The Fourth Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone, which was opened by the President on May 18, 2021, came to a close yesterday, May 9.
President Bio will today open the final session of the 5th Parliament, running up to elections in 2023.
Concord Times spoke with some of the Members of Parliament who have served for almost four years.
All People's Congress (APC), Hon. Abdul Latif Sesay of Constituency 75, Port Loko District, described the fourth session as an interesting session, stating that the kind of tension that characterised the first, second and third sessions has reduced because there has been some amount of consultations by the ruling government.
He said even though consultation was not done in all situations, but that it was getting better as at now.
He said the Speaker of Parliament was a bit objective during the fourth session as compared to the first and second sessions in which he manifested biasness due to the political lens he put on.
He said in the fourth session, there was a lot of interference from the Executive arm, stating that at times when bills were brought to Parliament, presenters would lie that the bill came from the Office of the President.
"They should allow us to do our job as an independent arm of government wherein we should be able to scrutinize and sanitize any bill that comes to us before passing it into law and stand the
test of time. It is but fitting that after a bill had been brought to parliament, we have to read it and explain to our constituents for their input which has been challenging for us because of the interference from the Executive or the office of the President. We need more time to be considered in the next session," he said.
He claimed that Speaker would abruptly convey a sitting against the will of MPs just because the Executive wanted a bill to be enacted.
"We know we are the people's representatives and we will come whenever duty calls us, but they should not take advantage of the situation," he stated.
He charged that the leadership of Parliament was not in control of certain things happening in the Well, citing the ongoing renovation of the whole House.
He said they observed that the leadership never raised objection on the work done by the contractor,claiming that they knew nothing.
He claimed that the leadership didn't set eyes on the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the work, adding that MPs were willing to work but their welfare was not attended.
He also revealed that the computers that were installed on the desk of each MP's table to aid them with research whenever they want to debate have been malfunctioning with repairs done on them.
He called on the IT specialists to fix the computers before the next session and make it functional.
He noted that they would be hoping for the best in the final session of the Fifth Parliament and urged that justice be done to the people.
He also reaffirmed that as opposition, things will not be the same as they will resist anything that would not of benefit to the people, but will support those that need to be given supported.
Independent Member of Parliament, Hon. Quinton Salia-Konneh, said his experience has been a good one because he had learnt a lot as a first time MP , especially taking into consideration his participation and experience as compared to when they came in initially.
He said the first to the third sessions were very difficult especially in the area of learning from few old colleagues that have been in the house.
He narrated that the first and second sessions of parliament started in a wrong footing, wherein a lot of fighting took place between the ruling and opposition parties, citing the controversial election of the Speaker, the walk-out and non- participation in debates of the main opposition party.
He said initially things were so sluggish and uneasy with a total lack of objectivity when debating, but that the situation gradually changed after they went to Bo wherein everyone was given the opportunity to explain what was affecting the smooth running of parliament.
He said he was able to be among the leadership together with different political parties to address the issues.
"The experience was so great. This Parliament has made me to learn a lot and I am no longer the person that first came here. I believe that there is no parliament that has a perfect situation and our own parliament have a better situation than most African Parliament that I have seen. I have not seen MPs climbing atop of chairs to hit one another as compared to the South African and Uganda Parliaments. I believe that the ruling party would not just accept the opposition even when they are wrong and so would the opposition not accept things that the rulings think are right," he said.
He cited the lack of consultation on critical issues as one of the key issues highlighted by the opposition, adding that they later agreed that engagement should be enhanced and that since they signed the 'Bo declaration there was massive improvement.
He explained further that even the current leader of the ruling party, Hon. Mathew Nyuma, also worked in line with the dictate of the declaration.
Hon. Salia-Konneh said they have so many unaccomplished documents that needed ratification and enactment, and that it high time they
minimized on the intakes of incoming bills and focus on how to enact the ones they already have. He urged that in the fifth session, they should look into bills and agreements that were already in the shelves.
Also, Sierra Leone People's Party, Hon. John Telson Koroma of Constituency 127, said Parliament is a learning environment, adding that it has been a smooth ride with all the rules and regulations guiding their debates.
He added that, if given another chance by their constituents they would stand a better chance to represent them anywhere in the world.
"I am hoping that in the next session, Sierra Leoneans should think as Sierra Leoneans. We should be able to see the country as the only nation that we have. We should be able to consider and accept the fact that when you are in opposition, you are not out and when you are in the ruling, it doesn't necessarily means you will get things right but we should make a way to act right and put things together as citizens of this country," he said.
He also urged that all the pending bills and agreements be processed before the closure of the fifth parliament.
On his part, Leader of the Coalition for Change, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina, described the fourth session as sweet as they have enacted good laws like the repeal of part five of the Public Order Act, the enactment of Independent Media Commission Act and the repeal of the treason law.