''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 2

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Wednesday November 16, 2011 - At last the opposition in Sierra Leone beginning to find its voice taking the mask off the magician in another circus in London. OGI meeting abroad? No way, OGI is for within the borders of Sierra Leone and not for ruling party jamboree, yeah trips and rallies. The OGI envisaged by the UNDP is a far cry from what now obtains under the watch of the smoke and mirrors President.

The main opposition party in Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party has joined the 3rd largest party, the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change, PMDC to raise concern over the recent London meeting addressed by President Ernest Bai Koroma - a meeting which, if the OGI, the Open Governance Initiative, is to be believed, was to present the people to the President. Both parties issued a Press Statement headlined - APC Politicises Open Government Initiative Meeting in London Just Like They Are Politicising The Police, Army and Even Paddle adding

"We are settled in our view that the occasion of the President's public meeting was used to mobilise an APC oriented political rally for President Koroma's 2012 political aspirations. We believe that this was wrong and inimical to the tenets espoused by the OGI which includes but is not limited to openness, transparency, accountability, inclusion and national cohesion. In any event, it was in bad taste and indeed an act of shameful conduct for our President to succumb to such gimmick. We note also the omission of the programme's sponsor namely, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Furthermore, given that the APC has sought to use donor money to further its political campaign for 2012 General Elections, we the SLPP and PMDC hereby call for an immediate investigation into how the modalities of the OGI event was set in train, in order to get full disclosure of how it was organised and how the funds were utilised for the event on 5 November. We hereby invite the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission to forthwith investigate the matter with a view of exploring the possibility of whether the Director of OGI abused her office."

We, the Sierra Herald, had in the past questioned the rather secretive and far less open operations of the OGI's Director, one Khadija Sesay who often takes the role of fore-runner whenever the President is on his overseas jamboree lavishing scarce resources on such trips. OGI, the Open Government Initiative was meant to be a non-political body that should be transparent and able to provide answers to any questions raised about governance in Sierra Leone, but try raising any question and invariably, it is a solid wall of silence that greets you further raising suspicions that the OGI Director could have something to hide. In a statement on the organisation's website - we have this -

"The concept of Open Government Initiative (OGI) was proposed by His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma at Bumbuna Presidential Retreat in January 2008."

A non-starter as this is clearly not the case. This was an initiative of the UNDP - a body keen on making sure that good and open governance was just that - no politicking, no excuses to be a part of the President's jamboree and a body, the OGI that is, that should be free from political puppetry.

Sadly, this is not the case and the OGI as we had noted in the past, is now a part and parcel of the Ernest Bai Koroma political and APC bandwagon.


Saturday November 12, 2011 - Sierra Leone's main opposition party has a potential Vice President, a running mate - and it is a woman of no mean standing - Dr Kadi Sesay is the first female running mate of the SLPP as a date for the 2012 elections is announced.

Sierra Leoneans wake up this morning to the news that the main opposition party, the SLPP flag bearer Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio has at last chosen his running mate for General Elections scheduled for November 17, 2012 a little over a year from today. Before this announcement, there had been a number of speculations from the SLPP as well as the ruling APC party of President Koroma as to who will be the choice of Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio with some school of thought remarking that it could well be clinched by the man who came second in the contest for the SLPP flag, Usu Boie Kamara.

In a broadcast statement announcing the name of Dr Kadi Sesay as his running mate, Julius Maada Bio explained that his choice fulfilled a number of aspirations of the party and that with Dr Kadi Sesay as his running mate, he has, in his own words got the party -  "the first Sierra Leone woman to rise almost to the pinnacle of leadership in the SLPP. The women of Sierra Leone have been asking for a quota of 30 per cent participation in public life. I sincerely believe they deserve more than that and my Party and I are committed to enhancing the status of women in this country...she is not only a woman, she is a woman from a traditional and humble home in the North. By this appointment, she is not only a trail setter, she is also a role model and a symbol of hope especially for the girl child...in the course of my campaign for the position of Flag Bearer of the SLPP, I promised not only the people of the North but those of Port Loko District in particular that my Running Mate shall come from that District".

Reactions from the inner core of the ruling APC party has been somewhat of a "we are not surprised" nature with those who matter expressing a wake-up call and a challenge for them to give women a more prominent role in the affairs of the body politic of the All Peoples Congress party, an organisation which has been largely manipulated by men while women folk were used as shields to project the men folk. Strident criticism bordering on the usual sewer language is expected from APC neophytes, the internet flying toilets who are in it for the money and who actually believe that the denigration of women and the opposition is what puts food on their wretched tables.

They are to be reminded that a core from that sewer poured scorn and vitriol on poor Christiana Thorpe when she was appointed Chief Electoral Commissioner by former Head of State, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah before the 2007 polls. Many invented and manufactured stories about her reigned on the internet in their columns and on their "discussion forums" that claimed to know every aspect of the private life of the poor woman. It came to a point where a female member of one particular forum could stomach it no more and demanded an apology from the recalcitrant and rude owner of the forum. It was this same forum owner, who after the 2007 polls that saw Ernest Bai Koroma emerging as winner and hence President that has been praising Christiana Thorpe to high heavens to wit "another Daniel come to judgement". We await their denigrating, disrespectful, rude and undiplomatic comments which we shall duly record for posterity...for as their bread winner, the President himself has stated, the coming elections need not be a do or die affair - well except for those whose livelihood depends on the APC and indeed President Ernest Bai Koroma getting his second term.

If he loses....

