Preventing corruption through adequate and well-tailored information and education is a strategy togalvanize change in communities to support the work of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
The Northeast office of theCommission engaged stakeholders and other inhabitants of Masongbo community in Gbantichiefdom, Bombali district.
The engagementwhich was held in the community’s Local Court buildingwasdesigned to educate the people on corruption and the Commission’s stern posture to control and preventit in view of enhancing the socio-economic status of all Sierra Leoneans.
Addressing over 100 participants, ACC Public Education Officer, Abdul Karim Bangura, highlighted some harmful effects of corruption particularly on rural communities. He explained that corruption impedes development by stunting already constrained public service delivery in rural communities. He further clarified that most people in such communities are mostly either involved in subsistence farming or petty trading for a livelihood and, under such hard-pressed circumstances, corruption left unchecked, could worsen prolonged rural poverty.
In addition, Mr. Bangura pointed out that women, children, and the aged are most liable to suffer the adverse effects of corruption in rural settings. Women and girls particularly, suffer from gender inequalities such as, limited access to and control of resources, hence, the impact of corruption on them could be desperate.
He however assured the people of Masongbo that the grim picture associated with corruption could be changed with education and information. ‘The ACC has a clear idea of what corruption does, and therefore reaches out to communities across the country to enable them support its campaign. The Commission makes a clarion call today in Masongbo calling everyone to join the fight against corruption’ Bangura furthered:
Public Educator Bangura urged the community to report corruption to the ACC dialing 515 on either Orange or Africell, stressing that the stakeholders should take lead in reporting acts of corruption, as a beacon of hope for a better future. He urged the people not to make malicious reports as this would waste the Commission’sresourcesand time.
Making reference to the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019, Public Education Officer ACC,AiahSourie,said to the audience that, a proven act of corruption is punishable by law. For each count of a corruption offence, a convict shall payminimumsum of Le 50,000,000 and/or serve an imprisonment term of 5 years. He added that corruption has become a payless prank and advised everyone at the meeting to turn off any temptation to involve in corruption and corrupt practices.
He encouraged his audience to believe that the fight against corruption his winnable, but to secure the win a solid national support should be given to theACC alongside a strong individual decision to refrain from every form of corruption. ‘We should all consider fighting corruption as a national duty. No one should be left behind in this campaign,’ Sourie concluded.
On his part, theChief of Masongbo, Ali A. Sesay, described the meeting as ‘important and timely’, while calling for partnership with the lead anti-graft crusader to rid his community of corruption to promote development. He admitted that the engagement was an eye-opener, and he and other stakeholders should serve as worthy examples to the rest of the community.
Pa Sesay suggested that, the fight against corruption would pay off more with the direct involvement of stakeholders in development projects in Masongbo community, lamenting that they have had little or no knowledge about the implementation of several projects in their community. ‘Once we get involved, as you have encouraged us to, future projects in our community would be carried out under our watch and to our satisfaction,’ the Chief said.
The Women’s LeaderMasongbo, BokaprrSesay,in her submission commended the interaction with the ACC, and confirmed that corruption affects women greatly. She bemoaned women’s common problems at the hands of corrupt leaders, and hoped thattheir burden will be lighter with the intervention of the ACC.
Other stakeholders made relevant comments at the engagement.