It was the intention of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma on his election as president of Sierra Leone to end and dismantle the culture of graft that had become the single biggest threat to the development and prosperity of his country. In line with his commitment to pursue those in high places guilty of squandering the resources of his country, the Head of State needed to formulate strategy that will define the process to fight corruption and get the needed results.
On assuming office, the Head of State inherited a dysfunctional anti-corruption system that was setup primarily to disguise the inept corrupt practices of the SLPP government with intent to fool the country’s international stakeholders while continuing to loot the meagre resources the nation depended on for its survival. The task then on the Head of State’s hands was to restructure the derelict apparatus in place at the ACC and restructure the body to reflect the seriousness of the duties of prosecution it carries as an anti-graft agency.
The President saw the need for a new team at the ACC and was looking to put together the best legal minds the country can offer. To head the agency, the government needed someone with an impeccable record in public and private service, and someone with a sound mind who was up to the task and not easily intimidated, and who is willing to work in the nation’s interest. To protect the office of this important body of government, the Head of State saw it necessary to increase its powers of prosecution and boldly pronounced that no one would be above the law.
The Job of Anti-Graft commissioner comes with serious responsibilities and demands selfless sacrifice and commitment not to the Head of State but the people of Sierra Leone. So whoever would have to assume the office of Anti-Corruption Commissioner must always be mindful of this sacred responsibility. The recent occupant, Abdul Tejan-Cole, must have been fully conscious of the job criteria before signing-up to it as we have recently learnt that he was the one who offered his services to the government. As a trained lawyer, this man of the law is fully conversant with the constraints that comes with the job of anti-graft chief. But an anti-graft chief is supposed to perform his duty without allowing these constraints to frustrate his serious responsibilities.
The Sierra Leone public is fully aware of the seriousness the president has attached to fighting corruption in the country. On the recommendation and indictment by Abdul Tejan-Cole, then ACC commissioner, several Ministers have been sacked in the Koroma-led administration and some are still being investigated. Some of those sacked have been close aides to the president. But the Head of State in keeping with his determination to end the plague of corruption in our society, was unwavering in his decision to let the ministers go. This alone shows statesmanship.
The exit of Abdul Tejan-Cole from the ACC has seen the opposition press mount attacks on the presidency and levy all sorts of accusations on the Head of State and even accusing him of being responsible for Tejan-Cole’s resignation. But it seems the usual corrupt SLPP press is not mindful of the president’s record and the fact that the Head of State has never dragged his feet when it comes to responding to the recommendations of Tejan-Cole as ACC Commissioner. The Head of State is not a lawyer, so when it comes to making decisions on graft he relied heavily on Tejan-Cole’s advice. And Tejan-Cole cannot deny that the Head of State has not only acted on his advice but that he has also implemented his recommendations to the full. The public should also be fully aware that Tejan-Cole came to his office with his own style of leadership, character and temperament – whether all these could have influenced his serious responsibilities is a matter of opinion from those who were close to him
Tejan-Cole himself according to SLPP oriented newspapers like the Awareness Times, may have been guilty of overzealousness in the tampering of his duties. We should not forget that the ACC given its present mandate cannot be influenced in any way by the Head of State. The ACC is funded by an international body which it has responsibilities to report to in the administration of its work to ensure continued funding. So those who are pointing fingers should be fully aware that it would be foolish of the Head of State to interfere in the running of this graft body. Not only would it have been suicidal for the Head of State but it would also put at risk his efforts to end the graft culture which the opposition party SLPP helped introduce in Sierra Leone
The SLPP media hoodlums need to shut-up when it comes to talking about corruption. The SLPP presided over the worst economic period in our country’s history. And they have no credibility to attack this government. When rag-tag unqualified journalists attempt to create conspiracy theories by casting allegations with their usual iniquity, they should be mindful that they are not taken serious by the Sierra Leone people or even the international community who have seen time and again their failed attempt to destroy the good names of some of our country’s finest public servants.
Now that Abdul-Tejan-Cole has decided to abandon his serious responsibility as Anti-Corruption Commissioner, the Head of State should start looking for a capable hand that is not only qualified to take on the task, but also someone who would not let the people of Sierra Leone down by walking away from a very important job at a moment when our country needs to destroy the very core of what the SLPP presided over that the present government is trying to put an end to.
© 2010, Ahmed M Kamara. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.
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