By KABS KANU :
PEOPLE are talking as if Mrs. Lara Taylor – Pearce is working at cross-purposes with President Ernest Bai Koroma . They fail to realize that Mrs. Taylor-Pearce is part of the Government machinery and her audit activities have the full endorsement of the President and his government.
Anybody who understands how governments operate should know that it is not possible for Madam Taylor -Pearce to be making all these audits in opposition to the Government .She is being perceived as a renegade to the APC Government , but she is not. The fact is that President Koroma ‘s Government has put in place structures , including the functions of the Auditor-General’s office, that are designed to ensure transparency and accountability in governance and it is within these structures that Madam Taylor-Pearce is operating . Therefore, President Koroma should be commended for his transparency and accountability, instead of being lambasted .
TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ARE FACETS OF THE AGENDA FOR PROSPERITY
Government has all the instruments of power at its disposal. Does anybody honestly think that if this Government had wanted to conceal the alleged fraud and stop Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce’s audit , it would not have succeeded ? Surely, Government has all the power and Mrs. Pearce can never work in opposition to Government’s power. Nobody ever does. But President Koroma abhors corruption and he supports the structures in place to expose corruption. That is the reason that such an audit report is being celebrated by the opposition. Sierra Leoneans should learn to reason and conceptualize .
Therefore , instead of bashing President Koroma and wrongly linking him with the alleged criminal acts of a few people, we should acknowledge and commend him for the accountability and transparency he has in place in governance in Sierra Leone. The exposure of the alleged pilfering of Ebola funds was made possible by the transparent and accountable structures that have been put in place and fully endorsed by President Koroma.
The Ebola audit is a natural outcome of a process set into motion by the Government . Remember that in his New Year’s Day message to the nation, President Koroma gave notice that the ebola funds will ultimately be audited : Who made the following statement ?
“There are some people, from all regions, professions, and age groups, who want to use this moment to make money, to score political points, or to cause mischief and disaffection in the land. We must resist them. There are people who don’t work but want to hide under the cover of those who work to get paid; we must expose them…. There are people who are not involved in raising awareness about the disease, but who are raising funds to siphon unto selfish ends, we must bring these shameless crooks to book. Government agencies stand instructed to keep record of all Ebola related transactions for accountability now and a more thorough auditing of the process after we defeat this virus. We expect all international agencies, NGOs and Civil Society Organizations who have received the majority of funds to fight Ebola to have similar records for a thorough accounting of their actions.”
Was it not President Koroma ? So what the shameless and fickle opposition rejoicing about ? The Audit Department was empowered by the Government to conduct the audit, according to President Koroma in his exclusive interview with Cocorioko today.
No corrupt government has ever audited itself . The APC Government is transparent and accountable . That is why it empowered and endorsed the audit on the Ebola funds. Let the opposition SLPP show when it ever audited itself . Let them show us where such audit reports exist. The SLPP must eat humble pie and admit that the APC Government is the most transparent and accountable government to have ever ruled Sierra Leone.
Let the opposition also realize that we have only heard one side of the story so far. Let us stop all the generalizations going on and wait and hear all the facts. We do not fully know yet how accurately the audit was conducted and what procedures were followed or omitted . There are two sides to every story. I have spoken to many government officials and their reactions are mixed . Let us wait for the audit report to go through its logical process and for all the facts to come out.
Let the opposition also be assured that justice will be done. President Koroma has been warning about these Ebola funds from time immemorial and if it is proved that people did what the audit report states, the hammer of justice will fall heavily . Those guilty of embezzling Ebola money will suffer the consequences as stipulated by law and as Government has assured .
CORRUPTION is not new in the world. Corruption is very bad and unacceptable and we know that it has immortally existed in governments even from the beginning of time. Even during the Biblical times, under a harsh leader like Ceasar for instance, corruption still existed and the tax-collectors were notorious for overcharging people and embezzling funds. When Zacchaus got saved, he promised to restitute all the money he had embezzled as tax-collector. If you listen to Jesus Christ keenly, you will notice that he lived in a very corrupt society. He was always lambasting corruption in its various forms.
Even in the Western and other industrialized nations, corruption is rampant. We who live in the U.S. know that corruption is very rampant here too. Nobody would have known about ELRON and the billions stolen if it had not been exposed. Nobody would have known about the corruption in the mortgage industry which caused thousands to lose their homes and become homeless if it had not been exposed.
Nobody would have known about how the Kathrina disaster funds were embezzled if it had not been exposed. So we must give credit to the structures in place instead of looking at things as if they have only started happening now.
What I am saying is that corruption only hits the news waves when it is exposed . Corruption can be latent in a society but the public gets to know about it only when it is exposed . Therefore , we should give credit to President Koroma that corruption is not being hidden but is being exposed in Sierra Leone because of the structures put in place to expose it.
I have a feeling from reading other country’s papers that this Ebola corruption may have taken place in these countries too but the reason we are not hearing about that is that it has not been exposed. They do not have any structure in place, as we do, to expose corruption.
Let us therefore give credit to the APC Government for having these structures and government machinery in place that do not conceal corruption, but exposes it. We have emphasized this point over and over that the reason that it seems like there is more corruption in Sierra Leone is the transparency and accountability in place. Far more corruption is going on in other countries but they do not have the kinds of structures we have in place and so nobody knows about it. This is the way we Sierra Leoneans must look at this audit.
EDITOR’S NOTE : Hardly had I written this article when I saw the following report in Liberia’s leading newspaper, FRONT PAGE AFRICA. The article is titled : EBOLA TRANSPARENCY : “SIERRA LEONE LEADS AS LIBERIA FALTER”. http://www.frontpageafricaonline.com/index.php/health-sci/4530-ebola-transparency-sierra-leone-leads-as-liberia-falter
Tampering with Ebola funds is bad and those who allegedly did it will face their just punishment . Just believe this. The APC Government is a transparent and accountable Government and whoever engages in corruption during APC rule will be ultimately exposed and punished.
The only thing I want to suggest is that people should not only be fined ; they should be jailed and their ill-gotten properties confiscated.