PRESIDENT AHMAD TEJAN KABBAH
Since the official declaration of end of the decade long armed insurgency and retribution, only God knows the exact figure of foreign financial and material investment lavished on the Kabbah government for the total rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country. From the Paris Club to the Geneva, from the ADB loans and grants to the Arab Banks for Development, from bilateral assistances, to the Marine and the Mineral resources, the Sierra Leone government will never publish exact figure of what those resources actually brought into the country. What makes the accountability issue a more urgent, but prudent factor in the post war era is the ugly, nasty and gloomy reality on the ground. There is nothing, absolutely of concrete evidence, besides the out-of -control corruption quagmire to show for the blood, tears and toil our poor people paid to stand off the armed marauders. At the height of everything called destruction and devastation, TJ and his Men, besides the now manacledNorman had lived in Conakry crying wolf while chopping our money.
In a recent ADB country report, it was noted with shock and alarm that Tejan Kabbah’s government has already signed for over four hundred million dollars from the ADB alone for various to-be accounted for projects. Those projected projects ranged from school reconstruction to rural electricity and housing. But alas, mush of that money will never be accounted for most especially when the VP’s office controls the bidding for public contracts. And despite the fact that evidence abounds about the unscrupulous method such contracts are dished out. That coupled with the VP’s wide mouth blah blah about his running for the presidency campaign money laundering scheme. But when Sankoh and his blood letting hoodlums totally locked up our people, the VP and his boss were somewhere lavishing on themselves financial resources from the national coffers.
It’s a colorful fact that almost all kanja’s Triple “R” programs have failed to impact peoples’ lives because, much of the needed funds ended up in some one else’s pocket or directly into private construction projects. It’s no hidden secret that not even the rural municipalities such as the chiefdom administrative facilities, Health centers, Schools have been spared in this corruption onslaught on our nation at its neediest moment by so few with so much foreign donor resources.
I just wonder what it takes Tj to define himself as a bold, selfless, patriotic and visionary leader. One question that has obstinately refused to go away from my radar is the question of the coziness between NGO’s and these corrupt governments with whom they should work to implement donor funds. Like Sierra Leone, despite the fact that we’re leaderless, and mired in absolute financial corruption, yet much of the NGOs seem quite comfortable with that despite the fact that one of the reasons for their being in the region was the destructive result of unaccountable governments whose leaderliness (or really lack of a visionary one) and unchecked and lavishing corrupt practices might have been the driving force behind much of the armed conflict that swallowed the country. Because without such nonchalant, corrupt and unaccountable attitude and style of leadership, unleashed on the nation, economic and social developments would have prevailed. So that raises the question of the sincerity of the foreign donors and their NGOs.
NGOs nowadays are more like alternative business ventures or mouth pieces for either the Christian and Muslim evangelicals or a substitution for straight jacket colonialist adventures by the “Donor” countries. From the Catholic Relief Services to the Islamic relief ones, the catalyst is always to establish presence and much of the rest is a histogram of fine prints narrating statistics of the poor who have been assisted as well as those in ?dire’ need of assistance. Save the Tsunami victims in South East Asia and other non cared-for areas affected by tsunami; but nevertheless disregarded by the main donor powers. I feel for you Somalians and Kenyans whose lives were touched but remained to be forgotten in the publicity slot of the donation conglomerates. It’s no hidden secret that much of today’s NGOs are like vultures hungry and famished for trouble spots around the globe. Often most of them are either at the door of trouble spots or are there immediately the trouble starts bringing into question the driving force or the connection between donor countries and trouble spots especially the killing fields of Africa, Sierra Leone being a center piece of that pernicious quagmire. As in Tejan Kabbah’s Sierra Leone, the services of the UN World food Program and other much publicized relief services are as corrupt as the governments they work with to rob the masses. As a result, country reports from Sierra Leone on Relief services especially the WFP works has always been excellent despite the fact much of the relief rice and other food items are sold and distributed amongst top political functionaries. Ask the rice mammies in the rice, bulgur, corn meal, beans and other relief products markets (especially in Freetown and the provincial headquarters) about the source of their goods.
The recent alleged leaked Auditor General’s report on the state of financial probity is just one of those testimonies that showcase the extent of the corruption pervading the Sierra Leone society. But what’s more torturing is Kabbah’s reluctance, if not his total failure to address the situation notwithstanding the tons and tons of evidence of the destructive headlong course the actions of his government implicitly has mandated. As one commentator recently stated, all conditions that generated the decade long banditry have been rejuvenated by the actions of Pre. Kabbah and, his entire government functionaries. The Anti corruption episode is just the tip of the ice. Never will any active kabbah chorus singer be sent to that guillotine of investigation. Not ngor Momodu, nor ngor Kanja, ngor Solo.B or Education Wurrie despite the glaring facts about their departments corrupt practices.
So who actually is to be investigated by the Anti Corruption Bureau when those to be investigated are the powers that be. The very people that recommends who to be investigated and who can be prosecuted are the very people considered master thieves of public funds in the country.
Kabbah has never (since coming to power) made the slightest remark on his past dealings at the SLPMB. So he shall never deal with anything labeled corruption in his regime. In fact, anyone talking about financial malpractice in his administration is be labeled a disgruntled and reading too much into the papers. Journalist and ordinary citizens whose lives have been touched with the wave of mis- governance are labeled as miscreants, beggars, bring-him downs, rumor mongers, sell outs, distracters.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans wake up or else Kabbah and his fellow maladministrators are going to sell the only remaining hope you may have, and that hope is your liberty to constructively oppose or participate in the functioning of the affairs of your state. Even as I write, there is a ministerial wheeling dealing thriving in the cubicles of power from State House to the Pa’s lodge, from Youyu building to parliament, from everywhere you smell Tj and Ngor Solo .B. Your so-called MPs are good for nothing bunch of beggars. Ask each constituent representative about his stewardship in the parliament besides the appending of his/her signature to the executive bills or parliamentarian attestations to those muddy international dealings of the President. Nothing ever your MP(s) did in parliament that was worthy of his being seated in parliament. Simple example, since the Paul kamara debacle, has any parliamentarian raised up the issue of either decapitating the century old Libel and seditious provisions of our law, no. No one will ever not even the law learned lawyers choked in both parties in parliament. These people were not born crooks but society seem to make them live that life hence we never hold them accountable for their stewardship.
My fellow Sierra Leoneans, please wake up, there is no time left for cooling off, now is your time and, probably your only chance to work toward probity in our government. If we wait until the international community sends us into total oblivion, we’ll have no one to blame. Let’s fire our civil cylinders and ask Tj and his political machinery to publicly account for their stewardship. Lets us ask where do our Ministers travel, for how long, at what cost and the mission objective of all such travel. We again request that no government minister leaves Sierra Leone unless his trip and mission goals are made public through a Ministerial press conference and a sort of debriefing on return home. Freedom and probity is going to be our banners.
Abdul Hashim Daboh