October 4, 2017 By Jariatu S. Bangura
Sierra Leone’s parliament yesterday thr5ew out a motion that had been tabled to sanction new nomination fees to be paid by aspirants vying for various elective positions in government.
Deputy Minister of Justice Arrow Bockarie had tabled the statutory instrument in parliament on 19 September on behalf of the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
But the bi-partisan parliament has put paid to the move, initiated by the current head of NEC, Nfa Allie Conteh, on grounds that the document had irregularities that need to be amended.
Hon Ansumana Jaiah Kaikai, who had tabled a motion for members to discuss the proposed new nomination fees, withdrew his motion this week.
The opposition lawmaker said in the Well of Parliament that, “I will like this House to note that whatever motion that is under my name be deleted because I do not have the legal status as stated in the Standing Orders of the house.”
Ruling party lawmaker, Hon. Alhassan Kamara of Constituency 96, said the Instrument “is not properly before the House and that it should be thrown out of Parliament because it lacks memorandum of objects and reasons,” adding that “it also fails to provide nomination fee for Paramount Chief Members of Parliament, who are separate and different from Ordinary Members of Parliament”.
But opposition lawmakers contended that since the Instrument provides for “parliamentarians”, it “is implicitly true for Paramount Chief Members of Parliament because they share the same Chamber and also receive the same salaries and allowances in Parliament”.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Chernoh R.M Bah, sided with those who argued that NEC should have included Paramount Chief Members of Parliament before tabling it in parliament for approval.
Having listened to both sides of the aisle, Speaker Sheku BB Dumbuya noted that: “Statutory Instrument No. 115 of 2017 was not properly before the House, because it lacks memorandum of objects and reasons and also fails to include nomination fee for Paramount Chief Members of Parliament”.
This rejection by parliament could well undermine efforts by the current NEC boss, after consultations with political parties, to halve nomination fees imposed by his predecessor in 2012.
But for the intervention of the government, many smaller parties threatened to boycott the 2012 polls when the then NEC boss forced through the exorbitant increase in fees, with the backing of parliament.
If the new nomination fees are approved by parliament ahead of the March 2018 polls, aspirants for president would pay Le30 million instead of Le100 million, while those vying for parliament would part with only pay Le3 million, significantly lower than the asking fee of Le25 million in 2012.
Also, aspirants for chairman/mayor of local councils would be paying Le1.5 million and not Le5 million, while nomination fee for councilors would be pegged at Le500,000 and not Le2 million.