June 28, 2019
By Jariatu S. Bangura
Although, the All Peoples Congress Members of Parliament voted against the approval of the Local Government Minister, the Sierra Leone People’s Party, Coalition for Change, National Grand Coalition, Independent and Paramount Chiefs Members of parliament yesterday carried the majority votes to approve the presidential nominees.
The nominees includes, the newly appointed Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, John Sylvanus Lamina, ),Brima Sowa as Board member at the Electricity Generation and Transmission Company (EGTC, Pastor Mustapha Lamin Janneh- Board Member at the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority, and Raymond Koroma-Board Member at the Road Maintenance Fund Administration.
According to Hon. Lahai Marah of the APC, the numbers of MPs present during the interview session of the nominees were all from the ruling SLPP, hence there was no need the nominees should be approved by the whole house.
He stated that they are not contesting the integrity and qualifications of the nominees, but rather the procedures in which they were interviewed.
But the Chief Whip of the ruling SLPP, Hon. Dickson Rogers countered that on the day of the interview, he called the Deputy Leader of the opposition (Hon. I.B Kargbo) upon which he did consented to attend the said meeting.
He added that notices were sent by the Clerk of Appointment Committee to every concern members.
The Chief Whip continued that Hon. Kargbo later told him that his party had advised him not to attend the meeting.
However Hon. I.B Kargbo confirmed that the Chief Whip went to his office, but did not call him to attend the interview session and added that there were laydown procedures to follow so there was no need for the Chief Whip to have call on him in his office.
In his contribution, Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh of the SLPP argued that there is nowhere in the national Constitution or the Parliamentary Standing Orders that provides for quorum for political party MPs to attend any meetings, hence there was no need the nominees should not be approved.
Hon. Bashiru Silikie cautioned the newly appointed Minister of Local Government to do his best and to address the issues and challenges in the ministry as it is a very complex institution that needs tough minister.
He said if the New Direction is to succeed, that ministry needs to work hard, thus calling on the Minister to look into the affairs of the Paramount Chiefs as their livelihood needs to be address with immediate effects.
He submitted that the councils should be monitored thoroughly as most developmental are not people centred and that in the end, the MPs are been pressured to carry out development activities, which he said has made most MPs to be ousted.
He urged them all to go and make the difference as the opposition APC do not want them to be approved.
“I am urging you all to go make the change and also fail those that do not want us to approve you” he said
Deputy Leader of the National Grand Coalition, Hon. Foday Mario Kamara said the Local Government Ministry is an important office which has not satisfied most needs of the people especially in the area of maintaining peace and cohesion in the communities.
He said when Regent Chiefs were to be selected, the chiefdom councils were consulted, but for the past years such hasn’t occurred, hence it must be looked into, thus adding that the political interference should not be tolerated in the activities of the Chiefdom Councils and the Paramount Chiefs.
Hon. Abu Kemokai of the SLPP said the Minister should also pay attention to own sources revenue collected by the councils as they have been mandated to raise revenue as per the 2004 Local Government Act.
He added that after the approval of the minister he should ensure fast tracking the elections of Paramount Chiefs for the smooth running of the chiefdoms.
The Speaker posed the question for the nominees to be approved on collective voices of the ‘Ayes’ and ‘Nayes’ but the APC challenged the ruling of the Speaker and stood on Standing Order 46 (1) for a rise and count vote.
The counting was done by the Clerk and the opposition MPs got 48 votes as ‘NAYES’ whilst the others garnered 58 as ‘AYES’ which was ruled by the Speaker and the motion was carried by the highest number.