The dust has not even settled on the issue involving the resignation of the Secretary to the President over the infamous salary saga; and the case of Kemoh Sesay, the suspended Transport and Aviation Minister is yet to be settled; and now, the Anti Corruption Commission has released a damming report on the Ministry of Energy and Power over the award of 25MW contract to Income Electrix.
This latest development is a headache for the President who has just returned from the UN General Assembly, to find out that one of his most trusted ministers, Haja Afsatu Kabba is the subject of another tongue wagging. It was like the Kemoh Sesay issue since she too is one of the President’s most trusted ministers. They have seemingly become the first to contravene the principles of President Koroma and that is why it is going to be a headache for him.
But unlike Kemoh Sesay who was suspended, Haja Afsatu Kabba should not wait for the President to do likewise to her and since she was principally involved in all the contract deals, she should take full responsibility and not sight overzealousness to light up Freetown at all cost. In the award of the 25MW machine to Income Electrix to the National Power Authority, according to the Anti corruption Commission all procurement procedures were flouted and the contract itself cost government a great loss.
The ACC report found out flaws in the award of the contract and also found out the apparent inconsistency of the minister of finance and Economic Development who signed a letter of commitment on November 6, 2007 with the Energy minister. The commitment letter states that the government of Sierra Leone will guarantee the obligations of the National Power Authority as stipulated in the final negotiated contract. But the ACC report went on to state that even before the signing of the contract, the Finance minister highlighted weaknesses of the contract on February 14,2008 in terms of the financial implications on government. This is clear that as the ACC states, had the finance minister known about the financial implications about the contract he would not have signed the letter of commitment.
The ACC report further highlighted the non adherence to procurement procedures and the failure to take in to account the financial burden of awarding the contract which results in huge financial loss to not only NPA but government. Also the most ridiculous is that government is obliged to meet the huge costs for the entire plant whether it is operational or not and the real cost could reach USD100m a year whilst the company calculates total payment owed them over the term of contract to USD180M.
This is where the Energy minister is caught and this is more the reason why it is a very difficult situation for the President to outrightly take decision on the minister that fulfilled his election campaign pledge to light up Freetown. But despite electricity being the President’s post election pledge, that should not have warranted the minister to contravene the principles involved in the award of the contract and when it was reported that there were other favorable companies that would have cost government less. Even when the contract was awarded for 25MW, only 10MW was installed and commissioned on February 12, 2008 and of the 10MW, only about 2-3 has been working. I would not want to believe overzealousness will be sighted which led to several procedures flouted. The Energy ministry has the largest budget – above 77billion leones thus causing more vital institutions like Education, Agriculture and Health to be traded just for Freetown light which has turned out to be a great loss to government. But who really does not need light you will want to ask and for many, they care less about how government might have secured and what loss it could cause government.
Haja Afsatu Kabba should not wait to be thrown over her NPA building but should copy from the former Secretary to the President who resigned causing embarrassment to the President. She should also do likewise after the ACC report says she has caused the country great loss.