“Hon. Speakers, colleague MPs, distinguished guests, Sierra Leone, traditionally is a very friendly and peaceful country, you are all welcome, and consider it as being home-away-from-home,” Honorable Chernor Maju Bah, Leader of Sierra Leone Parliamentary Delegation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament who also doubles as the Parliamentary Caucus Leader of the main opposition, All Peoples Congress (APC) party in the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone, remarked in his welcome statement to Members of the Fifth Legislature during the opening of the Parliamentary Seminar and First Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament for the 2021 legislative year.
The ECOWAS Parliament is in Freetown for twin purposes of a seminar on, “Involvement of Members of the ECOWAS Parliament in the Monitoring and Implementation of the Protocol relating to the Community Levy,” and, the holding of the First Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament for the year 2021.
Hon. Bah’s assurance on the peace of Sierra Leone and hospitality of Sierra Leoneans to the dignitaries of the ECOWAS Parliament’s delegation was hinged on the reality that Sierra Leone was once notorious for diseases, civil strife and political instability.
Hon. Bah however told ECOWAS Members of Parliament (EMPs) and other invitees: “ Our country has over the past few years experienced some upheavals, such as a brutal civil war, deadly Ebola pandemic and now COVID-19, but this has not made Sierra Leoneans lost their genial and friendly disposition.”
The main opposition APC Party Parliamentary Leader, Hon. Bah told the dignitaries and invitees that: “ my colleague Sierra Leonean MPs and I have been eagerly looking forward to this day,” adding that immediately after the inauguration of the Fifth Legislature and the election of H.E. Hon Sidi Mohamed Tunis in Niamey, Republic Niger, in March 2021, they started to prepare to welcome the dignitaries to the first major activity of the Parliament outside of Abuja.
He however, thanked MEPs “ for unanimously electing our brother, colleague, and our able representative, Hon. Sidi Tunis, as the Speaker of the Fifth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament.”
Hon. Bah disclosed that the plan to host the ECOWAS Parliament delegation in Sierra Leone was disrupted by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding, “All the same, we must thank Allah that we have survived and are able to gather here today for the opening ceremony of the first major face-to-face activity of the Fifth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament.”
Hon. Bah nonetheless reechoed that: “Sierra Leone traditionally is a very friendly and peaceful country, you are all welcome, and consider it as being home-away-from-home. Your journey coming to Freetown might have been a little bit tiring, but you will agree with me that it is a unique experience, as it is one of the few cities that you can reach by using all three modes of transportation, road, air, and sea.”
He concluded his welcome statement by underscoring that: “I implore you to take maximum advantage of this peaceful, nice, and welcoming generosity of Sierra Leone and its people. The streets are safe, people are welcoming and accommodating, so don’t confine yourself to your hotels and meeting halls only, go out and enjoy the hospitality of Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans.”
Meanhwile, the conclusion (23rd-25th March, 2021) of the seminar on Community Levy is to be followed by the holding of the First Extraordinary Session which is to run from the 29th to 1st April 2021 at the Freetown’s International Conference Center, Bintumani Hotel, Aberdeen, Western Area Urban, Freetown, Sierra Leone.
By Melvin Tejan Mansaray