Monday April 9, 2006
The general public in Freetown was troubled but not moved by allegations made in a Freetown newspaper last week that the leader of the People’s Movement for Democratic Change , Mr. Charles Margai, gave out contracts to his “wives, family members and “proxies” when he served as Sierra Leone’s Minister of Internal Affairs from 1999 to 2001. .
According to our reporter, Chernor Ojuku Sesay , though the public was bemused by the allegations against Margai, it however dismissed the accusations as “Political Witch-Hunting ” once again against the PMDC Leader for the simple fact that the award of contracts to family members was an entrenched habit among all ministers of government and even the President, Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
According to Ojuku Sesay, members of the public , while decrying the alarming rate of corruption in the country, believed that the report on Charles Margai was leaked out to the press by the government to embarass the former Minister on the eve of the official registration of his party.
The public suggested that if the government wanted to know how serious was this problem of nepotism with contracts, it should launch a commission of inquiry to find out how other ministers and government officials award contracts. The public said “Shocking, distasteful revelations ” will be made that it was not only Margai whose family benefited from the award of contracts but even President Kabbah’s girlfiriend , Isata Jabbie .
The public, Sesay went on, made reference to the case where President Kabbah’s girlfriend , Isata Jabbie, was given a mouth-watering contract to supply fishing lines, outboard machines and fishing nets during the incumbency of Mr. Okere Adams as Minister of Marine and Fisheries. Miss Jabbie netted billions of Leones from the contract but never delivered anything, according to the public. Miss Jabbie was never brought to book for non-performance on a contract.
Sesay further intimated that the public also made mention of the case of a government functionaire, Mr. M.I.K. Bayoh , who was awarded a contract worth 1.7 billion leones by the Ministry of Education to supply furniture to government schools. Though the government stipulated to him the quality of materials it preferred for the furniture, Bayoh went ahead and provided furniture made from very inferior materials.
Bayoh was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission ( ACC) but nothing came out of the case, which died a natural death.
Last night , the Editor of this newspaper tried to get former Interior Minister , Charles Margai, to give his comment on the allegations against him, but Margai was so angry with the issue, he slammed the phone down on the Editor, brawling : “My friend, I have no time for this kind of nonsense “.