KKY heads fake degree holders probe committee

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By Feima Sesay

The Speaker of Parliament, Dr Abass Chernor Bundu has on Wednesday, 4 May 2022, appointed the leader of the National Grand Coalition (NGC), Hon Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella as chairman of the Select Committee in Parliament.

The Speaker said the committee will be undertaking an academic audit on officials holding public offices across the country.

The Parliamentary Select Committee, according to the Dr Bundu, is charged with the responsibility to investigate the authenticity of diplomas, certificates, degrees of all officials of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the country.

 The speaker stated that the committee headed by Hon Yumkella is also mandated to supervise all Select Committees in Parliament that are charged with the mandate to inve stigate different sectors or MDAs. 

He said that all these Select Committees are mandated to request all academic certificates, diplomas and degrees for onward investigations.

‘The Select Committees should submit all reports to the Academic Audit Select Committee headed by Kandeh Yumkella. The parent committee will now submit the report in the Well of Parliament for debate and recommendations will be formulated for action to be taking,’ Dr Bundu said.  

During the last sitting in the Well of Parliament the opposition whip of APC, Hon Hassan A. Sesay said Parliament has employed over 300 staff ‘and they are applying with academic qualifications which must be audited now’.

Hon Sesay made this statement in Parliament on Thursday, 21 April 2022, during parliamentary sitting after Hon Paul Sam moved a motion for Parliament to conduct academic audit. He explained that the academic audit must start in Parliament before probing MDAs.

The Speaker of Parliament earlier explained that when late Professor Cecil Magbele Fyle was the chairman of the Tertiary Education Commission he was put under pressure to register some institutions that did not reach the requirements for a university, so he (Prof Fyle) had to resign.

Hon Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella said it is a disgrace for people to have fake certificates noting that section 93 of the Constitution mandates Parliament to set up a Select Committee.

He said that the excuses people are giving for paying $5,000 for a certificate in Dubai is disgraceful, stating that those who used state resources to pay for fake degrees must return these monies to the state.

The mover of the motion, Hon Paul Saa Sam said the saga of fake certificate in Sierra Leone should be handled by the ACC, pointing out that few years ago, the ACC paraded teachers involved in examination malpractice at the Cotton Tree roundabout.

He said Parliament must show leadership and that before they go to MDAs they should start with Parliament, noting that although to be elected as a Member of Parliament is not by qualification, the Parliament of Sierra Leone should however take the lead in the academic audit.

The Acting Leader of Government Business, Hon Bashiru Silikie said as Parliament they don’t have the power to do such an audit.

UBA extends financial inclusion to unbanked population

UBA is a well renowned bank. It has served the people of Sierra Leone for more than two decades and it has established itself in the financial sector. In these intervening years it has established itself as one of the most reputable bank in the country.

 Usman Isiaka is the current MD\CEO of UBA Sierra Leone. He is a fellow of  the institute of chartered accountant of Nigeria (ICAN) and a consummate banker with over two decades banking experience at senior management level cutting across Internal control, audit, compliance, risk management, operations, marketing, and Business Development  function.

He joined UBA group in 2000 and has since served in various roles starting with internal control; Director, Auditor& Control UBA Africa, and Deputy Group Chief Inspector with a working experience across 21 out of the 23 UBA groups. Before taking up duty as UBA sierra leoe current MD\CEO, Usman has also served as deputy managing drector of UBA Ghana , regional  head in Lagos Nigeria, and MD/CEO UBA Tanzania. Usman holds a bachelor degree in accounting, master degree in business administration, and fellowship of accounting profession {FCA}. He has attended various local and foreing courses, workshop and seminars. In his interview with Eziekel Dumbuya, MD UBA spoke eloquently on the banks present development stride. Since  you assume office few month ago, what are your achievements and challenges so far?

I assumed work at UbA SL at the height of covid19 pandemic in September 2020. So the immediate challenge was how to take over and build on the good reforming record of the  subdiary inherited from my predecessor  admist the uncertainties associated with covid19.

However, I am happy to state that with the full support that I enjoy from the generality of staff, board and management of the bank, we were able to record remarkable successes across various financial and non-financial key performance indicators as follows,

1 Double digit growth in annual audited profit before tax of the bank in both 2020 and 2021 financial year. Specifically, our PBT grew from SLL75.2 billion in 2019 financial year ended 31st December to SLL123.7 billion in 2020 and  went up further to SLL 158.7 billion for the 2021 financil year end which  places UbA SIERRA LEONE  as the most profitable bank in the industry as at year ended 31st December 20202.

