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Are you for or against fighting corruption?

Are you for or against fighting corruption?

Jesus Christ once asked a thrilling question to his followers; “Are you for or against me?” This he did, when he noticed the nature of double standards among his very own. He warned them against mediocrity and lukewarm attitudes, with stern words for sitting on the fence. “If you are not for me, then you are against me.” In another event, he posited that, you cannot serve two masters; you can either be committed to one and not submissive to the other; or in like manner be true to one, and feed the other with falsehood.

Arising from that backdrop, I would rather ask a similar question, are you for or against fighting corruption in Sierra Leone? The answer to this question provokes a thorough search of conscience. This question has emerged, because many people seem to be paying lip service to the fight against graft in this country. Instead of giving their heart to this daunting task, they are rather offering lips service to a fight that demands a very firm commitment.

Formulating a National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS 2014-2018), is a laudable venture, being the blue print, which suffice it to say will provide the necessary environment for a corruption free nation. Introducing practicable measures as contained in the NACS will suppress this menace and add more value to the work of the Anti-Corruption Commission. The laws can be very strong and the national strategy very comprehensive; but, if there is a gap between the formulation and implementation process, it will result to nothing. The 2014 to 2018 NACS calls for the integration of anti-corruption perspectives to government ministries departments and agencies (MDA’s). This will invariably mean the fight against corruption does not squarely rest on the shoulders of the Anti-Corruption Commission; but on every public officer such as the Cabinet Ministers, the Parliamentarians, Councillors, Heads of parastatals and political parties; to name a few.

Sincerely, I was greatly impressed by the selfless contributions of Cabinet Ministers, Parliamentarians, the opposition parties, government owned institutions as well as private companies, and good will ambassadors in the fight against Ebola. This actually reflects a national resolve, to put an end to one of the world’s biggest catastrophe. It equally exhibits the seriousness attached to the fight against Ebola by stakeholders of this nation. I dove my heart to those public officers who are sincere in their efforts to support the President in putting an abrupt end to this Ebola crisis.

Besides, I wonder why the resilience in the fight against Ebola as demonstrated by top statesmen. Is it because the President made a clarion call to put an end to this scourge, that many are trying hard to identify themselves with His Excellency? Or is it because of the dreadfulness of the Ebola virus and the number of lives claimed on a daily basis? Is it because of political reasons? Or the interest is in the large funds and resources available to be appropriated in the fight against Ebola? Like my English teacher would say; “Where the carcases are, there the vultures will be”. However, if the intentions are positive, then I have another set of questions to ask. I clearly remember the President making similar call to the fight against graft. Why has there not been this distinct cooperation from public officers? Also, corruption has been demanding the lives of many poor souls, as a result of the nefarious activities of civil servants, but only few people cared about it. Is it because public officers are the direct beneficiaries from the gains of corruption and are not seriously affected by it, as the poor are?

If as a nation, we had taken the fight against corruption seriously, and sincerely put shoulders to the wheel, the challenges we are now facing in the health sector, would never have occurred. ACC once had a situation with the Ministry of Health concerning the “Gavi funds”, which was a wake up call to addressing lapses in the health sector. This was vehemently trivialised. Therefore, I will say this with a total ease, that lives claimed today by Ebola could be partly blamed on corruption.

In conclusion, I would like to ask every public servant: do you believe in what you say? For this axiom has taught me a lot “Your actions are too loud, to the extent that I can’t even hear you, when you speak”. It is easier to point a finger on others. But remember, often the remaining four fingers rests back at you. People should stop being on the fence, it is either you are inside or outside. It is either you are for or against fighting corruption. By so doing, clearly the enemies of our nation’s development would be identified and the desired action initiated. But bear in mind that patriotism demands you must be for the fight against corruption and not otherwise.

By: David Kanekey Conteh

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