COMBATING CRIME… SUPERINTENDENT GEORGE MOMOH DESERVES RECOGNITION

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BY ALHAJI TURAY                  

The Ops officer for Central Police Division, Superintendent George Momoh, has been recognized not only among colleague officers but also by members of the general public for his human and transparent manner while executing national duty.                             Superintendent Momoh had worked well in many provincial headquarter towns including Makeni City before he was recently sent to attach at the Central Police Division as Operations Officer where he had equally proved his competence and capability as a seasoned government administrator.       

Since superintendent Momoh assumed office few months ago, it is evident that crime such as arm robbery and other related lawless activities have been minimised drastically through by his robust and regular field patrols with his hardworking junior police officers at night.                     

According to findings among fellow officers, George Momoh’s passion to improve livelihood or welfare among junior police officers in his jurisdiction cannot be over-emphasize.                        

George Momoh is held to highest esteem among senior and junior colleague officers for his humble approach and human attributes in performing his constitutional duty.                                             

Speaking to Superintendent Momoh, who was caught up in an interview, expressed gratitude to the Inspector General of Police, Dr. Ambrose Michael suvula and DIG Elizabeth Turay, Deputy Inspector General of Police to recognise his good work at the Central Division as well as for exhibiting astute leadership thereby affirming that he is always committed to his duty and to continue serving Sierra Leone faithfully at all times.

SIERRA LEONE “HARDSHIP INDEX” JANUARY 2022

By Dr Dennis Bright

Most Sierra Leoneans who have been following the steady rise of NGC in the political theatre of Sierra Leone will recall that since March 2018 we have been monitoring the prices of basic food items in local markets, items such as rice, pepper, oil, onions, maggi that the poorest of the poor need to prepare a simple meal for the family.

Although Sierra Leoneans complain everywhere that living conditions are worsening every day, it is not easy for them to measure to what extent their condition is deteriorating. These market surveys give an idea of how bad things are for the common man or woman.

Furthermore, we try to estimate the cooking ingredients that will be needed to prepare a meal for a family of four (father, mother and two children) a family size that is admittedly extremely small for typical poor families which tend to be big and extended. When the cost of a basic daily meal is compared to the minimum wage of a sole breadwinner, we discover that since this Government has been running our lives, a minimum wage earner’s income, if spent on food alone, does not last for long; in fact, in this month of January 2022 when a basic meal for four costs Le 68,000 per day the entire wage of Le 600,000 will last for only 9 days; so since the family has other compulsory items to pay for such as rent, transport fares, clothing and medical bills, one can assume that parents and children will have to go without food some days, without bus fare, without light etc. This is the misery to which our people have been reduced while people in power are spending fiti fata on themselves, callously blind to the sufferings of the poor and stone deaf to their cries. And yet they keep congratulating themselves, for some job well done that only they can see.

As the day of reckoning draws closer we present to you, once again, our market survey for January 2022. The prices of the food items are compared to the price levels in March 2018. Between 2018 and 2022, the prices have been dancing up and down year in and year out but they have always been higher after 2018.

This January, the lowest increase has been the price of a bag of rice which is nearly 50% higher than in March 2018. As everybody knows, some 40,000 metric tonnes of rice have magically appeared at Water Quay just in time for the election campaigns. Maybe, the expectation is that Sierra Leoneans are fools and will fall for the trick; that they will eat rice until they forget how much they have suffered and repeat their 2018 mistake of voting in the vampires.  Time will tell.

But isn’t it crazy that these people who boasted so much for the past three years of their great Tok and Do, soon-to-flood-the-nation Toma Bom rice harvests should be frantically importing rice to feed us fourteen months to the next elections?

Meanwhile, those things that we produce locally appear to be the most expensive: the price of one of the main sources of protein available to the common man, dry bonga fish, has increased by 1100% while peppeh per cup increased by 900% and vegetable plassas per tie costs 300% more than in 2018.

Sadly, some people are more interested in flying up in the air, cooking elections and sacking upright women who are doing their job

SIERRA LEONE ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION: SUB SAHARAN BEACON OF EXCELLENCE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

By: David Yusuf Kabia

It could be recalled in our nation’s history since independence (1961) that corruption was among the many things Sierra Leone was notoriously known for, which ties in with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report of 2002, which identified endemic corruption as the major catalyst that sparked up the decade long civil conflict which left hundreds of thousands dead and thousands amputated and made homeless. The prevalence of corruption within the public space was so alarming that Sahr John Kpundeh in his book “Limiting Administrative Corruption in Sierra Leone” (2004) sadly noted: “The pervasive nature of corruption in almost every kind of activity, and the reluctance of the nation’s leaders to systematically fight this wide-spread malaise, allowed questionable practices to continue and eventually become an institutionalized way of life for Sierra Leoneans. Consequently, the culture of corruption enabled the governing class to attain economic domination, and the whole bureaucratic structure was converted into an instrument of self-endorsement by prominent civil servants”. This endemic corruption grossly affected every facet of society especially the healthcare and educational systems.

In 2018, when Francis Ben Kaifala was appointed as Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 was amended by Act No.3 of 2019 which provided robust measures to winning the fight, such as, establishing a Special Division in the High Court of Sierra Leone specifically to hear ACC matters. Besides matters being expedited, the Commission was able to recover over 35 Billion Leones from convicted corrupt persons, recovered government property, secured over 90% conviction on prosecuted matters, exposed high level corruption within the educational system and other quarters. This saw the Commission being highly recognized and rated by International Anti-Corruption watchdog institutions such as Transparency International.

