By Joseph Fomolu
Members of Parliament (MP) are honorable members expected to be role models of our future leaders. MPs are supposed to exhibit good character and good representation. To be honorable means to be honest, direct, downright, sincere, trustworthy, tec. That is, an MP must not defraud or cheat, nor be deceptive or fraudulent.
An MP must be honest, just, noble, reputable, revered, etc. That is why he/she must behave honorably. They are the direct representatives of their constituents. The role of an MP is crucial to the governance structure of any country. Their role has been important since Plato and Aristotle’s time of propounding democracy.
One of the basic tenets of a democracy is to hold regular and periodic election; election to elect the representatives of the people. These representatives must come from among the people.
Democracy itself is government by the people, for the people and of the people. In short, it means government and its elected representatives.
In Sierra Leone we call these representatives Members of Parliament. The responsibilities of these representatives according to Section 97 a and b) of the 1991 Constitution is; All Members of Parliament shall maintain the dignity and image of Parliament both during the sittings in Parliament as well as in their acts and activities outside Parliament.
b) All Members of Parliament shall regard themselves as REPRESENTATIVES of the people of Sierra Leone and desist from any conduct by which they seek improperly to enrich themselves or alienate themselves from the people.
In Sierra Leone, parliamentary elections have been held even before the country gained independence on 27 April 1961. Those who were elected worked in the interest of the people of Sierra Leone who elected them. They ensured that the people got good roads, food, shelter, quality education. They ensured that the people got 24 hours electricity especially in Freetown and in all district headquarter towns.
They sacrificed their time, energy and resources to represent the people in their best interests. The laws they passed were all in the interests of their electors. They did not pass laws that were in the interests of Prime Minister, Sir Milton Margai and his colleagues as it seems to be done today when parliamentarians pass laws in either their own interests or in the interest of the president of Sierra Leone.
The style of representation of the Members of Parliament was to work diligently for the people of Sierra Leone. They showed themselves as patriots of Sierra Leone. They feared God. They did not enrich themselves. In fact, their main aim was to remove their people from the claws of colonial administration and chart for them the way to positive development.
That is why they left good legacies for the children of Sierra Leone that are worthy to emulate. They entrusted virtues and other moral values in the people of Sierra Leone. They lived as exemplary leaders worthy of emulation.
However, it seems that the Members of Parliament in Sierra Leone today are interested more in themselves than in the interest of those that they were sent to represent. It is for this kind of attitude of our parliamentarians that Sierra Leoneans are yearning for good electricity supply, quality education, good roads, food self-sufficiency, affordable health service and housing for all Sierra Leoneans as it is done in Europe, America, some parts of Asia and Australia.
For instance, in Brazil, USA, Europe and South Korea, the parliamentarians have demonstrated that they are the real representative of the people who elected them. They never allowed their presidents to influence their legislative powers.
The Members of Parliament, House of Commons or Senate, are servants of the people. Every law or bill they pass is geared towards the interests and positive development of their respective countries.
Nevertheless, it seems our MPs who walked out of parliament recently during State Opening of Sierra Leone’s Parliament while the National Anthem was going on, are no longer prepared to be called ‘honorables.’
Their walkout was a demonstration of not only contempt for the people who sent them to represent them but contempt for the country and contempt for President Julius Maada Bio.
Those MPs behaved dishonorably. They should not have walked out if they actually went to parliament to represent people and not their respective egos. Their behavior was not an honorable course of action.
Being an MP is a privilege; not a right. A privileged position must be exercised with respect. Whatever grievance they have for President Julius Maada Bio and his Government must not be displayed at the well of parliament during such an auspicious occasion.
The APC MPs who walked out of Parliament may have a flimsy excuse/s for staging such a naive behavior if they are jittery of the petition against some of their members or if they are jittery of the Commission of Inquiry (COI).
If an MP who is supposed to behave honorably behaves dishonorably, then he is not fit to be called HONOURABLE. The COI is to ensure accountability and transparency which every leader in Sierra Leone has been paying lip service to. President Julius Maada Bio wants to bring sanity into the country by ensuring that tax payers’ money both within and outside are used in a fiscal manner.
Also, petitions have been held in Sierra Leone after elections even during the infamous one-party system of Government. The murder of a key witness in an election petition case led to the notorious ndoigboiswui in Pujehun District because the brothers of the murdered man sought to avenge his slaughter.
If these MPs who walked out of parliament are indeed honorable and stand for the truth, why behave dishonorably when they know it is neither witch hunt nor today that election cases have been held in Sierra Leone?
Walking out of parliament when the national anthem was on is a big crime. If these MPs know that they are not guilty of corruption neither are they not jittery of the election petition filed against them, let them behave as honorable MPs.
They should be role models; not the reverse. These Members of Parliament must be passing bills or laws that are geared towards ensuring genuine quality education, affordable health and housing, good roads, reduced cost of living, affordable and accessible food security, equal justice, etc. Are they in parliament for themselves or for the people?
How representative are they to the people of Sierra Leone who elected them? What legacy will their tenure leave? What will they tell their children as Members of Parliament of the USA, Brazil, India, Europe, Australia, etc, have done?