Corruption: Another open letter to President Koroma

1 December 2007 at 07:28 | 2198 views

Ahmed Bangura,
United Kingdom

Your Excellency,
I must profoundly congratulate you on your victory to take the highest seat in our beloved country. Like your predecessors, you have one clear mandate to the people of Sierra Leone. That mandate is your onus to deliver politically, economically, and socially. All the contents of your manifesto before being elected and your duty as Head of State and Government are enshrined in the above three elements. As a result, there is no need to refer to your manifesto or recent speeches, except on one thing: Corruption.

There is no iota of doubt that corruption is the ‘economic virus’ in our hope to achieve sustainable growth and development in a blessed country of rich flora and fauna, appealing geographical landscape that is full of vast and abundant mineral resources, decorated by rivers that flow with minerals from highlands to lowlands, and the Atlantic Ocean sending waves of hope from afar. Yet, Sierra Leone is labelled as having one of the poorest people on planet earth.

The cause of this endemic stigma of being one of the ‘poorest’ people on earth is due to mass corruption. This cause has always been directed and limited to civil servants in government departments and parastatals, and to be specific, on politicians. That judgement is only a pinch of the iceberg. There are very dormant but dangerous sectors that are as corrupt as government departments.

Those areas are the educational institutions in Sierra Leone and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). But to be precise and specific, Your Excellency, I would categorically say the Universities in Sierra Leone (including all constituents colleges) and NGOs normally referred to as ‘Sole Proprietorships’ are also filthily corrupt.

Your Excellency,
I am going to identify areas of mass corruption in Sierra Leonean universities. One simple analogy is comparing income, expenditure and infrastructure development in campuses of these institutions since they were established.

As there is no transparency and accountability in these institutions, the evidences of lack of sanitation, inadequate accommodation, no improvement in research programmes, no expansion of campuses to cater for increasing number of university students, overwhelming sale of ‘Handouts’ to students by lecturers, and above all, the sexual abuse of students by lecturers with impunity, are sufficient to justify corruption at its peak in institutions that are meant to train and maintain men and women of integrity for national and global services.

History reveals to us that Sierra Leone was the ‘Athens’ of West Africa. Our small country has always made exemplary marks in politics, education and hospitality to visitors. This great glory died many decades ago. The reason for that is just corruption. Corruption was aided in the university campuses due to neglect by the national government to question and bring to justice corrupt administrations. In addition to that, previous national governments involved themselves in Student Union politics. This was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. Things became violent among students and between cult groups. It was evident that the scramble for Student Union power in Sierra Leone these days requires and involves the secret support of some university lecturers and the suppression of viable students groups. This created a divide and disregard for ethics in our institutions.

May I say to you that fighting corruption is not selective or subjective but rather holistic? If that is a fact, I wish to briefly bring your mind to Non-Governmental Organisations.

Most NGOs in Sierra Leone are managed by JUST ONE MAN (Sole Proprietor) who takes the NGO as a personal asset and can employ and sack people as he wishes, and determines what to pay employees. The individual would do everything without fully involving staff members and would misappropriate funds meant to reach the needy for selfish desire. Such NGOs are in existence. It is no imaginary thought. They should be confronted and their behaviour and policies reviewed and reformed.

Fighting corruption at ministerial levels should be accompanied with pursuing it without fear at higher education educational institutions and so-called NGOs. No one or group of persons should survive in the sea of corrupt practices any longer in any institution, at any levels, and with no status factor as exemption from change, if you wish your fight on corruption to bear positive dividends.

May God give you wisdom to understand and act appropriately on issues of national importance.

Yours Sincerely,
Ahmed Ojullah Bangura,
PhD candidate,