By Ragan M. Conteh
Following the resignation of the Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Transparency and Accountability, who also doubles as the Member of Parliament representing Constituency 132, Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh, the Parliament, through the Select Committee, has replaced him with Hon. Dickson M. Rogers as Chairman of TAC, deputized by Hon. Emilia Lollo Tongi.
According to changes in the Select Committee, Hon Abdul Marray Conteh has been selected by the leadership to serve as Chairman of the Legislative Committee, while Hon Ambrose Maada Lebbie becomes Chairman of the Transport and Aviation Committee, deputized by Hon Mohamed S. Rahman-Coker.
The full list of other Members of the Transparency and Accountability Committee will be published later. Those members, who benefited from the changes, have been asked to see the leadership of the House on Monday 28th September 2020 at 12:00 noon.
It could be recalled that Hon Ibrahim Tawa Conteh’s resignation took place on Thursday 10th September 2020 in Committee Room 1, Parliament Building, Tower Hill in Freetown.
The resignation of Hon Tawa Conteh, according to him, is as a result of the leadership of Parliament’s interference into the Committee’s activities during the probing of the Information Minister’s conflicting status report submitted to the Transparency Committee relating to the unbundling of the Sierra Leone Cable Limited (SALCAB) saga.
According to Hon Tawa, his Committee will not support the unbundling of SALCAB because the Minister had deceived cabinet and the President as well as the Committee on Transparency and Accountability in Parliament.
The Member of Parliament, representing Constituency 059, Hon Abdul Karim Kamara (AKK), said the statement of the Minister of Information, Mohamed Rado Swarray, is a mere contempt of Parliament, for insisting that he was the ‘big boy’ of the House.
“The Minister’s statement is a display of arrogance to us as Members of Parliament,” Hon AKK maintained.
Hon Lahai Marah also considers the unbundling of SALCAB for the benefit of just few people.
Hon. Abdul Kargbo, representing Constituency 077, said it is not fair to give chance to the Ministry of Information to give their status report to the Committee without giving the same opportunity to officials of SALCAB.
In his response, the Minister of Information and Communication, Mohamed Rado Swaray, said, “I am not going to respond to any question from MPs. I will continue with my implementation of Cabinet decision. I am the big boy in the House,” a statement which further angered Parliamentarians.
The minister revealed that cabinet did very sincere analysis, and was very rigorous in analyzing the situation before they came to the conclusion to unbundle SALCAB. He said the unbundling process is going on unfettered, but said, as he committed in the beginning, he will ensure that his ministry continues to engage all salient stakeholders on the unbundling process.
He intimated that the unbundling of SALCAB is for the benefit of the people of Sierra Leone. He added that Africa Coast to Europe cable and all the subsidiary investments, which have been on the terrestrial backbone, were done for three broader objectives – increase access on penetration, reduce cost and sometimes support E-governance.
Minister Swarray concluded that the government of Sierra Leone will go ahead with the digitalization processes.
The Committee meeting however ended up in a sad moment following resignation of the Chairman of the TAC and some members of the Committee after interference by the leadership of the House of Parliament on activities of the TAC.