Search light turned on Lawmakers

A Reporter does not make the news, he only reports the news, which is one of the guiding principles of Journalism.
Last week Tuesday June 3, 2014  our  Honourable Members of Parliament, our Law makers decided to make the news   when one of them turned the search light on themselves by  highlighting the  serious issue of MPs absenting themselves from Parliamentary sittings especially during debate of  important national issues in the well of the House.  The Parliamentary Reporters captured the event and widely published  it in most of the newspapers throughout the week.   This culminated on Friday June 6, 2014 with PREMIER NEWS, in addition to its front page lead news item headlined “House Leaders Dissatisfied with Conduct of Colleague MPs”, published a stinging Editorial comment,  “Boycotting Parliamentary Proceedings.” .

Guess what was being debated – “The Sierra Leone CORRECTIONAL (caps mine for emphasis)  Service Act 2014” .   What an appropriate AGENDA (item) FOR CHANGE.  Even the governing Political Party – All Peoples Congress (APC) official news organ WE YONE  carried the report on Friday June 6, 2014 with the headline “Minority Leader Blasts Colleagues” with her photograph, in order not to be left out and to highlight  the importance of the news item. .

What prompted me writing this article was the coincidental appearance by weekend on Friday June 6, 2014 of the Executive Director of the Attitudinal and Behavioral Change (ABC) Secretariat Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas on the breakfast programme “Good Morning Salone” (Sierra Leone) of FM 98.1, being invited by the Radio Station  to give an update of the work of the Secretariat which he heads.   His appearance coincided with our Lawmakers making the news throughout the week in most of our newspapers.

Throughout the programme Texters gave the ABC Executive Director a tough time although I must admit he excelled himself with his response to critical comments made about the perception of the Secretariat.   He was not evasive in most of his responses.   The first shot fired at the ABC Secretariat Executive Director by one texter was that he should start at the top of our society in implementing the terms of reference of the Secretariat, to demonstrate that indeed, “Example is better than Precepts.”   One texter put it simply from his own perception that to get citizens to CHANGE their negative ATTITUDES and bad BEHAVIOUR, LAWS MUST BE ENFORCED.

On Tuesday June 3, 2014, during the debate on the “The Sierra Leone Correctional Services Act 2014”, no less a person than the Minority Leader of Parliament Honourable Dr. Bernadette Lahai, who is gradually becoming the Iron Lady in our Legislature had the guts to observe on the floor of Parliament that some of the MPs the electorate voted to represent them in the Legislature, the supreme legislative body in the country, continuously absent themselves from Parliamentary sittings.

According to the Parliamentary Reporters of newspapers, the Lady mentioned that “some MPs go to Parliament, sign the register and abandon the precincts of the House to attend to their private affairs;  others usually sit in the canteen, while still others sit in the lobby of the House during Parliamentary deliberations.”  She reminded her colleagues that “they have been agitating for better conditions of service which the Government has honoured but that a good number of MPs have not been performing to the expectation of the people they are representing.”  She noted that “this is a dishonourable act by people that are supposed to act honourably”.   These observations speak volumes.

As the Editorial in PREMIER NEWS, one of the FEW newspapers, THE TORCHLIGHT included, which REGULARLY publishes Editorial comments on current topical issues, pointed out, “this is not the first time such a concern has been raised in Parliament.   Last year, the issue drew the attention of former Speaker of Parliament Justice Abel Stronge, who expressed displeasure at such a negative BEHAVIOUR (capitals mine) on the part of our Lawmakers.”

The Editorial continued, “Lawmakers should bear in mind that they are representing the interests of their constituents.   In this regard, they should see themselves as servants of the people, under whose mandate they should direct their affairs, and nothing short of that.   Absenting themselves at Parliamentary sittings implies that they are not operating in the interest of their constituents, and as such they are depriving them of the chance of having their voices being heard.   This tendency is not conducive to the growth and development of democracy in the country.

“Furthermore, their commitment to legislative proceedings is sacrosanct.   Our MPs must realize that their job of legislating is what should be seen as sacred, and as such that is what should be given primacy to.   Sierra Leoneans expect more from them, and it is on the basis of trust that they were voted for.   It is the people who gave them the legitimacy and license to such a privilege and exalted position.”   I could not agree more.

I often times ask myself how our MPs feel whenever SLBC, the National Broadcaster televised Parliamentary proceedings and they see the number of vacant seats in the well of Parliament allocated to MPs.

The Editorial in PREMIER NEWS concluded “Furthermore, Parliamentarians should also realize that 2018 is approaching, and that is the time when the people have the constitutional responsibility of determining the extent at which their MPs have managed the mandate given to them.”

The ABC Secretariat has a lot of work to do in the discharge of their functions and if they should be seen to be succeeding of in Changing the negative Attitudes and bad Behaviour of the citizens, the Secretariat should also target the top echelon of our Society

Posted by on 7:36 pm. Filed under Breaking News, IN THE COURTROOM, NEWS, OTHER NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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