October 1, 2022

The move to relieve current ministers of government from their seats notably, Mr Denis Vandy has attracted the great love and admiration of the people of Sierra Leone for President Julius Maada Bio.

Probably, more ministers would follow to cleanse the country of corruption.

The promise of the “fullest implementation” of government White Paper in Sierra Leone is being realised.

To many, it is a demonstration of the notion that no sacred cow exists in the fight against graft in the New Direction dispensation.

It is also a great manifestation that anyone who indulges into corruption, regardless of status, would not be spared.

The President’s action signals a warning bell against corruption not only for the new successor, Abu Bakarr but also for other ministers serving in his regime.

As a result, the new Minister has been called upon by many members of the public to live up to the expectations of the President, and transform the agricultural sector.

Sierra Leone calls on the new Minister of Agriculture to do all that is possible to ensure food self-sufficiency.

Upon Coming to power in 2018, President Julius Maada Bio has demonstrated an unprecedented deep commitment to the campaign against corruption.

The fight against corruption was one of the key campaign promises the President made to Sierra Leoneans.

He was of the firm conviction that corruption through leakages has the potential to wreck state governance.

As a result, the President came to see corruption as not only a governance issue but also a security issue.

The notion tacitly pinpoints how corruption affects security and peace of states in the community of nations.

The philosophy espoused by the President became the jingle in mass media channels of Sierra Leone.

President Julius Maada Bio has embarked on many moves to shield Sierra Leone from corruption through the recovery of stolen money from corrupt politicians.

Of all the presidential moves, the recent removal of the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Denis Vandy so that he could be forthcoming to answer to allegations of corruption has been described as a great one.

The removal deserves a particular mention and analysis as it portrays the President as one that sticked to   his promise.

It is a promise of ridding the country of corruption so that every citizen could have a fair share of the national cake.

The removal of Mr Minister Vandy from the seat of a Minister is a direct response to public calls that says if the President really wants to intensify the fight against corruption, he must not have “sacred cows” in his administration.

Last week, he demonstrated that no scared cow would exist in his government as long as accusing fingers are pointed at you by the Commissions of Inquiry that you bore a hand in the loot.

Mr Denis Vandy was Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education where he served for several months.

In the process of service to the state, some anomalies and financial improprieties were alleged to have been committed in the ministry.

Consequently, Mr Vandy’s name found its way into a list of persons who should not travel out of Sierra Leone without recourse to the Attorney-General’s office.

It was a big shock and horror for Mr Vandy who said he was never invited by the COI.

No doubt he questioned the legality of a process that resulted into the appearance of his name on the list.

But, the Public did not countenance Mr Vandy’s amazement calling on him to launder his image in the courtroom.

Relieving the former Minister of his duties also marked the particular significance the President attaches to the implementation of the ‘White Paper,’ a product of the COI.

It was also a means of clearing his name of allegations of shielding ‘sacred cows’ in his administration and a  political witch hunt of the main opposition, All People’s Congress.

‘How can we have a minister that could not travel out of the country?’ was the most frequently asked question.

Mr Vandy’s former status as a permanent secretary at MOE placed Mr Vandy in a special class, power and authority as administrative head, vote controller and custodian of human and material resources.

In plain terms, he is in a position to know about the disposal of finances for activities and projects in his ministry.

Minister Vandy’s name appeared on eight pages of VoL-1 of the White Paper which emanated from Commission-64 presided over by Justice Biobele Georgewill.

The commission was charged by Constitutional Instrument-64 with the responsibility to inquire into assets and other related matters in respect of persons who were President of persons, Vice Presidents, Ministers and Deputies, Heads and Chairmen of Boards of Parastatals, Departments and Agencies within a period spanning from 2007 to 2018.

Page-32 VoL-1 of the ‘White Paper’ shows how Minister Vandy alongside other officials who were accused to have recklessly managed finances by MOE.

It was also alleged by the ‘White Paper’ that MOE was run as a cartel and criminal enterprise resulting into heavy financial losses that nearly wrecked the institution.

Funds meant for several activities such as: school feeding, payment of fees subsidies, revitalization of education project, construction of technical and vocational institutions, rehabilitation and extension works at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone among others were allegedly misappropriated with Mr Vandy at the centre.

The activities, the White Paper says, for which Mr Vandy and others are held accountable were carried out without supporting documents.

The COI came into existence owing to the belief that naked fiscal indiscipline led to a near collapse of the country’s economy.

The indiscipline is evidenced by what many referred to as a “reckless spending” of the former government.

The uncontrollable spending made the economy vulnerable to high debt burden which continues to hunt Sierra Leone to date.

In order to establish what went wrong in the Koroma administration, the President proclaimed that a COI was necessary to create an impartial investigation to premise on what the country needs to know and to prevent a recurrence.

The road to establishment of the COI was bumpy, rough and rugged, but the President pushed and pulled through to have the COI.

The findings were terrible for a weak state with a fledgling economy as servicing the debts alone could run into millions of United States dollars.

The recommendations were a means to restore probity in the public service and the country’s economic dignity.

The recommendations, in their totality, send a loud and clear message to Sierra Leoneans that public service calls for high levels of probity, honesty and integrity.

The implementation of the ‘White Paper’ would instil a great experiencial learning cycle in the minds of civil or public servants that they are stewards and not owners of state assets.

Civil society organisations too have commended the President for his latest move to relieve ministers in his government to face COI.

One of those activists who have not held back his commendation for the President, Mr Yusif Bangura, a teacher of good years standing in one of the secondary schools in Freetown and a rights activist.

He told Nightwatch that when the name of Mr Vandy came up as one of the indictees of the White Paper, he was of the strong opinion that the President would not allow them to be submitted to the law.

The latest move, he said, by the President had restored confidence in him and called on the APC to cooperate with the White Paper.

“If President Julius Maada Bio had protected his own ministers, the fight against corruption would have faced a serious threat as most Sierra Leoneans would have accused him of favouritism,” he said.

The accusation, he went on, would not have bode well for the fight against graft.

As Bangura and other CSO’s continue to praise President Julius Maada Bio for his relentless campaign against corruption, so other members of the public praise him too.

To them a new era in the campaign against corruption has been ushered.