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President Koroma plans to squeeze International NGOs and says “they must also be transparent and accountable to Sierra Leoneans for Ebola donations”

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

What could have been a show of good gesture towards containing the deadly Ebola Virus in Sierra Leone may soon become a blow for a blow where each party may be lashing at each other for funds donated for and on behalf of the country during the country’s scourge of the Ebola. The President of Sierra Leone Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has come out clear that he will soon start to pressure the international donors to also properly account to the people of Sierra Leone for funds he said they may have collected for and on behalf of the country. The President made this promise when he was speaking on the present update on Ebola and the audit report on the management and misuse of Ebola funds while dedicating an indigenous bank in Tonkolili District in the Mile 91 Town.

President Koroma was disturbed and urged that INGOs must also be transparent and accountable to Sierra Leoneans when they collect Ebola monies on behalf of the country

President Koroma was disturbed and urged that INGOs must also be transparent and accountable to Sierra Leoneans when they collect Ebola monies on behalf of the country

A recent report by the Audit Service Sierra Leone on the management of the Ebola Funds in the country had implicated many institutions of misusing the funds and also failed to give out supporting documents at the time of implementing various sensitization programmes across the country. Information gathered state that the audit report of the management of the Ebola funds was allegedly masterminded by key players within the donor Community who had been woefully blamed and criticized for alleged “bias” towards providing service to staff and patients at the Kerry Town Ebola Treatment Center.

The audit report on the management of the Ebola Funds by staff of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and National Ebola Response Committee plus volunteer organizations is welcomed by majority of Sierra Leoneans and the international Community and President Koroma lately decides that this should not only stop in national funds but also to international funds sourced and secured for and on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone.

According to President Koroma, “no one should bear the credit of bringing those who may have misused the Ebola funds to book” than himself since he had been promising to all Sierra Leoneans to bring those culpable to book. He said “is me who initiated the idea that anyone who chops Ebola money must be held responsible and it was not the International Community or any Civil Society” adding that “no one should take the credit now for the report”.

The President said that for the fact that the audit report on Ebola management is released out to the public at this time, it clearly shows that they as a Government are fully committed to transparency and accountability to the people of Sierra Leone and the international Community. He noted that all what Sierra Leoneans now need is to go “through the due process of the law”.

There has been counter arguments between the head of Government Business at the House of Parliament, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu and the head of the Anti Corruption Commission, Joseph Kamara as to who has the responsibility to investigate the misuse of the Ebola funds as stated in the audit report. While Hon. Bundu was citing Standing Order in Parliament, the ACC Boss was advancing the public interest theory which surpasses at a time like this where anyone is so curious to know. On this note, President Koroma welcomed their joint statement with fullest corporation from each other to investigate allegations on the misuse of the Ebola Funds in the country. The President urged that “Parliament and the Anti Corruption Commission must ensure that anyone who misused the Ebola Funds is held responsible as they are the two institutions we all defend on to investigate this cases in the country”.

The President noted that after the audit of the national funds which monies are provided by the people and the government of Sierra Leone, “there is also need to audit the international funds”. He said “majority of the funds that came into the country to fight against the deadly Ebola Virus pass through International Non Governmental Organizations” adding that “it is now time for transparency to be from their side and report to us how they spent the monies they collected on behalf of Sierra Leone to donors”. The President noted that “if we can ask our people in Sierra Leone to be accountable, the INGOs must also be accountable to us. We will insist on that and we will take that message to the European Union, the 2015 Spring Meetings of the World Bank and IMF as well as the United Nations meetings that everybody must show transparency and accountability”.

President Koroma was so hard in his words. He said “if you can come with your money to assist us that is different but if you can solicit monies on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone to assist them, you must also show accountability and report to them how you use the monies you collected on behalf of those people you are helping”. He added “we as a nation will have to insist on that”.

According to the UNDP and World Bank reports, Sierra Leone is among the poorest countries in the world with major dependency on international NGOs and donors for assistance for its impoverished populace. Now that President Koroma had promised to lash at INGOS for transparency and accountability, it is not clear if his dream will come to reality.

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