APC and SLPP are twin evil of corruption in Sierra Leone
The block buster report on the audit of the management of the Ebola Funds by the Auditor General, Mrs. Lara Pearce Taylor solidifies the growing discontent among Sierra Leoneans about the gross mishandling and mismanagement of the Ebola Funds, to the extent that money intended to be used to fight against the deadliest disease that the world has ever recorded is being misused for personal purpose, deliberately portrays the lack of integrity and the unpatriotic behaviors of some callous citizens. Both Ebola and the raging behavior of corruption by the government of President Koroma must be simultaneously kicked out of Sierra Leone.
Indeed, the failing All People’s Congress (APC) government continues to show some insensitivity to the plight of Ebola victims as well as the lack of serious commitment to bringing corrupt individuals to justice – where these funds can be recovered and corrupt elements are thrown into an extended stay house such as the notorious Pademba Road Prison facility. And what happen to the missing $40 million dollars donated to Sierra Leone for the Ebola epidemic? Certainly, the “locust plague” of the APC syndicates – who eat everything that is green (money) are walking freely without accountability or consequences for their nefarious deeds.
Imagine how the battle against EVD can be won with people in governance who have no moral sanity or the God fearing heart that will change their dubious attitudes into doing what is best for Sierra Leone. Our nation today is witnessing a mindless character of vicious people who prefer to feed into their obsessive addiction by converting funds for sick Ebola citizens into their personal checking accounts. The APC politicians are now changing the narratives about public service – that stealing money is their main purpose of seeking political office rather than serving the ordinary people. That dying Ebola victims are somebody else’s problem not the government as a democratic institution.
The “new APC” under President Koroma has made the “old APC” of Siaka Stevens a revered sainthood. Indeed, the truth be told that Siaka Stevens would have quickly contained the EVD with fewer death cases and perhaps build more holding and treatment centers than the Insurance Executive turned President. Maybe, there would have been more proactive and quick response to this national health emergency – as we saw the uninterrupted electricity, street light poles, school lunches and water supply network that served many citizens under his regime. The then Siaka Stevens APC – led government was far less corrupt that President Koroma’s new APC, even though corruption was baptized in the wake of the Siaka Steven’s Presidency.
Nonetheless, the evidence of corruption has been presented to Sierra Leoneans and to the rest of the world. That payments which exceeded Le14 billion and Le11 billion were made from the Emergency Health Response and miscellaneous accounts without supporting documents. That additional payments were made to the Member of Parliament (MP) for constituency 93 even though an earlier amount of Le 63 million was made to all members of parliament for sensitization purposes. The amount of Le 161 million was given as loan to a civil society called “Health for All Coalition” (HFAC) with no documentations and repayment plan.
Furthermore, withholding taxes of Le 526 million and $70,500 were not deducted and paid to the National Revenue Authority (NRA) from suppliers and contractors. The incentive payments to the sum of Le26 billion were made to various hospitals without substantial documentations to prove such claims. Also, incentive payments at Connaught hospital were allegedly made to the Sierra Leone Armed Forces (SLAF) and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) for hazard payments, but funds were not transferred to both forces accordingly. The Ministry of Health failed to produce documentation for contract agreements that amounted to Le 17 billion including Le 12.7 billion for the purchased of 50 vehicles and ambulances with Le2.7 billion for the construction of the Port Loko Treatment center.
However, APC is not the only conduit to corruption in Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is a twin brother to one of the oldest practices in Sierra Leone politics – corruption itself. The pre-independent colonial party, SLPP, is “crying wolf” and self-imposing its moral imperatives into the mishandling and mismanagement of Ebola Funds by the APC. The Press Release it issued on February 14, 2015: “ONE PEOPLE, ONE COUNTRY” and subtitled “Audit Report on the Management of the Ebola Funds” is hypocritical, deceitful and disingenuous. For the simple reason: the previous SLPP government has been similarly a notorious cohorts and partner in crime to massive corruption in Sierra Leone. They have no moral authority to condemn APC on corruption – something that they are well-known of doing and cannot boost of clean hands. Thus, SLPP should not be a moral judge to educating Sierra Leoneans about corruption?
To support such claims, let’s review the World Bank reports on projects for Sierra Leone from March 14, 1996 to December 14, 2006 under the Presidency of Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah to support the fact that SLPP is a guilty party to Corruption as well. The total amounts of funding for social services, rehabilitations and economic development projects were $477.16 million comparatively to APC’s donor projects from December 12, 2007 to December 17, 2014 which was $476.12. And what happened to those funds and projects since they were the primary custodians of the people’s money. They were either mismanaged or misused by greedy and hungry SLPP politicians.
The $477.16 million appropriated by World Bank to the SLPP government were recklessly wasted, mismanaged while most of the so-called projects never came to fruition. Now, let’s break the numbers as per the World Bank source: SLPP’s highest donor funding amount was in 2005 from its illusionary completion of the Bumbuna projects, economic recovery support, infrastructural funding and even funding for Avian Flu which never existed in Sierra Leone. It seems that both APC and SLPP are working from the same political templates in defrauding the people of Sierra Leone for personal gains. Thus, SLPP should not play the blame game to APC – of which they are a surrogate and a twin brother to corruption in Sierra Leone.
