The COIs, Corruption & the Search for Good State Governance

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    President Bio

    By Amin Kef Sesay

    The existence of anti-corruption laws and institutions to identify and suppress corruption in our polity brings to the fore the continued question of the commitment of our Government to combat corruption which remains a challenge to governance since the 1960s.

    This is because hardly will anybody read any of the national dailies in a week without the  issue related to  corruption not mentioned  which is of great concern to both Government and citizens; considering the damage it causes as unearthed by the Auditor General’s annual reports now substantiated by the Commissions of Inquiry findings.

    The aim of this commentary is to assess the dimension and challenges to anti-corruption efforts in the country and to question the country’s leadership on what it intends to do, going forward, to ensure that the findings and recommendations of the COI serve as concrete foundation for drastically reducing the temptation to corruption by those whom state power and resources are entrusted to.

    Generally, the institutional approach to fighting corruption needs to be fortified as the main weapon in the fight against corruption, as it is corrupt State institutions that fuel and perpetuate corruption of the kind investigated by the COI.

    Corruption generally has internal and external dimension that are interrelated.  These are illegal practices perpetrated by corrupt public officials in partnership with foreign owned entities. This is widespread in banking and finance, trade and commerce, mining and large scale public contracts.

    Demand for good governance by Civil Society Groups, stiffer penalty for corruption,  relative  autonomy  for  anti-graft  institutions  are  internal mechanisms for fighting corruption, while setting up International Government Organizations at the global, regional and sub-regional levels to assess performance in governance, tying international aids/assistance and loan to performance in governance by international donors are among external mechanisms to combat corruption.

    Failure to deal with the issue of corruption from both internal and external dimension is responsible for increasing level of corruption in Sierra Leone, even today. Foreign owed companies exploit us by price fixing and many such unethical trade practices with no State institution empowered or capable of checking them and bringing them to book.

    Without any obscurantism, there are both domestic and foreign aspects of corruption that continue to cause poverty and misery in this country that needs careful examination, exposure and prosecution. Definitely, in the fight against corruption, good State governance at both central and local Government levels plays significant role in determining the relationship between the leaders and the followers in allocating and monitoring of State resources in order to improve the socio-economic wellbeing of citizens.

    Still, citizens are hardly represented on State accountability structures. The media remains stifled in many ways to investigate and report corruption.

    For the fight against corruption to be all-inclusive, there must be robust measures for Government to depend on the citizens to carry out its constitutional functions and provide the needed platform for social engagement between the leaders and the citizens in addressing the socio-economic ills of society because the burning issue of poverty is directly linked to corruption at the institutional level.

    This means that to rid Sierra Leone of corruption, efforts must start and be targeted at all levels of State governance; on the premise that, a country that  is plagued  with  corruption  cannot  develop  its citizens  to  their  fullest  potentials. It should be fully understood and appreciated by Government and citizens that corruption, like  transparency  and  good  governance,  affects  all  facets  of  a  country’s existence – economy, society and polity, thereby leading to underdevelopment.

    Critically, the enormous resources lost to corruption both internally and externally that would have been channeled  to address  the issue  of underdevelopment have  been a  great concern to those who see corruption as a threat that must be addressed if as a nation we are to escape from the tight grip of poverty.

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