By Ragan M. Conteh
The Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Hon. Mohamed Sidi Tunis, recently informed Members in Parliament that, in order to capacitate them to go and provide leadership to their various constituencies, 30 liters of fuel would be made available to each MP.
According to him, that would enable them reach out to their constituency in order to sensitize their constituents on the preventive measures of the dreadful Coronavirus pandemic.
The Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass Bundu, first made this disclosure on Thursday 26th March, 2020 during the recently concluded extensive debate in the House on the declaration of the State of Emergency by the President, Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio.
According to the Speaker, this time round, it is not about money but about MPs complementing government’s efforts in its fight against preventing COVID-19 from entering into Sierra Leone.
Dr. Abass Bundu further informed MPs that, looking at the nature and spread of the dreadful Coronavirus across the continents, Parliament was going to go on a break for a period of fourteen days, which, he said, would allow parliamentarians to go to their respective constituencies to provide leadership and create awareness raising campaigns on the dangers that go with COVID-19 and the need to prevent it from entering into the country.
He informed members, in the House, that COVID-19 is currently ravaging countries in the world with better and sophisticated healthcare systems, adding that Sierra Leone is more or less powerless to curtail such contagious virus; the reason, he said, MPs should endeavor to provide leadership in their various constituencies to prevent it.
On his part, the Leader of the Coalition for Change (C4C) in Parliament, Hon. Emerson Lamina, said, “We cannot wait to be caught pants down as it was during the Ebola crisis.”
According to Hon. Lamina, social distancing and the avoidance of public gatherings are among basic measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) Member of Parliament, who doubles as the President of the Female Caucus in Parliament, Hon. Veronica Kadie Sesay, pointed out that, considering the mileage to cover to reach her constituency, the proposed 30 liters, she said, is not even half the amount involved in undertaking the trip for the intended assignment.
However, she said, because of the nature of the pandemic that is ravaging globally, MPs are left with no other alternative but to sacrifice their meager resources to reach out to their people and sensitize them on measures put in place by the government to prevent the spread of the virus in the country.
“Nobody should trivialize such enemy of progress in the world,” she admonished colleague MPs, while educating them on the devastating consequences of the pandemic in the world.
She concluded by commending the President for taking the fight to COVID-19 rather than the reverse.
Meanwhile, a good number of MPs described the statement by the Leader of Government Business, regarding the provision of 30 liters of fuel, as “provocation.”
Many argued that the past regime of the former President Ernest Bai Koroma provided MPs with over Le63 million to provide leadership in their various jurisdictions.
Nevertheless, they resolved that, amidst such provocation, they would, on their own volition, use their meager resources to reach out to their constituents to sensitize them on dangers of the raging COVID-19.