A popular local street slang is ‘Vexinama’ and it was coined from lyrics of a music wherein the singer is saying someone or some entity is just going about in vexatious pursuits that are not clear. The term ‘Vexinama’ is now being used by many bemused observers who have told this writer that the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) led Government of His Excellency the President Julius Maada Bio seems to be ‘Vexinama’ (i.e: vexed and confused) for reasons that are not clear. The Government is supposed to be running under a ‘new direction’ known as PAOPA which in local dialect means something that is enforced whether you like it or not. However, not liking to be linked to such a negative image of forcing people against their will, the President re-named ‘PAOPA’ to now mean Prompt Action On Poverty Allevation.
However, President Bio’s Government has lately through the actions and utterances of the Police and official government spokesmen, seem to be following a pattern of enforcement on citizens especially the Media and the Democratic Opposition. The PAOPA regime seems to be very angry and frustrated in a manner that has seen the regime go on a spree of intimidation against the media and members of the democratic opposition. The pattern of the vexation has left many dumbfounded as Sierra Leone is supposed to be a democratic State.
Indeed, under the former President and his All Peoples Congress (APC) government, Sierra Leone enjoyed so much tolerance and democratic freedoms that it was praised several times by American President Barack Obama as a bastion of democracy in Africa.
However, what is clear is that the land called Sierra Leone is no more as it used to be with respect to democratic freedoms. To make matters even worse, the irate Government is spending an inordinate amount of time making open threats against ordinary supporters of main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) living out in the Diaspora.
Whilst citizens living inside the country have been cowed into submission, there has been a high level of criticisms by Diaspora-based citizens against the SLPP PAOPA over many issues of national interest. These issues include growing number of Murders, disregard for the Rule of Law and Democratic best practices, Politically motivated violence, Violation of the Constitution and discarding due process.
The concerns are being re-echoed by senior observers around the world. Diaspora Sierra Leoneans on electronic media have added their voice in condemnation of the deteriorating state of freedoms by the government, politically motivated intimidation and harassment of democratic tenets by the SLPP PAOPA.
Few days ago, the Sierra Leone Police Spokesman actually took to the airwaves to express serious dissatisfaction of the SLPP-led regime against ordinary supporters of the main opposition APC living in the Diaspora. The Police and the SLPP are very upset with four particular Sierra Leoneans namely; Mr. Gibril Bangura in Ohio, United States of America, Mr. Emanuel Alieu Badamasie Kamara in Spain, Mr. Adebayo Will in the European Union and Mr. Septimus Kanu in Zurich, Switzerland. These men are not executive members of the APC but are mere sympathisers who say they are disgusted with what is unfolding in their country.
However, following the broadcast by the Sierra Leone Police and other social media posts and audios released by Government officials, these four gentlemen have been named as “Enemies of the State of Sierra Leone” by many supporters of the PAOPA SLPP Regime.
However, the gentlemen have reacted by saying they are exercising their democratic freedom of speech and if the Sierra Leone SLPP PAOPA Government is uncomfortable with what they are saying, the Government should do a rebuttal to the broadcasts of these citizens in the Diaspora rather than the Government Police going on the airwaves to threaten them.
One of them who describes himself as a Sierra Leone social media commentator is Emanuel Badamasie Kamara who currently stays in Greece. He wrote that not only has the Police openly threatened him with Interpol deportation to return back to face seditious libel charges but that supporters of the SLPP PAOPA have even threatened that they will locate him and kill him out there in Europe.
He said to make matters worse, death threats, motherly invectives and verbal attacks have been reported to have been sent at his relatives living inside the country.
Many other critics of the new regime are also reporting serious intimidation of their family members inside the country. Mr. Adebayo Will recently had to do a special audio to inform SLPP PAOPA supporters that his family no longer stays inside Sierra Leone.
As for Gibril Bangura, he says he is now accustomed to many kinds of insults, death threats and other threats of the use of tools like Interpol to deport him from America.
On the side of Septimus Kanu who resides in the Swiss city of Zurich, he is a known critic of the current government since opposition. He was the last amongst the four to have left Sierra Leone. Kanu has been a fearless critic to the extent that his family was also targeted immediately after the SLPP took governance.
