam in the early ages of these two religions. Jesus Christ was criticized so was Muhammad. But where are their teachings today? They are still with us, strong as ever before and will always be. The Anti-Corruption Commission with or without the present Commissioner and his team, will continue to grow from strength to strength.
Humans in general are hard to satisfy. Even if what you do is going to benefit the majority, some people are just not budged as long as they do not receive direct benefit. Apparently, one cannot satisfy everyone because, in the process of doing so one can end up satisfying no one. In the process of curbing corruption, we will step on a lot of toes. We will destroy friendship. We will even destroy the livelihood of families. But have we thought a moment about the millions of people a single corrupt act destroys? Have we thought a moment about hundreds if not thousands of generations a single corrupt act destroys? I am afraid not to even mention multiple acts of corruption. So why should an individual incessantly bash the Commission? Why always ACC?
Mohammed Ali Kamara
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