Wanted: A robust Speaker

22 September 2007 at 20:10 | 1227 views

By Osman Benk Sankoh.

After their recent elections victory, comes the arduous task of working
in their various departments in moving the nation forward.

President Koroma may be busy scratching his head in putting together a
team of appointees that are expected to serve judiciously in his
cabinet, his compatriots in the legislative arm of government will
have the responsibility of electing from among themselves or from
outside, one who has the qualifications and competence to serve among
other capacities, as Speaker of Parliament .

Such task, apart from familiarizing themselves with their immediate
surroundings at Tower Hill will be the first major preoccupation for our
mostly new brand of parliamentarians. The guiding principle they will
however have to use as a road map as they cast their vote shall be
Section 71 (1) of the 1991 Constitution which states : “

The speaker of
parliament shall be elected by the Members of Parliament from among
persons who are Members of Parliament or are qualified to be elected
as such and who are qualified to be appointed Judges of the Superior
Court of Judicature or have held such office.”

From my layman’s point of view , it goes without saying therefore ,
that in as much as such holder of that position shall be of legal mind
and owing to the fact that the APC that commands the majority of seats
in parliament has at least four known legal luminaries in its fold,
they could as well go in for an outsider , I mean a sitting judge or
somebody who has served in that capacity

As our Honourable parliamentarians decide within their minds who among
the APC parliamentarians at least that should be considered before
thinking about those from outside, they must be clearly guided, and they
should have in their minds’ eye that such an office is a very prominent
one that is subordinate only to that of the President and his or her

Though there have been precedents of outsiders elected into that office
as in the case of ex -Hon Edmond Cowan, a close look at the APC list in
parliament will leave you with the names of at least, lawyers Serry
Kamal, Osho Williams, Chukuma Johnson and Eddie Turay .All of these have
been outstanding lawyers of repute and have also served the APC
assiduously and it is widely believed that they have the requisite
qualifications to even serve as Judges. However, since the seat is only
meant for one person, I am tempted to look at the qualities and
qualifications of the latter, Eddie Turay not that I want to be
judgmental against the others or that he is of a higher pedestal than
his colleagues, but his sacrifices for the eventual rebirth of the APC
speaks volumes and thus, my belief in him to provide leadership in that

Eddie, just like Victor Foh, is true blood APC and it was he, in 1996,
when the APC was considered to be an Ebola virus that sacrificed himself
and got the party five percent of the seats in parliament. This came in
the wake of the APC been booted out of power by the then NPRC junta,
his house completely razed to the ground and made six involuntary
expeditions to Pademba Road prisons.
Granted that he was considered to be among the rebels against Koroma but
he had never abandoned the course. He didn’t allow personal interest to
cloud his desire for an overall APC victory.

Despite all the internal
wrangling at FBC in 2002, it was him who was more than vociferous and
calling on all assembled at the Amphitheatre (where they had gone to
campaign) to vote the then Insurance broker into office. His call came
after they walked out of the APC convention that later, overwhelmingly
elected Koroma as the party’s flag bearer.
The above aside, Turay has an abundance of experience when it comes to
affairs that borders on parliamentary procedures. Apart from the fact
that he started practicing as a lawyer since 1976, Turay entered
parliament first in 1986 and was also a member of the previous two
parliaments. This indeed puts him in good stead to claim a gold medal
for perhaps the longest serving MP in the new legislature.

Apart from
having headed the Defense and Presidential Committees for five years and
the legislative and judicial committees for over ten years, Turay has
the enviable record of also having served in Committees such as
Transport and Communications, Transparency, Standing Orders, and
Minerals. He was also at some point, co-opted into the Human Rights

Verily verily I say unto you, the position of Speaker in this new
dispensation, even if I were of legal mind and had the other
qualifications, is one that I don’t envy at all .The task at hand for
the holder of that office is great and the challenges, gigantic but with
experience, tact and wisdom, I am sure Eddie Turay has what it takes to
make a difference.

A Speaker must be one that can influence others and
win them over for the positive benefit of a nation. Hate him or like
him, Eddie has exhibited leadership tendencies and he is not known to be
a flip- flopper. He can also sacrifice his own personal conviction for
the general good of his party as was evident in them making peace with

Koroma, after series of court battles and as a united team, triumphantly
marched to capture State House albeit, this time, democratically .His
experience in also having participated in many landmark debates in the
House will come in handy if he is considered for the top job. This time,
we have a very young and not too experienced parliament and our dear
young men and women need to be guided as they start learning the art of
statecraft. Note that, Koroma himself started from there in 2002 and
must have benefited immensely from the knowledge and experience of old
hands in the House.
Without prompting their minds, our new parliamentarians should by now be
able to appreciate that the expectations of the man from Makama and the
woman from Gogberie are very high.

The APC is once again riding on an
all time high but this will soon become cosmetic if people realize that
they are not up to the task of delivering bread and butter issues.
This is where the new parliament needs to push legislation that may not
be popular to turn around the country in the short run, but would
reshape the country without having to wait much longer.

My honorable Members of Parliament, we need a Speaker with experience to
maintain the rules laid down by the House and to guide appropriately
whereby necessary when it comes to reforms. He or she must be able to
conduct debates in an orderly manner, he should also be able to protect
the rights of the minorities in the House and above all, the Speaker
must be impartial.

Think about this again, even before you think of getting someone from
outside, put the being, Eddie Turay into a microscope, look at the task
at hand, access the integrity of the person at hand, look at also the
personal sacrifices that person has made in getting this country and
indeed the APC to where it is today.

Now, everybody is singing , “ APC - back to power,” but let us just
imagine if they had dug in and refused to settle their differences out
of court , think again if Eddie Turay had not come out in 1996 to
lead a rising sun that had been eclipsed by first, the rude awakening
it got from the NPRC junta boys and later, clouded by the rays of the
palm-tree. Well, like all humans, Eddie could not be a perfect character
but at least, he has a lots of positives that all of us could benefit

And whatever it is, Eddie has earned his stripe, he has dearly paid his
dues and he is among those qualified for the position of Speaker.
I remember, then as a reporter with Concord Times doing an exclusive
interview with the religious Eddie in 2002 and at the tale end of the
interview , he responded thus when I asked him if it was true that we
were talking with the President in- waiting , “ it has already
manifested itself in the spiritual realm and all what I am waiting for
now is for it to manifest itself in the physical realm.”
His prayers then were never answered since his dream of becoming
President never manifested itself in the physical.

That does not however
mean his prayers were not heard by God then.
The question now is, can you at least take this other dream from the
spiritual to the physical? I believe with people like him at the helm ,
he may work assiduously to making sure that the crimes of the then APC
are not repeated reason being that he was part of that APC and he
saw how people reacted to their demise.