2  The customers deposit position of the bank was almost tripled from SLL 472.5 billion as at  financial year ended 31st December 2019 to SLL 1.3 trillion as at December 2021 representing a market share of over 10%. This makes the bank to attain the status of systematically important bank byour group standards and places it among the top 3 bank in sierra leone in terms of deposit base.

3 The loan portfolio of the bank almost double from SLL82.3 billion as at end of 2019 financial year to SLL160.5 billion as at December 2021 with an impressive non performing loan ratio pf 0.2% against our group and regulatory limits of 3% and 10% respectively.

4   As part of the drive to increase the choice available to our customers and improved

 Customers expirence in the bank, we introduce into the mrket 7 new retail liability products between 2020 and 2021 { the UBA Sharp sharp saving account, UBA next level, UBA Kiddies, UBA, nextgen among others}.

This enable the bank to double the total number of accounts from inceptrion of the subsidiary in 2008 to December 2020 in the year 2021 alone.

5.   We increased our services outlets with the opening of 2 new branches and 2 cash/ATM centres.

6. We revamped our mobile app and our Artificial intelligent virtual banker, Leo which is now available on facebook, whatsapp and massages among others.

7. Also to enhance staff productivity and happiness within the bank for the seamless realization of our vision and drive to be the undisputed leading and dominant financial servicesinstitution in sierra leone. We improved our enployees welfare through impresives salary review across all caders of our  work force, promoted a significant number of our staff and carried out physical improvement brand facelifty for our business offices for amore work and business friendly operating environment.

8 we won the bankers  magazine   best bank of the year in 2021. We also won the Concordtimes best innovative bank in sierra leone award for 2021 as well as the NASSIT compliance  award as a regulatory compliant bank.

UBA is an international financial institution, with presence in vitually all Africa countries, some parts of EUROPE, Asia and the Americas. Give us an insight into UBAs global operations.

UBA is a pan Africa bank with presence in 20 africa countries and 3 global financial  services centres, new York, London and paris. The group has also recently oibtained approval from the regulatory authority in the united Arab Emirates to open our Dubai office. At UBA sierra leone, we deliver competitive banking solution to our customers, leverageing our expert knowledge, capacity and unique position as part of an international banking institution, the UBA group, Africas Global Bank.

Our capabilities are drived from groups robust financial strength , proven competence, strategic alliances and commitment, which we combine to professionally drive the benchmark for exceptional value delivery to our customers.

Within this short stint in office, you were awarded series of award in sierra leone. What is behind  this positive development?

The main reason for this is the determine focus of the bank on excellent service delivery to our customers. In UBA, customers remain the cornerstone of our strategy compelling us to constantly seek for new and innovative ways to deliver exceptiuonal servicesa as well as meet their  dynamic needs in line with our customer 1st operating philosophy.

As the chief executive officer of the bank, I demonstrate this in all my engagements with customers and have been able to encourage  the general staff to imbibe similar culture. By theseact, it is our customers who serve as our brand ambassadors telling others about our very efficient and swift service delivery further casting their votes in the banks favor on award initiative.

The bank was also able to wisden its scale of financial inclusion in trhe country through our innovative retail and digital banking products which are frienfdly within the banking community.

In line with the bank principles of giving back and positively impacting the societies where we operate, we also embarked on various corporate social responsibility initiatives in our four CSR pillars areas of education, environment, economic- empowerment and special project. For instance, t the event of covid19 in 2020, UBA group donated a total sum of $24m to the government of all 20  Africa countries where we operate to support the fight against the spread of the pandemic. Also for the first time in sierra leone in 2020, we launched the UBA foundation nationa; essay competition among senior secondary school students where the top 3 winners received the cumulative grant of $10,000 as scholarship for their university educations while the 12 finalist got a brand new laptop each.

These and several other initiative sin the bank have positively impacted on our brand equity and given us a competitive advantage which manifested in the various awards and national recognition the bank has so far earned for itself.

The finance ministry applauded UBA as financial expansion in the midst of covid19. Can you explain the reason behind this development?

As  the bank is developing and introducing various digital banking productrs into the market to drive financial inclusion, we belive that it is still important to take bank to the doorsteps of sierra leone right across the country by extending our physical presence through branches adopting the new UBA branch prototype beautifully deisgned to give our staff and customers maximum confort and convinece as they conduct their transaction.

Thus, last year alone, we opened 2 new branched and 2 new cash centres wqhile we also plan to open 2 more branches this year to increase the number of our service outlet to 12 branches and 4 cash/ATM centres.

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