PONDER MY THOUGHTS
ELECTIONS:”ROAD TO DAMASCUS MOMENT” FOR PARLIAMENTARIANS
It is good to see the top brass at parliament being so insistent on constitutionality- and they all seem to be of one accord. The unfortunate whipping boys of their ire?-NEC and the Attorney General’s office. Our new “guardians of the constitution” chose a very topical issue-the elections and drew a red line (in this case a green line as well!) beyond which they could not allow both errant institutions to cross.
According to the “unified” Parliament whose members seemed to be singing from the same hymn sheet, NEC had no right continuing with the election registration process when they knew they had not fulfilled their required obligations to Parliament. It has been an interesting debate and civil society, probably smelling something fishy from the parliamentarians who they have often suspected in being complicit in bastardizing the constitution and not engaging in lengthy informed discourse of legislative issues was understandably restive. All the same it would appear that this time Parliamentarians were on terra firma.
The “errant” institutions were called in. First the Chief Electoral Commissioner came in for some tongue lashing. Then the Deputy Attorney General was called in and later the Attorney General himself. NEC in its defense said that it had as far back as November of last year laid on the AG’s table its proposal for delimitation alterations but the AG’s office had sat on it for nearly 6 months, only bringing it to parliament on 16th March after registration was well underway. The view of the Attorney General that he could not have come with the two instruments in January because the census results were still provisional and that when eventually the President made a proclamation on the census it was already February was discounted.
Whilst the AG was treated with kid’s gloves the NEC boss fared worse. Prior to his ruling, the speaker of Parliament had accused him of “procedural and constitutional breaches”. An APC Member of Parliament for Constituency 96, Hon. Alhassan Kamara representing Calaba Town called for the NEC boss to resign because of “incompetence”.
At first it seemed like the whole spate of events had been stage managed with the intention of stopping the registration process and putting the election date in doubt. Concerns were raised about the boundary delimitation process and the redistricting. These had not been ratified by Parliament was in contravention of the constitution, the MPs claimed. Civil society was restive and they made sure they turned up in parliament in their numbers. They went on the air and put out press releases, Social media was in overdrive and there was general suspicion of the MPs’ motives. If this was a carefully planned ploy to throw the election date into confusion and in effect bring about “more time”, it soon became apparent to the MPs that they may face a lynching mob should they try anything untoward. The “reasonableness” of the MPs came into play- they would not do anything to stop the registration process nor would they encourage changing the election date but the law had to be followed. Finally every one breathed a sigh of relief-at least for now.
The MPs finally voted unanimously for the withdrawal of two statutory instruments that were deemed to have not been properly laid before the House of parliament. Members of Parliament through the Speaker requested the Attorney General to go and hold consultation with NEC to see how best they can address the issues relating to the Constitutional Instrument No 43, which deals with Ward Boundary Delimitation and Statutory Instrument No 46, which deals with Constituency Boundary Delimitation. Parliament claims both instruments were not properly laid before the House.
It would appear that at least for now the election date is sacrosanct. How Parliament will handle the two issues of ward boundary delimitation and constituency boundary delimitation remains to be seen but no doubt they will find a way out without contravening their “sacred constitution”. Civil society meanwhile prowls around waiting for any suspicious signs from our new “guardians of the constitution”.
On another issues the House Speaker showed his respect for fairness and the rule of law by supporting the ouster of the erstwhile majority leader Ibrahim Bundu: “Because the Leader of the House, Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business has expressed his intention to vie as a Presidential candidate in the forth coming elections, and he holds the position of Leader of the House, the Leader of the House is not only for the APC but of the entire House. There will be no more confidence in him as to his being fair and just to the House since he is now a Presidential candidate,” he said.“I’m therefore under instructions by the Leader and Chairman to relieve him of the position….”.
“What are” going on?, as Vamboi would say-the speaker calling for fairness and claiming this house is not an APC House? I hope our SLPP MPs heard this and made it register in their heads!
Anyway all is well that ends well. Now that out new “guardians of the constitution” are ready to guard it jealously one year to the end of their term, there are a few things they could still do to burnish their newly earned credentials. Let me suggest a few.
