Today, the 9th of December, is International Anti- Corruption Day. This day was set aside by resolution 58/4 of the United Nations Security Council in 2003 to raise awareness about the evils of corruption and to foster public support against the scourge.
As we all are aware, corruption is one of the biggest challenges of our time. It slows down development, distorts trade, undermines the security of our state, and weakens the economy and social fabric of our society. It is responsible for the vast inequalities in our present society and worsens poverty, the poor being the most affected.
Upon assuming office in 2008, my Government made the fight against corruption a priority and declared a ‘Zero Tolerance Policy against Corruption’. The Anti-Corruption Act of 2000 was subsequently repealed and a new Act was passed in 2008 that broadens the scope of offences and gives prosecutorial powers to the Commission to strengthen its independence and effectiveness.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, my Government has embarked on a number of reform measures and has recently initiated the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ to guide our development aspirations. The fight against corruption is as fundamental component of Pillar 7 in that road map that will take the country to middle income status in twenty two years. At the international level, we have recently been reviewed on our country’s compliance with the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and scored significant progress on Criminalization and International Cooperation. We have also been rated favourably in most indices released on governance and control of corruption by international bodies.
In spite of these achievements, the challenges still lie ahead. And overcoming these challenges require the efforts of every one of us. My government has put in place robust mechanisms to fight the scourge, our anti corruption laws are stronger now than at anytime in the country’s history; my government has recovered stolen funds than at anytime in the nation’s history; the office of the Auditor General now has greater latitude to do its work and publish its findings in record time than at any time in the nation’s history; we have ensured prosecution and conviction for corruption than at anytime in the nation’s history. We know more still has to be done, but my government has achieved more in the fight against corruption than any other government in the history of this nation. My Government is on record for suspending Public Officials prosecuted by the Anti-Corruption Commission and has also taken steps to dismiss those found guilty of corruption offences.
But government alone cannot fight corruption. This is a fight for all of us. My government has provided free drugs for the free health care program, all of us must work to make sure that these drugs are not stolen; my government pays for public examinations at the NPSC, BECE,T and WASSCE levels, we all must ensure that only those who have attained those levels sit to those exams; my government has increased salaries for frontline workers of the state, teachers, health workers and the police, lets us all ensure that these frontline workers live up to the wonderful ideals of their professions. My government has signed performance contracts with senior officials of MDAs, let us all ensure that these performance contracts are met. Government alone cannot win the battle against corruption, all of us, from the police, to judges, to ministers, public servants and the general public must continue to build the partnership for integrity.
As we commemorate this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day I would like to renew my commitment to the fight against corruption and call on all Sierra Leoneans including foreign nationals to stay away from corruption and help build a better Sierra Leone. We must resist, report, and reject every temptation to engage in corruption for the betterment of our nation. Let us support the fight against corruption and make Sierra Leone a prosperous nation.