THE ROLE OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN BUILDING A SUSTAINED CULTURE OF INTEGRITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
3. 10. But, t h ere are times when I think that many young people do not understand the gravity of what confronts us, and the impossibility of progress we will endure , if we do not collectively put our weight behind the fight against corruption. In a democracy, we elect leaders to channel our aspirations and do the things we cannot individually do for ourselves. Therefore, corruption violates the very founda tion of democratic governance when individuals snatch collective goods for personal gain. In real terms, it is when those in charge of building s chools for our children pilfer those resources and no schools are built. As a result , our children remain unedu cated and cannot employ their full potential towards our national development. It is when officer s in charge of building a State - of - the - Art hospital siphon the money and plant a substandard alternative in its place that cannot cater to t he medical needs of our people. Consequently, corruption keeps us underdeveloped and prone to preventable death of our people at genocidal magnitude . 11. It is by reason of the foregoing, and many more, that we cannot relent, that we cannot waiver, and we can not allow this cankerous virus to continue to stunt our growth. This is the new Sierra Leone we want, this is the new Sierra Leone we deserve, and this is why your gathering to plan the future of Port Loko with the aforesaid topic as the theme, is one of the most meaning ful events happening in Sierra Leone this year . 12. Let me further clarify this matter for you young people who still think that corruption does not concern you : Public money is not simply disappear ing into the wind like magic; it is going into the pockets o f individuals, thereby depriving a parent of food for her family, medicine for her sick child, no proper classrooms for her children, and no supply of portable water for her community. Recently , it meant grandmother s who had been granted scholarships to at tend a meaningful religious pilgrimage recommended by their faith but were deprived of that opportunity. If we normalize corrupti on we cannot feign surprise at the extent to which people will go . Anyone who is depraved enough to steal from G od should not find haven among us . 13. We must demonstrate to those who thrive on corrupt practices that we stand for a meritorious Sierra Leone with equal rights and opportunities for all. On a progressive note, p eople are now saying no to corruption all acr oss the country; and we must ensure that t his momentum does not fade - A united front against corruption indicates to those who wish to maintain the status quo that we are uncompromising in our efforts against corruption. 14. Youth of Port Loko , the old guards have to be blamed for the chronic corruption permeating our societies. In many instances our political lives are still managed by the strong arms of the se so - called old guards, but a new dawn is reckoning across Sierra Leone , and young people are gradually tak ing the challenge of leadership . This is an irreversible trend because Sierra Leone has about 7. Million population and about 60% of that population is below 35 5 years old. These are the upcoming leaders of our country .
6. he introduced as a symbol of "civilization" (all what we have become and consider ourselves "elites" and "civiliz ed" by reason of) - but led his people to stand up against (tax) policies he believed to be unjust or humiliating; and would rather sacrifice himself for his people than betray them to imperialists. He was the embodiment of courage, valor, leadership, prid e and sacrifice - qualities that we, with all the "civilization" we believe we have, are yet to collectively demonstrate for our country which remains poor, and in many ways, beggarly and backward over a century after Bai Bureh sent us a message painfully etched on the scrolls of his heart. Let the spirit of bai Bureh live in us the youth like a c i tadel; and we will together change the story of this country. 20. This is a watershed moment in our history. We should either get it right and prosper as a country or get it wrong and perish as a people. As a nation, this our generation must take collective action against the cancer called “ corruption ” . Together, we can win. We should forget our differences and build on our uniting factors and commonality in the fi ght for the soul of our collective destiny. We should draw from the valour and courage of great forbearers like Bai Bureh, Sengbeh Pieh, ITA Wallace Johnson, Kai Londo, Nyangua, Ella K oblo G ulama, Lamina Sankoh, Constance Cummings - John, etc. and join to re direct our country’s destiny in the right direction. Now is the time to join the bandwagon of the informed and not the uninformed and reject the chicanery of the uninformed to keep our people in political bondage! 21. Every generation has its defining moment; this is ours. Let us wear our girdles, embrace this fight, and together wipe corruption out of Sierra Leone ! God bless Sierra Leone ! FRANCIS BEN KAIFALA, ESQ . THE COMMISSIONER ANTI - CORRUPTION COMMISSION SIERRA LEONE
