By: Winstanley.R.Bankole. Johnson

Without attempting to play the Devil’s Advocate for Central Bank Governor Professor Kallon, I am prepared to stand out as the only full-blooded senior APC Member that believes his deposition before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that inter-alia he had to “bribe off” sectors of the business community to goad them into releasing hoarded local currencies into the banking systems was, as in the cases with many of their questionable deeds and words by the SLPP since the assumed the governance of this country in 2018 “……..been taken out of context”. And that is being very conservative because examples of reasons why the SLPP government has continued to be read or interpreted “out of context” abound such as-:

  • The location where the Oath of Office was administered on President Bio (Raddison Blue Hotel instead of State House). Why the haste?
  • The systematic and unprecedented purging within the Civil Service structures, Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including Boards of Para-statals and Foreign Missions and the replacing over sixty-five percent of the entire workforces with South-Easterners in a desperate desire that has engendered political divisions, ethnic marginalization, the undermining of national cohesion and ultimately ostracizing large sectors of society from governance of inclusivity.
  • The ignoble and unprecedented manner by which the Hon. Speaker of Parliament was “elected” into office
  • The fast track assignment and hearing of elections petitions filed by defeated SLPP Parliamentary candidates against ten (10) duly elected APC Members of Parliament (MPs) and the replacements of the latter by the former without going through the requisite constitutional processes for bye–elections. That procedure contrasts with the refusal to date by the Judicature to allow and assign elections petitions from the APC Party against SLPP MPs
  • The abrupt “striking-off” of the joint elections petitions by both Dr. Samura Kamara and Dr. Sylvia Blyden against President Bio’s victory by the Supreme Court after it had been long ascertained that a prima-facie evidence existed for assigning the matter for fair hearings.
  • The heavy-handedness of the Security Forces in quelling civil disturbances in predominantly APC strongholds that has often resulted in wanton destruction of lives and properties (Tombo, Lunsar, Mile-91, Makeni and of course the still uninvestigated and unquantifiable number of deaths amongst fettered and incarcerated inmates arising from the April 29th 2020 Pademba Road Prisons *riots/ attempted jail break/ disturbances/massacres ( * take your pick) as opposed to their kid-glove approaches when quelling riots within perceived SLPP strongholds
  • The irregular but now fashionable and regular pattern of this government signing-off international development treatise/economic partnership agreements obligating the nation into long term financial liabilities without proper prior parliamentary scrutiny. Include into this category the recent backtracking of this government that construction of the Lungi Bridge was never a Manifesto commitment
  • The clearly selective and discriminatory approaches of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in the conduct of their investigations of APC-aligned Persons of Interest (POIs) in contrast to their kid-glove approaches when investigating SLPP-aligned POIs. A clear cut example of this mismatch could be seen in the indictment of Dr. Samura Kamara for the missing US$4Mio New York Chancery Buildings in which an accomplice that is alleged to have started repaying his own share of the loot has been listed as among the prosecution witnesses.
  • The SLPP’s Machiavellian tactics of deliberately withholding release of the Government White Papers arising from the Commissions of Inquiries (COIs). The EU has picked that out also and have urged the government to expedite release of the said COI White Papers instead of wielding them like Swords of Damocles over indicted APC politicians each time they manifests political ambitions or talk tough as it is tantamount to mental enslavement.
  • The open and direct deployment of the Security Forces ostensibly to protect government Ministers and their Elections Agents and to intimidate voters and opposition party agents, some of whom have been caught on camera destroying electoral materials with impunity.
  • The outright refusal of Governor Prof. Kallon – and this is whether I am starving to death or not – to pay a small man like me for the residual term of my contractual tenure as a Non-Executive Director of the Bank of Sierra Leone unless against the expressed written fiat of HE President Bio for him to do so.

So as can be seen from all above examples it is the very SLPP that has allowed themselves to be continuously taken out of context by their very deeds and words. And they will continue to be so taken until we exit them from power disgracefully, but within the guidelines of our electoral laws.

As a matter of fact from social media clips on the aborted SLPP Women’s Delegates Conference in Kailahun over the past weekend, it could be easily discerned from the words and actions of their agitated female delegates and senior Party executives that even amongst themselves they are prone to mis-contextualizing themselves.

The very first to have been so mis-contextualized was the First Lady Fatima Bio. They openly described her as a total foreigner that was seemingly oblivious of the circumstances and inadvertently pushed her luck too far by misconstruing a typical South-Eastern all-female South-Eastern hegemonic environment for State Lodge. As we would say in Krio she was given a yard but almost took a mile.

For a First Lady to have been thus publicly challenged /confronted within and by her SLPP peers or lesser, underscores the extent of their growing disgust for her, and by extension the natural disgust by those in the opposition she once described as not being true Sierra Leoneans because of their political loyalty outside the SLPP.