Several of Kanu's family members have suffered intimidation to the extent that his aunt, who is living in Bo City, one of the strongholds of the ruling party, sadly became a victim.
Meanwhile, whilst many Sierra Leoneans back home have been intimidated by the arrests and questioning of members of the independent media and main opposition party, the likes of Gibril, Adebayo, Emanuel and Septimus are not afraid and through social media, they have been keeping democratic flames of freedom alive even before then.
However, a recent outburst of Gibril Bangura, whilst of no consequence in-country, was widely condemned as it seemed to have been calling on citizens to go and burn down one of the places where journalists and members of the democratic opposition are detained.
At least one journalist is presently in captivity inside the country at the hands of the vexed PAOPA regime. He was arrested for publishing a story that a relative of the President was giving a Diplomatic Passport and also alleging that 300 of such Diplomatic Passports have been issued out. Whilst the Government made no formal denial of the story or of the accompanying photo of the diplomatic passport alleged to have been issued to the President’s relative, the Police pounced in vexation at Emanuel Christian Thorli, Managing Editor of NightWatch and locked him up in a cell where he still remains.
Apart from journalists, another set of people suffering from the vexations and frustrations of the current regime are members of the main democratic opposition APC. Police say APC statements criticising unconstitutional steps of the SLPP PAOPA Government is suspected to be an act of incitement and seditious libel. The insistence by democratic APC opposition that SLPP is tribalistic and planning on targeting citizens from North-Westerners is also being “investigated”.
In a bizarre step that shows how badly vexed the current establishment is, the Sierra Leone Police has reportedly asked the former President of Sierra Leone to report to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for questioning over the democratic statement issued by his APC party of which he is Chairman and Leader.
About a month ago, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation, Honourable Dr. Alie Kabba had posted on his Facebook page that: “Our new diplomatic mission in Kenya, will serve as our gateway to East Africa. Pleased to note that the team is excited and ready to promote the core priorities of the New Direction. The Bio administration is strategically focused on increasing Sierra Leone's global footprint as we seek to attract foreign direct investment through robust economic diplomacy.”
Situated at 57 Gigiri Court off UN Crescent, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya, the new Sierra Leone High Commission in Kenya is now the first Kenya, as its mission was upgraded from a consulate to a full High Commission by the current government of President Maada Bio.
Meanwhile, the Sierra Leone diplomatic mission in Nairobi also serves as permanent representative to the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
Furthermore, according to research conducted by this writer, UNON, the UN headquarters in Africa, was established by the General Assembly in 1996. The office is headed by a Director-General, at the Under-Secretary-General level, serves as the representative office of the Secretary-General in Nairobi and performs representation and liaison functions with permanent missions, the host-country and other Governments, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in Nairobi, as well as other organizations of the United Nations system in Kenya; facilitates cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations; provides administrative and other support services to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); provides joint and common services to other organizations of the United Nations system in Kenya, as applicable; and manages and implements the programmes of administration, conference services and public information and provides security and safety services for United Nations staff and facilities in the United Nations Office at Nairobi.
Resident at 158 Mimosa Drive off Mimosa Road, Runda, Nairobi, His Excellency Peter Joseph Francis- Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Kenya and Permanent Representative to the UNON, UNEP and UN-Habitat, during an exclusive interview with this writer on the phone from Nairobi said it is obvious that taking up a new mission is fraught with several challenges.
The High Commissioner HE Francis confirmed that he arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on 13th October 2018, to start working as representative of Sierra Leone in Kenya and several UN Agencies. He said the upgrading of Sierra Leone Mission to Kenya from a consulate to a High Commission has now seen successes including getting a bigger office space in Nairobi with other four (4) offices now available for attaches.
HE Peter Joseph Francis also said that the mission was able to get the offices up and running by establishing relationships with Kenyan Foreign offices. He said by so doing, he paid courtesy calls to several missions in Nairobi.
