The Public Education and Outreach Unit of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) office in Makeni, the Northern Region, on 1st and 2nd February 2023 has, empowered inhabitants of Kamabai and Binkolo communities to resist and report corruption. The engagements took place in Biriwa Limba and Safroko Limba chiefdoms respectively, in Bombali District.
In his keynote statement, the Senior Public Education Officer ACC, Abdul Karim Bangura, explained that empowering communities through education and information sharing is relevant to the campaign against corruption. This is predicated on the concept that the citizens, regardless of ethnicity and political allegiance, bear the brunt of endemic corruption and in most cases, their lack of knowledge, he stressed.
He disclosed to members of the two communities that the blight of corruption enfeebles and kills development efforts, causing various and many forms of unscrupulous activities at the expense of the well-being of the country. Mr. Bangura furthered that Government suffers huge losses of needed funds making it incapable to carry out its socio-economic obligations to the public. He added also that citizens begin to visibly wince under the pressure of corruption when access to public services, for example, becomes the preserve of the rich.
Giving examples of corruption, the anti-graft officer informed the community stakeholders that they should be very active in the war against corruption. Such move, he noted, would exemplify strong leadership and further urge the rest of the community members to resist and report corruption at all times. Bangura however, underlined love for country as a pre-requisite to be able to seriously confront graft and challenged the communities to put national interest above self.
ACC’s Public Education Officer, Aiah Sourie, in his submission, weighed in on the possibility of winning the fight against corruption, highlighting the country’s standing in the 2022 Transparency International Corruption Perception Survey Index. According to the Index, Sierra Leone obtained an upward mobility score of 110, from 129 in 2018, dwarfing 70 countries out of 180 surveyed. Mr. Sourie again noted that, within a period of four years the country has moved up consistently 20 places upwards securing 34 points, which is above the Sub-Saharan average of 32.
The Public Education Officer added that the stellar performance of the country is ascribed to the unflagging political will of President Julius Maada Bio and his Government and the astute leadership of Commissioner Francis Ben Kailafa Esq. since he took the reins at the ACC in 2018. He assured the people that the holy grail of the ACC is a corruption-free society where the socio-economic needs of all Sierra Leoneans are realized. He therefore encouraged them to support the Commission by always rejecting and reporting corruption as a civic duty.
Responding, the stakeholders of Kamabai and Binkolo communities thanked the ACC for the eye-opening engagements and called for similar meetings to be held in other parts of the two chiefdoms. The Paramount Chief of Biriwa Limba Chiefdom, Sallu Manna stated: ‘we have heard information enough to convince us that the ACC is not an enemy to anyone. They are in the business of fighting corruption and we should support them in doing so.’
The ACC officers handed over IEC materials to the stakeholders of the communities to climax the meetings.