September 28, 2022

The New Direction Government of President Julius Maada Bio robustly campaigned on stopping leakages and procurement wastages in public spending, but it has been continuously embroiled in the old ways of doing things. Like during the APC days, wives, relatives and party cronies would disguise themselves behind certain underperforming companies and are being awarded various contracts in MDAs for the supply of goods, works and services.

This practice is characterized by huge kickbacks coming back to these government officials, and eventually the companies will turn over very substandard goods, works and services.

Sources very close to the Ministry of Finance have intimated this press that the wife of the current Financial Secretary, Sahr Jusu, has turned herself into a procurement mafia by opening over five companies in various areas such as construction, general merchandise etc. She is currently receiving various contracts from some MDA’s for goods, works and services using the influence of her husband and the Minister of Finance.

Our source also indicated to us that the Financial Secretary has to physically put pressure on Procurement Committees incertain MDAs and their procurement officers, whose names are withheld for the moment, to award contracts to companies belonging to Sahr Jusu’s wife. Huge sums of leones have been received through this ploy at the detriment of the people of Sierra Leone and genuine business people.

What is new in the direction the country is going through, when we are still having very senior government functionaries’ relatives and party cronies chasing contracts for goods, works and services, thereby depriving genuine business people? These business people have their tax obligations to honour with the government. This situation is what the APC was heavily criticized for by the SLPP.

How are we sure that these companies, which are created by officials of the Ministry of Finance and their relatives, will perform in terms of providing the necessary goods, works and services to the people of Sierra Leone ? How do we measure value for money and what happens to those genuine businesses that are owned by reputable and tax complying companies?

This state of affairs, which is not only happening with the wife of the Financial Secretary, is now the normal trend across MDAs and the business community is getting worried and frustrated that this will put them out of business.

It will be recalled that we, at nightwatch, have always maintained that Sahr Jusu’s cabal at the Ministry of Finance would not heed to any new direction due to the huge criminal enterprise that they have plunged themselves into during the past APC government. It is very difficult to teach old dogs new tricks. How can the people, who disburse the funds on behalf of government, turn around to chase such allocations by setting business companies that will move towards supplying goods, works and services?

Just like the APC,the SLPP has continued with the old tricks of manipulating the procurement process in their favour. The talk of ensuring an open, competitive and transparent procurement process is a sham, as the procurement process under the New Direction is already flooded with mafias operating in disguise. Invariably the people of Sierra Leone will continue to lose while politicians continue to amass wealth.

The so-called anti corruption crusade is knowledgeable about this sad state of affairs within the seven months old administration of President Julius Maada Bio, but it is busy deceiving Sierra Leoneans that it is fighting corruption.

What is the essence of fighting corruption, when the lens of the ACC czar is only looking at past APC officials? Francis Ben Kaifala should by now concentrate on the huge corruption and conflict of interest issues that have preoccupied the New Direction administration.

In subsequent editions we will publish all the companies owned and registered by the wife of the current Financial Secretary and several other SLPP big guns and detail how much such companies have bagged in the form of contracts from various ministries, which amounts to billions of leones.

What then is new in the direction Sierra Leone is taking?