Welcome to our new public officials
The House of Parliament last week Thursday approved the presidential nominees that were nominated by President Dr/ Ernest Bai Koroma on Sunday 13th March, 2016. Their nomination coincided with the sudden death of Hon. Amb. Patrick Foyah of Constituency 001 in Luawa Chiefdom, Kailahun District and the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Appointment and the Public Service was compelled to put the vetting of the nominees on hold until the late SLPP Member of Parliament was buried.
When the vetting process finally started in Parliament, many startling revelations were made about some ministerial nominees who lied about their academic qualifications. According to reports, some stated highfalutin academic qualifications in their resumes which they failed to produce before the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Appointment and the Public Service for lack of them. For example, the Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Bangura, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, and Deputy Minister of Defence, Hon. Captain (Rtd.) Abdulrahman Kamara, were exposed by the committee for laying claims to academic qualifications they do not have. They were however approved by Parliament despite many people had thought that they would not be approved for deliberately lying to the public whose offices they will be occupying.
Though I have no grouse against the presidential nominees who lied about their academic qualifications to the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Appointment and the Public Service, it is somehow worrying when someone nominated for a public office of trust starts misleading the public about their academic qualifications, knowing that it would be surely discovered through thorough investigations by the parliamentary committee that comprised crème-de-la-crème. If they have already lied to the public about their academic qualifications, what guarantee would they give to Sierra Leoneans that they would be up to their tasks when they assume office?
By and large, many Sierra Leoneans may not agree with the President for some of the people he nominated to public offices, but I believe he did it with all sincerity in the hope that they would move forward his administration in line with his Agenda for Prosperity. Some have branded the President’s nominations as partisan appointments but whatever the case; these are Sierra Leoneans who have been given the opportunity to serve their country and people. It is their inalienable right to serve their country and people and if the President has given them that opportunity, they should be very determined not to betray the confidence which the President has reposed in them because their failure would be very catastrophic for this nation.
I therefore welcome all the presidential nominees who have been approved by Parliament to work for the development of Mama Salone. As you assume office today, you should be very mindful of Governor Clarkson’s prayer for Sierra Leone and the oath you have taken to serve your country faithfully at all times. Those who would be assuming office with the determination to serve their country with dedication and resilience would certainly succeed and do the President proud, but those who would be going there to amass ill-gotten wealth would definitely be exposed and shamed.
Though the Koroma administration has excelled in many areas in terms of development, yet there are many other challenges which Government needs to tackle head-on given the devastating effect of the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) on our economy. The post-Ebola economic recovery programme is the most difficult challenge this administration is tackling and it is against the backdrop of successfully implementing the programme that the President thought it expedient to inject new life into his administration by appointing Sierra Leoneans he so trust to serve in his administration.
As they assume office today, they now have the golden opportunity to showcase their leadership abilities to justify their appointments by the President. There is no doubt that many of them have good track records in institutions they have served before and would be very determined to replicate their past exemplary performances. For example, hardly would anyone doubt the ability of the new Minister of Internal Affairs Major (Rtd.) Alfred Paolo Conteh to perform exemplarily as he has always done since he joined the Koroma administration in 2007. Not only did he stand tall as Minister of Defence from 2007 to 2014, his robust and resilience performance as Chief Executive Officer of the defunct National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) was also a success story.
As Minister of Internal Affairs, one of the immediate issues Major (Rtd.) Alfred Paolo Conteh should address is the use of commercial motorbikes (Okada) in the country and the countless number of accidents they cause everyday in the capital and the cities. Though the unemployment rate among the youths is very high, which may have encouraged them to take to Okada riding on commercial basis; commercial motorbikes are a real menace to society and there has to be the political will to put an end to the rampant accidents caused by them every day in Freetown and the provinces. If Paola Conteh would defeat a virus he could not see with the naked eyes, I am sure he would bring out the military and administrative discipline in him to deal with the situation if there is the political will.
May God the Almighty give our new Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Ambassadors and other appointed public officials the wisdom and understanding to serve their country to the best of their abilities for Sierra Leoneans to smile once again.
By Thomas Vandi Gbow
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