On 5th December 2018, HE Peter Joseph Francis confirmed that he presented his letter of credence to the Kenyan President, HE Uhuru Kenyatta, and two (2) days after on 7th December 2018, he did a courtesy call on the UNON office in Nairobi. He said, he was further advised to do a formal letter to the Special Representative of the UN in Nairobi, because, according to him, “the UNON plays a very important role in Africa.” He said he also paid a courtesy call on the Kenyan Institute of Management.
In addition, HE Peter Joseph Francis said he was able to do a follow-up on the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference that attracted over one hundred and sixty (160) countries and over seventeen thousand (17,000) participants including from Sierra Leone. The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, according to research done by this writer, was held on November 26th- 28th 2018, and was co-hosted by Kenya, Canada and Japan. The conference harnessed the potential of our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to improve the lives of all, particularly people in developing states, women, youths and Indigenous peoples. It also served as a platform to leverage the latest innovations, scientific advances and best practices to build prosperity while conserving our waters for future generations. The conference also captured concrete commitments and practical actions that can be taken today to help the world transition to the blue economy.
On his relationship with the Kenyan government thus far, HE Peter Joseph Francis said that the President of the Republic of Kenya, HE Uhuru Kenyatta had invited him on a special meeting and had introduced him to the Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, and key Kenyan cabinet ministers and other heads of key Kenyan government institutions to ensure that there is proper working relationship between Kenya and Sierra Leone. He said, he is also working on getting other diplomatic missions and UN agencies onboard so that they can support the Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL) and the programmes enshrined in the New Direction manifesto of President Julius Maada Bio.
Dilating on his relationship with the Sierra Leonean Community in Nairobi and other countries assigned to his diplomatic station, HE Peter Joseph Francis said he is working on bringing Sierra Leoneans together. As a result, he confirmed that the embassy has opened a database and is now doing registration of all Sierra Leoneans in Nairobi and Kenya at large.
In conclusion, the Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Nairobi said during this festive season, he ensured that Christmas cards and greetings were sent to all Sierra Leoneans in Nairobi, and particularly Sierra Leonean soldiers serving in Somalia. He said, this is why today Wednesday 26th December 2018, the embassy and staff are hosting Sierra Leonean community in Nairobi on a lunch to create room for dialogue and friendship between compatriots.
“I pledge to do more and continue to engage with the people to move our constituency towards better service delivery”- Hon. Lihadi Alhadi
All Peoples Congress (APC) Honourable Member of Parliament representing Constituency 123 in the Western Area Urban electoral district has vowed to do more and continue to engage with the people of his constituency so as to ensure that they all move towards better service delivery in the constituency.
Honourable Lihadi Alhadi, whose Constituency 123 covers Ginger Hall, Mount Aureol and Foullah Town communities in the east end of the capital Freetown made this pledge in his first ever Christmas message, since his election as Member of Parliament in March this year.
Whilst delving on his strives so far in ensuring that adequate service delivery is catered for the people of Constituency 123, in his Christmas message, Hon. Alhadi said: “I have been engaging different stakeholders from different political parties in the constituency to map out ideas to bring about development in our locality. I had called two community meetings one at Ginger Hall and the other at Foullah Town. Major problems affecting the communities in the constituency were identified and discussed in those meetings. One main problem identified in the different communities was access to clean and safe drinking water.”
On his efforts so far in salvaging the concerns of water shortage in the mountainous communities that comprises Constituency 123, Honourable Alhadi in his Christmas message said: “As MP, I had engaged in the installation of taps in various locations in the Foullah Town community, and the next community to benefit from this taps installations will be the Ginger Hall and Mount Aureol communities.”
Meanwhile, below is a verbatim of the Christmas Message of Honourable Lihadi Alhadi; Member of Parliament Constituency 123- Ginger Hall, Mount Aureol & Foullah Town Communities
Christmas Message from Honourable Lihadi Alhadi; Member of Parliament Constituency 123- Ginger Hall, Mount Aureol & Foullah Town Communities
Good morning my respectable people, youths, boys and girls of Constituency 123, I greet you in the name of God. On behalf of me, my family and my campaign team, once more let me use this opportunity to thank you for your support on my Parliamentary victory. Since assuming office as Member of Parliament I have been calling for unity in this our beloved constituency, and one way we can move the constituency forward is when we are united as one people. Elections are over now, and now we must unite to move our constituency forward.
