By Mahmud Tim Kargbo
CENTRE, FOR RESEARCH DOCUMENTATION POLICY STUDIES AND DEVELOPMENT OF LAW
4 Lamina Sankoh Street
Sierra Leone Government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (Austerity), on Wednesday 19th October held an Accountability Conference with the Theme: “Enforcing Accountability for Improved Service Delivery”. Speaker after speaker exhibited their own reasons on the importance of accountability in government expenditures, but it was the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara deviant ideas about the Auditor General Report during the question and answers session by calling it a “mere opinion” that confused the guests. For the purpose of those who doesn’t know, the truth is the Auditor General Report is not a “mere Opinion” because the Auditor General Report is the work of qualified accountants who inspects the accounting records and procedures of the government and other institutions based on the approved accounting standards of Sierra Leone and such a job can only be charged to trained Certified Public Accountants or Accountants.
If opinion can be described as personal belief or judgement that’s not founded on proof or certainty; we can’t by any indication call the Auditor General Report a “mere opinion” to confuse the facts surrounding the authenticity of the said report and try to make it useless in the eyes of tax payers whose monies weren’t wisely utilised by this very government of ours . If we do, we are also part of the “BARBARIANS STANDING AT THE GATE OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT” by aiding and abetting wrong doers within the very few but highly powerful that are running the State at the expense of the majority they continue to marginalised in all fronts. What we must avoid here is to wrongly use the word “Adverse Opinion” in line with the exceptionally professional work of the Auditor General Report. Whilst the Auditor General Report is done based on the accepted accounting practices of Sierra Leone, Adverse Opinion is an opinion concerning financial statements (usually based on an audit by a Certified Public Accountant) that the statement as a whole do not present results fairly or are not in conformity with the generally accepted accounting procedures of Sierra Leone.
If the Auditor General Report is just a “mere opinion” as stated by our current Attorney General and Minister of Justice why did he attempt to use it evidence to prosecute alleged defaulters of the said report in his days as the head of the Anti Corruption Commission? Why are international development organisations like the World Bank, European Union and DFID decided to cut down their development package to Sierra Leone based on the findings of the Auditor General Report? Why did he feel the need then to challenged Parliament for an opinionated report? Is the Attorney General and Minister of Justice now telling us that when he was heading the Sierra Leone Anti Corruption Commission the Auditor General Report wasn’t a “mere opinion” then, but only turned a “mere opinion” report when he became Attorney General and Minister of Justice? In the name of unrestricted justice, this is the very Attorney General that has to champion the cause of approving the recommendations of the Auditor General report within the Executive after the Parliament has deem it necessary for them to be approved. Do you think he will press for such an approval?
O ALLAH, SAVE SIERRA LEONE WITH A TRUE LEADER
The famous quote that power corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely is one of the truest statements ever made; and it runs in to my mind as am typing this piece. I have watched many times how power transformed some of the nicest people I once knew into literarily monsters. I saw it in secondary school when people become prefects. I see it at work when people gain promotions and have seen it in many people I know who are in politics in Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone, we have seen power turn normal men into tyrants and evil geniuses. Am talking about SLPP and APC leaders here directly, but the NPRC are also part of it. These men are examples of what people can become when they acquire unaccountable power. Power does indeed corrupt and the more unaccountable it is, the more it can be abused and missed to serve lower instincts and evils. The use of power to enrich one’s self, relatives and friends or to give them undeserved and undue advantage is perhaps the commonest way power is abused and misused in Sierra Leone.
When used to amass wealth in a corrupt and dishonest manner, power is wasted. It is misuse of one of the opportunities to do good. When we understand the true meaning and essence of power we will see the evil of the ways and manners it is abused, misused and misapplied in Sierra Leone. When a President or Minister uses power to alter the economic equation in favour of a people for the reason that they share the same corrupt character he undermined the unity and cohesiveness of the country he is elected to unit and sow the seed of mistrust and unrest. He acts in a dishonourable, unjust and unfair manner. His action undermines his integrity and he loses respect and trust amongst the oppressed majority. With the loss of respect comes contempt and loss of civility. This is one way corruption damages the society of Sierra Leone.
