Sierra Leone has never had a president who listens and responds as well as H.E. Julius Maada Bio. If there has been a president who has been faithful to a manifesto pledge, it is the current president, H.E Julius Maada Bio, who has used his manifesto promise as a dressing mirror to remind him of what needs to be done.
Apart from keeping his pledges, the president keeps his ears to the ground and reacts to his constituents’ issues, whether they be individual or group concerns.
During H.E Julius Maada Bio’s presidency, the judiciary, journalists, medical officials, teachers, nurses, police, parliament, and the military all enjoyed unprecedented presidential attention in the form of wage increments (no matter how small). His zest to respond to citizens’ demands is second to none since independence.
However, the president’s proactive approach to fixing our problems appears to be causing more difficulties than it is solving. Unrealistic demands from some organizations have now pervaded the atmosphere. Most of them are motivated by political considerations rather than rational considerations.
1. A teacher who taught for 11 years is called a “ghost teacher” under the APC but has been approved and pin coded by this administration. For such a teacher to be asking for a 200% salary increment and making noise about it has no justification for such an attitude if not moved by politics.
2. A journalist who now receives a subvention from the government but cannot educate the citizens on the global economic trend but rather blames the government for the rise in fuel prices is an agent of the opposition. This list will go on unabated.
The worst to hit the airwaves is what our speaker of parliament now refers to as a “private motion bill”. The author and anybody in romance with such a parliamentary welfare act of 2022 is a professed enemy not only of this administration but of the state.
According to the Financial Year 2021 budget analysis, Sierra Leone’s total revenue was eight trillion and fourteen billion Leones (SLL 8.14tn) whilst the expenditure was ten trillion and twenty-six billion Leones (SLL 10.26tn), resulting in a deficit of two trillion and twelve billion Leones (SLL 2.12tn). With such figures, one could be tempted to state that 21% of the expenditures in FY2021 were funded either through the budgetary support of our development partners through grants or loans.
1. Will it make any sense to our development partners that we continue to increase our expenditure without proportionate revenue generation, and continue to ask them for budgetary support?
2. Do we ignore the cry of over 3000 teachers asking for improved welfare to attend to the astronomical demands of 132 people whose current salary is 10 times the teachers’ salary?
3. If the government should increase the salaries of over 3,000 teachers and consider the ambitious demands of our parliamentarians, what will Hon. Abdul Kargbo say about our wage bill?
4. How many members of parliament will even call town hall meetings to educate their people on the “Parliamentary welfare bill”?
5. Does the welfare of 132 citizens take precedence over 7 million other citizens?
This welfare bill for 132 people whose only constitutional qualification to be where they are is “if you can read and write” is so important that it needs the citizens’ approval. It would make sense if the government could demand that every MP take this bill to his constituency and get popular votes from his people. The bill takes the welfare of citizens and surrenders it to their MPs, so justice will be done if the people have a say in such an arrangement.
Without this, believe it or leave it, I see more chaos with this bill than a solution