Andrew Kelli

The trepidation Dr. John Idriss Lahai has instilled in many people with bogus credentials who hold high positions in the Sierra Leonean society reminds me of the story, “When Grandma goes to court” which has been published in any number of joke and anecdote books. The story goes on that in a trial in USA, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?” She responded, “Why yes I do know you since you were a little boy, and frankly you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you are a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you’ll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you. The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?” She replied, “Why yes I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He’s lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem, He can’t build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.” The defense attorney nearly died. The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice said: “If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I’ll send you both to the electric chair.”

It is a brave man or woman who will ask Dr. Lahai whether he knows him or her. He appears to be an unshackled wrecking machine destroying the underserved reputation of many “big men” in all spheres of life in this country. He unearths overnight what could have taken our investigative agencies light years to fathom. Some people have impugned his motives, but most agree on one thing – Academic fraud is prevalent in this country, giving pretenders advantage over those who choose to be honest. People shower themselves unashamedly with undeserved accolades. Meritocracy has been thrown out the window and this syndrome appears to be institutionalized. One thing is for certain -John IdrissLahai is a one man wrecking machine. He has even sullied the reputation of the ACC. The ACC with its initial stance that Dr. Lahai’s accusations did not amount to corruption because job holders did not use illegal qualifications to gain undue advantage in getting government jobs, now seems to have walked back its statements. With the ACC’s reputation somehow dented by Dr. Lahai, it has looked for easy pickings, and who better to investigate than a high profile Bank Governor. The ACC has finally presented its report on alleged bribery by the Bank Governor. Lo and behold this case of “overap”, as the “serviceman” would say has been occupying the ACC’s precious time! And the verdict? – The governor did not bribe people but misspoke. The Governor had said he “bribed” people who were hoarding Leones to bring them back into the banking system $68 million. The ACC’s conclusion stated thus: “The said statement was a mischaracterization of what transpired and the use of the word “bribe” in that context was in error as the Professor struggled to simplify a complex banking operation.” In the same vein, Dr. Lahai has simplified a “complex” problem. It is obvious that a lot of institutions have failed in ensuring that ours is a society based on merit. The implications of what he has unearthed are staggering. We now live in a country in which many of our political institutions and MDAs may be governed by misfits with questionable credentials. We live in a country in which the medical personnel who treats you may have bogus qualifications. We live in a country in which you cannot be sure that the graduate you employ in your workplace may not have had his qualifications genuinely-little wonder many foreign companies shun them and bring in expatriates. We live in a country in which charlatans may be given promotion over those who give their blood sweat and tears to receive their qualifications. Unfortunately, many institutions contribute to this, a major one being the Parliamentary committee that often approves Presidential appointees in record time with little or no vetting. Dr. Lahai is constantly reminding us in his slow release pill style that we have messed up and that despite the isolated actions being taken by various institutions and organisations, the government needs to wrap its head round this problem and take an unambiguous position to restore some modicum of meritocracy in our society. Dr. Lahai deserves our plaudits, even though this one-man wrecking machine may not find himself on these shores soon!

Ponder my thoughts.

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