UN Confab Sierra Leone

The Chair of the Advisory Council, Concerned Sierra Leoneans United States of America has taken a swipe at the ruling APC for its lack of transparency and accountability in the management of Ebola fund.

Hon. Sidique Wai who was addressing the International Ebola Conference for the three most affected countries yesterday at the Trusteeship Council Chambers at the United Nations said the lack of transparency and accountability as stated in the Auditor General’s report hampered efforts to eradicate Ebola in the country.

Hon Wai who is also President of United African Congress said mistrust of government, extreme poverty and unbridled corruption among others rendered the APC Government incapable of coping with the healthcare crisis triggered by the Ebola outbreak.

Hon Sidique Wai and the Secretary General of the United African Congress, Ahmed Kargbo are representing Concerned Sierra Leoneans USA at the international conference.

See Hon. Wai’s full statement below

Your Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President Ernest Bai Koroma, and President Alpha Conde; Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Mr. Donald Kaberuka, Mr. Christos Stylianides, Mr. Jim Yong Kim, Dr. David Nabarro, Ambassador Plaf Skoog, Ms. Helen Clark, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning. I am at once honored and humbled to be accorded the opportunity to add my voice to the many voices gathered here today to cement their commitment not only to the eradication of the scourge that is Ebola, but also to help the affected countries recover from the paralyzing effects of Ebola. The United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and many others have made significant monetary and other contributions to the fight against Ebola. On the very special behalf of my organization and the people of the affected countries, I thank you profusely. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was the first to reach epidemic proportions. In its history of nearly forty years, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been referred to in the 2015 UNDP report as, “…the largest, longest, most severe and most complex.” An important lesson the world learned from this outbreak is that in our contemporary world, a disease anywhere, is a disease everywhere. If one had any doubt in one’s mind that the world we live in today is nothing but a global village, such doubt evaporated in the face of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The first confirmed case of Ebola was reported in Guekedu, Guinea, on March 24, 2015. About six months later, on September 30, 2015, Thomas Eric Duncan, a visitor from Liberia, tested positive for Ebola in Dallas, Texas, in the United States of America. In six months, Ebola travelled from Guinea to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, United Kingdom, Sardinia, Spain, and the United States of America, covering four continents. Therefore, this International conference focusing on Ebola recovery is a blessing to the affected countries in particular, and to the world, in general. My organization fully supports this noble effort. The Ebola scourge ravaged the affected countries, it paralyzed the economies of those countries and further weakened the weak and dysfunctional healthcare systems that were in place before the Ebola outbreak. Subsistence farming and other agricultural and economic activities had been seriously affected by Ebola. The activities of market women were disrupted; clinics shut down. One of the most devastating social effect of Ebola was its effect on young girls. The closing of schools ended the hopes of many a young woman. Quite a good number of school going girls became pregnant during the stay-home period. The socio-economic implications of all these are yet to be calculated. The world knows that none of the governments of the affected areas was responsible for the Ebola outbreak. Ebola was a natural disaster. But the Ebola outbreak introduced the world, in a dramatic fashion, to the broken-ness of those countries’ systems. In the case of Sierra Leone, the weak healthcare infrastructure, weak institutions, mistrust of government, extreme poverty and unbridled corruption, rendered the government incapable of coping with the healthcare crisis triggered by the Ebola outbreak. The lack of transparency and accountability in the management of Ebola funds as clearly stated in the Sierra Leone Auditor-General’s report, severely hampered the effort to eradicate Ebola in the country. I applaud the UNDP, World Bank, European Union and the African Development Bank for their report titled, “Recovering from the Ebola crisis,” submitted as a contribution to ongoing efforts by the governments of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone “to design their national Ebola virus disease recovery strategies.” Among the recommended recovery priorities for Sierra are, the need for decentralization and improvement of accountability and transparency as a means of building public trust. If the recovery effort is to succeed in Sierra Leone, these recommendations, among others, should be religiously adhered to. There is evidence to suggest that the recovery effort designed in Sierra Leone frown upon decentralization, transparency and accountability. In a letter written to State House by the national Chairman of the District Councils of Sierra Leone, Mr. Hamid Munirr Fofanah, he indicates that the District Councils were left out of the process of formulating the strategies for recovery: It is crystal clear that the Government intends to create District Delivery Teams and Sector Committees for the implementation of the current nine (9) months Recovery Plan. There is however governance structures within the District that can be able to provide leadership and oversight functions during the implementation of this nine (9) months Recovery Plan. Therefore, the creation of new structures will result in the duplication of functions and be a recipe for conflict within the District; thus impacting negatively on the implementation of this Recovery Plan. Let me draw your attention on the fact that there are presently Local Councils structures in each District coordinating the work of different partners. The different MDA’s in each District have systems which are perfectly capable of delivering services in their respective Sectors in each District. These MDAs are presently monitored and oversight functions are always provided by the different Local Councils, other Government Institutions and the Parliament. It is necessary to note that Council’s structures go as far as the Ward/Village Committee level apparently dealing with the very grass root people who know their immediate authorities that can invest confidence and participation in related recovery activities. I would like to remind you of Part V, Section 20 (1) of the Local Government Act 2004 which states “a Local Council shall be the highest political authority in the locality with the urge to oversee and bring development in their localities”. Against this backdrop, therefore, I would urge the United Nations and other funding partners to ensure that funds meant for Ebola reach the front lines and are used to make measurable recovery efforts.