Abdulai Mansaray: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 June 2022:
Just when you think it could not get more ridiculous, our nation’s parliamentary body invokes the season of pantomime. It is an open secret that the world is facing the gargantuan prospect of economies slowing down and virtually facing one of the most precarious times in financial history.
No guesses for saying that the war in Ukraine, coming hot on the heels of the Covid pandemic, though not unilaterally responsible, is largely contributory. You just need to take a stroll down Kroo Ton Road or Dove Cut markets for a barometric reading of the cost of living in our country. A quick drive through Mabayla or Koontohloh would offer a social landscape of our standard of living.
However, it would be preposterous to conclude that all the factors leading to such catastrophic scenarios should fall squarely at the door of President Bio and his administration. Some of these are just beyond his control. Equally, it would be irresponsible and disingenuous to absolve President Bio and his administration of all responsibility, as agents and participants of our nation’s predicament.
We cannot hide from the fact that due to our fiscal acumen as a nation, some of the hardships we are enduring cannot be far from qualifying as self-harm behaviour.
Interestingly, our politicians never fail to amaze the suffering masses. Faced with all the doomsday scenarios of world economies collapsing, and not withstanding the threat posed to air traffic from the rising cost of basic commodities, our parliamentary body, our law makers, our political representatives have, in their infinite wisdom proposed a Bill to “increase MPs’ salaries, including benefits such as wardrobe allowances”, (Sierraleonetelegraph.com, 7 June, 2022).
If you are reading this, take a deep breath and do not repeat what you are thinking. To think that these misrepresentatives… sorry representatives would have the audacity to contemplate such a Bill in these testing and trying times, is nothing short of a political wet dream. They even want the nation to pay for their” rappels”, “Bamakos”, “eleganza” and ripped jeans trousers. Phew. Salone parliament bring laugh na behrrin ose.
What makes this deeply nauseating is that their proposal is coming at a time when workers, including the enumerators of the newly concluded but contentious mid term census, are crying for their unpaid stipends. This Bill is proposed at a time when our perennially unappreciated teachers are threatening strikes for unpaid wages. It is coming at a time when the price of fuel is sending the cost of goods and services to atmospheric levels. This is coming at a time when the average family cannot for their life, guarantee a single meal for the day.
One cannot attempt to catalogue the mess our country is facing. It is no secret that we are facing several political speed bumps. However, trapped in this cyclical rat race of doom, gloom, poverty and misery, our parliamentarians in their infinite wisdom, see it fit to propose an increase in their wages. Do these people even know the cost of a bag of rice today?
No one is condemning the idea of salary increase for our parliamentarians outrightly. The concern is the timing and the rumoured $ 25,000 bandied around. However, is this the right time to ask for such? Are we sharing the same planet as these parliamentarians?
On the other hand, have they become extra-terrestrial suddenly? So, what have they done for this country to deserve such a raise? Are they asking the people to reward them for presiding over one of the toughest austerity-laden times in our country? Guess their salary, if their job was performance related. Have these parliamentarians earned the right to such pay increase?
So, what does that tell us about our politicians?
When you consider the social, financial and political goings on in the country, it will not be far fetched to conclude that such a proposal is indicative of a lack of social awareness on their part. Are they just oblivious of the state of our economy or they just don’t give hoots?
Talk about “born with a silver foot in your mouth”. This is not only a flagrant disregard for the suffering masses, but a clear indication of an empathetically bankrupt cabal.
We know that the world is facing an energy crisis. Since independence, we have been tantalised with the suspicious rumours that our country has large deposits of oil. Successive governments have used and overused this narrative as an opium of hope to numb and distract our people’s suffering. This has left many citizens dreaming about Sierra Leone becoming the next Saudi Arabia or Abu Dhabi.
If insensitivity was going for $20 a barrel, I would want drilling rights to the heads of some of these politicians. Does this gives credence to the notion that, “politics is just a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles? The conduct of public affairs for private advantage” (B. Clinton).
Does this show that our politicians do not really care about the electorate? Does this show that there are only two things important to politicians? The first is money…..ehmm; I cannot remember the second one.
President Bio’s administration would be best advised to kill this Bill dead on arrival. Any attempt to dignify such a crass proposal for consideration would be salty on the wounds of the electorate.
This is morally wrong, period. If any thing, our politicians should be on minimum wage. They are not in it for the money. They just want to serve their people and the country.
In the context of what is going on in the country, many view this proposal as a political joke. That is exactly the problem with political jokers – they get elected.
Is our politics becoming too serious a matter to be left with politicians? As we prepare for the polls, one would hope that our politicians are our masters today. Next year, they will pose as our servants. I do not know the meaning of “POLITICS”. However, I know that “Poly” means “many”, and “Tics” are “blood-sucking parasites”.
Poly = many; Tics = blood sucking parasites.
Don’t forget to turn the lights out when you leave the room.