Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 May 2019:
Parliamentarians yesterday concluded their deliberations into the president’s State Opening of Parliament address delivered several weeks ago.
The Leader of the NGC party, Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Yumkella MP, commended President Bio for the detailed speech he delivered to Parliament, which he said took “four arduous hours”, suggesting that it should be truncated in future to save time and the detailed copy be circulated for the consideration of Members of Parliament.
Yumkella said he could not agree more with President Bio, when he said that the necessary space must be created for the Diasporas to participate in Sierra Leone’s democratic process, by being able to vote from outside of the country during elections.
Speaking about the government’s budget mentioned in the president’s statement, Yumkella said “it is still not in good shape, due to debt servicing and the payment of salaries and wages that is hugely affecting education and healthcare in the country”.
But he commended the government for introducing measures that have resulted in a surge in revenue mobilization, bring in an additional Le 1 Trillion.
On government procurement, he spoke against over-pricing which is undermining the future of the children of Sierra Leone and the need to control Government expenditure.
Yumkella also praised the government for payment of $1.5 Billion of debt inherited from the past APC government and for re-engaging the IMF to support development programmes in the country.
Speaking about the need for effective monitoring and supervision of the education sector, he called on Government to declare war on corruption in education, evidenced by examination mal-practices and the use of technology to prevent corruption.
On electoral reforms, he called on Government to introduce quota system for women representation as is the case in Rwanda.
He spoke about the need for capacity building for MPs, including help with research, provision of suitable office space, adding that “if Parliament fails in its duties, this country will wreck”.
He concluded by calling on Parliament to enact a Transition Law as in Ghana and Kenya, which ensures that public officials appointed by the president, are not disadvantaged and treated unjustly, when a new president and government takes over.
Also contributing to the debate, Emerson Lamina MP (Photo), who is Leader of C4C party, commended President Bio for his detailed and comprehensive address to Parliament.
Speaking about the economy, he said that “President Bio inherited a dismal economy”, but “judging from the efforts he has made, the economy would soon yield dividends for the people of Sierra Leone”.
He also praised the Government for the monthly repayment of internal and external debts that run into Billions of Leones, adding that the Government has mobilized $200 Million to boost the country’s agriculture sector.
Emerson Lamina also spoke about the need for improving road network between Kono and Guinea so as to transform the District into an international gateway for business.
Speaking about the Government’s earnings from mining export, he praised the Government for the passing of the Extractives Revenue Bill into law, and the recent launch of three mining policies – geo-data and artisanal mining policies and the review of the Mines and Minerals Act.
Commenting on national cohesion, he said that “for the past ten years society has been characterized with divisive and toxic politics, mistrust and corruption”. He recalled that the verdict on the illegal sacking of Alhaji Sam Sumana cast a slur and a serious dent on the image of the judiciary, adding that in 2017 the Supreme Court of Kenya overturned the elections result and ordered a re-run.
He called on the Government to review the White Paper on the constitutional review process for onward consideration by Parliament.
Emilia Lolloh Tongi, who is sitting as an independent MP from Kailahun District, commended President Bio for his statement to Parliament, adding that “Rome was not built in a day”, as he praised the Government for the mobilization of resources to boost agriculture, especially with the creation of 25 Agricultural Business Centres.
She questioned the students loan scheme, saying that one could hardly get employed after graduation.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament – Segepoh Solomon Thomas MP, also commended President Bio for his statement to the House, saying that the president’s policy objectives will be quantified into budgetary terms for implementation.
He said that the austerity measures introduced by the last APC government, gravely impacted the salaries of MPs and civil servants, whilst praising the current Government for its effective revenue mobilization.
He also said that the people of Sierra Leone are impressed with the introduction of the Free Quality Education (FQE) and advised the opposition not to play politics with education, adding that the FQE will enable the SLPP to score more than 60% of the votes in the 2023 general elections.
Speaking in favour of expunging seditious libel from the law books, which the last government had promised but failed to deliver, he suggested that it should be replaced with civil litigation to protect the reputation of citizens from defamation and other excesses of the media and society.
Acting Leader of the Opposition, Ibrahim Ben Kargbo MP (Photo), commended President Bio for his statement to Parliament, but said that the APC party demands respect because of its large support across the country.
He praised the former APC government for constructing quality roads from Kenema to Pendembu and Port Loko to Kambia, adding that over-taxation is crippling businesses in the country.
He blamed the Government for the deteriorating state of electricity supply in the country, saying that the last APC government gave electricity to Bo and Kenema.
He also called for concerted effort, aimed at all political parties working together, as well as the need for acceptance of truth where mistakes had been made.
He said that the former president, Ernest Bai Koroma could not attend the conference on national cohesion because his personal security has been withdrawn.
He decried the ongoing deforestation activities taking place in the country, which he said could lead to dire consequences, such as acute water shortage, if not curbed.
Concluding the debate, the Leader of Government Business, Sidie M. Tunis MP, commended President Bio for what he described as his detailed address to Parliament in light of the existing situation in the country.
