In his opening statement, the Leader of the CPA delegation, Hon. John Mann commended the Hon. Speaker and Members of Parliament in respect of the three days seminar aimed at creating an interactive training platform to learn from the tradition and experience of the UK and Sierra Leone Parliaments. He further urged MPs to take advantage of the training session as it was deliberately designed to help MPs, particularly the new ones, to become the real stars and experts they are aspiring towards in their political career. “If you wish to be the leader of tomorrow, we are here to assist you,” he said. Hon. Mann also added that their visit is not to show what MPs should do in the Sierra Leone Parliament, but to share ideas on how they could do their job well to promote national development.
The Chief Executive of CPA-UK, Jon Davies also commended Mr. Speaker for creating an open platform to meet with MPs from various political parties, reiterating that their visit is a post-election seminar for MPs to learn and share experience with each other.
Making his keynote address, Speaker of the Parliament of Sierra Leone, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu registered on behalf of the House his thanks and appreciation to the delegation, for organizing a unique post-election seminar to better educate new MPs on their roles in Parliament; agreeing that there is always room to learn from the experience of others. He enlightened the delegation on the composition of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic, underscoring that the All People’s Congress (APC) has the majority of sixty eight (68) seats out of one hundred and forty six (146). He added that the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has forty nine (49), Coalition for Change (C4C) has eight (8), National Grand Coalition (NGC) has four (4), three (3) Independent MPs, and fourteen (14) Paramount Chiefs. He further enlightened that the Fifth Parliament is blessed with 77% (113) of newly elected MPs, asserting that it is against this backdrop that it is apt to meet with and learn from Hon. Members of CPA-UK.
The Hon. Speaker shared the experience he recently learnt from the tradition of the UK Parliament, highlighting that he had learnt that time does not run when the British Parliament is on recess, prorogued or dissolved, and similarly so when the Court is on vocation in Sierra Leone. Dr. Bundu said that it was based on this educational research that he cautiously made his ruling on the establishment of the Commissions of Inquiry in the light of Constitutional Instruments Numbers 64 & 65 which were tabled in Parliament on the 02nd August 2018 by the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice; after which Parliament adjourned “sine die” to go into recess on the 03rd August 2018, “Since I made my ruling to the APC that the counting period of 21 days has not started yet with regards to the establishment of the Commissions of Inquiry, hinging on the fact that Parliament is on recess, with hopes to resume Parliamentary Sittings on the 02nd October 2018; I have not heard a single murmuring”. Thus, he encouraged all MPs to take advantage of the seminar with a view to enhancing the capacity and skills in and out of Parliament.
Hon. Justin Madder, a new Member of the British Parliament briefed MPs on the opportunities and challenges of being elected as a Member of Parliament for the first time.
The post-election seminar will look into several topics such as tools for effective parliamentary scrutiny, consensus building, giving voice to parliamentarians in terms of amendments, debate, parliamentary questions, motions, private members’ bills, Westminster style relating to chamber debate, the role of committees, among others.