When Sierra Leoneans are put in a position of trust, to serve the public, they behave as if they are doing the public a favour. They easily forgot that they are public servants.
This obnoxious conjuncture is encountered everyday in the commercial, private and government institutions. Most public servants take pleasure to see people suffer, I am not sure if they enjoy it. It is just plain sadism. With time these misguided individuals develops what pschyciatrist call “delusion of grandeur.”
I recall with sadness and humiliation my recent encounter, my wife and I had at the mercy of the lady at the immigration department. We have been going in an out of Sierra Leone for over forty years. We shall have some of our old passports. It happens that we have to renew our passports after five years, which was unusual.
Passports were normally renewed after ten years. I still ponder why after five years I want the present government to please look into it. It is most inconvenient when you have visas for five years or more years on the passport.
At the passport office, we were told that if we want to renew our passport, we need to bring our birth certificates, professional certificates, marriage certificates and for my wife Deed Poll. Because one name was not included on the passport. Even when we brought our old passport she refused to believe that I am a Doctor of Medicine and my wife had her profession on her passport.
The most annoying aspect of the whole comical scenario, by the time we brought the Deed Pool and other documents she has endorsed my wife’s passport as housewife. When she was approached she was most uncivil not worthy of a public servant. One can imagine the hassle going up and down the time and money wasted. I had to spend a day looking for my original professional certificate. If I was applying for a passport for the first time I can understand.
The purpose of high lightening this incidence is that, there is absolutely no where to complain, you either go to the Police who will tell you, it is beyond their jurisdiction, or to bride and forget it. But what we fail to realize is that we are putting the co-workers at risk.
I remember a client in one of such institution overseas was treated with contempt. He came back with an AK47 and just sprayed everybody short himself.
Today most Sierra Leoneans know their rights, and what they are entitled to. It is time we have an outlet where people can go and complain, when they are dissatisfied with a particular institution or particular public servant.
The Ombudsman is a higher institution not for such petty things like what I have highlighted above. We need a complainant’s citizen’s advisory bureau. Let it compose of a few citizens with integrity including the Member of Parliament for the Constituency where it will be established, and each constituency should have one. This establishment will curb the excesses, the sadism, corruption and the thought that some people think that they are above the law. The ordinary Sierra Leoneans have no where to complain and get redress. Strikes will be less.
Those in authority also now know they can be audited and reprimanded for their behaviour to the public. The bureau will have to decide or advise the individual with recommendation to see the Ombudsman or anti corruption.
An example, if I have a neighbour who is most unhygienic and the sanitary office refuse to take action, I can go to the complainant’s citizen bureau where they can take up the matter and my Member of Parliament for the constituency in the bureau will pursue it.
Lest we forget it was little thing like these that nurtured the last civil war.
By Dr. Boye Roberts