He said that in spite of the walk-out of parliament by the opposition APC, he wanted to thank the Speaker of Parliament for allowing the APC to participate in the debate.
He denied accusations made by the APC of a rapid deterioration in electricity supply in the country, saying that in fact there has been an upsurge in the customer base of EDSA from 175,000 to 195,000.
He praised President Bio for initiating Bintumani 1, 2 and 3 to promote national cohesion, and decried the APC for failing to take part in the recently concluded Bintumani 3 conference. (Photo: Sidi Tunis MP).
He also questioned the role of the country’s Bar Association, accusing its president – Basita Michael, of making strong statements about the election of the Speaker of the House and the dismissal of public officials, but failed to speak out against the raping of SLPP women in 2007, the sacking of the Central Bank Governor and the unconstitutional sacking of the former vice-president.
He said that institutions such as the Bar Association should remove themselves from politics.
He spoke about a recent report by the IMF, which he said praises the SLPP Government for its effective management of the economy and the extended credit facility. He promised that by the end of this year, the currency exchange rates difficulty faced by the country, will be a thing of the past.
He called on the opposition to cooperate and work with the Government for the development of the country, and not to subject themselves to manipulation and control from external forces.
Gentlemen – It does appear to me, in more ways than just one that the disadvantages and downsides of quotas that empower women outweigh the benefits by shockingly substantial and large margins. In Rwanda and South Africa, quotas were a political strategy to ensure both Paul and Cyril receive massive support from women, because they currently represent the largest percentages of the populations in both countries.
In Rwanda for example, after the genocide,”Human Rights Watch” concluded in their reports that 70 percent of the population were women. Well, here we go – at 70 percent, what do you expect? Only a fool will not see it as an opportunity to introduce new laws advocating quotas for women and laws that are craftily designed to keep them in power.
Trust me, in both cases it was not done in the interest of the State but for power-grabbing and selfish reasons. Let me be clear, my fixated, single-minded stance on this matter is not meant to reduce the contributions of women in our society, but to ensure equity, good sense of judgment and fairness.
Quotas for empowering women I reiterate, are outright wrong. It implies that gender supersedes experience and qualifications and that gentlemen, is totally against the laws of equal opportunity for all. For what reasons, I ask you both: are you totally convinced that spoon-feeding women opportunities, like children being fed with milk is a good and progressive idea?
Think for a minute, there are men out there who have toiled and worked hard all their lives – like castrated oxes under the burning sun, laboring in farm yards – Men who are highly deserving of such positions; and sadly because of a quota system, they find themselves disadvantaged and unable to compete…Is that fair?
In my book of rules, such things nd all things rooted in favoritism are totally unacceptable. What message are we trying to send to little girls still growing up? Are we saying that positions are guaranteed and waiting for them in the future even though others of a different gender may be more qualified than them? Totally irrational and illogical.
Count me out – not buying something so superficial and cosmetic from anyone ever. Voters should have to choose who represent them by the ballot box, not untrustworthy, lustful, perverted men anxious to hold on to power. Some of us can’t be tricked, coerced or fooled into getting involved and demeaning ourselves in someone else’s buffoonery.
Imagine a scenario where women who were handpicked like oranges, being thrown into empty baskets – are trying to make their voices heard against belligerent men who were legitimately elected by the people – What do you think will be the outcome? Insults, chaos, confusion and disagreements for sure.
There are men in the millions who believe as I do, that women who have not earned such positions are not deserving of them – What would you say to them? Will you say that women are still like children who can’t fend for themselves, and must be fed, washed and bathe by the hard-pressed hands of government? Its absolute and complete madness to think in such a way. Rising Sun will Rise Again.
For those who believe that affimative action aimed at promoting euqality for our women is wrong, please read this story about how its done in South Africa:
South Africa gets gender-balanced cabinet
OH BOY. WOW. GREAT AND FANTASTIC STUFF. Thank you very much Mr. Alieu Konteh for sending this all blessed link. GOD BLESS you. After CANADA, SOUTH AFRICA has done it. First of its kind ever on the AFRICAN CONTINENT. South Africa has just shown its maturity and total dominance in POLITICS and DEMOCRACY in AFRICA.
The President appointing 50 percent of women in his CABINET is extraordinary. Its really AMAZING. Also, by appointing a member of the opposition as minister and reducing the number of CABINET MINISTERS just make this RELIGIOUS AND GOD FEARING LEADER CREDIBLE on every corner of society. This is what they call INCLUSIVE. This is how you start NATIONAL COHESION and bridging the GENDER GAP. No make up and no deceit.
This type of LEADERSHIP CAPACITY and POLITICAL WILL was what I wanted to happen in the country I dearly love, SIERRA LEONE. I have said it many times to make CABINET 50 – 50. Nobody listens and nobody cares. Now that SOUTH AFRICA has done it, pressure will be placed on other AFRICAN LEADERS to follow suit. The only regret I have and have to live with is that, it did not start in Sierra Leone. No problem.
