From the Editor’s Keyboard

The Sam Bangura Nightmare

By  | 30 April 2014 at 00:14 | 5192 views

Most of the people I have talked to were not surprised when the youthful NASSIT boss, Samuel Bangura Jnr (photo), was sacked a couple of days ago. In fact some of my sources on the ground in Freetown say the process to get rid of him started early last year.

For those who do not know, Samuel Bangura Jnr is the son the late Samuel Bangura, fondly known as Sam Bangura, former Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone who hailed from Yele, in the Tonkolili district, Northern Sierra Leone. Sam Bangura was killed by APC thugs in his house for his refusal to endorse the hosting of the then Organization of African Unity (now AU) Summit in 1980 in Freetown. His murder caused public horror and silent condemnation of the then APC government of Siaka Stevens whose decline was accelerating at the time. The summit was hosted after Sam Bangura’s death and many Economists say it sealed the economic decline of Sierra Leone among other factors.

The murder of the late Sam Bangura, one of Sierra Leone’s most brilliant bankers, among other murders has always weighed on the conscience of some decent APC leaders, not the thugs, some of whom are still alive and still have influence in the party.

Ernest Koroma, being one of the decent APC leaders, has always tried to heal the wounds created by his predecessors (through numerous murders, assassinations, executions, etc) by appointing the children of the victims into top government positions but he did not think about how some party officials who think they own the party, might react.

All appointments are made by the President in Sierra Leone upon the advice and recommendations of senior party executives to be endorsed by the most powerful party body, the National Advisory Committee, formerly known as the Central Committee. This body makes the final endorsement and also recommends the sacking of an appointee. Parliament is just an ugly show, a rubber stamp entity. If an individual does not have the support of senior party members and NAC, forget it, you will not last long in an APC government no matter how educated and experienced you are. You have two APC governments, the one you see and the one you don’t see, the latter being the more powerful and decisive. Ernest Koroma is just a figurehead, controlled by the invisible APC government. That is why one of his Special Advisers at State House at one time moaned that the President is like a bird in a cage. That’s not far from the truth.

Now back to Sam Bangura Jnr. Almost everybody knows he got the job as an appeasement from the APC for the murder of his father just like the children of other APC murder victims. There are many "appeasement appointments" in the current APC government. Which is not a bad thing; national reconciliation should be the focus of any wise leader. The opposition SLPP and the former NPRC junta also have their own murder victims.

So there was Sam Bangura Jnr in the powerful seat of NASSIT boss. I am told he worked for the London railway system for many years before returning home. He knew almost nothing about insurance and has never headed a huge entity (public or private) before. NASSIT is a huge insurance entity involved in other investments. To cut a long story short, the APC knew the young man did not have the qualifications and experience for the job but they went ahead and appointed him instead of sending him, say, to the Sierra Leone Ports Authority or the the Sierra Leone Roads Authority where he could have comfortably applied his skills and experience. Or he could have been made a Minister, a job in which he will be merely signing documents or speaking at public functions like most of the current Ministers. Were the people that interviewed him for the NASSIT job on hard drugs like cocaine and heroin or were they drinking alcohol at the time? I mean real alcohol like whiskey, vodka or rum? Or was it a fait accompli from State Lodge, the interview being just a show? Or was he appointed as a temporary measure, concocted to appease the Bangura family, knowing he will fail? Was it just a sham appointment to prepare the throne for his deputy who is now in the seat? Why was Joseph Sedu Mans, the new NASSIT boss, who was deputy to Sam and knew what was going on, not sacked together with the other top executives? Not difficult to fathom, is it?

Apart from the qualifications and experience aspects most people in Sierra Leone know that NASSIT is one of the most corrupt institutions in that country where even Edmond Koroma, a trained Economist with a Master’s degree had to be kicked out a couple of years ago for poor performance and corruption. Sam Bangura should be proud that he was only sacked for poor performance and not corruption. Perhaps he would have succeeded if there were not so many thieves in NASSIT or if some of his colleagues were not undermining his every move instead of offering him sound advice. So many state institutions owed the company for ferry services including the President’s office itself. How can one succeed in such a mess?

Some people say it will take someone with extraordinary talents to expunge the rot at NASSIT. The institution is rotten from top to bottom with dozens of thieves daily looking for money to steal. NASSIT needs an anti-corruption Messiah.

Certainly not the current acting NASSIT boss Joseph Sedu (Limba variant of the Temne name Saidu) Mans who has been there since NASSIT was created and who has certainly contributed to the mess that is NASSIT today. Or is it because he has the right connections in the party, especially the National Advisory Committee and the national party executive?

Mans is trained in Human Resources Management, not insurance. Will he be able to turn the company around with all the billions owed the company by government and private companies, some of them connected to the party? Will he publicly expose and humiliate all the company’s debtors including State House, big APC executives, Ministers, party bosses and party donors? Will he shut his eyes and bite the hands that feed him? Sam Bangura was said to be hesitant to take action although he boldly spoke about those debtors especially government debtors in his reports. Let’s wait and see whether Sedu Mans has the guts to do that. Is he going to bite the hands that are now feeding him? How is he going to ask them to pay back the money they owed to NASSIT? How is he going to hang bells on those fat party cats?