Institute of Governance Reform (IGR), a highly recognised Research Institution in Sierra Leone has completed another groundbreaking research, titled ‘How Informal Norms & Value Systems Aid and Restrain Corruption in Sierra Leone’, which looks into the how ethnic aphorisms and political slangs may have a negative impact on people’s attitudes towards the management of state institutions, and how these perceptions, knowingly or unknowingly, affect national integrity. The organisation conducted a survey across five districts, including Bo, Western/Urban, Bombali and Koinadugu, on attitudes and perceptions of ‘corruption’ in informal transactions and social practices and social norms that impinge upon integrity.
Speaking at special press conference held at their Wilkinson Road Office on Thursday 6th December 2018, Executive Director, IGR, Andrew Lavalie said that the research throws light on specific examples of aphorisms and argues that where dominant informal rules and value systems are rooted in aphorisms that contradict western understandings of integrity, the assumption by our development partners like Transparency International and DFID that it is only systems which can make institutions respect formal rules is grossly inadequate and will not address the underlying causes and drivers of corruption.
“Aphorisms such as ‘Mammy Koker’, a Krio slang – meaning secretly doing paid job outside your official duties. In other words, stealing from your official work hours, or ‘Kukujumuku’ an aphorism which means that secret deals are only known to those involved. Frequently used by Mendes and Krios and ‘Wusai you tie cow na dae eh dae eat’, a Krio aphorism which means that a cow eats where it is tethered and associated with former President Stevens in the one-party era connoting that you can use your office as your own grazing field, can corrupt us and make our societies dysfunctional. It is high time we started taking preventive measures by doing ethnographic analyses and identifying those elements that breed corrupt practices”.
Andrew Lavalie, Executive Director, IGR
“The survey consisted of twenty-one questions that focused on three issues: a) accountability in management of funds contributed by sympathizers during funerals that occurred in the last 24 months; b) trust and perceptions of various informal sector workers; and c) perceptions about the proposed commission of inquiry on officials of the formal administration. The aim is to understand citizens’ attitudes and perceptions about corruption occurring in the informal sector and the implications for building national integrity systems in the formal sector” He affirmed.
He said that in the last six months president Bio has appointed a dynamic and forward-looking ACC Commissioner and the government appears to be showing some level of commitment towards enforcing the rule of law with established rules and procedures to minimize waste in the economy, adding that results of progress in the last two decades has been validated as Sierra Leone has achieved the US Government benchmark on control on corruption under the Millennium Challenge Corporation programme but expressed concern that as we count down to celebrating World Corruption Day on 9th December, Sierra Leone still has a long way to go in meeting integrity standards to better manage the economy more efficiently.
Mr Lavalie also revealed that in a situation where only 20% of the nation’s population own bank accounts and informal financial transactions are the order of the day, the cross relationships between formal and informal institutions may always be largely affected by our cultural values.
In his conclusions he said that they are happy that their research established that majority of Sierra Leoneans, especially the youth do not approve of corruption, adding that he hopes the young generation would start thinking about the negative effects of informal corruption and fight towards nipping it in the bud before it becomes institutionalised. He promised that the new Research will be launched nationally and made available to every Sierra Leonean who can read so that the word will be spread around and they would utilise several media and public platforms to ensure that the understanding is leveraged across the board.