Africanist Press is Simply Helping President Bio

I don’t know why the “Paopagandists” and “Drunkardnomists” of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) have been feeling ill at ease whenever the Africanist Press publishes issues that have to do with harmonization of salaries in the public service. I think they should be happy that that whistle-blowing news outlet is helping President Julius Maada Bio to remember some of the things he promised he would, or committed himself to, do if elected Head of State.

One of the centerpieces of President Bio’s 2018 campaign was the fight against corruption. In the SLPP’s 2018 Manifesto, dubbed the “People’s Manifesto”, it is stated under “4.2 Fighting Corruption and Improving Accountability” that an SLPP government would “…treat corruption not only as a governance issue but as a national security threat. It will therefore leave no stone unturned in its fight against corruption”. The then Mr Bio did not only promise to “commit the political leadership to lead in the fight against corruption” but to also “ensure the full implementation of all recommendations in annual audits of the ASSL [Audit Service Sierra Leone] and of Ministries, Departments and Agencies”.

So if one should juxtapose those promises and commitments, from the then Mr and later President Bio, with the Africanist Press’ allegations of “financial crimes” and “high profile corruption across leading sectors of the Sierra Leonean government”; then it logically follows that all what the Africanist Press is trying to do is to guide the President towards fulfilling the two most important campaign promises he made in 2018.

But the reactionary manner in which the Bio-led administration has been putting up towards “the full implementation of all recommendations in annual audits of the ASSL [Audit Service Sierra Leone]”, culminating in the hounding and eventual suspension and prosecution of the Auditor General Lara Taylor-Pearce, just shows that President Bio was only speaking with his tongue in his cheek when he made that commitment. And for the Office of National Security (ONS) to be alleged to have allegedly “planning necessary steps to prevent Africanist Press from publishing investigative reports detailing corruption in the Maada Bio administration”, and for it to have also allegedly regarded that news outlet as a security threat that has “the tendency to undermine the peace and stability of Sierra Leone,” is another pointer that the Bio-led administration appears not to be committed to the fight against corruption.

And on countless occasions, the Africanist Press and Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) have highlighted clear instances of corrupt practices, bordering on “financial crimes”, which should have been of great interest to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) but which have been shrugged off or cherry-picked. And it also seems that most of these corrupt practices and “financial crimes” have been the catalysts to the overnight rags-to-riches stories among the ruling elite.

And in one of the ACC’s little handbooks called “Frequently Asked Questions”, we are told on page 4 that, “Any person that maintains a standard of living above which is commensurate with his [or her] present or past official emoluments or is in control of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his [or her] present or past official emoluments, unless he [or she] gives a satisfactory explanation to the court as to how he [or she] was able to maintain such a standard of living or how such pecuniary resources or property came under his [or her] control, commit an offence.” That’s exactly what the Africanist Press has been doing: highlighting instances where senior members of the Bio-led administration appear to be maintaining standards of living which are not commensurate with their present or past official emoluments. And for which they should be “persons of interest” to the ACC.

But the hierarchy of the ACC appears to have turned the fight against corruption, which the SLPP 2018 Manifesto says should be treated as “a national security threat”, into a Mickey Mouse routine. The ACC czar, Francis Ben Kaifala, and his team of investigators and prosecutors seem to have willfully turned that fight into a pro-corruption one. At times, I have the nauseating feeling that Ben Kaifala might be going to State House every Monday morning, with fresh notepads and an unused pen, to be dictated to on how to run his Commission for that week! Poor Ben, he seems to be so overwhelmed with what seems to be state-sponsored corruption that he has now taken to Tik Tok to find solace!

Another area where I think the Africanist Press is helping President Bio to remember some of the things he promised he would, or committed himself to, do if elected Head of State is its recent publications on salary disparities among public sector workers. It could be recalled that on Thursday 10 May 2018, during his address on “the Occasion of the State Opening of the First Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone”, President Bio reechoed his campaign promise to “harmonize the wage structure in the public sector….” So, if the Africanist Press is now doing comparative analyses on the salaries of presidential appointees (and higher-ups in the Ministry of Finance) and those of teachers and the security forces; I don’t think the “Paopagandists” and “Drunkardnomists” should take it in bad faith.

After all, the “Paopagandists” and “Drunkardnomists” have been ramming it down our throats that President Bio has fulfilled all his 2018 campaign promises and that what he is now dishing out to the citizenry are bonuses. But the Africanist Press seems to be saying: hey guys, wait a minute, what about the fight against corruption and the harmonization of salaries among public sector workers? Methinks the Africanist Press is simply doing what the countless Presidential Advisers are failing to do: draw the President’s attention to areas where he is not paying much attention to.

And it seems to me that the Africanist Press is simply helping President Bio to remember that if his government wants to enhance staff morale and improve on service delivery in the public sector; salaries must be harmonized based on fair play. And, no doubt, the Africanist Press seems to be also reechoing President Bio’s pledge that: “A Commissioner or a Director or Director General must have an aligned appropriate grading within the Civil Service comparable to other public sector workers [including presidential appointees].” And I don’t think this should be very difficult for a “Tok en Do President” to do.

And all what the Africanist Press appears to be saying, recently, is that poor teachers, members of the security forces, and even Civil Servants, are also hard working Sierra Leoneans who deserve better salaries. They also deserve to live in clover (For those who are not au fait with English idioms, it means “to live without financial stress; to live in comfort or luxury”.) like presidential appointees most of whom are less qualified and experienced than teachers and seasoned Civil Servants!

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