The Southern Region office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has in a frank conversation with public sector workers, traditional authorities, civil society organisations and the media in Bonthe, Sherbro Island and Mattru Jong called on them to uphold public trust and confidence by promoting transparency and accountability in their daily operations. The engagements were held Thursday 28th and Friday 29th October, 2021at the Conference Hall, Bonthe Municpal Council, Bonthe, Sherbro Island and the Bonthe District Council Hall, Mattru Jong, Bonthe District, respectively.
In his statement, ACC’s Southern Region Manager Momodu Sittar said endemic corruption is identified as one of the factors responsible for the disfunctionality of State institutions. Mr. Sittar admitted that despite the positives strides of some entities to institute corruption control measures, others are treating it with levity. “If we are to redeem public bodies from their state of decadence, the public should be bold to hold duty bearers accountable,” he said.
Mr. Sittar reminded residents of both communities of their civic responsibilities to monitor projects and programmes of Government and its development partners in order to expose rogues. He catalogued some of the gains the Commission and the country made in 2020, mentioning the recovery of Eight Billion Leones, the over 90% conviction rate from cases investigated and prosecuted in court, the 81% score in ‘Control of Corruption’ indicator in the Millennium Challenge Corporation scorecard, a rank of 117 out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, and reduction in corruption prevalence from 70% in 2017 to 40% in the 2020 Afro Barometer report. He called on the participants to get themselves abreast with the provisions in the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019.
Senior Regional Corruption Prevention Officer, Francis Kinny Lassayo said that accountability, integrity, respect for the rule of law, proper management of public resources, transparency and ethics are the tenets of corruption prevention. Mr. Lassayo said that public sector institutions are often exposed to corruption vulnerabilities when those entrusted with leadership abdicate their duties. He highlighted some of the thorny issues which may emerge in the absence of proper systems in place such as: double dipping, absenteeism, disregard for procurement and financial regulations, lack of proper filing systems and tampering of attendance register. He admonished public sector workers to implement systems review recommendations in order to function efficiently and prevent the loss of limited public amd donor resources.
Senior Public Education Officer Abdulai Saccoh said “fighting corruption does not require unprogressive conducts which is exhibited by public officers because the consequence is low output in all fronts”. Mr. Saccoh acknowledged that despite several efforts to improve service delivery in public institutions, some unscrupulous individuals are held bent on throwing spanners in the good works of patriots. He described the state of affairs in public institutions as miserable because few greedy ones continue to enrich themselves at the detriment of providing quality social services to the public. Mr. Saccoh cautioned that public/donor funds entrusted to anyone must be utilized judiciously or face the wrath of the law. He called on Government officials to set up structures within their various institutions that will enhance transparency and accountability.
ACC’s Public Education Officer Yangie Deborah Sesay said the engagements are consistent with the Commission’s prevention mechanism to increase public understanding on corruption issues. Miss Sesay said that the operations of the Commission are not just limited to investigation and prosecution, but public education and prevention are fundamental to the fight. She encourged residents and stakeholders to join forces with the Commission in fighting corruption and assured them of confidentiality in handling reports from the public.
In one of the meetings in Mattru, the Chairman of the Bonthe District Council (BDC), Moses Probyn commended the ACC for the knowledge sharing session and pledged his council’s commitment to institute anti-corruption measures in their operations. He advised council core staff and devloved sector heads to put into action the vital information acquired in order to increase democratic accountability and transparency.