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Thinking aloud – Fighting corruption

Thinking aloud – Fighting corruption

As a citizen of this country, I have been pondering quietly the future of this country in terms of moving it forward in the face of the multiple challenges coupled with the current global crisis plaguing the citizenry. I have been wondering whether since independence Sierra Leone has had or would ever have the right kind of political leadership the people have always yearned or prayed for all these years.

The fact of the matter is that rather than progressing towards a future that all of us would be proud of, Sierra Leone continues to be hit by one form of crisis or the other with varying magnitude. Of course, the socio-economic crisis has been with us for generations and is now becoming a permanent feature of our sovereignty, adversely affecting our growth and development as a nation.

Experts have argued broadly that our economic woes have been exacerbated by a crisis of leadership which invariably formed the basis of our retrogression since independence.

Governments have come and gone, either through some flawed electoral process or by the barrel of the gun. In each case, it has been the seemingly defenseless Sierra Leoneans, the wretched of the earth, so to speak, that bore the brunt of bad leadership. Bad leadership, which many believed led to the brutal civil war in this country, remains the solid foundation upon which widespread poverty and endemic corruption are deeply rooted. Sadly though, things worsen rather than improve following the end of the war in 2002, the unspeakable hardship now staring glaringly at the majority poor.

Bad leadership, experts argue further, is being nurtured by what could aptly be referred to as system sycophancy, the despicable attempt by some rogue elements within the state to perpetuate the stay in power of a particular personality or regime for the solely purpose of amassing state resources with callous intention. It is an organized syndicate by a group of individuals or institutions to create the semblance of a shadow state around the leadership from which the sycophants benefit directly.

This could be seen where a group of people or institutions including section of the media continually lavish unfounded praises on the leadership even without proving a point. When that happens corruption is bound to set in, steadily eating into the heart and soul of the leadership.

Systemic sycophancy is what turns a leader’s head reeling, doing or saying things that bear no significance; except to the cabal of sycophants.

In other words, a leadership that is not proactive or decisive but only procrastinates is a leadership in crisis, and this eventually leads to a crisis of confidence, as is beginning to manifest as we enter the third year of this present regime.

This brings me to the recent rebuke of public officials by no less a person than His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. Much has been said or written about what many may refer to in local parlance as a ‘late obituary’. I don’t think I can better comment on it more objectively than what other analysts have already done. My personal opinion on the matter could be divisive: firstly, I could be thinking that probably the President was only trying to soften the ground in anticipation of the snap visit of the World Bank President who upon his arrival in Sierra Leone would learn that our own revered President was truly fighting corruption to the bone and would surely receive a nod from the World Bank visitor.

Secondly, as I was thinking aloud, I had a feeling that Pa Bai Koroma’s charade was like a warning shot as he enters his third year in office, giving us the impression that it was no longer ‘business as usual’, thus scaring his officials away from corruption.

Whichever way I come to look at it, I believe it will still be ‘business as usual’. Nothing remarkable will change, in spite of the President’s celebrated Agenda for Change philosophy. For many, deeds not much of verbosity is the rule a good leader should go by. And like one veteran journalist, Christopher Coker put it (PEEP, Friday January 28, 2010), history is what you leave behind for posterity, and you will be judged by it.

If I should understand what Mr. Coker was trying to arrive at, a good leader should be seen to be acting tough, not just talking tough; he must be acting tough, robustly and decisively. Like other analysts have commented, it is not enough for the President to tell Sierra Leoneans that he has ample ‘evidence’ of corrupt practices by his officials and threatens to expose them. Where is the corresponding action, Mr. President? Mere threats pose no effect, Sir! Go beyond the ordinary word. This is what ordinary Sierra Leoneans have been saying following his last Tuesday pronouncement.

But like one observer noted, the President cannot act tough because the culprits are his own kiths and kin, his northern brothers and sisters, and so he would only stop at naming and shaming the institutions and not the targets heads – the sacred cows.

According to State House Press Secretary, Shekito, President Koroma did his home work well through his state intelligence which enables him to access his so-called ‘evidence’. But the question most people would be asking is why would the President not turn over the evidence to the Anti-Corruption Commission, if he was not fighting corruption only by the lips?

Mind you, Mr. President, history is what you leave behind for posterity, and you will be judged by that history.

By Abdul Karim

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