UPDATE - Saturday morning of 12th November 2011 - We have just seen this Statement of Intent as published on the New People website. It is a tribute from the good lady herself, the good lady being Dr Kadi Sesay, on the role she played and continues to play in getting Sierra Leone on her feet after years of war that saw many raped, murdered, mutilated, dispossessed. It is the story of a woman who never gave up, determined that Sierra Leone, her one and only country should rise from the ashes of war and become a proud nation once more. It is a story of the long and hard road to peace, democracy, the rule of law and above all respect for the lives of every Sierra Leone never mind political affiliation, ethnic affiliation, religious leaning etc etc. Please read, carefully read just how Sierra Leone staggered to her feet during and after a war that left millions displaced and even more traumatised. Please read and re-read her contribution on the international scene working to lay the foundations for true and positive governance in Sierra Leone - and all in the face of those who would want the country to always remain a war-ravaged, insecure and failed state. She and her colleagues succeeded in rising above it all.

Wednesday October 12, 2011 - The right move, the right road - Reports on our diplomatic missions abroad. It is a story of financial malfeasance, a lack of accountability and a deliberate attempt to steal the people's money using whatever means that is deemed feasible. It is a story of unauthorised payments, double payments for expenses on behalf of the President and more dirty tricks.President Koroma at the 66th UN Assembly - clip from UN videoSierra Leone's Foreign Minister J B Dauda - what action is he planning on financial malfeasance by our missions abroad?

The Auditor General's report on the activities of Sierra Leone's Overseas Missions and High Commissions for the period 1st January 2003 to 31st December 2010 is now out. Whoever instituted and more importantly "forced" the government to publish audit and other financial statements must be recommended and in this regard we would want to place on record our sincere appreciation to all those - from State House down - for making sure that the people get informed about what goes on in their missions abroad on their behalf. Quite recently, we thought we detected a kind of triumph in reports that one Lord Davenport who bought over our High Commission building at the former famous 33 Portland Place got his just reward after he was convicted in a London court and sent to jail. Think about this - the man bought the property because those who were in charge of maintaining our mission buildings failed woefully, did not pay heating charges, rent nor electricity and gas bills while all the time siphoning money from Freetown aimed at giving us some degree of respectability. We praise the work of all those who have made it possible to read the Audit Report on our missions abroad and would pray that this continues. Past governments have been notorious for concealing what goes on behind the curtains in our missions and that includes former governments headed by Siaka Stevens, Momoh and before the present, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. The Audit report makes quite interesting reading of how the people's money are being stolen. These range from false documentation through suspicious allowances and dodgy employment records if they exist to expenses paid on trips undertaken by our very own smoke and mirrors President to the 2010 United Nations General Assembly. Kindly note how we had been asking for a statement on the size of the delegations and expenses in terms of accommodation, transportation and allowances on the recent 66th UN Jamboree. As usual none was provided and none was expected. This will not deter us. We shall always ask. Now take this one on the Sierra Leone Mission to the United Nations

6.  Duplication of payment in respect of United Nations general assembly meetings             

The following were observed: That MOFED paid twice for accommodation and other incidental allowances in respect of the United Nations General Assembly Meetings in New York-once to the Office of the Secretary to the President and again to the Sierra Leone Permanent Mission to the United Nations. During the Financial year 2008, the Office of the Secretary to the President received US$57,161 for the 63rd UN General Assembly Meeting; for the same period an amount of US$43,800 was also remitted to the Mission for the same purpose. In the 2009 Financial Year, the MOFED paid US$46,691.00 in respect of the 64th UN  General Assembly Meeting and remitted US$36,596 to the Sierra Leone Permanent Mission for the same purpose. During the 2010 Financial Year, the Office of the Secretary to the President received US$54,267 to cover accommodation, incidental and imprest in respect of the 65th UN General Assembly meeting and for the same period an amount of US$49,915 was remitted to the Mission. Of utmost concern to the auditor was the unavailability of the relevant supporting documents and schedules to cover those payments. We therefore recommended that the Financial Secretary should explain, with substantial evidence, why duplicate payments were made in respect of the UN General Assembly Meetings; in the absence of which the amounts involved should be refunded by the officers concerned.

Internal Communication in the Mission was far from satisfactory and this has had a negative effect on their work culture and performance. 

A rent allowance of US$2,300.00 continued to be paid to the Head of Chancery, even though she was occupying an official residence. This amounted to US$43,700.00 for the period under review. Undue delays were observed in the processing of the Air passage of the Deputy Permanent Representative (DPR) even though a memo had been sent by MFAIC to facilitate return. In addition, the recalled DPR continued to receive salaries and other claims/benefits, which resulted in the loss of monies to the Government. We therefore recommended that the Director General, MFAIC should investigate the anomalies and have the report of the investigation forwarded to my office for verification.  We recommended further that the Head of Chancery should refund the rent allowance received since the date of occupancy of the residence and forward receipt details to my office for verification.  

It was observed that Children’s Allowances were being paid arbitrarily. In some instances, Children’s Allowances were paid to Diplomatic Staff not entitled to it. In addition, copies of Birth Certificates of children of Diplomatic Staff were neither on file nor were they produced or made available to the auditor for inspection to support the payments, amounting to US$195,057.81, made to staff for the period under review.  

We would also want to add that our regulations say that diplomatic staff should only serve a 2-year term in one mission and so any wonder why Foreign Minister J B Dauda was adamant that all those who have outlived their mission life must return home? Now we know.

These are the missions audited by the Office of the Auditor-General

Libya United Nations Washington Guinea Ghana
Nigeria Belgium Germany Russia United Kingdom

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