I have been engaging different stakeholders from different political parties in the constituency to map out ideas to bring about development in our locality. I had call two community meetings one at Ginger Hall and the other at Foullah Town. Major problems affecting the communities in the constituency were identified and discussed in these meetings. One main problem identified in the different communities was access to clean and safe drinking water and I believe that water is life.
As MP, I had engaged in the installation of taps in various locations in the Foullah Town community, and the next community to benefit from this taps installations will be the Ginger Hall and Mount Aureol communities.
I pledge to do more and continue to engage with the people to move our constituency towards better service delivery. This is the Christmas season; I want to use this opportunity to wish all the people of constituency 123, my family and friends home and abroad a Merry Christmas and a prosperous Happy New Year. And may God give us long life and good health to celebrate more New Years and Christmas. Once more I thank you all and may God bless you all and our beloved constituency.
Honourable Lihadi Alhadi.
Stakeholders of Lokomasama Chiefdom, Port Loko District, Northwestern Province of the Republic of Sierra Leone have informed this medium that they are all set and fully prepared to give the country’s Vice President, Honourable Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh a resounding welcome to their chiefdom on the 26th -27th December, 2018.
Born of Kalangba Walla, Gbainty Wallah Section, Lokomasama Chiefdom, Port Loko District, the Honourable Vice President is for the first time going to his mother’s homeland this festive season since his election as Vice President of Sierra Leone. This has prompted this writer to engage stakeholders in the Lokomasama Chiefdom, who have all planned a fanfare welcome for their son.
Meanwhile, speaking to this medium from the opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) stronghold of Lokomasama Chiefdom, the APC Member of Parliament (MP) of Constituency 074- Lokomasama and Kamasondo Chiefdoms, Honourable Abu Mansaray confirmed that he believes that the coming of the Honourable Vice President to his constituency will be graced by massive welcome from the people of Lokomasama Chiefdom, Port Loko District.
Honourable Abu Mansaray said for so long the people of Lokomasama Chiefdom have yearned for development, and that he believes that the VP as the second man in the land has passion for development of the chiefdom, and that’s why he believes the people will embrace the Vice President.
As a result, Honourable Abu Mansaray said, development of Lokomasama Chiefdom is the reason why he is willing to collaborate and work with the Honourable Vice President in the area of development and progress. To further buttress, he said with funding from his NGO, Forikolo e.V, he has infact invited the Vice President for the turning of the sod for the building of an educational institute in Lokomasama Chiefdom.
Honourable Abu Mansaray further thanked the organizers of the welcoming of the Vice President, with particular reference to one Mr. Mohamed Alpha Gassama aka Original Top man, for his role in ensuring that the Vice President is warmly received in his place of birth.
Dilating on the preparation of the People of Gbainty Wallah Section, Councillor of Ward 245, Lokomasama Chiefdom, Umaru Bai Kallay, spoke to this writer in Komrabai Town said: “We are prepared to welcome the Vice President in a grand style.” The APC Councillor added that the New Direction of President Bio is leading by example and that he is willing to receive the Honourable Vice President. He said, he as a Councillor of Ward 245 is the leader of his people of whom most are supporters of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), APC, National Grand Coalition (NGC) and many others. Therefore, he said he is willing to be an exemplary leader to welcome the Honourable Vice President.
Councillor Umaru Bai Kallay furthered that apart from that fact that he is APC Councillor and that Honourable Vice President is SLPP, he sees the need to mobilise his people to warmly welcome the VP because according to him, as a leader he should collaborate with the central government to ensure that his people greatly enjoy in the areas of agriculture and education.
In addition, the councillor expressed optimism, which he said re-echo the views of all the locals of Gbainty Wallah Section, that the Honourable Vice President will contribute greatly towards the development of Lokomasama and that the expectations of the people from the VP will be addressed. He assured that they will receive the VP in grand style in Lokomasama Chiefdom.