1. ANTI - CORRUPTION COMMISSION CATHEDRAL HOUSE 3 GLOUCESTER STREET FREETOWN SIERRA LEONE, WEST AFRICA "SIERRA LEONE'S ANTI - CORRUPTION REVOLUTION: THE ROLE OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN BUILDING A SUSTAINED CULTURE OF INTEGRITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY" SPEECH DELIVERED BY FRANCIS BEN KAIFALA, THE COMMISSIONER OF THE ANTI - CORRUPTION COMMISSION OF SIERRA LEONE , AT THE PORT LOKO YOUTH LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE , ON FEBRUARY 29 TH 2020 AT THE PORT LOKO DISTRICT COUNCIL CONFERENCE HALL, PORT LOKO CITY 1. All Protocols observed. 2. Permit me, to take this opportunity to thank His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Rtd. Brig. Gen. Julius Maada Bio, for reposing confidence in me , a Youth like you all, to lead the national anti - graft campaign. We at the ACC are prepared to use the plenteous political will in the country to shake the strongholds of corruption and push the boundaries of our resolve against corruption further than ever. 3. The Topic for toda y’s public lecture is very apt for purpose, and timely; given the socio - political realities of our today. Within the matrix of the New Direction, the fight against corruption is among the topmost priorit ies . The president has declared corruption as an eme rgency, a national security issue and the Urgency of Now! Therefore, it must be controlled in order to secure and ensure our collective destiny as a country. 4. Such deliberate embrace of the fight against corruption by the Young people of Port L oko , is a t estament of the fact that the country is prepared now than ever to move forward ; believing in the commonalities that hold us together and rejecting the difference that try to divide us. One such commonality is that corruption is an evil menace that has inh ibited our growth as a country ; and we have to own the fight to deal it a deadly blow.
5. It is not enough to scream “End Corruption!”, but then, when it comes down to it, you are prepared to pay a bribe for something you need. The fight against corruption is a moral and ethical one. Therefore, our personal lives must reflect what we demand of our leaders. There are those who will swear never to pay a bribe, but take bribe. Others will pledge never to embezzle public funds, but remain quiet because their family or best friends are involved. You a re equally guilty! Integrity is an encompassing expectation of decency that the citizenry must embody it in order to win this fight against corruption. vi. E xplore innovative method s of transaction s : There have been many significant technological innovations that could be useful in the fight against corruption, but some of our governments are luddites. Y oung people are certainly ahead of the game, in terms of comfort with both the gadgets and their applications. The fight against corruption is going to need your innovative technological skills to transform both our governance structures and our transactional tools. My country Sierra Leone is one of the few countries that have appointed a Chief Innovation O fficer – a youth - to oversee our strides in the technological age. This is the age of technology driven by youth. The fight against corruption is going to need your innovative technological skills to transform both our governance structures, review our systems and process es, and negate those that facilitate and fuel corruption. vii. Report Corruption : we can learn from the American airport campaign against terrorism in our fight against corruption: when you see something say something . In order to create a culture that rejects corruption, we must report c orrupt practices we witness .. As young people, you must become foot soldiers in the struggle against corruption, so that all around you , corruption should ha ve no hiding place. This is one area in which you can use your technological skills to create appropriate reporting mechanisms that are accessible and easy to use . Take advantage of the Pay No Bribe campaign and report corrupt practices . Remember, no one has ever become a hero by do ing nothing! CONCLUSION 18. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have endeavored to give you a few ways we can leverage the capacity of young people in the fight against corruption. As it stands, Sierra Leone ’s greatest hope lies in you . On an advantageous note, we have identified corruption as a common enemy; we must now attack head on because our very survival is at sta k e . 19. It is fitting that we are meeting here in Port Loko, the home of Bai Bureh of Kasseh, one of our illustrious lea ders who fought to free our people from the yoke of colonialism. He is the only historical figure that I am truly fascinated by - a man who did not learn the letters of the white man, speak his language, mimic his ways or in deed dress in the attire
