April 18, 2016 By Casper Hsu and AL Mansaray
Three MPs have voiced support for Sylvia Blyden after allegations on social media intimated that her U.S. Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certificate – reportedly obtained in the United States– was forged.
Charles Curtis Thomas – claiming to hold a certificate of the kind and also a medical doctor – challenged the authenticity of Blyden’s medical certificate on a recent Facebook post.
Hon Glady’s Gbappy-Brima of the opposition SLPP and representing constituency 082 in Moyamba district, southern region, says though social media has been relied on for information by some, unsubstantiated and wrong postings are rampant.
Hon Gbappy-Brima says she could not decide the validity of Blyden’s medical certificate – since the Sierra Leone Parliament has a team responsible for vetting the candidature of any appointee – that all MPs rely on.
“Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know. But then we have in here a committee comprising of very experience, capable men and women across the aisle, who actually do the interviews.
“So, they did the interviews and they were the first to at least present the appointees to us for approval. And in the statement they gave us they said: ‘they are all fine gentlemen. They’ve proven to be capable for the appointed positions,” she says.
The opposition lawmaker says during the approval phase at Parliament, MPs who contributed to the debates to approve the appointees made no mention of Blyden’s credentials and which means, “for me, it says that, at least, what they said (on social media) wasn’t true.”
She concluded that Blyden is a role model for many women in Sierra Leone as she stands for what she believes in and should use her experiences so as to inspire the nominations of more women.
Hon Ibrahim Kamara of constituency 105 in the Western Urban of Freetown says he is satisfied with Blyden’s educational qualifications.
“I don’t have any problem with her credentials. I know she is very eloquent. She has proven it in so many occasions…she is a lady I admire so much,” Hon Kamara says.
Hon Mohamed Jawara Kamara, representing constituency 100 in Freetown Urban dittoed his ruling APC compatriot and says he was pleased that Blyden was approved.
“Sylvia Blyden is one of the people I’m proud of. Looking at the starting of the Ebola fight, she is one of the people we need in this country,” he says.
The question of authenticity of Blyden’s medical qualifications was hot topic of discussion on social media in the immediate aftermath of her appointment as Social Welfare, Women and Children’s Affairs Minister.
However, it emerged that during both parliamentary proceedings to confirm her and colleagues to various ministerial positions, a modicum of skepticism on her academic credentials was not raised by any Member of Parliament from any political party – opposition and ruling.