Many people who abuse power believe that their personal conviction that what they are doing is right, is enough justification for their behaviour. However, what they do not seem to understand is that a personal conviction about a problem does not give anybody the right to impose it on others; no matter how convinced one is about its correctness or relevance to the cause. No man has any right to impose a solution on another without his or consent. No law gives another right to impose his will on another who is in his rightful mind without his approval. Even the appeal to God does not give any man the right to violet other peoples individual liberty of conscience and choice. Therefore, no group of people have any right to impose a solution on others in a democracy without the mandate of the people. This is because legitimacy is a necessary ingredient of power when exercised over others. Therefore those who wish to change the society for good must first of all, secure the mandate of the people to acquire the right to act in their best interest. It is perhaps the failure to respect this fundamental truth that both the SLPP and APC fail in spite of their good intentions. Provided they have any in the first place.
There are many people in social positions of trust in Sierra Leone who only judge themselves by their good intentions and as long as they convince themselves that they are acting out of good intention, they believe that they can do anything and the end justifies the means. They are prepared to lie, cheat, deceive, or use subterfuge in their attempt to do what they believe is right. These are the kind of people that caused the bloody useless past revolution in Sierra Leone. Their mantra is that they are fighting evil. Because of this, they justify evil. They do not understand or know that their action instead of ending evil only ensures that evil endures. This is because the evil they claim to fight perpetrates it’s self in their action. Often when they defeat the evil, they go on to become perpetrators of greater evil having gotten accustomed to using evil method to achieve good. This is how Sierra Leone society is today. These kinds of people which are quiet large in number, forget a fundamental truth which is that Evil can only be overcome with good. Evil cannot be overcome with evil. Those who believe that by killing,bootlicking, lying, deceiving and bullying others, that they can achieve good because they have good intention, deceive themselves. Therefore, I believe and insist on due process and peaceful methods in achieving my aims and objectives.
I believe it is a privilege to have the ability to speak that which the people may not want to hear but which one is convinced is correct and true. There is no greater cowardice than that which compels a man to keep silent because he fears that the majority of the people and the powers that be, would be offended. Courage includes the ability of one to say that which he knows would be unpopular but which he or she believes to be true. As I have often said, a man or woman who must only say what the people would like to hear and always ensures that he or she offends no one by his speech should be keep quiet. Power, especially when held in trust, is something that should only be exercise in a way to do good to others. The use of power to achieve personal objectives is abuse of power. Therefore those who believe in a particular system of government or religion and are prepared to kill or mime others because they believe in the good society they want to create are evil. Legitimacy is a necessary ingredient of the exercise of power. Without it, no one has any justification to exercise power over another no matter how good his intentions.
This is something majority of Sierra Leone politicians are yet to grasp. I cannot therefore support an armed struggle except when it becomes necessary for me to fight or be killed. I believe in peace but recognise and takes seriously the necessity for all lovers of peace to prepare for war because often the great values which make us civilised are preserved and protected by fighting those who hate them and would like to banish them. Politics must not be a game of deceit for the selected few against the majority who are suffering through their poor leadership skills. When a society gets the grater percentage of its ruling elites swimming in the river of sycophancy to oppress the suffering majority that’s not politics but an inhuman act against the marginalised majority. These aren’t examples of how politics should be played. Politics is game of reason and ideology, where people depend on the superiority and force of their argument and not on their corrupt networks, religion, money, use of terror or evil, cultism, genius to win. A contest in which contestants get opportunity to argue their world and national view in a fair, peaceful and civil manner. This is a necessary element of democracy which is currently lacking in the evolution of Sierra Leone politics.
Only a true and honest Sierra Leonean leader can sow and or water the seeds that would grow into true democracy. A leader who is prepared to act only in the best interest of the country and not one who acts in best interest of his ethnic group, family members, religion, geographical location, friends or political party. Such a leader would grasp the necessity if not the urgency in making the electoral commission, the forces, the Judiciary, Parliament, Anti Corruption Commission and other instructions meant to sustain democracy independent agencies deriving their powers from the constitution and not at the mercy of the party in power or the President. This is perhaps the most important reform any honest President of Sierra Leone can make to strengthen our nascent democracy. The idea that an Electoral Commission in Sierra Leone that depends on the good will of the government in power can conduct a free and fair election where the party on whose good will it depends would not be accorded some undeserved advantage, is difficult to sale to critical minds even though possible. It would seem that those who designed our democracy had only their need to hold on to power in mind. The Sierra Leone system seems to have been designed by those who could not imagine that they will have to hand over power to those they disagree with. If not, how can one explain a system that appears to be extremely efficient at diverting the rules of good democracy, protecting those who abuse it and making accountability impossible?
I hope that the coming President would include strengthening our democracy in the things he would like to do for Sierra Leone. Otherwise, Sierra Leone has no future and our democracy would soon run out of gas and succumb to the forces of corruption, prejudice, intolerance, and terror. God forbid.