Meanwhile, delving into the programmes in place for the welcoming of the Honourable Vice President, the Coordinator of the welcoming of the VP in Lokomasama Chiefdom, Mohamed Alpha Gassama aka Original Top Man and Mohamed Small Bah are in full gears to make sure they have a successful celebration and a nice welcoming ceremony. In his remarks to this writer at his home in Gbainty Wallah, Mr Gassama said he decides to honour the Honourable Vice President to Lokomasama Chiefdom because the Vice President is the son of the soil, and primarily because he is a native of the Section where the VP mother comes from.
Mr. Gassama expressed optimism that the homecoming of the Honourable Vice President to Lokomasama Chiefdom will help in bringing together the various divided groups of the chiefdom. He spoke about the infightings that have plunged Lokomasama Chiefdom over the years, resulting from Member of Parliament election and Chieftaincy election. Thus, he expressed optimism that the coming of the VP will help foster peace, love, and oneness between indigenes of Lokomasama Chiefdom. He said: “I am hopeful that the Honourable Vice President will serve as a symbol of peace in Lokomasama Chiefdom.”
As a result, Mr. Gassama thanked the leadership of the SLPP for choosing their brother from Lokomasama Chiefdom to be “the youngest Vice President in the history of Sierra Leone.”
In addition, Mr. Gassama spoke about his contributions so far in ensuring that Lokomasama is developed. He tied his developmental strides as reasons why he believe he can mobilize people to welcome the Honourable Vice President and they will come out in their huge numbers.
On the programme of events for welcoming the Honourable Vice President in Lokomasama Chiefdom, Mr. Gassama said that the two days visit of the Honourable Vice President will see a jogging event on the 26th December 2018 at Gbainty Wallah, whilst on the 27th December 2018, he will organized a welcoming show for the Vice President at his Topman Riverside Complex, Gbainty Wallah Wharf, Lokomasama Chiefdom. He said Sara D Great will be in attendance. He also added that several cultural dancers have been lined up to give the Honourable VP a stunning welcome.
On the challenges, Mr. Gassama said: “bringing people together in once a very violent chiefdom is very difficult,” adding that to entertain such huge number of guests is very hard, but that he said “for my people and for the unification of Lokomasama Chiefdom, I am willing to fund it all.” He assured that the Honourable VP will be warmly received by everyone in Lokomasama Chiefdom, since according to him the preparations are now in place.
Born in 1972, Hon. Chernor Maju Bah (Chericoco) is a Member of Parliament representing constituency 126 in the country’s capital, Freetown. He was, from 2012, the country’s deputy speaker.
Bah rose to political stardom following his election to parliament in 2007 under an APC ticket.
He got re-elected in the 2012 elections winning 68.45% of the votes.
A Barrister/Solicitor by profession, he was, in 2018, announced running-mate to the presidential candidate for the APC, a decision, he said, came as “a surprise” but that “…when you do good things, people out there will be looking…”
At present, Hon. Bah is Sierra Leone’s Majority Leader of Parliament, overseeing over 66 parliamentary seats of the main opposition All People’s Congress, a role that comes with “challenges.”
In this exclusive Q & A interview in his office at the House of Parliament, Bah takes us through happenings in the House of Parliament; his reaction to being announced running-mate; what he thinks should be done if his party is to regain the presidency in 2023. He also discussed recent development on plans to annul an existing contract on the printing of national passport, amongst other issues.
First, was on his transition from his law chambers, seeking justice for clients through the courts, to mainstream politics as a Member of Parliament- enacting laws, representing a constituency through a political party and performing oversight functions. Read on:
CM Bah: The transition has been an interesting, but also a challenging one. My legal practice also contributed towards carving my political path. I had always been interested in politics since I was in primary school but I became more interested when I entered Fourah Bay College. I am one of those who believe that, good people can’t stay outside and believe that they would make changes from there. You can influence actual change from within. Between 1996 and 1998, I became more interested and more active and since then, I had been planning what to do, because I graduated in 1996 and from the law school in 1998. In 1997, there were no graduates because of the AFRC interregnum. It was in 1998 when I was called to the bar, immediately I started practicing and then I started working towards actualizing the political dream itself. But added to that also I believe I was destined to be a politician.
