Monday December 20, 2004
President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s appeal for a change of attitudes towards the use of public funds and property, given at Saturday’s University of Sierra Leone convocation at Mount Olympus , will no doubt be welcomed by all Sierra Leoneans. It will be welcomed because it is the right statement that would lead our nation to a new direction, if heeded.
KABBAH MUST CRACK DOWN ON CORRUPTION
As a matter of fact, the President is quite right about attitudes. Attitudes determine our altitude. Sierra Leone would swiftly recapture her old glory enjoyed at the time of Independence in 1961 as one of the most economically flourishing African nations if we all changed our attitudes towards public service .
However, a change of attitudes by corrupt Sierra Leoneans busy feasting unmercifully on public funds and the nation’s resources , is just not possible . It is the only reason that many Sierra Leoneans aspire for public office–To sponge on public funds and our resources. The shameless and conscienceless ones do not bat an eyelid to brag about this. Readers can remember a story related by our reporter, Olu Faulkner , last year during his sting operation on “Yuki-Yuki ” government officials at the Youyi Building–one of the hotbeds of corruption in Sierra Leone–at which time a prominent lady -politician and public servant opened her drawer and shamelessly showed him loot she had received already before it was even midday, from bribes and rip-offs. The woman told Faulkner words to this effect : “See what I have got just this morning ? It is not even midday yet and I have made thousands of dollars. So I do not see what your brother is doing in America ! ! ! He is just wasting his time in that God damned country ” .
The woman, not knowing that Olu was on a sting operation, poured out her corrupt heart to the astonished reporter, saying that by the time she left office at 5 Pm, she had made thrice that amount. She then took her time to boast to Olu that she had two children attending prestigious Universities in the U.S. and she paid their fees and other costs cash down every semester. Does President Kabbah expect this woman and others engaged in such criminal enterprise with public funds and our natural resources sit down and change their attitudes just like that, because the President has appealed for that ? It is absolutely impossible ! ! !
Corruption is so ingrained in our public officials that nothing will force a change of attitudes . Our public servants have plunged too deep in the abyss of “mokofey “, “yuki-yuki” , “kalabuley” and “kukujumuku” way of life to change their attitudes. They are too far gone into the fun and enjoyment involved in living opulently and ostentatiously on ill-gotten gains to want to quit on their own volition.
The only remedy for corrupt officials in Sierra Leone is a crack down ; a crack down that will see them carted off to jail to await trial and when found guilty, be sentenced to long-term imprisonments that will keep them behind bars for so long that they will not have the opportunity anymore to enjoy all the loot they have siphoned to foreign banks. The government, if it is serious, can trace these loot as Nigeria did to Gen.Sanni Obacha’ s stolen billions in foreign banks. Corrupt officials must face such brutal punishment for their misdeeds that others will see and fear.
But Kabbah can only talk. Neither he nor his government has the moral zeal to crack down on corruption in Sierra Leone.
TO BE CONTINUED