By Sorie Fofana.
During the launch of the Commissions of Inquiry on Tuesday 29th January 2019, President Julius Maada Bio emphasized the point that the war against corruption “is a war we must win”. He continued, “We must be very clear that when people who occupy public offices steal public monies or engage in other forms of corruption, they do not do so on behalf of their tribe, their region or their political party. Rather, they do so as individuals or a group of individuals and they must be held accountable”.
President Julius Maada Bio has made the war against corruption a personal crusade. A good number of Sierra Leoneans have commended President Bio for being the first Head of State of Sierra Leone to demonstrate serious commitment to the fight against jumbo corruption.
Last week, the Commissions of Inquiry published the first list bearing the names of persons of interest to them. All of the persons named served in the Cabinet of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma between 2007 and April 2018.
Two of the people named as persons of interest to the Commissions of Inquiry are currently serving in President Bio’s Cabinet as senior Ministers of government. They are Dr. Dennis Sandi and Peter Bayuku Konteh. Dr. Dennis Sandi served as Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment and Peter Bayuku Konteh served as Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in the administration of President Ernest Bai Koroma. Currently, both men are serving as Ministers of Lands, Housing and the Environment and Trade and Industry respectively.
Many people have called on both Dr. Dennis Sandi and Peter Bayuku Konteh to do the honorable thing, by stepping-aside from the Cabinet. This will enhance the credibility of the current government and boost the image of the SLPP administration.
There is no way that these two Ministers can continue to serve in the current SLPP Cabinet after they have been openly declared as persons of interest to the Commissions of Inquiry. If they fail to step-aside on their own accord, President Bio should prevail on them to do so. Enhancing the credibility of the government is far more important than keeping these two men in the Cabinet especially after they have been described as persons of interest to the Commissions of Inquiry.
We call on Dr. Dennis Sandi and Peter Bayuku Konteh to step-aside from the Cabinet until the Commissions of Inquiry are concluded. If, at the end of the investigations, they are not found wanting, they could be brought back to the Cabinet. But for now, let them step aside from the Cabinet in order to maintain the good name of this government.
It would be embarrassing for President Bio if two of his own Ministerial appointees are openly invited for questioning by the Commissions of Inquiry. That will be a disaster for the credibility of his administration.
Both men must step-aside from the Cabinet now. A stitch in time saves nine.
May common sense prevail!