The Burden of Corruption is Not on Washington’s Carriageway

RANDOM MUSING, by Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon,

Blood is not simply red – it stains. Covenants without swords are but mere words. When the hunter is afraid of his gun, then something is definitely amiss.
Those who are really desirous of seeing corruption seriously given a bloody nose must definitely be buoyed by the Timbergate drama on Al-Jazeera and the subsequent report that the Americans are beginning to ask questions.
However, as the plot for the inevitable sequence of events unravels, the rough road to the truth about corruption in high and low places, is about to be further smothered in a conspiracy of fire brigade action, smokescreen and soapbox of delusion.
This is because the ‘nosey’ American Congress on Washington Highway cannot be allowed to bare its fangs, and expose the faces behind the masquerades’ attires.
And you can be assured of what are likely to happen. They will return empty handed reassured that the wheel of change is in progress. The spark of action will be ignited and scapegoats will be brought from the pen to the abattoir; while the Crumbs Orchestra and the Notice-Me-Brigade will play the ‘foreign interference’ anthem and the ‘unpatriotic dirge’.
Then the stage of mirage will be constructed and like the British DFID and the IMF in the past, the Americans will be treated to another pantomime of abracadabra. When the heat has gone and the pressure turned down, normal services will simply resume.
It is common knowledge that the political class thrives on corruption. The chieftains and patrons of the blight are among those who adorn leadership positions and the corridors of power today and it is an unwritten oath within the rank that only those caught are labelled as thieves.
In the toilet of their own greed and because of the self-inflation that sudden, inexplicable wealth brings about, the consciences of our politicians have taken a sabbatical.
If not, why has there been no change from when I wrote the following:
The continuous ‘shock’ reminder that the spectra of graft still loom so menacingly larger than life means that the mess (of corruption) is certainly worse than we imagined or may want to believe.
The truth however, is that the entire fabric of our society is rotten and tragically enough, we cannot effect the desired changes unless we are prepared to take the axe to the rot.
That unfortunately, includes the bitter pill of confronting our leaders whose culpability is helping to fuel the cylinder of corruption.
Sadly however, we appear to be a spineless, opportunistic and weak followership, grounded by poverty and too morally corrupt as a society to challenge our leaders who remain predators and who continue to lead us into the alley of the superficial so that the ailment from which they are the chief beneficiaries continue to fester.
But if EBK continues to selectively allow the bouts that will be made box-office in the battle against corruption, especially in high places, fundamental questions will be asked about the validity of his philosophy and the depth of his very own personality”.           
A leader is often judged by the company he keeps. EBK’s ministers and the stream of foreign vultures circling over the strewn innards of the Sierra Leone carcass; are part of the reasons why the silver lining seems distant and the upbeat mood at the government’s inception has lost its vibrancy.”
Coming back to the present, isn’t it ironic and rather un-nerving that President Koroma who gave a resounding endorsement of support to Kemoh Sesay during the ‘Coke and Bull’ saga, even as the rather sordid details of the then cocaine drama were unfolding, has yet to say a word about his deputy who is squirming on the tenter hook? Instead, he has allowed the conspiracy theory to flourish.
But we need to hear from our President when things are going wrong all over. We need to know where our leader stands, as silence means consent. The President does not need to interfere in the matter but there is nothing stopping him airing his opinion on public issues such as this: especially when he is fond of giving the cue to subjects that he is endeared.
Sierra Leone cannot reach a new dawn without saying farewell to the night. There’s no way we as Sierra Leoneans can expect everything to carry on as it always has done till now. But neither can we allow ourselves to fear the change that appears daunting but which has been unleashed by the Al-Jazeera documentary.
While it is unlikely that much will be achieved as a result of the Timbergate scandal, there is a resonant compulsion to invite those who claim to truly love this country to muse over what exactly we want and where we’d like to see our beloved country.
If Attitudinal Change is a heartfelt desire endorsed by our leaders and patriots alike; then let’s cast the first stone by being the embodiment of change in socio-political disposition.
If  the government is to hang on to a modicum of decency and be recognised as an agent of social revolution, let there be a change in its attitude to widespread outcry. Hiding under the cloak of the rule of law, is a confirmation of the belief by those on the sidelines, of the unseriousness of our leaders.
When I kept hammering that governance and corruption were still literarily business as usual in Sierra Leone, sycophants, poseurs and tin-pots who blur boundaries between facts and fictions were out with the swords.
