By Shadrach Aziz Kamara
Members of Parliament have on Friday 2nd July 2021 concluded debate on the motion of thanks on the speech delivered by the president Julius Maada Bio on the occasion of the State Opening of the Fourth Session of the Fifth Parliament of the second Republic of Sierra Leone on Tuesday 18th May 2021.
Hon. Emerson Lamina Leader of the C4C thanked President Bio for his dynamic leadership aimed at redesigning the development trajectories of the country sixty years after independence. He referred to President Bio as a Five Star General who has transformed the mining sector to benefit the indigenes in the country. He also said under the administration of President Bio, Sierra Leone has catalogued its mineral wealth and has launched three major mining policies including Geodata and Artisanal mining in the country. He pointed out that, President Bio has attracted more mining companies to invest in the country than ever before. He said the ratification of Kingho Rail and Port Agreement by Parliament is a step in the right direction. He thanked President Bio for the expansion of the Lungi Airport Terminal and described him as a phenomenal president of human capital development through the recruitment of 5000 teachers than ever before. On three new universities, he thanked President Bio profusely for securing a loan for the construction of a University of Science and Technology in Kono District. He also praised President Bio for repealing the Public Order Act of 1965 from our law books, and for not abrogating the law by sacking election officers. Speaking on the construction of a bridge in his constituency to facilitate trade, he called on the Minister of Tourism to identify and select Waima as a tourist site, where a British Commander Lendy fought and stopped the marauding Samoure boys from annexing Kono District. It was were the British and French clashed and a mass grave was dug to bury those who died on that fateful day.
Hon. Kandeh Yumkella of the NGC said that the country is under-developed and that the Government needs to leverage on continuity to succeed in governance. Speaking on the economy, job creation, and debts management, he called on MPs to collectively address the structural problems in the country. Speaking on the necessity for a transition bill with specific date for election and handing over of power, he commended President Bio for efforts geared towards strengthening national cohesion and democracy in the country. On environmental protection and degradation, he called on Government to relocate the fishing harbour from Black Johnson in order to maintain its touristic values.
Hon. Chernor Bah Leader of the main Opposition APC thanked donors and the people of Sierra Leone for the fight against COVID-19 before the advent of the third wave. He said the people should be given the opportunity in a democracy to express their rights through lawful protests. He blamed the police for being selective on the issuance of certificate to hold peaceful demonstrations and accused the police of using disproportionate force in Makeni and other places in the country. He also said that Parliament should be privy on the report regarding the incident at Pademba Road Prison. Speaking on inalienable rights, he accused the judiciary of not being impartial and described it as worse than the one under the one party system, by giving an injunction on petition cases and presided over the removal of elected MPs from Parliament, he said it over a year now, at least he furthered that “Kamarainba deserves a bail now”. Commending President Bio for the free quality education, he said the efforts of APC on education should not go unnoticed by this Government. Speaking on the MCC Compact, energy and mining, he called on Government to furnish Parliament with the portfolios of loans and grants, and the utilization of Le 500 Billion approved by Parliament for the production and importation of essential goods through the commercial banks.
Hon. Mathew Nyuma Leader of Government Business thanked President Bio for his humanity and sacrifice to make Sierra Leone a better place. He described him as the Father of Democracy and the most vilified presidential candidate ever in the history of the country. He referred to him as a wise man and commended his fight against corruption in the country. On inclusive governance and national cohesion, he said provisions are made in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone for Parliament to allocate responsibility based on the strengths of political parties in the House. He said President Bio was magnanimous even when he was stoned in Bo.
He blamed APC for politicizing the police after they won the election in 2007, even when late President Tejan Kabbah had brought a British who did his best to rebrand the police to serve as a force for good. He recalled that in spite of the massacre of the Bios in Tihun in Bonthe, yet he brought Foday Sankoh from the bush to negotiate a peaceful settlement for the end of the war in the country. He saluted health workers for fight against COVID-19 in the country and called on the citizens to take the vaccines. To succeed in agriculture, he spoke on the need of using science and soil fixation as the way forward. He said education is the only key that would be used to unlock potentials and opportunities in the world to make yourselves and countries better. He said with Chinese assistance, it would be improper to cancel the toll agreement. He said due to the determination of President Bio, internal resources were generated by Government to kick start the free quality education in the country.
Speaking on single digit, he said the implementation of the quick action economic recovery programme resulted in cash flows to vulnerable groups, supplies of essential goods and services, and the introduction of the MUNAFA fund to assist small and medium enterprises in the country. He also said that President Bio is determined to curtail excessive powers that resulted in the unlawful sacking of the former Vice President and Mayor of Koidu City. He ended by reading President Bio’s scorecards in several areas of governance including sports (football), the fight against corruption and infrastructural development.