Could one be safely said to be within context then to conclude that SLPP Womenfolk were taking sweet revenge on the First Lady for having publicly described President Bio – a whole Sovereign Head of State and our Fountain of Honour and also their prized possession – at the 5th November London Banquet as a chattel to wit-: “Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio My personal Property”?

Reverting to the Central Bank Governor’s faux-pass it is not only his utterances that has been taken out of context but virtually everything else this government has been doing and saying since they assumed power in April 2018. But being a lateral thinker my own concerns have much more to do with what the Bank Governor refused to say before the PAC than what he actually said in public and I shall proceed to detail some of them as under-:

  • The amount of US$68Mio (Le6.8Trillion or the equivalent of a significant chunk of our proposed Year 2022 Expenditure Budgetary estimates quenched within two months just like that!!) allegedly taken out of context by the Governor’s detractors exceeds by far the combined approval thresholds of the entire Bank of Sierra Leone Board Executives comprising the Governor and his two deputies. Did Prof. Kallon obtain the requisite Cabinet Approval or Executive Clearance from State House before disbursement of that quantum of money? If not doesn’t that constitute a clear case of abuse of office warranting the need for this government to review the immense powers successive Executives of the Bank of Sierra Leone have continued to wield, and to legislate for a separation of roles between that of functional Bank Governors from the Chairmanship of the Bank’s Board to checkmate such lacunae for abuses in future?

But again if prior State House clearance was obtained, does that not equally constitute political interference into the administration of the Bank?

  • To have arrived at the threshold of US$68Mio meant a thorough diagnosis must have been undertaken by the Bank to have ascertained the correct prognosis and remedial actions necessary. But the Governors’ best endeavors to stabilize the currency supply failed twice. What did not come out of the governor’s explanations were-:
    a. Who were the takers of those huge USD offers that actually constituted those currency hoarders?
    b. What in percentage terms was the structure and composition of those market players vis-à-vis bona-fide Sierra Leoneans Versus foreigners dominating our business sectors?

Even if the Governor doesn’t wish to divulge confidential customer information in that regard, he owes the nation a duty to have elicited the Anti-Corruption Commissioner’s attention since hoarding of the national currency is a criminal offense. So his responses and analysis would also have availed the Central Bank, Ministry of Trade and Statistics Sierra Leone a chance to re-strategize for a paradigm shift to reverse the imbalances of foreign dominance in the import sector wherever that is evident.

Ours would appear to be the only country in the entire African continent that citizens have to be competing with, and be disadvantaged by foreigners to access “bribes” from their own country’s Foreign Currency Reserves merely to become “Importers” – not “Manufacturers”.

A further anomaly in this deranged economic arrangement is that even though foreigners dominate our economy, their names do not dominate Police or Commissions of Inquiries Investigations as “Persons of Interests” when the trouble begins. But we hardly learn!!

Also deliberately omitted in the Bank Governor’s depositions before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee are information on the exchange parity the US$68Mio were “bribed off” for. I think as a people whose US Dollars Reserves were “bribed off” he owes us that explanation, even if by way of assurance that those funds were not “auctioned off Pantap d bargin”.

So Mr. Bank Governor what was the average prevailing Exchange Rate those funds were sold away for? Did the nation make some profits out of the enterprise or did we lose twice??

A final point Governor Prof. Kallon did not speak on was whether in fact the US$68Mio purportedly “bribed off” was actually to assist the present crop of government executives throughout MDAs externalize their looted wealth over the past three years, instead of to recoup hoarded local currency Bank notes or to facilitate importation of consumer goods. This clarification is important for two cogent reasons:

  1. Upon their ascendancy the SLPP admitted that the kitty was empty because the APC had run the country as a Criminal Cartel – Courtesy Professor Bai Santos Kamara. So they set up several inquisitions ultimately intended to fleece former APC functionaries into abject poverty.
    But broke as the country was when the APC left power, there was an abundance of Bank Notes in circulation. Nearly four years on and with only the SLPP accessible to wealth and opulence, “korpoh don na d kontry”, which is clearly suggestive of the fact that the hoarding could only have been done by those with access to the country’s Treasury.

So could it be that the real reason for the Bank Governor to have “bribed off” that US$68Mio was to help his own Party people – most of whom are JCs like himself – to externalize their ill-gotten wealth but are using the proposed currency re-denomination as a ruse?

  1. If indeed those funds were genuinely applied towards importation of consumer goods, why are we not feeling the impacts in the markets in terms of affordability and availability of those commodities?

Mr. Governor, as far as I am concerned more explanations are required please!!

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