1.Ask the Executive, what plans there are for the referendum after having spent so much time and resources on the Constitutional review process
2. Hone in on how we are going to fund the electoral process so it does not get stifled at any stage?
3. Follow up on all outstanding issues raised in Audit reports in concert the relevant Parliamentary oversight committee and the ACC.
4. Carefully review all new bills to ensure that their provisions are in the wider interest of Sierra Leoneans.
It will obviously be impertinent of me to ask too many questions especially when our Parliamentarians have undergone such a wonderful conversion. We know that Saul changed his name to Paul and eventually became a pivotal figure in the Christian Church, “fighting the good fight”. Questions I am dying to ask though is, which central powerful force, like happened to Paul forced this conversion? Will the conversion like Paul’s last forever through the life of this Parliament? Will there not be another “little constitutional issue” that may threaten to derail the electoral process? I can only urge our new “guardians of the constitution” (green and red armies)to continue with the good fight, keep the faith and win the race for Sierra Leone. Congratulations to our Parliamentarians for their conversion o the road to Damascus!
The case of the reluctant candidate
I haven’t of late been hearing the name of Mines Minister Minkailu Mansaray in relation to the APC ticket. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when a sales pitch was made for him in one of the papers. I will quote verbatim, so the author is not misunderstood:
“The (APC) is presently full of aspiring flagship members to succeed President Koroma, but sadly from the continuous calls from the general membership to get Hon. Minkailu Mansaray throw his heart into the ring. ….In fact, many are saying almost all of the people currently eying the highest seat of the land within the party severely lack some of the most significant leadership qualities, such as integrity, generosity and accountability… Hence the reason the majority of the ordinary people now backed by most stakeholders within the party and beyond are asking Hon. Minkailu Mansaray to show his interest in the APC flagship ………… As a result, generativeness remains low, wages remains low, unemployment remains endemic, and the ability to keep the economy going on positive for a very long time remains elusive. In this way even if Sierra Leone is ascending, it’s not transmuting. It’s not becoming larger and stronger economically to deliver its social service deliveries for the good of its people with depth. But we know what that requires, and this is why the APC need a successor to President Koroma like Hon. Minkailu Mansaray.”
What a sales pitch! Only Salone Donald Trump of the PDP can better this as his own policies are so clear especially when he wants to send us men fishing while he is in the blue house with the ladies-Fatmata and Asma-are you there?
Keep this news away from the Kpa Mendes
I have seen the look of disappointment from my Kpa Mende brethren when they could not get a goat to celebrate one event or another-and they have many, especially when you are a “Lawa”. A friend lamented to me that goats were getting scarce in Kpa Mende land. I was therefore surprised that of all the places they could send goats in their numbers, Kor Mende land was chosen over Kpa Mende land. Thanks to Awoko for this story.
“As a way of discouraging members of the Gender Model Families (GMFs) along the Gola Forest area from eating bush meat, the Social Enterprise Development Sierra Leone (SEND) has provided 400 goats to farm families. Each GMF received a pair of goats (a male and a female). The Distribution exercise took place at the Chiefdom headquarter town of Nomo Chiefdom, Faama Town. The purpose of the distribution is to discourage the GMFs from eating bush meats or dead animals, which has the tendency of causing or spreading deadly virus transmissions…..According to the Nurse-In-Charge at the Peripheral Health Unit (PHU) in Nomo Chiefdom, the distribution exercise will immensely contribute towards the prevention of the three hemorrhagic fever in that part of the country…..The farm families who received the goats pledged avoid eating bush meat and to take good care of their goats.The project is funded by Welthungerhilfe (WHH) through SEND Sierra Leone, GMFs from five Chiefdoms, Malema in Kailahun district, Koya, Nomo, Guara and Tunkia Chiefdoms from Kenema Chiefdoms.
What a laudable project and please keep the news away from any Kpa Mendes you may know. We do not want an invasion of Kor Mendeland-at least not before the elections!
Just when you thought there would be no way the registration system would be used for personal gain we are now receiving news of rogue elements using the system to their own ends. I do not know if the accusation about a rogue registering people in a room at night in Hill station is true but if it is it must be swiftly stamped out. There is also the story that people are selling their space in the registration line for money. They line up very early outside the booths and take their numbers. They then disappear and sell the prime space to “lazy” buyers who don’t want to wait for long. Well.. “man live by man”!
Ponder my thoughts