Tejan Cole, the bitter portion of a sweet job!
I am writing this piece with the view, that â€˜â€¦the pressâ€¦â€™ as written by Walter Lippman in his work, titled, Public OpinionÂ â€˜has come a long way to be regarded as an organ of direct democracy, charged on a much wider scaleâ€¦with the function often attributed to the initiative, referendum and recallâ€¦â€™Â The media is a tool for change. (Photo: A Tejan Cole, executing a sour but charming jobâ€¦)
A Law Professor, Â Issa G. Shivji, in a Â work, Â titled, Let the People Speak, Tanzania Down the Road to Neo-Liberalismâ€™, quoted the author of â€˜Freedom, the Individual and the Lawâ€™ (Penguin, Sixth Edition, 1998) as saying â€˜journalism is not just a profession. It is the exercise by occupation of the right to free expression available to every citizenâ€¦â€™ It is with these quotes in mind that I am looking at a particular issue, relating to national development-the fight against corruption.
For, at least a decade, Sierra Leone went through one of, if not the most brutal civil war in the sub region. I have watched, closely, a video on the trial of Charles Taylor in The Hague and at one point Taylor said; most of the crimes committed in Sierra Leone were never tolerated in Liberia. It took me time to actually comprehend Taylorâ€™s argument but later I realized that to an extent, there was some truth in what he was saying. In Sierra Leone, limbs of innocent civilians were chopped off; pregnant women literally â€˜butcheredâ€™ to death et al acts by rebels. These are all painful past but it is good to have a reflection of those days.
The causes for our civil war ranged from bad governance to mismanagement of state resources. Youth unemployment was also another major factor, coupled with political marginalization of the youths. These were serious problems. Corruption leads to bad governance; a selected few would want to think they should do things the way they want to, especially at the detriment of national development. Practically, the then APC led government of Joseph Saidu Momoh almost mismanaged the affairs of the state, thus leading to a civil war, but thank God, the current APC led government of President Koroma has taken a different position and I am encouraged by his performance so far.
The government of President Koroma has actually taken steps aimed at improving the socio-economic development of the average Sierra Leonean.Â Â We only would need to look at the practical developments taking place. That notwithstanding; there are a number of challenges ahead of him and his APC government. Â
The fight against corruption has been a major political campaign tool for both present and past governments; it was the Kabba (h) regime that instituted major reforms like setting up the ACC, NaCSA, Nassit, et al but when we go down deeper, we will as well argue, that despite the creation of some of these institutions, a good number of them were never allowed to operate effectively and independently. A practical case in point is the Anti Corruption Commission, now headed by a young and unassuming man, by the name of Tejan Cole. It had as Commissioners, Val Collier and Professor Joko Smart.
Tejan Cole, in my opinion has so far proved to be a trustworthy Sierra Leonean that deserves commendation, especially as he is today helped in increasing the governance grades of President Koroma insofar as the fight against corruption could go. I recent submitted, that President Koroma â€˜is an astuteâ€™ leader that feels with his people, unlike past President. President Koroma is moving along with the wishes of the people and Tejan Cole has been giving him a supporting hand in that direction.
No doubt, the political ratings of President Koroma have increased especially following the tough position of Tejan Cole on corruption. At times, it is difficult to take certain decisions, especially those that have a seeming long term political implication but such decisions should be taken in the interest of national development. And this is exactly what Tejan Cole on behalf of President Koroma has been doing. I once met Tejan Cole for an interview and I was impressed with his determination to meeting the expectations of the citizenry of this country.
During that interview, I asked him if he was enjoying his job and he told me, it was and perhaps still difficult to enjoy such a job and that although he was trying, still he was in a â€˜lonelyâ€™ job. I had difficulty in interpreting his response, until when I took a closer look at the AC Act 2008 that gives more power to the AC Commissioner to even prosecute without referring matters to the Attorney- Generalâ€™s office for legal advice. Indeed, I have practically taken a closer look at the AC Act 2008 and I must honestly commend President Koroma for making the Anti Corruption Commission independent, impartial and â€˜â€¦fair in the public interestâ€¦â€™ Section 9(1). This alone will make him â€˜lonelyâ€™ in his air-conditioned office at Gloucester street office. Let us make a point here, moving Sierra Leone to the apex of development only requires sober leadership and determined Lieutenants like we have with the current AC Commissioner.
The discretional powers given to the ACC by the Koroma led government is an indication that we are heading for the better. Maybe, all we need to do now as Sierra Leoneans is to give our unflinching support to not only the Commissioner but also the Commissioner so that he can succeed. Again, one point should be underscored here; Tejan Cole is a human being that is not flawless. No human is perfect, not even the Pope, but to a level some try to reach perfection.
As a post war nation, Sierra Leone needs tough actions and decisions; some may be difficult to execute but they should be executed for the good of all.Â I know the difficulties attached to pursuing a true political comrade; this was the major problem that faced the then government in the fight against corruption. Kabba (h) had all the good intentions of this country and that was why he even thought of getting an institution that could prevent, investigate, prosecute and punish people for corrupt practices-the ACC. Butâ€¦
We want economic independence. Our desire for economic independence means we should collaborate with each other. Practically, â€˜â€¦independence in which we change masters is not freedomâ€¦â€™ writesÂ Issa G. Shivji, in a work titled, Let the People Speak, Tanzania Down the Road to Neo-Liberalismâ€™, but that Â â€˜â€¦freedom and liberationÂ mean we are our own mastersâ€¦â€™ Let us try to be our own economic masters as a nation and we can only be our own masters from the economic standpoint when we are able to address the issue of corruption. Â And corruption could not only be handled by Tejan Cole and his staff at the ACC alone but by all and sundry. Â
We want to sere President Koroma succeed in governing the state and we therefore, should support him because from all angles. One way of supporting him is by supporting the ACC, especially the Commissioner, Tejan Cole because at the moment and especially from an individual perspective, the job he is executing is bitter but as a nation, it is sweet as it ensures sustainable economic development. Contemporary coverage of African in the international media, writes Charles C. Okigbo in â€˜Press and Politic in Africa, â€˜paint a picture of a continent in civil decayâ€¦â€™ Sierra Leone is gradually moving out of this picture and I hold the view that the ACC has been helping in this direction. Just my view anyway!
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