Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 November 2017
In what many journalists present in parliament this week have termed as a victory for transparency, accountability and the fight against widespread impunity, Sierra Leone Disability Commission has been ordered by Parliament to present to the Minister of Social Welfare – Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden what she has long been requiring of them, before she can approve the release of money due to the Commission for 2017.
In other words, according to the parliamentarians, if the Disability Commission does not present their report to Minister Blyden – a breakdown of how they spent their 2016 funds, how can they expect her to endorse the release of more funds for them to spend?
The Chair and Chief Commissioner – Frederick Kamara and his staff have been given until 2pm next Monday – November 20th 2017, to prepare and hand over the report to minister Blyden – their Supervising Minister.
The monies received from Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) and Donors by the Disability Commission in support of the welfare of disable persons in the year 2016, and for which Minister Sylvia Blyden has insisted she needs a formal breakdown of how the monies were spent are as follows:
Le659,322,750 from GoSL
Le190,000,000 from GoSL
Le651,690,000 from GoSL
Le120,000,000 from Donors (SightSavers)
A grand total of Le1,621,012,750 that should be accounted for, before 2pm on Monday, 20th November 2017.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance – Hassan Sheriff who also doubles as Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Parliament, cautioned Frederick Kamara to now allow his years of service to end on a very ugly note.
Earlier Fred Kamara had told the Commission that he was 71 years old and did not want to take directives from the 46 years old Cabinet Minister, as she did not recognise him as “an elder” in the Temne language as was done to them whom he said hailed from Makeni City.
However, a calm but very assertive Minister Sylvia Olayinka Blyden made an eloquent presentation of the facts of the matter, after which, the Parliamentarians concluded they are now fully convinced that she had been on the right track all along.
“Madam Minister, you have made your case. You have well laid out the facts. You don’t have to say anything again. You don’t need to say even one word again. We agree with what you are saying,” said Sheriff and later added the stern advise to Fred Kamara whom he said had a long-term relationship spanning since their time together in America when he (Sheriff) introduced Kamara to an association for Blind people that opened many doors for Fred Kamara.
“Uncle Fred, go and prepare the documents and give them to the Minister. Please don’t get any ugly stain at this point in your career after you have served humanity for so long,” was the passionate appeal of the member of parliament Hassan Sheriff.
The Parliamentary Committee was then adjourned until next Monday.
About the author
John Koroma is a Journalists on Disability Issues
In another, though related development, a cross-section of members of the WOMEN’S FORUM, the Umbrella Body of all Women in Sierra Leone, were on Friday November 17th 2017 at Parliament in solidarity with the stance of their fellow Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, the female Cabinet Minister whose admirable stance on Transparency and Accountability in the use of Funds meant for Disabled Persons, has won over many hearts and minds.
The Women were led by the President of WOMEN’S FORUM, Mrs. Maude Peacock. After the Parliamentary session, the Women of Sierra Leone represented by the WOMEN’S FORUM, issued the following Statement:
“The Women’s Forum, the National Women’s Umbrella Organization, wish to thank and congratulate our dynamic, passionate and brave Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs Hon. Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, for her laudable stance for transparency and accountability vis-a-vis appropriate use of government funds.
“In her quest for accountability she had received undeserved insults from a variety of quarters. Hence reason for the Women’s Forum’s full presence at the hearing today in parliament in support of her as she faces challenges in a male dominated society.
“The Forum would like to ask a question. “What has the age of Methuselah got to do with the wisdom of Solomon?”. Congratulations Honourable Minister. We are proud of you.”
Signed : Maude R. Peacock
President, Women’s Forum Sierra Leone