Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 May 2018:
The Parliament of Sierra Leone yesterday, Wednesday 30th May 2018, for the third successive day debated the “Motion of Thanks to President Bio” for his delivery of his Five Year Development Plan in his State Opening of Parliament address.
According to report from the Department of Public Relations – Parliament of Sierra Leone, MP Hindolo M. Gevao of the SLPP commended the previous APC government for efforts made in energy, infrastructure and other areas, aimed at improving the socio-economic livelihood of the people.
Speaking about the use of executive powers, he decried former President Koroma “for the sacking of the former Vice President and the appointment of Victor Bockarie Foh to the Office of Vice President”.
Gevao referred to former president Koroma’s action as “unconstitutional, because both of them were deemed to have been duly elected as President and Vice President respectively”.
He also blamed the past government “for not taking action against the police who shot defenseless demonstrators dead in Kono, Kabala, Freetown and other places in the country”, saying that those human rights abuses went without remedial and compensatory considerations.
He called on the new Government not to follow bad precedents such as “the malicious and vexatious trial of Hon. Rado Yokie, Theresa Mbomaya and other, without justice being served”.
He congratulated President Bio for his intention to overhaul the Judiciary, noting the suspension and reinstatement of Judges.
On religion, he said “one Bishop Aruna was prevented from working in Makeni because he was deemed to have come from elsewhere in the country”.
Commenting on healthcare in his constituency, he said the only clinic serving 43,000 constituents is yet to receive drugs from the free healthcare initiated by former President Koroma.
MP Osman Abdal Timbo in his submission, said that the realm of politics is different from the profession of law, whilst commending President Bio for the developmental aspirations he had articulated in the Speech delivered to Parliament.
He said that notwithstanding “some lacunae”, Bio’s speech is “representative of the aspirations of the people”, and that should the APC, C4C, or NGC had been elected, they would have delivered the same speech.
Timbo said that “there is nothing new in the New Direction, other than continuity”, whilst speaking on education and the unbundling of the energy sector. He praised former President Koroma for laying the foundation of development and called on the SLPP to build on the programmes initiated by the past government, describing development as a “process”.
He told the new Government that they will be judged by what they have achieved and not what the APC did. He also said that “coming events cast their shadows and that they should not be in a hurry to judge SLPP, as they are only 55 days in governance”, whilst decrying “the executive orders on tax exemptions without recourse to agreements that had been signed, the booting of MPs from Parliament, the reinstatement of Dr. Sarah Bendu, the eviction of a Judge from his official vehicle, and the assault on the Mayor of Freetown”.
MP Quintin Salia-Konneh, an Independent MP thanked President Bio for carving out the road map for the development of the country, and described his speech as “the best he has ever seen in Sierra Leone”.
Speaking on critical examination, he called on fellow MPs to provide insights and recommendations to assist the President to achieve his developmental aspirations. Allaying the fears expressed by some MPs about the implementation of the free education policy, he cited the minimum of 20% budgetary allocations to the Ministries of Education.
He called “for the reversal of the 6344 system of education, because it only expanded the nominal value of students and left the real value of teachers”, and “the removal of the two shift with the view to increasing the contact hours in schools, including the approval and recruitment of trained and qualified teachers”.
He also said that “out of the six schools in his constituency serving over 1000 pupils, only one had been approved”, whilst calling for the approval of schools that have been in operation for the past ten years. He then encouraged President Bio to personally supervise the implementation of the free education initiative.
MP Saa Francis Bendu of C4C commended President Bio and submitted that “his constituents had suffered for far too long in the hands of different players”. Speaking about inequality, he called for the review of the Mines and Minerals Act to enhance healthy sharing of the proceeds from mines to benefit the people and the affected communities.
He also said that “they are yet to get the 60% shares from the sale of the 706 carat diamond by the previous government”.
He spoke about the need to improve access to water and support agriculture in his constituency. He said that “the issue of disability has been neglected for a long time now, in spite of the establishment of a Commission on Disability, which is benefiting the administrators instead of the beneficiaries”.
In order to tap on the potential of persons with disability, he called on Government to open access to education at tertiary level, provide employment, and make buildings disable-friendly.
Saa Francis Bendu appealed to the Ministers of Defence and Internal Affairs to ensure “that recruitment at the security sector should be devolved and devoid of regional bias”.
After several other MPs had spoken, the session was brought to a close and adjourned.
I thank Hon MP Osman Timbo for his relevant contribution in the well of Parliament. There is no new direction in the SLPP government, but a continuation from the former APC government. Hon Timbo stated it earlier.