2. 5. If we must actualize a true national rebirth , the fight against corruption has to be seen, treated, and regarded as a collective responsibility of the citizens of this country. The power of changing Sierra Leone from a very corrupt country to a leading light in Africa must be embedded in our collective destiny, and therefore, our collective responsibility. Of all institutions of governance, the one whose ownership should be insulated from politics is the Anti - corruption Commission. 6. The fight against corruption must be a topmost priorit y if we are to redeem our collective consciences by exerting more efforts on the control of corruption. Corruption has perpetually undermined Sierra Leone’s drive to economic emancipation; promoted the breakdown of law and order – leading to violent conflicts, poverty, and underdevelopment. Our generation is that generation that has witnessed this. Even more sad, is the fact that som e members of our generation have played pivotal role in the realization of the very corrupt state we f ind ourselves. 7. As one of you here, I was appointed as the Anti - Corruption Commissioner and I hit the ground running mindful of the fact that c orruption is a matter of grave concern to this country’s development and we are already far behind in controlling it. We cannot achieve our development agenda , no matter how hard we try, if we allow this cancer to continue to undermine our every move. All o ur effor ts will amount to nothing if we continue to allow a few individuals to selfishly steal from our collective pot. 8. Corruption is a global phenomenon ; but while other countries possess the luxu ry of addressing the matter at a convenient pace because of where the y already are in the Human Development Index , Sierra Leone is only now setting its development agenda on a straight path , and we cannot af ford the luxury of ignoring corruption. And more than ever before, young Sierra Leoneans like you all here a re recognizing the imperative of kicking this stumbling block out of the way, in order for us to achieve our full potential s as a country . 9. Everyday we remind ourselves that we ha ve enough resources to achieve our development goals ; but why are our resour ces not benefitting our people ? Many countries are moving to the moon and back, building nuclear plants, exporting energy to other countries, and conquering and harnessing nature to make impossibilities possible. We are here, still worrying about solutions to our electricity problems in the 21 st century. Well, this is because in most instances we have had rats manning the “ cheese ” of the country . It is now time to have better custodians for our national resources so that every citizen can experience and liv e a life of dignity in a country of freedom . If we do not continue to treat the fight against corruption with the urgency and uncompromising posture it deserves , corruption will remain the greatest menace to our democratic and socioeconomic development than all other challenge s put together . It will, above all undermine the peace and security of our country.
4. Now , imagine this new g eneration of Sierra Leoneans, entering public office s and private institutions believing, as they should, that corruption is immoral and repugnant to our development. That is the Sierra Leone we want and we now have a clear opportunity to shape it. 15. Y oung people can simply not afford to stand on the sidelines in the fight against corruption ; because we are disproportionately affected by this scourge. The widening of political and socioeconomic inequalities due to corruption affect s young people more than o ther groups. Unfair deprivations and marginalization experienced in the youthful stages of one’s life can derail one’s progress forever. When university grades and scholarships are sold to the highest bidder, deserving students suffer. When entry - level pub lic service jobs are auctioned to those who can afford to pay, hardworking youths languish in the unemployment pool. As a result of these corrupt practices, our greatest labour force – the youth - remains inactive, and our econom y consequently continues t o squeak under the pressure . This is simply unacceptable and we have to stop it. 16. All this said, t he question now is how to leverage the enormous potential in th is hall and beyond for an outright offensive against corruption. The good news is that those of you gathered here are already ahead of your peers in this fight. The onus is on you to return to your schools, universities, work places and homes sufficiently inspired to i gnite a ferment of change in favour of a n honest, fair , and just society. 17. To achieve our objective of leveraging youth capacity in the fight against corruption, here are some recommendations for us all: i. Don’t be corrupt : You cannot allow yourselves to do in private what you condemn in public. More than any other approach to fighting corruption, we must target the youth and create a culture of fairness, merit, and equity. ii. Be patriotic : We must understand that corruption is the greatest form of unpatriotic in the 21 st century. iii. As citizens, let us reject corruption in all its shapes and forms : iv. We should join in calling for better pay for public officers : It is appalling that many of our civil servants are paid pittance, and on many occasions not on time. Our Anti - Corruption campaigns should not omit to call for salaries that are commensurate with services rendered by our compatriots in public service. v. From the households to public life, we should lead our lives as emblems of integrity : This comes back to the idea of what you do when no one is watching.
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