Furthermore, SLPP claimed in 2003 that it needed to provide economic rehabilitations and recovery credit with national social action projects. The World Bank funded these projects in the amount of $105.00 million. Where are these projects and who are the beneficiaries? The SLPP electricity and water projects which was again financially funded by the World Bank was in the amount of $88.70 million. Did Sierra Leone have access to a fully operational electricity power grid from the Bumbuna hydro dam station? Conversely, Sierra Leone experienced the worst power outages in the sub region and it was called the darkest country in the world.
The famous acronym “Kabbah Tiger” was synonymous to the deplorable electricity condition in the country. The history of SLPP‘s World Bank donor- funded activities were centered on economic recovery, social services rehabilitations and completion of the Bumbuna Projects. But most of these funds were grossly mismanaged and unaccounted for. Yet SLPP is proclaiming the “thou is a sainthood” sermon and standing as the moral guarantor on its February 14, 2014 Press Release as the maverick of a corrupt free Sierra Leone. SLPP today is invoking the “dream of a good society” that they had never created and calling for a “prudent, transparent and accountable” leadership that they have not demonstrated in the past.
The SLPP’s lip service to corruption will not go unnoticed by millions of patriotic Sierra Leoneans since they belong to the same political family with the APC. Infact, one is a wolf and the other is a fox. Both of them love to squander and loot the treasures of Sierra Leone whenever they come into governance. The only difference between them is: one is shorter and the other is taller, the APC has a red T-shirts and SLPP has green T-shirts. But they have the same DNA of corruption and always practicing the politics of ‘tribe and place.” SLPP did not account for the educational funding called the SABABU Projects to build schools and capacitate the infrastructures of both Primary and secondary school education.
Thus, the first alternative to the problem of corruption in Sierra Leone is to try a different political party like the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that has a core value of “Nation First.” The party’s impressive strategy on fighting against corruption will be an added value to the proper handling and the transparent appropriations of national resources in a corrupt free manner. The NDA has a vision of transforming Sierra Leone into a God fearing nation where every government’s civil servants and public officers understand the lethal consequences and social dangers of misusing public Funds. That whoever has access to the people’s money will be afraid to mismanage it due to the visible reality of imprisonment, loss of income and loss of the freedom of movement.
The NDA shared vision will focus on combating such anti-social behavior by eliminating the conditions that creates poverty, increasing the pay and incentives of the law enforcement sector like the police force, training them to uphold their sacred obligations while at the same time using the Justice system to punish bad behaviors. The best way to fighting against corruption is not to institutionalize it alone, but to develop a value system that becomes a lifestyle and a thriving social behavior. The Office of the President of any nation can be a relevant platform to developing a serious national commitment in addressing the history of entrench corruption in Sierra Leone.
The Justice Service Sector must be reformed to build new trust, incentivize them to perform their jobs and promote the integrity of the profession. The primary focus with the Justice system must be centered on the dispensation of justice in a judicious and transparent manner with the major goal of deterrent and reducing the targeted social anomalies. The undue influence of politicians who decides the outcome of judicial cases must be replaced by a new ethical impression of upholding the rule of law and respecting the constitutional rights of citizens to file grievances and seek redress in a competent court of law.
The “crime and punishment” approach must be complimented with improving the working conditions, better salary structures and strong Morales including the desire to make the law enforcement profession like the police a prestigious institution again. Corruption cannot be contained or marginalized by one single act of Parliament or one legged solutions, it must take a multi-solution approach which a broader understanding that it is more of a mindset and social thinking than a logistical challenge. The way to deal with such addictive behavior that has marinated into the psychological brains of people, is to building a maximum prison that show an unprecedented commitment to attacking the problem and rewarding good performance with merit pay and other incentives.
Also, young voters can be instrumental in winning the war against corruption by voting out corrupt governments like APC or SLPP and electing new political parties that pride its ideology and principles on the strategic goal of defeating an invisible enemy that is more dangerous than Ebola. The largest voting bloc in Sierra Leone – Young people should desist from voting for candidates and parties along ethnic and regional lines. Such standing problems continue to recycle the same people whose behaviors go unpunished with a never ending corruptive trend. But it is now apparent that the purpose into which the APC or SLPP seeks political governance is to support their psychopathic behavior of enriching themselves, their supporters and families.
What is the political narrative today is that APC and SLPP have systematically failed to solve the insidious culture of corruption we have seen for the last 50 years. They have been part of the problem and continue to offer no fighting solutions. The next trial phase for Sierra Leone as a young democracy is to try the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as an alternative choice for governance. Certainly, a change in medication is needed if the prescription does not cure the ailment. No political doctor as in the case of Sierra Leone will prescribe the same pills and dosages when repeatedly the medication does not really work. It is time for a new leadership, new fresh faces and a new thinking that is not APC or SLPP. The NDA by all intent and purposes is the best hope for Sierra Leone.
May our nation continue to be the realm of the free.
By Mohamed C. Bah, former NDA Presidential aspirant, Atlanta, GA-USA
The author of this article can be reached at: email@example.com
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