IS REALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR CORRUPTION IN SIERRA LEONE?
The answer to the above
question question appears to be so clearly defined that many would
perceive such a waste of time and a lack of something worth writing
about. Agreed? But then take a closer look.
President Kabbah, despite
his many faults, has been raising one point - a dull point one might
say, but worth examining although the context in which he plays around
with it points to his affinity to the corrupt and a penchant to defend
President Kabbah believes that corruption is a
two-way street. That the traffic cop who demands something from
motorists keeps on plying his trade because there are defaulting
motorists who are willing to pay their way out of any traffic offence.
This is not to say that it
is good practice to encourage such acts, but it points to something that
is often ignored and like many a wrong-doing in Sierra Leone, becomes
readily accepted by perpetuators and victims, unaware that it is wrong
doing that must be punished.
And this brings us
squarely to why we think both sides of the corruption equation must be
punished to send a message that such wrong doing can no longer be
encouraged nor allowed in a Sierra Leone trying to shake off the mantle
of corruption, nepotism and all the ills that continue to plague the
The United Nations and its
specialised agencies, NGO's be they local or international and other
international "aid" groups, all bear a responsibility for the widening
circle of corruption in Sierra Leone and now that Mr Blair has touched
on the right nerve, the Sierra Herald would urge him to take a closer
look at the activities of British nationals working/operating in Sierra
It is no secret that while
Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown drowns in stench and filth, new and
impressive dwelling/accommodation keep going up and up, far removed from
the reality of the filth and over-crowding that is the lot of ordinary
citizens and if the capital is being treated with such scorn, the good
Lord helps our folks trying to eke out a living in other parts of the
But who occupies these
mansions being built by corrupt government officials in Sierra Leone?
a survey and you will discover that a number of them are designed to
cater for the needs of expatriate staff working in the country.
How do they pay their
rents and accommodation costs?
Check and you will discover that these
are paid for in foreign currency that never sees the light of the
banking system and get safely deposited in overseas "safe" accounts.
And who helps in the
illegal transaction? - The self same "helpers" and "aiders" who believe
that they have never had it so good. Two examples will help illustrate
Somewhere in the 70's a
master plan was drawn up that would have seen the Sierra Leone
Broadcasting Service, SLBS, housed in a building that should have taken
care of the needs of staff - offices, studios and all that was needed at
the time for a truly modern broadcasting system. That building was left
unfinished, abandoned and left to the habitation of all creatures great
and small, creeping as well as crawling bar human habitation.
At the same time that
building was being erected, a top gun in the management of the SLBS was
busy putting up a structure "fit for a king" on the highway, just before
you turn into the campus of the then Milton Margai Teachers College.
Cheap labour was provided by some staff of the SLBS that then boasted of
a woodwork section. That imposing building was finished and its first
occupant - a top UNDP official while the SLBS complex, to give it its
real name was left in ruins, never completed.
Quite recently, a certain
British military officer serving with IMATT, the International Military
Assistance Training Team was reported to have retired from the force
only to become a king pin in the recruitment of Sierra Leoneans to serve
Iraq. Why? Because he could have seen the level of corruption and
poverty in Sierra Leone; could have seen how those put in positions of
trust are willing to do anything to line their personal pockets. He
could have seen the attitude of an uncaring government and went into a
very profitable deal that dishes out peanuts to the youths.
The Sierra Herald dares
that former British military officer to dream of such a caper in the
United Kingdom and see what happens to him and any government that acts
in concert with him. But this is Sierra Leone. This is the land flowing
with milk, honey and great opportunities to make a fortune - a land that
is hardly noticed by the struggling masses of Sierra Leone.
Mr Blair, please start
with the activities of UK nationals in Sierra Leone and help us nail all
those encouraging corruption in Sierra Leone.