John Baimba: Being this politician today, how has it been like?
CM Bah: Still challenging but also very interesting. Now you can see things first hand- you are not being told. That is why most people who have the capacity and spend time criticizing, I have encouraged them to join politics. Because you can say politicians are not doing well and you believe you can do better but yet still, you are outside. The best players must come in. There are still many good people out there and if they don’t join the wagon, their spaces will be filled by people that they may continue to criticize.
John Baimba: There must have been some other great lessons learnt, too?
CM Bah: I have learnt many lessons, more so in those areas that deal with human beings. Man, by nature, is selfish but I believe, that when you go into public office, that nature should change to being selfish not for self, but for the people. I have seen all the sides of politics in the last 11 years; deceit, backstabbing, many negatives. But generally also, I have seen many good people, I have met with many good people in politics. Some of them are still around, some I’m still with and some have exited. But good people also taught me many lessons that whatever you can do in making sure that you change the lives of people, continue doing it and that is what I am benefiting from, today.
John Baimba: Were you surprised to have been named in 2018, running mate to Dr. Samura Kamara?
CM Bah: Yes, and no. Yes, because nobody told me about it. It was a surprise when I entered the room and heard my name. I didn’t show any active interest because I was enjoying my life in parliament and there were so many contestants for the ticket. But then also, when you do good things, people out there will be looking and so I believe that it was not a coincidence. So as I say, yes because of that but no, considering also what I had done during the last ten years- my contribution to the Party and Sierra Leone.
John Baimba: Should you come again as a running mate, what should your party do to win?
CM Bah: One lesson is to remind everybody that the party is always bigger than the individual. Secondly, we have to remember that it is better to work as a team, than to think selfish. I believe if we had all worked together, it would have been different. Today the APC is out of power. So, it is better to work hard, succeed, and then you complain. The effects, when they are negative, you can’t go back. So, it is always good that you think about the bigger picture.
John Baimba: What do you think the party will look like in 2023?
CM Bah: I am sure if we go back to the drawing board, make sure we get our presidential candidate as early as possible; give that individual time to go around the country and do all what is expected of him or her, we have better chances of coming back, in 2023.
John Baimba: So, in essence, there is need for a presidential candidate earlier?
CM Bah: Yes, at least like two to three years before elections.
John Baimba: How difficult is it, providing leadership for over 60 opposition Members of Parliament?
CM Bah: Like in public life, you meet all sort of people. Almost all of the members of parliament that I am leading are new, but for few. But there is a good working relationship and sure there are challenges but they are challenges the leader is expected to surmount. I am doing my best to make sure I bring everybody on board and so far, it is not perfect but working well. The MPs are very supportive and intelligent. Their support to the party is also commendable. Their contributions in Parliament have been tremendous. And perhaps, mostly importantly, I believe that the support from the party leadership has helped me a lot in navigating through this terrain.
John Baimba: As the leader here, what does it mean for any of your members to go out publicly and take a position on touchy issues, appearing that it is your party’s position?
CM BAH: I am happy you used the word ‘appearing’. We have a structure in parliament. We don’t just go out and condemn colleagues who do those things. There is a system. First and foremost, each MP represents a constituency and they have a right to their opinions. But when it comes to issues that cut across the party, we hang heads and discuss before going out. So, whenever a Member of Parliament goes out of that line, we always call them back.
John Baimba: Much as the matters are in court and not wanting to discuss the details, are the ongoing court petitions against some MPs of your party affecting your smooth operations?
CM Bah: It is. Even outside politics, when you have a matter in court, you are not settled. So, the MPs themselves, I don’t believe, are as effective as they could have been. Be that as it may, they are still doing their best and so far, myself and I’m sure, the party and the general membership, are satisfied with the job the MPs are doing. I believe they could do better, but so far, what they have been doing, has been impressive.
John Baimba: The House recently asked the Executive arm of government, through finance ministry, for a review of conditions of service for MPs. Why all those demands?
