By Sulaiman Juldeh Bah
Leaders of the three main political parties in parliament including Hon. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella of the NGC, Hon. Chernor Maju Bah of the APC and Hon. Sidi Mohamed Tunis of the ruling SLPP past Friday wrapped up presidential debate in parliament.
While Coalition for Change (C4C) party leader, Shar Emmerson Lamina was unavoidably absent in the well of parliament, NGC’s Yumkella urges colleague Parliamentarians give a back hand to politics for once, and now look at the bigger picture of what Sierra Leone is to be in terms of development.
He said legislators should not feel obligated to defend what is wrong in parliament, adding nonetheless that “for some of us, this is our first time in parliament and we must not be associated with bad laws enacted over the years.”
He highly praised President Bio for his renewed determination and vision in rolling out the free primary and secondary school education, but said it wasn’t anything new in Sierra Leone, that it was first introduced by late Pa Kabba.
He unequivocally urges the new government to do proper planning on the free education proposal to make it more effective and sustainable in the areas of implementation.
He disclosed his support for the new educational policy, but nevertheless stressed the need for president Bio’s government to fully take cognizant of the fact that 42% of the country’s population is below 18 years, majority of whom are within the school going age bracket.
He asked that government provides better schools and qualified teachers too.
In as much as the government has expressed its commitment in supporting free primary and secondary school education, Yumkella advised government not to neglect the tertiary education sector, which in his view, is in an advance stage of decadence, with students not staying on campus and that progress of students from one class to the other is characterized by sex for grades.
On his part, Leader of opposition APC, Hon. Chernor Maju Bah, with reference to the speech of President Bio during the State Opening of Parliament, recounted mainly the president’s promise of reviewing relevant sections dealing with the audit service, but maintained clearly that the Auditor General is a staff of parliament and not a member of the ACC and so must continue to be an officer of the legislative arm of government.
This, Hon. Chernor said, means that reports of the Auditor General have to be exclusively looked into by the Parliamentary Account Committee (PAC) and not necessarily the ACC.
He also warned against the painting of the country’s image in a bad light to score political goals, as well as stating that Sierra Leone needs peace and security for sectors such as Tourism, others to develop.
In that light, he urged for branding of the country in a positive likeness.
He agreed with the president in the areas of reviewing Sierra Leone’s 2009 Mines and Minerals Act, to enable it match up with international standards as in Africa’s Botswana.
Hon. Sidi Mohamed Tunis, Leader of Government Business said if the previous government had invested prudently into the energy sector, the current one should not have been concentrating on same.
That APC’s subjection of the general public to expensive electricity project is at all not anything sustainable though.
He spoke about the package of the new educational policy, which he said include free admission and tuition, feeding programme, supply of school furniture and learning materials, building of more schools and recruitment of trained and qualified teachers.
He assured all that by September this 2018, the Teachers’ Service Commission will be up and running and an Educational Ward Committee will be set up to monitor the implementation of the free education.