Thank you very much President CYRIL RAMAPHOSA for being very inclusive. Thank you very much for taking GENDER EQUALITY very seriously. Thank you for showing TRUE STATESMANSHIP and LEADERSHIP qualities. Thank you for making the WOMEN in your country know that they are important and are capable of doing what their MALE COUNTERPARTS could. Thank you for showing TRUE EMPOWERMENT of WOMEN. Finally, GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. GOD BLESS YOUR RULE AND GOVERNMENT. AMEN AND AMEN.
Well – let’s get started by focusing our energies on the issues and challenges we are facing on a daily basis. The finger- pointing by both sides will not cease, simply because lies and truth cannot coexist together – darkness and light are not the same.
First and foremost, let me ask – for what reasons was 4 hours used by the President to make his speech to Parliament? Such an act should be condemned and frowned upon, because its not done anywhere else in the world. That was a sight that would make eyes that were already sore become itchy, more inflamed and unbearable. What a total waste of time it was when there are other pressing matters to attend to.
And remember, to be precise, brief and effective – all at once, is a sign of aptitude and unquestionable competence. Now listen to this; the customary State of the Union address given by United States Presidents, usually lasts a little over an hour. And the longest State of the Union address ever recorded lasted an hour and twenty nine minutes – and Bill Clinton holds that record, followed now by Donald Trump – with just an hour and twenty minutes.
And you think that was long? Four long hours it took President Bio to make his own address on the state of things in our country. A marathon speech it was that shattered all other previously existing records. Amazing isn’t it? Consider this, the United States is the world’s foremost democracy with daunting, overwhelming commitments, and a very large population, yet their President’s speech to Congress and the nation is restricted and rarely goes over an hour. Parliament must find ways to ensure such an act never happens again.
Perhaps new rules and guidelines that indiscriminately ensure that the length and time spent in the delivering of speeches should be reasonable, must be put in place to monitor and change things for the better.
On a different note, I totally agree with Dr Yumkella that people in the diaspora should participate in the building of our democracy – perhaps through financial investments, their skills and ideas. But I think voting should be out of consideration for now, because It will become just another expensive exercise government cannot afford.
Emphasis should be on creating a society that functions very well – that rewards hard work, diligence, patriotism, ingenuity, skill and honesty. People in the diaspora are used to a society of law and order, where attractive amenities, clean waterand electricity are always readily available – where roads are as smooth as glass and where schools, and hospitals are as many as grains of sand. Its a place where money can be easily be made and saved, if you are not lazy, wasteful and unproductive.
I’ve been there – most people abroad don’t want to beg and receive handouts, neither do they want to steal from government to take care of their families – most of them are people of high integrity, who want to earn a decent living and become free to express themselves. They cherish their independence dearly and the ability to live their lives without fear, inferences and condemnation.
Trust me, it won’t be an easy thing to get many to return home, roll up their sleeves and work for the good of our nation – if it is not going to be beneficial, fulfilling and rewarding to them, just forget it. Its not happening! I know, because I’ve been there. So first things first, make things attractive for them to come home and they will – only economic security is keeping many of them there.
Again moving on, the idea of enacting a transition law as a shield and protection for those appointed by outgoing Presidents is a great idea. Such an attitude of removing people from office because of their political affiliations only creates and promotes discontent, anger and divisions. I think this should become a principal objective on the SLPP government’s to-do list, if they are serious at all about national cohesion and peace.
And then there is a quota system for empowering women, many people are now advocating for. Let me be clear, quotas are undemocratic and unfair. To get the advantage and move forward, one must work and make sacrifices for it, like everyone else. Rewarding people because of their gender or ethnicity is absurd, unreasonable.
If women truly believe they are better or equal to men, then they should prove it – without any favoritism from government, for the world to see through their hard-earned endeavors,and achievements. Countries like India,and China, with huge populations, having some of the brightest minds, unanimously refused a quota system for women.
Why are Politicians intent on creating a flimsy, artificial, fabricated society in Sa Lone, that will not be able to measure up to the potentials of other developing counties? Bottom line is quota systems are undemocratic and they diminish women in the eyes of highly educated, intelligent, discerning and thoughtful men. – Rising Sun Will Rise Again.
I have a serious question for Dr. Yumkella. Dr. Yumkella, you praised the SLPP government for the payment of $1.5 Billion debt inherited from the past APC government. What you did not tell us or say is, how many BILLIONS OF DOLLARS does Sierra Leone have to pay the IMF/WORLD BANK.
Also, can you please give us a breakdown of debt per GOVERNMENT since INDEPENDENCE? Just talking about the payment the present SLPP government made from what they inherited from the APC is not enough. The people of Sierra Leone need more clarity or information on this matter. Until that is made clear, all regimes that has ruled this country since INDEPENDENCE must be held accountable for that IMF/WORLD BANK DEBT MESS.
Let us put the recent DEBT inherited by the APC for the moment. Its not the APC alone that is responsible. By the way, Dr. Yumkella also participated in the JUNTA NPRC regime which was accused of merciless financial misappropriation. DISCUSS / ARGUE. I will revisit this article later.