Sierra Leone has made tremendous progress on the Transparency International Corruption Control rankings for three years now moving from 117 in 2020 to 115 out of 180 countries surveyed in the 2021 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (TI-CPI). In 2020, Sierra Leone scored 33 and in 2021 increased its score to 34 which continues to be above the Sub Saharan average and the highest Sierra Leone has ever scored since the inception of the CPI rankings. This three years consistent exemplary performance by Sierra Leone on corruption control shows that it now leads sixty four (64) countries in the global campaign against corruption, including thirty two (32) African countries like Kenya, Guinea, Liberia, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Zambia, Mozambique and Egypt.

The Report which was published on the 25th January 2022 further continues to uphold the data-driven evidence of Sierra Leone’s remarkable performance in contemporary anti-corruption assessments against opinionated distractive views. This is vivid proof of the extent of the hard work been put by the entire Commission to redeem Sierra Leone from the shackles of corruption that have enslaved it for years causing abominable destruction to lives and property. It is as well a testament of the commitment of the People’s Commissioner-Francis Ben Kaifala as promised, upon his assumption of office on June 27th 2018 when he particularly emphasized that he was going to launder the image of Sierra Leone from the once one of the most corrupt countries in the world to a beaming beacon of exemplary prowess in the fight against corruption.

Sierra Leone is further highly rated by other renowned international anti-corruption institutions like the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which recently published data showing a score of 83% made by Sierra Leone in 2021 from a failing 49% in 2017.

While this consistent exemplary performance is worth celebrating, the Commission remains firm to ensuring zero tolerance to corruption within the public space in order to allow all and sundry benefit from the resources of the State, be it the Free Medical Healthcare, Free Quality Education or other State services.

This recent Report by Transparency International can only  be a booster for Sierra Leone and the ACC in this winnable fight.

Leone Stars at AFCON: Time to say “Thank You Mr. President”

By: Mohamed L. Massaquoi

Yes, our darling Leone Stars are off from this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON. Undoubtedly, not the way we all wanted. However, our participation in the continent’s top-tier men’s competition provided a lot of positive take-aways which we all should celebrate as a nation. Before 2018, football in Sierra Leone was dead. The hopes of young Sierra Leoneans, who had embraced football both as a trade and a profession, was gloomy. The election of President Dr Julius Maada Bio brought fresh breathe of air into the football family in the country. On football development, Mr. President has demonstrated, like in all other areas of governance, that he was the missing ice on the cake. In such a short period, the New Direction government has invested and rebranded a previously dead sector waiting to be cremated into one that is now able to showcase its homegrown talents and compete in top tier football.

Except for emphases sake particularly for younger Sierra Leoneans, but there should be no surprises for such a stellar achievement by a man who has an impeccable history with football development in Sierra Leone. The Amicabral trophy, commonly referred to as zone-two, won during his first reign of leadership over twenty years still remains one of the country’s treasured football monuments and perhaps the only senior men’s laurel in our museum till date. President Bio’s active role in taking Sierra Leone to the AFCON in 1996 went unmatched by all of his predecessors. We had to wait for him for twenty-five years to bring the golden keys back. The keys are back and we are back on the continent’s premier football competition. Leone Stars’ participation at the AFCON means a lot for our small nation. Having the opportunity to keep the world standing for a moment while we sing our national anthem with pride, patriotism and enthusiasm on a global stage like the AFCON presents an exceptional feeling not only to the players but also to the millions of Sierra Leoneans worldwide. This AFCON edition is over but with so many positives which will continue to live on in the years to come.

National cohesion

President Bio has been widely acclaimed both home and abroad for his decisive actions and strides in leading a unified and cohesive nation. One of such strategies he has successfully used is investing in sports development. It is public knowledge that football in particular is one of those tools that propels unity and togetherness. This was evident during the national team’s participation at the AFCON. The euphoria and level of comradery from all shades of the divide that the tournament brought among Sierra Leoneans is incredible and something which many have described as unprecedented. It shows that indeed we are good people and we can live together, with greater things to unite us than those miniatures that tend to set us apart. 

Rebranding

Since his assumption of office, President Bio has paid keen attention to Sierra Leone’s international image. The Commander-in-Chief has repeatedly stressed that if our nation is to be considered a serious member of the international community, then there must be concerted efforts towards laundering its previously tainted image. From a country once known for horrible headlines like civil war and corruption, Ebola and the mudslide, President Bio has turned the tides for good. Globally, Sierra Leone is now recognized as a model in several fields – the fight against corruption, human capital development and now as a destination for pure footballing talents. The AFCON enabled Sierra Leone to market its own homegrown talents, many of whom were impressive throughout our three matches, to the rest of the world. This did not appear as a miracle, but rather through strong commitment from the government. It is worth noting that after his election into office, President Bio’s government invested hugely in the resumption of the Sierra Leone Premier League to a level it was dubbed as the “most watched league” within the region. That move increased visibility for our local league and after that season, over a dozen of homebased players were reported to have secured professional contracts with foreign clubs and it is without doubt that our just concluded AFCON will open more windows of opportunities for other homegrown talents.

The Future of ‘Salone’ Football

The talent and skills among Sierra Leoneans had always been there. The missing piece was moving from rhetoric to action but with a committed government now in charge that is desirous to creating the enabling environment for Sierra Leoneans to actualize their fullest potentials, the future for young Sierra Leonean footballers is heading for the right direction under the New Direction. The momentum built so far around football and particularly the national team has been huge. The AFCON 2025, scheduled to be hosted by neighboring Guinea, is fast approaching and there is every need for more work and collaboration among the various football stakeholders; first to secure qualification and subsequently to compete even better with Africa’s big guns. Football is back. The glee is visible among Sierra Leoneans. The youths are happy to be playing and watching again the sport that we all adore. For that, we say “thank you Mr. President”.

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