Members of Parliament Continue to Peruse Pres. Bio’s Speech

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President Julius Maada Bio

By Foday Moriba Conteh

On Friday 3rd July 2020 Parliament continued the debate for the second consecutive day on the Speech delivered by President Dr. Julius Maada Bio on the occasion of the State Opening of the Third Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone on Thursday 28th May 2020.

Contributing to the debate, Hon. Sulaiman Marray-Conteh of SLPP recognized the pivotal role the media had played in the development of the country; given why President Bio had promised and committed his Government to taking the necessary steps to repeal Part 5 of the Public Order Act of 1965 dealing with the obnoxious law which criminalizes seditious libel. He also said the Government is doing well in bringing the people closer to the presidency of Dr. Julius Maada Bio.

Submitting, Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara, of the main opposition APC said he was surprised by contributions made by MPs devoid of raising critical issues and proffering solutions to the President aimed at addressing the challenges of governance in the country. He decried colleague MPs for praise-singing the President, and spoke on education and health policies, adding the strategies are not working given the data presented by Government to Parliament.

On his part, Hon. Joseph Williams Lamin of SLPP commended President Bio for the Speech he delivered to Parliament and underscored the point that Sierra Leone is one of the most peaceful countries around the world. He applauded the Government of President Bio for advancing the development agenda of the country.

Hon. Dr. Roland Kargbo of APC observed that the Speech delivered by the President had left out vital information for the education of the people, and praised the Government for the recruitment of more teachers to the classrooms. However, he decried the Government “for failing to pay salaries to teachers with pin codes”.

Hon. Hindolo M. Gevao of SLPP said the past Government was indulged in total corruption and failed to develop the nation, and appreciated President Bio for rebranding the battered image of the country left by the former Government to the outside world. He commended the good leadership of the ACC Czar, Francis Ben Kaifala for recovering funds from past Government officials “to the tune of thirty-one billion Leones”. He said since the inception of this administration, Sierra Leone has done remarkably well in the fight against corruption. He also praised the fairness and independence of the Judiciary under the leadership of President Bio and  applauded President Bio’s administration for not interfering with the work of the judiciary.

Hon. Haja Miatta Amara of APC thanked President Bio for the Speech he delivered in Parliament, and expressed surprise that his address did not capture issues surrounding disability. She called on the government to address issues of disability by providing basic skills training for persons with disability; and also spoke on the need for women’s empowerment.

In her contribution to the debate, Hon. Emilia L. Tongi, an Independent MP from Kailahun appreciated the Speech delivered by President Bio saying the President had done a lot in the area of addressing sexual and gender-based violence by enacting tougher laws. She called for the laws relating to rape to be put to practice by punishing perpetrators of such dastard act against women, children and girls in the country.

Hon. Musa Fofanah of C4C praised President Bio for the Speech he delivered to Parliament, and thanked him for adhering to some of the recommendations by the Local Government Committee in Parliament including the payment of salaries to Mayors and Chairpersons of Local Councils for the first time since the re-introduction of local governance in 2004.

He commended the Leadership of Parliament for supporting his committee relative to a review of the Local Government Act of 2004 and the Decentralization Policy of 2010. He also commended the Minister of Water Resources and his sectorial team for consulting with stakeholders to improve the management of the water sector in the country. He encouraged officials of the water sector to intensify their monitoring and supervisory tactics for the ongoing water projects around the country.

Making his submission to the debate, Hon. Mohamed Sheriff Rahman-Coker of SLPP advised his colleague MPs to avoid partisan affiliations and called on them to assist the President in his vision to shape the socio-economic development of the nation. He commended the President for the Integrated Resilience Project aimed at transforming the transport sector in the country. He also recognized the efforts made by the President in the fight against corruption in the country.

Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, Deputy Leader of the Opposition recalled the efforts of the past government in the development of information and communication technology in the country; citing the establishment of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Coorporation, SALCAB and the landing of the fibre optic cables for cheaper, reliant, effective and efficient communication.

On peace and reconciliation, he said the promotion of peace and political cohesion is fundamental to good governance of the state. “The country needs peace, stability and political inclusion at this moment”, he stressed. He praised the Foreign Ministry for a job well done by keeping in line with international standards relating to foreign missions. In light of the free quality education, he said much needed to be done to improve the education sector.

Hon. Sahr Juana of SLPP commended President Bio for the Speech and described it as “clear and straight forward”. He applauded the government for seeing the need to repeal the criminal libel law in our books. He also applauded the President for the fight against corruption and the improvement of infrastructural development; particularly roads across the country.

In his contribution, Hon. Boston Munda of SLPP also commended and appreciated the President for his stance to tackle corruption and spoke of the need to repeal the criminal libel law for the development of the media.

In his maiden statement to the debate, Hon. Hamidu Holla Mansaray of APC called on President Bio to capacitate the youth and called for equal distribution of the nation’s resources to every region in the country.

The debate continues on Monday 6th July 2020 in the Chamber of Parliament.

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