CM Bah: Why not those demands? Our parliament is the least resourced in Africa and if that is the case, I’m sure, it is the least resourced in the world. For you to expect maximum output, you must also ensure that the tools, including remuneration, should be adequately enough to ensure that the MPs are in a better footing to perform their functions effectively.
But also, those were just mere proposals. The document was not signed. So, it shows it is not an official document from parliament. The person who took it out to the public, nobody knows. But we have negotiated with the ministry of finance which is something we have been doing since 2007. It is not new. It is unfortunate, that this one ended this way because of some involvements I’m not too sure about. But since 2007, parliament has always been negotiating and gradually our conditions were reviewed and improvement being made. I’m sure, the same will happen now but the conclusions are far below what was circulated on social media.
John Baimba: And what were the conclusions, taking salaries as example?
CM Bah: Based on the motion I saw, that was tabled and approved in parliament, salaries are not going to be increased by more than 20%. But the public publicity was totally different. But again, don’t forget, that there are many people out there, like commissioners, employees in parastatals and other government offices, receiving 4, 5 times of what the MPs are receiving now.
John Baimba: And parliament is asking for salaries to be harmonized?
CM Bah: That is something we have been calling for since the last parliament. It is not new. We believe that harmonization of salaries will assist government in having proper roadmap, going towards the future.
John Baimba: Has much been done by the House in the area of oversight?
CM Bah: Basically, parliament is growing. I was here in 2007 and when we came in 2012, I saw some improvements. Again, in 2018, I believe that I have seen more improvements. So the parliament is growing.
John Baimba: Reports on social media suggest, you were receiving kickbacks from the last contract awarded for the printing of passports. What is your reaction to such allegations?
CM Bah: It is a shame. One thing I don’t mortgage is my integrity. I have done my best in ensuring, that I keep my head at a level where my integrity should not be something of a doubt. I am sure you saw all the names mentioned as receiving kickbacks and when you put all those figures together, to show how ridiculous it is, they go slightly over a $100,000. Even though that is not the fee now, because it is less than a $100, (Le.750, 000.00 present cost) but let’s presume it is still $100, you will need to print 10,000 passports a month just for kickbacks and then you print more to keep you running.
Tell me, how many passports do they print a month? Do they print even 2,000 passports a month? How many percentage of the population are carrying passports? So, it is a shame, that people will, out of their own greed, just endeavor to smear the images of good people, but fortunately the public is not as gullible as before.
John Baimba: Hon. Bah, what is this whole issue around review or annulment of the existing contract on printing of national passports?
CM Bah: By this morning (12-11-18), those that followed the media and other channels heard the actual story itself, that it was not me, or those that were named, but there are interests that others want to promote.
As I said, the document is a government document. It is not a private document. We are not signatories to the contract. If the government is desirous of reviewing or annulling, it is their wish because they are the signatories to the document and a party to the contract. But they should come with the document to parliament and not a private member who is not a party to the contract.
If a Member of Parliament is interested in reviewing or annulling the document, the procedure in parliament is, you summon the minister to come and answer questions and to let the minister know that you are against the contract and you tell, why you are against it.
For those who were creating the impression as if we are against the suffering masses, that is also a shame. Passport is not a bread and butter issue. People who go for passport are people who most times can afford their bread and butter. Bread and butter issues are there- those going to school, those paying transportation, looking for food, etc.
We should be working towards getting the biometric ID card that will take us across West Africa, not fighting for passport. Yes, I want the prices to come down, but who am I? I don’t know what it entails, it is the government that knows for they are the ones who negotiated. So, they could go back and revisit the agreement and come back to us.
John Baimba: How have you been working with those MPs from the ruling party, given that though you are in majority, your votes don’t always get the needed results in terms of decision making?
CM Bah: Parliament is about consensus building. It is about agreeing and disagreeing, but making sure, whatever is good for society, we should be under no obligation, but to support. That is supposed to be our responsibility. So far, we have been doing that but for one or two instances, including the passport saga which I will tell you again, I’m not sure, is a government driven-agenda, because if it was, the Executive should have come up with the initiative. Basically, so far, so good, we have been managing to navigate.
