The Acting Pro Vice Chancellor of the Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology, who doubles as the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Makeni Campus, has unreservedly lauded the Anti-Corruption Commission’s public education prevention strategy to combat corruption in the country.
Dr. Maurice BaimbaKargbo said the scourge of corruption ‘has affected the country and there is an urgent need to mount a proactive campaign to address the menace, which is what the ACC is doing through its public education drive for the benefit of every Sierra Leonean.’ He added that once adequate information about the eroding effects of graft is shared, the public is much likely to see reason and fully support the Commission’s anti-corruption campaign.
The Acting Pro Vice Chancellor’s statement came after a team of officers from the Public Education Unit of the Commission’s Northeast office had delivered anti-graft messages to staff and students of the university during an engagement at the institution’s auditorium on 6th August 2021. The occasion was part of the ACC’s streamlined methods to raise much awareness about corruption to mobilize public support to curb it.
The commendation did not come from only the Acting Pro Vice Chancellor. The Student Union President, Rev Joseph Mohamed Turay, also praised the ACC for empowering the university to resist corruption and corrupt practices, stressing ‘we have learned a great deal about corruption and the Commission in this engagement. I do hope that we will have similar engagements subsequently.’
In his statement at the engagement, ACC Public Education Officer, Abdul Karim Bangura, called the administration, lecturers, and students of the university to scorn corruption, which he described as a national threat. He pointed out that corruption strangulates the economy of the country and deprives public and private institutions of funds to run smoothly, adding that institutions of higher learning should be seen to meaningfully contribute to thwart the hazard.
However the ACC, particularly in the last three years, has worked assiduously in partnership with other integrity institutions to deal corruption a hard blow – the Commission has succeeded in dwarfing corruption and making it a dangerous scheme even for the most audaciously corrupt. According to the Public Education Officer, the National Corruption Perception Survey 2019 shows that 93% of respondents believe that the Commission is securing inroads in the fight against corruption.
Additionally, through its Non-Conviction Asset Based Recovery method, Mr Bangura further said, the Commission has recovered over 31 Billion Leones from corrupt public officials and institutions. The recovery also includes a two-storey building and two Toyota Land Cruisers. ‘These achievements, among several others, show that the ACC is committed to rid the country of corruption to pave the way for a better socio-economic trajectory for the citizenry,’ he said passionately.
An important weapon in the fight against corruption, according to Public Education Officer, Aiah P. M. Sourie, is integrity which is a fundamental prerequisite for ethical action and for public as well as private sector actors to defend the common good. He added that real integrity is doing the right thing, and forms the deepest trait of an individual. On the contrary, when integrity collapses, national structures crumple and corruption emerges at the expense of national interest.
The officer continued to inform the scholars and students that the concept of integrity – or transparency and accountability – is not just an ACC mantra but is also the divine word of God. Quoting Proverbs 10:9, he explained that those who walk uprightly walk surely, and those who do not will be exposed. He therefore implored his audience to maintain honesty as ‘everyday situations constantly put us all to a test. If we fail as public officials, then we will be exposed and the law will be applied accordingly.’
To address corruption, Mr Sourie added that the university needs to continue upholding its integrity profile and judiciously use its funds and property in order to contribute to academia in the country. And regarding examination malpractice which is now punishable by law as given in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019, the officer urged both staff and students to protect the image of the university by strongly resisting the temptation of colluding or promoting cheating in examinations.