APC Angry

Secretary General of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party, Alhaji Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh, has expressed anger at the media’s apparent refusal to turn the spotlight on the allegations of massive corruption made against the government as contained in the Auditor General’s 2019 Audit report of the accounts of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) under the watch of His Excellency President Bio who at his inauguration in April 2018 vowed to hold a zero tolerance attitude towards corruption and misuse of public funds and resources..

The APC Secretary General made the comment during a telephone conversation with The Exclusive when he was asked what the party’s position is with regards the statement made by the Principal Legal Consultant to the Commissions Of Inquiry Secretariat, Lahai Momoh Farmah, that a ban from holding public office would be placed on all Persons of Interest (POIs) that lose their appeals before the Appeals Court.

The APC Secretary General stressed that the main issue of the day is the massive corruption by this government unearthed by investigative journalist, Chernor Bah. “If that is what The Exclusive wants discussed, ok,” he said, adding, “Any other thing I am not prepared to discuss.”

A lot of heated arguments and spirited debates have taken place in public spaces since the Auditor General published the 2019 audit report on how MDAs spent monies allocated to them by Parliament in the 2019 budget.

Among the findings that were reported extensively by the media was that of NACOVERC not accounting for 47 laptop computers that were reportedly bought by the institution to help in the fight against the Coronavirus disease in the country and a 50KVA generator that was donated by the Chinese Embassy.

The 2019 audit report as all the previous ones dating from 2010 was damning. Parliament, which the audit report said has to account for Le22 billion, and many of the country’s MDAs were indicted by the 2019 audit report as continuing to recklessly, and in many instances, criminally misuse public funds.

What gave the Auditor General’s 2019 report of such huge public interest was that, as with all previous reports, it highlighted and exposed serious lapses in the management of government’s resources particularly as regards procurement.

This is against the backdrop that when the Chief Minister presented this government’s Governance Transition Team report to President Bio in 2018, he told the nation that, “By 4th April 2018, Sierra Leone was in a state of near financial bankruptcy… because of rampant corruption, gross mismanagement and leadership failure of the former APC administration. Most importantly, we must set up a Judge-led Commission of Inquiry with immediate effect to recover all stolen and inappropriately converted state funds. The primary objective s are to investigate, prosecute and jail if found guilty of corruption…they must be made to pay back to the state all corrupt funds and face long prison sentences.”

Against this background, the 2019 audit report gains prominence because it was the expectation of the electorate that it would reflect positive indications of significant progress in the government’s avowed fight against corruption and plugging of financial loopholes. On the contrary, the 2019 report disclosed that what obtains now is even worse.

In the 2018 report which showed similar corruption trends, the SLPP government argued that they were leftovers from the APC government. The 2019 audit report exposes the SLPP government to censure by a public that now opines that it has no locus standi to have branded the APC administration as a criminal cartel.

From an audit point of view, every financial irregularity picked up by the auditors surely represents corruption which the President has repeatedly told the nation has been the major stumbling block in the country’s march towards development and a better standard of living for its people; and therefore will not be tolerated by him.

However, as with the 2015 to 2018 audit reports that the ACC investigated, the 2019 report showed the same pattern of misapplication of government assets/resources through crooked procurements, mismanagement of control registers and accountable documents through administrative or management lapses.

The SLPP government has been hard pressed to explain these gross financial irregularities that it accused the APC administration of, with the public maintaining that the government has a good governance responsibility to ensure that all questions pertaining to issues of irregularities flagged by the audit report are satisfactorily responded to by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee and the ACC.

Meanwhile, in a related political development, the APC Secretary General has disclosed that their party does not have any representative in the taskforce Committee set up by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice office to review the 1991 Constitution.

He made this disclosure while speaking at the National Conference for the review process organized by Center for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Political Parties.

“They have formed a committee with no member from the APC,” said Ambassador Yansaneh, stating further that when they were in governance, they brought the late Justice Cowan onboard the reviewing process of the 1991 even when they knew he was not APC.

The APC Scribe emphasized that an inclusive taskforce Committee will lead to diverse opinions with desired results for the general good of all.

In his contribution, the Executive Director of CARL Ibrahim Tommy called on government to make the process open and transparent by allowing all political parties and CSOs contributions. He also called on government to use the late Justice Cowan report to review the 1991 Constitution.

He concluded by calling for the publication of the names of those in the taskforce Committee and their responsibilities.