Being an academic, I closely monitored the elections in Sierra Leone, just like many others in my field. I took a keen interest in the campaign rallies, communication strategies, and cultural slogans of the two prominent political parties. In particular, I attended several gatherings of the ruling party, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, in the capital city.
During these gatherings, President Bio consistently emphasized three major policy areas as the achievements of his government: human capital development, regaining international respect, and progress in the fight against corruption. He made a strong case for his re-election bid by highlighting these key points.
I noticed that whenever the President engaged in heated banter against his rivals, he seemed to be spurred on by an entourage surrounding the stage. This entourage consisted mostly of individuals from the President’s diplomatic, communications, and educational teams, who were working in sync with the President’s talking points. However, one notable absence was that of the young and dynamic leader of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Francis Ben Kaifala.
Barrister Francis Ben Kaifala conducted himself with remarkable professionalism and integrity throughout the election period. I observed that the Anti-Corruption Commissioner distanced himself from the President’s political platforms.
The last public interaction between the President and Barrister Kaifala took place at the opening ceremony of the Integrity House, where the cameras captured moments of mutual respect between the two gentlemen.
During the Integrity House event, I was surprised to hear the charismatic lawyer and human rights activist speak about public policy instead of engaging in politics. He could have easily used that opportunity to endorse the President, who had allowed him to serve Sierra Leone.
Moreover, the Anti-Corruption Commissioner had a substantial following on social media, providing him with a platform to rally his supporters and make an endorsement. However, he chose to take the high road, injecting English humor into his posts on voting without making any explicit political statements.
Within the social media groups of the anti-graft agency, Barrister Kaifala discouraged his staff from sharing sensitive political content. This was a departure from the past, where I had witnessed key figures of the Anti-Corruption Commission openly endorsing and supporting politicians. Such actions undermined the Commission’s credibility during those times.
The Commissioner’s personality permeated throughout the Commission. The records speak for themselves: an increase in staff numbers, improved global indexes, successful recoveries, active policy, and public engagements, international exposure trips, indictments, and the recent construction of the Integrity House. These achievements serve as indicators of success.
I want to take a moment to express my congratulations and appreciation to Francis Ben Kaifala for his re-appointment as Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Sierra Leone. I am confident that he will continue to build upon the successes of his first term.
The last video I saw of him was when he visited President Bio at the President’s Lodge to congratulate him on his re-election victory. His conduct during this period can serve as a blueprint for public servants in positions that require a demonstration of political neutrality.