By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
Probably, those who were misappropriating funds meant for the eradication of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone might not have heard of the Achebe-ian proverb of “A debt may get mouldy, but it never decays” (his novel: “No Longer At Ease”).
And the 39 people who are, at present, under investigations by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) have proven, or are proving, that indeed “a debt may get mouldy, but it never decays”. And all the alleged Ebola money-choppers are no longer at ease with the ease with which they were masticating Ebola funds few months ago.
But if that has been the only issue, I would have been contented “to bury our [Ebola] dead, console the maimed [well, Ebola orphans may be described as psychologically maimed] and proceed with a calmed will into the future” (to quote the Nigerian egghead Wole Soyinka’s “The Man Died). But since members of the opposition and the opposing Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) itself are now spinning the “Ebolagate” as if it was the Koroma-administration that’s caught red-handedly with both hands in the cookies’ jar; I think I should do them the favour of putting things into perspectives.
To all intents and purposes, if there is now an audit report on the management of Ebola funds; it is because it was President Ernest Bai Koroma who it was that provoked and challenged Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) into action. The Auditor General was awoken from her reverie by the incessant re-echoing of the President that “Ebola money is blood money and those misusing it will have to give account”. Long before ASSL sprang into action, it was the President who alerted the nation in public speeches that some people who were managing those funds, including local and international organizations, were playing monkey tricks with those funds. But since the President is not an auditor; he left that domain with the Auditor General. And now that his pre-instincts have been proven right by the Auditor General’s report; he has left the issue now with the investigators at the ACC and members of parliament (though some are involved and we are waiting with held breaths to see how will some “police” really “police” themselves!).
Though unease lies the head that wears the crown, to quote William Shakespeare, but to totally lay the blame on the President’s shoulders because he appointed some of those who allegedly masticated Ebola funds is an example of below-the-belt-hitting tactic. It is like sentencing an innocent father for the heist of his sons and daughters. Why should the President be castigated by the opposition when he should be given pats on the back for being the whistle-blower?
It is standard practice, the world over, for armchair-airconditioner critics to do what they are best known for from the safety of their offices or homes. But if it is so hard to praise the President for being the whistle-blower; I don’t think it would be that hard to even mention that in the post-Audit Report era he is still re-echoing that “Ebola money is not meant to be chopped” (according to the Awoko newspaper of Monday February 23, 2015).
Even when old people tell their grandchildren bedtime stories, they made conscious efforts not to tell those which involve dried bones or sepulchres. But in the case of President Koroma, he did not only call for an audit but has accepted the Auditor General’s report with alacrity and is still calling for the investigations of international NGOs and Agencies which received Ebola funds on behalf of the Sierra Leonean people. This further shows that his hands are not only clean, in terms of the management of Ebola funds, but his conscience is clear also!
Last Friday at Mile 91 in Yoni Chiefdom, northern Sierra Leone, while delivering his keynote address at the official commissioning of the Union Trust Bank, President Koroma noted that his government would use “the due process of the law to reinforce adherence to my government’s commitment to transparency and accountability as far as the Ebola funds are concerned… We are also committed to pursuing the matter to its logical conclusion”. And what else could the President do? Except wait for Parliament and the Anti-Corruption Commission, on whose integrity the people of Sierra Leone depend on, “to manifest how responsible they are in ensuring a fair outcome of their findings…”
And it is on that note that I will epilogue today’s One Dropian dropping with a Yoruba proverb, which was very often quoted by the late Nigerian unrepentant Freethinker, Dr Tai Solarin, that says: “a man on whose head coconut is cracked cannot eat from it”. But, like Dr Solarin, President Koroma has repeatedly been cracking coconuts on his head and at the same eating from them! Did you get my meaning? No? Then scratch the surface…