John Baimba: It has been a pleasure, talking to you and thank you.
CM Bah: Thank you, John!
Erstwhile Member of Parliament candidate for the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in Constituency 122, East of Western Area Urban District, Alieu Ibrahim Koyo Kamara has said that the government of President Julius Maada Bio is here to inspire students/pupils to let them be empowered for a better future.
Mr. Koyo Kamara, as he is fondly called, made this statement at the Nine Lesson and Carol Service of East-End Municipal School, Kennedy Street, Freetown on Thursday 13th December 2018, at the school ground, during which occasion he donated five (5) bags of rice, three (3) oil five (5) gallons of oil, a carton of tomatoes and a carton of Maggie, as a means to complement President Bio’s School Feeding Programme.
“My target is to complement the School Feeding Programme in all primary schools across constituency 122,” Mr. Koyo assured, adding that he starts with the East-End Municipal School because it is his own primary school, where he attended primary schooling in the early 1990s.
Mr. Koyo said he is launching a project for the distribution of two hundred and fifty (250) bags of rice to all primary schools in his constituency; which covers the Fourah Bay Community, Kossoh Town Community, Guard Street Community, Moa Wharf Community amongst others, to complement the President’s School Feeding Programme.
“My aspiration and beliefs in representing our school and flying the flag high comes from a deep humanitarian feeling and also the dire need of a positive and astute leadership,” Mr. Koyo said, adding that “For far too long the East-End Municipal School has been deprived of its original values in terms of development and good representation.” He said: “It is against this backdrop that I believe my intervention will yield progress in my beloved school.”
Meanwhile, elaborating on the productivity of Mr. Koyo Kamara at the Carol Service, Miss Admire Jones East-End Municipal School Head Teacher-Infant acknowledged the timely intervention of Mr. Koyo towards the welfare of pupils in the schools. Miss Admire urged all present to join hand with Mr. Koyo to elevate the school, and to further contribute in ensuring that President Bio succeeds in his education agenda for Sierra Leone.
In addition, Miss Admire Jones spoke about the brilliancy of Mr. Koyo even as his days as a pupil of the East- End Municipal School. “As a product of this school, from class 1-6, leader in his days in the school from 1990-1996, he was part of the school drama group, sport team and in his final year was the senior prefect of the school. He even tops the school during the 1996 National Primary school Examination (NPSE),” Miss Admire recalled.
Meanwhile, the entire Carol Service was accompanied by songs and dances from pupils and teacher who embraced theirs.
State House, Freetown, Tuesday 13 November 2018 – The newly approved commissioner of the Public Service Commission, Madam Doreen Faux, subscribed to the oath of office in accordance with Section 151(8) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
The said section states that: “A member of the Public Service Commission shall, before assuming the functions of his office, take and subscribe before the President the oath as set out in the Third Schedule to this Constitution”.
Shortly after her swearing-in ceremony at State House, Madam Faux said she was honoured and delighted to have been appointed to serve in the new government and commended President Bio for the confidence reposed in her to serve the country. She added that she was ready to help, as a team member, to ensure that the goals and objectives of the commission were achieved.
On his part, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio said: “I thank you for accepting to work. The New Direction is founded on the basis that things have not gone well and that we need to go in a new direction to make things work. Therefore, we want to change the way things work by changing the methodologies of how things have been done and by building the spirit of teamwork. You may not agree all the time but you have to disagree to agree in the best interest of our nation. I wish you the best tenure of office,” he ended.
The Public Service Commission was established in 1948 by the Constitution of Sierra Leone with the mandates to appoint persons to hold or act in offices in the Public Service including the power to make appointments, promotions and to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices.
On Thursday, the newly-elected President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, told the United Nations, that “with a strong belief in a shared vision and a common destiny, Sierra Leoneans stand with the [international community] in meeting the world’s challenges.”
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Central African Republic (CAR) Head of State Faustin Touadera on Wednesday thanked the world body for helping to restore stability in his country, but also called for the complete lifting of the UN Security Council arms embargo affecting its army.
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