Hype and hypocrisy prevented us from considering the inconvenient truth that because of our blind and loyal political, tribal and social sentiments, the difference between the present administration and the last government is simply the same between six and half a dozen.
Despite the façade of a war cry and the reported blitz against graft, corruption remains utterly and literarily lethal and prevalent especially in high places and the entire corridors of power.
Pity President Koroma who obviously is unaware of what the sordid state of corruption portends for the nation outside the lip service his administration is paying to the battle.
Perhaps the greatest admission of the existence of the government is that the pulse of anti-corruption is becoming weaker and weaker.
As a matter of fact, an unusual and disturbing trend emerging is that the malaise of corruption is now being openly treated with cynicism and defended with self-serving arguments by those who should come out with guns blazing wherever the ember of graft rears its head.
This monster which is not only the biggest challenge of development in the country, lives with us and has become a thriving lifeline. Aided by the silent complicity of governance, this once ‘haloed past-time’ has now spread deep and wide within our society. It is as much pervasive in the highest levels as it is in the lowest.
When President Koroma promised to turn water into wine and get rid of the cankerworm, a part of me believed that he could at least make a dent on this nemesis of our national life. Instead, the nation’s ‘theftcraft’ temperature has kept rising and rising as the government watches befuddled and hamstrung by a combination of factors while pretending to be all out in battle gear.
Just like in the past, people are still milking our treasury dry without meaningful projects to show for it and where they bother, the cost of such token gestures are unjustifiable to say the least.
Annoyingly, those who claim to be delivering on governance, redefine the provision of routine tasks of government, like provision of roads, electricity, etc, as great achievements worthy of celebration and perpetual gratitude by the beneficiaries”. (RANDOM MUSING: A BLOODY AWFUL STATE 8/8/2009)
While we are at it and if we are truly desirous of weeding out the scourge, we do indeed need to take a hard look at our society as a whole. Because, corruption is everywhere. It is in the offices, the ministries, parastatals and under every table, (whether in Percival Street or in Tower Hill). It is a way of life in every facet of our system since by all conceivable logic; a society cannot produce something different from itself.
Fix the rot at the top and those on every rung of the ladder below will fall in line. But then, have you ever wondered why the Freedom of Information Bill will probably never see the light of day (at least not under the current dispensation)?
It is simply because the ruling cabal lacks the orientation and commitment to end kleptocracy and if the bill is allowed to become law and the obnoxious Official Secrets Act is repealed, then the nation would be rescued from the toilet flies.
The most annoying aspect of the present scenario, is that apart from building houses, lavishing on their harem of girlfriends and driving exotic cars, the rest of our money and resources jointly ‘stolen’ by those light fingered vampires and their local and foreign cohorts sucking the nation’s blood, are never invested in the country but sent on the same conveyor belt to where the money came from.
So far, corruption is our nemesis and I’m not sure any intervention by Washington, London, and Transparency International etc will help to bring an end to our torment.
We are still busy playing tennis with a wooden racket. As Al-Jazeera and others sniff around, we will soon be lied to, bamboozled and taken on another ride which will leave us clinging to the coat-tails of our ‘saviours’ with all the style and panache of yesterday’s cold custard.
About Othman Sheriff 347 Articles
Born and raised in Kenema district, eastern Sierra Leone, Othman Sheriff began practicing journalism during his school days as a youthhood hobby. With a bachelor's degree in mass-media and communication, and a Master’s degree in development and peacebuilding, Sheriff is the Editor-in-Chief and CEO of Critique Echo Newspaper. While tirelessly using journalism as a tool to place his country’s socioeconomic and political landscape under a magnifying glass, Sheriff is deeply involved in community development projects. Over the years, Sheriff has formulated and implemented billions of Leones worth of development projects with funds from Europe and USA. He is chiefly focused on community infrastructural development and economic resuscitation projects, fostering interethnic, interreligious and sociocultural cohesion among the young population in Kenema district. Sheriff is a member of many international peacebuilding initiatives including the United Religious Initiative (URI), International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP), Intercultural Leaders Network and Youth Solidary Fund program of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization (UNAOC)

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