HOLDING OUR ELECTORAL PROCESSES TO ACCOUNT (2)

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By: Winstanley. R. Bankole. Johnson

At these defining moments in our nation’s history, if there’s one thing we cannot – and should not – afford to be trivialized or tainted with levity, it is the integrity surrounding everything pertaining to the June 24th multi-tier elections. I mean everything that has to do with the quality of information disseminated by the Electoral Commission Sierra Leone (ECSL), the body charged with responsibility for the impeccable conduct of those elections to ensure that they are free, fair, credible, transparent, devoid of violence, fully participatory and inclusive of all registered eligible voters and political parties. Furthermore in disseminating those information, quality and sincerity are key to avoid ambiguities. And that is very important especially in a society as divided as ours both along political party and ethno-regional lines.

Regrettably in disseminating updates recently on the printing of our Personal Voters’ Identity Cards (PVIC) over the AYV TV, the sincerity of the Lead Communicator from the ECSL Mr. Albert Massaquoi left a lot more to be desired, and rather opened up the integrity of the entire procurement processes leading to the printing of those cards to a vagary of suspicions.

In that interview Mr. Massaquoi exposed the ECSL as not having been transparent in those procurement arrangements. For starters, even as he admitted that there were two successful bidders, he disingenuously used superlative of “the Most successful bidder” instead of “the More successful bidder”. He also did not explain why there having been just two bidders, the process was closed instead of them re-opening it to have ensured that a minimum of three bidders are shortlisted/selected from to arrive at the “most successful” and in compliance with existing procurement guidelines.

Blunder

The ECSL’s next blunder was in Mr. Massaqoui’s responses on the names and particulars of the actual suppliers of the printed PVICs. He admitted that (and according to him) even though the most successful bidders were in Greece, they had agents in Romania as well as local representatives here in Freetown. What Mr. Massaquoi never clarified was:

  1. How those specific government orders to suppliers in Greece to print our PVICs ended up in the hands their partners in Romania. Did the ECSL ever scrutinized that relationship before starting to work with who or what were actually third parties in Romania? Was provision for that made in the contract documents but which Mr. Massaquoi chose not to have explained in the programme?
  2. Who are the actual printers of those PVICs? In which specific country were they printed and by whom?
  3. Of what relevance were Mr. Massaquoi’s references to the local Sierra Leone partners of the Greek suppliers to the printing and or distribution of those cards? Who are they and what roles if any did they play in their printing and distribution locally?

Bogus

Why the interviewer failed to have seen through the ambivalences of Mr. Massaquoi and not to have pinned him down with follow-up questions that could have exposed the deceptiveness or duplicity of the ECSL only the AYV TV would know. But if indeed any parallels could be drawn from the King Duncan’s quote in the Shakespearean Play of Macbeth cited by Mr. Massaquoi that “…… there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face …..” it is to the very duplicitous and deceptive acts or intents of the ECSL that would seem to have succeeded in hoodwinking an entire nation into accepting hook, line and sinker a bogus procurement arrangement for something as sensitive as the printing of our Personal Voter Identification Cards by shadow or proxy suppliers. And this is all the more reason why I believe the entire procurement processes surrounding their printing and distribution is shambolic and ought to be thoroughly investigated/audited and forensically too. 

In that forensic audit opposition parties through their representatives of the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC) working with the ECSL should insist that clear answers be provided on:

  1. The actual Trade Names of the original Greek, Romanian and Sierra Leonean local partners as evidenced by their separate Business Registration documents
  2. The relationship between and among the Romanian and local partners of the original Greek contractors and how those relations are defined
  3. The actual Owners, Directors and Shareholders of the local firm representing the Greek/ Romanian Principal companies. This is important to identify if any evidence of conflicts of interests
  4. In support of (2) above tangible documentary evidences of Powers of Attorney where they exist should be availed for scrutiny together with further evidences that they were actually “Notarized” or “Registered” locally before the implementation stages.

Integrity

In a previous piece under this same caption I stated clearly that the quality of the Voters ID Cards distributed opens up the integrity of the ECSL Chair whose remit includes supervising their printing/production and distribution to questions and suspicions. I also recommended that the only way for the ECSL Chair to convince us the electorate that his actions to date are above board and that those Voter ID Cards were indeed printed in Greece (not by a local proxy), are fraud-proof and of a quality commensurate to value of moneys expended for them, he must produce for inspection by all the representatives of the Political Parties’ Liaison Committee working with ECSL hard copy evidences of-:

  • A copy of the Letter of Credit or copy of the direct wire transfers effecting payments to the Greece Service Providers
  • Evidences of the (a). Bill of Lading (b) Final Invoices (c). Packing Lists   

That is the only way the ECSL can dispel rumours that our PVI Cards were not printed locally and by an enterprise with strong human-animal political connections. Because if that was so then the entire enterprise is suspect, hinged on nepotism and violates all safeguards against conflicts of interests, and for all of which reasons they are to be nullified/cancelled. Anything to the contrary, and opposition parties should call for the immediate resignation of Mohammed K. Konneh. 

Even if my recommendations for a forensic audit would mean the postponement of the elections beyond a month or two then so be it.  I am therefore passionately appealing to the international funders of our June 24th elections processes (the EU, US, UK German and Irish governments) to please take heed and to prevail on the government and ECSL to subject themselves to a forensic scrutiny of the entire processes leading up to the printing and distribution of our PVIC to ensure that the processes are above board and that no chance exists for blurred/darkened/faceless Voters ID Cards that have been duplicated to be used across our borders by the thousands of those who were ferry-bussed across to come from Guinea and Liberia to register as citizens.

It will be very stupid of us to sit by and allow the very people that have ruined this country over the last five years to lead us into the next elections with the deliberate intent of stealing them because as things stand, it is not even in God’s interests for the SLPP to continue in office for a single any more than the very night the results are announced.

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