By: Sylvanus Blake
The Deputy Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Augustine Foday Ngobie on the 2nd of December 2021 told a gathering of stakeholders of Falaba District that the ACC is leading the nation’s war against corruption dispassionately in order to save the soul of Sierra Leone and restore sanity and integrity in public service delivery. He made the statement while delivering the keynote address in a well-attended town hall meeting organized by the Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) to present to stakeholders research findings on the delivery of Health and Education Services in all districts of the country. The meeting took place at the Falaba Town Community Hall, Sulima Chiefdom, Falaba District.
The engagement brought together representatives from the Falaba District Council, the District Health Management Team, Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Local Chiefs, Heads of Schools, School and Health Facility Management Committees (SMCs and HFMCS), women, youth, etc.
The ACC Deputy Commissioner demystified the concept of corruption, how it is exists in society, its reverberating effects, and what can be done by all citizens to address it. Mr. Ngobie, deploying his versatility and understanding of the local people, used the local Yalunka language to define corruption as “fei-funa”, interpreted to mean unjust act against society for personal benefit.
“My people of Falaba, the bad roads, poor medical, education and infrastructure, the lack of other social amenities we are grappling with are all as a result of “fai-funa”/corruption. We have to address it because it affects and threatens our very survival as a people. No one needs to invite you to put out a fire that has engulfed your house,” the Deputy Commissioner said in a solemn tone.
He highlighted the lack of transparency and accountability in the management of resources, poor attitude of workers in especially hard-to-reach communities, poor monitoring and supervision, emigration of approved workers with pin codes to big towns and cities, and weak internal control measures, as some of the drivers of corruption in the education and health sectors.
Mr. Ngobie stated that the expected roles and responsibilities of HFMCs and SMCs in improving accountability, transparency and quality service delivery in the health and education sectors is for them to serve as checks and balances in the school and health facilities. He said the need for proper management of public and donor resources cannot be overemphasized and the position of the law is unrepentant. He urged them to serve their communities well and ensure improved service delivery.
He also encouraged the public to speak up against corruption by reporting all suspected instances to the ACC for the development of Falaba District and the country.
Presenting the report findings, the Executive Director of IGR, Andrew Lavali, said that with support from the World Bank and other partners, IGR had conducted a study in the delivery of healthcare and education services across the country, which findings indicate that, Falaba District with an average of not more than 13%, falls within the four districts that scored the least in terms of access to quality healthcare services (the other districts being Koinadugu, Karene and Bonthe), while Kono, Kambia and Koinadugu districts are least in the area of access to education services.
He stated that though the findings are grim and disturbing for Falaba District, residents and stakeholders should not be dampened by it, but come to terms with the reality on the ground and work concertedly to address the challenges and reverse the ugly trend. He said that his institution shall continue to train and support the leadership of the schools and health facilities, including the already established Integrity Management Committees (IMCs) in the two crucial service providing institutions for them to put strong internal control mechanisms in place and ensure they work effectively.
Mr. Lavalie said that records-like facility development plans, cash books, receipts, daily dispensary charts and other accountability records- should be kept appropriately. He said that school and health facilities that improve and sustain service delivery might benefit from increased support from the Government and the World Bank through the Performance Based Financing (PBF) scheme. This scheme serves as an incentive for performing and non-performing institutions to keep doing well and improve on their results. The Paramount Chief of Sulima Chiefdom, Chief Dr. Manga Salifu Salito Samura III, while speaking at the event, thanked IGR and ACC for the report and inspiration. He called the report and the statement by the ACC Deputy Commissioner as a day of reckoning for himself, his people and all stakeholders in Falaba District. He urged and encouraged them not to be ashamed of the contents of the report but challenge themselves to see improvement. He assured that they will work very hard to reverse and improve on the downward trend in crucial services