By Theresa Kef Sesay
Member of Parliament representing Constituency 132, Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh has resigned as Chairman of the Transparency and Accountability Committee effective over what he perceived to be leadership interference in the Committee’s work.
The news came during the summoning of the Ministry of Information and Communications on the 10th September, 2020 to explain the reasons for the unbundling of Sierra Leone Cable Limited.
The summoning had a series of drama even though it started as a simple session before things got heated after the Ministry stated two positions for the unbundling of the Sierra Leone Cable Limited; one which was based on physical sustainability and no growth in the institution whilst the other issue was based on revenue generation which according to them, SALCAB is a burden to Government as it does not generate revenue and does not reach out in other places.
Just after these reasons were stated by the Ministry through a presentation, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh then asked him to explain which of the two documents supersedes the other; the President’s address of 2019 where he praised SALCAB stating that the new Management had made tremendous improvements given the bad state he inherited the company or the reasons put forwarded to cabinet by the Minister for the unbundling.
The question was described by the Information Minister, Mohamed Rado Swaray, as a snare to ambush him adding that he was not in the position to differentiate between the two documents. He maintained that they are going ahead with the unbundling because it is for the benefit of the people of Sierra Leone.
The answer given by the Minister was described by Hon. Tawa and Members of Parliament as an affront and deception of cabinet and contempt of Parliament.
Other members like Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara and Hon. Lahai Marrah said the unbundling of SALCAB at this stage is costly to the people of Sierra Leone and must not go on while Hon. Abdul Kargbo pleaded that SALCAB should be given the chance to defend themselves against the allegations of revenue loss put forward against them for the unbundling.
The session was about to take momentum when the Leader of Government Business came in and stood the Committee down for five minutes to have a meeting with the Chairman and his members but the Chairman said that he will not change the trend of the Committee.
Unfortunately, after the Committee resumed, the Minister was asked to give a concluding remarks which he did vociferously reiterating that he is going ahead as he has a marching order from Cabinet to do so.
Just after the statement, Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh openly resigned as the Chairman of the Transparency and Accountability Committee because he feels Sierra Leone comes first and that the decision is borne out of the fact that he is pressured and getting interference from the leadership in doing his job.
The decision of Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh comes at a time when the Parliament of Sierra is struggling to save its neck from an abattoir of corruption survey of 2019, ranking them as the second most corrupt institution in the country which even an MP from the ruling party confirmed.