By Ragan M. Conteh
Members of Parliament, from both sides of the aisle, on Thursday 25th March 2021 lampooned President Julius Maada Bio for what they described as undermining the authority of Members of Parliament.
The All People’s Congress Party Member of Parliament, Hon. Dr Mamoud Kalokoh, who stood under Standing Orders 23, stated that, over the period, they have witnessed President Julius Maada Bio visiting their various Constituencies without notifying them.
According to Hon. Kalokoh, President Bio’s activities are of a national concern, and should not be politicized. This is because President Bio was not elected for just a set of people or for a political party.
He said, if President Bio persistently visits their constituencies without informing them, he is undermining the authorities of leaders in the communities.
“MPs and Paramount Chiefs should play host to the President whenever he visited any constituency or Chiefdom, because he was elected for the development of the country and for all Sierra Leoneans,” he said.
The Opposition Chief Whip, Hon. Hassan A. Sesay, in his submission on Standing Order 23, stated that, the issue of segregating authorities, during his visits to communities, is very alarming and embarrassing to MPs in those communities.
“President Bio, this is not a party issue. Sierra Leoneans should try to draw the line between party and national concern. The President is not an SLPP President; he should be seen as the People’s President after elections,” he said.
Hon. Sesay informed that President Julius Maada Bio spoke times without number, in the Well of Parliament, on inclusive governance, but what MPs, from both sides of the aisle, are witnessing today is a complete reverse.
According to him, those around the President are the major problem. Even if President Bio is doing ugly things, they are not telling him the truth. “How can a President visit my community, in which over three thousand citizens voted for me, without telling me? It is heartrending. I consider ‘My President’ as a national president and not for political party aliens,” he pondered.
“I should be seen mobilizing my people to welcome ‘My President’ irrespective of political affiliation. This is what we should be doing as a nation. We should not be treated as if we are not part of the governance,” he lambasted.
Hon. Sesay narrated how President Julius Maada Bio visited his Constituency in Magburaka, recently, to launch the Munafa Fund without his knowledge. “As a siting lawmaker, I should be the one mobilizing my constituents to welcome the first gentleman of the state,” Hon Sesay said.
The deputy Speaker of Parliament who presided over the sitting on Thursday, Hon Solomon Sengehpoh Thomas, agreed with the two MPs who raised the serious concern in Parliament.
He said failure by State House, to inform the sitting MPs about the visit of the President in their various constituencies, undermines the authorities of that community.
Hon. Thomas said the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who was in the Well, should take note of these concerns, as they are genuine especially as they undermine the authorities in their jurisdiction.
“This is beyond politics; State House should inform MPs or PCs for any visit of the President in any community,” he said.
The deputy Speaker however stated that, because of the seriousness of the issue, the entire House of Parliament should see how best to inform the Chief of Protocol, in the Office of the President, to take note of such concerns.
MPs, from the south-east of Sierra Leone, believed to be the SLPP stronghold, have also lampooned President Bio for the failure to inform them of his visit to their communities, adding that those surrounding the President should be seen working hard to ensure the President do due diligence.
He however asked the deputy Speaker to draw a line between the executive and Members of Parliament, as such development has the tendency to also undermine the development of the nation.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Anthony Brewa, upon the directive of the deputy Speaker of Parliament, promised to reach the President with the concerns from MPs. He also promised to do likewise whenever President Bio intends to visit any constituency.
The Leader of Government Business, Hon. Matthew Sahr Nyuma, also appealed to the MPs to exercise patience as they will address their concerns and try reaching the Presidency for amicable resolution.