Abdul Malik Bangura
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 November 2017
Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs has yesterday Monday 20th November 2017, successfully defended its 2018 budget requirements to the House of Parliament.
The marathon hearing which took place at the Parliamentary Committee Room One saw a grand total of fifteen (15) parliamentarians from both the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) and the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) intermittently grill officials from the ministry on activities relating to their budget. Some of the best critics and debaters in Parliament lined up to peruse the ministry.
Hon. I.B. Kargbo, Hon. Bashiru Silikie, Hon. Dixon Rogers, Hon. J.B. Mansaray, Hon. Ansu Kaikai, Hon. Komboh Kamara, Hon. Nicholas, Hon. Abu SAT Koroma (husband of the ministry’s deputy minister) and other MPs all took turns at firing questions at the Ministry team. At several points, no less a person than the Hon. Clerk of Parliament also entered to display keen interest in the Ministry.
Earlier on during the first session between 11am to 2pm, the Chief Accountant of the Ministry, Mr. Ibrahim Sesay could not adequately respond on issues. He pleaded that he was mentally confused so the committee adjourned the hearing until 5pm, so that the accountant could comport himself better.
At 5pm, the Ministry’s staff assembled again. This time, they were led by the newly assigned Permanent Secretary Mr. Sahr E. Johnny who had taken up office only three working days prior. Mr. Johnny said he played a vital role in ensuring that the Parliamentary Questionnaire document is completed.
P.S. Johnny said he was the one who told the staff last Thursday that: “we must finish the budget questionnaire before anyone leaves the room”.
“I insisted that no one will leave until we finished but no one was forced to sign anything that was false,” Mr. Johnny said whilst responding to a question from Hon. Kombor Kamara about claims made by the Accountant of the Ministry that the reason why he (the Accountant) was unable to defend parts of the ministry’s budget was because the Honourable Minister had forced him (the accountant) to sign false information in the document after his first preparations earlier got thrown out by parliament.
The new Permanent Secretary said that particular statement by the Accountant was untrue as they all sat together with him to prepare the documents.
Mr. Johnny upon being probed further by Hon. I.B. Kargbo, said he was pleasantly surprised at how much hands-on leadership he met the Cabinet Minister Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden so far exhibiting. He said in his 23 years in the civil service, this is the first time he is meeting a Cabinet Minister who was not only hardworking but also with a full grasp of all aspects of issues at a Ministry.
At that point, the Committee said that they were satisfied with the updated presentation and thus allowed the 2018 budget of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs.