By Melvin Tejan-Mansaray
For months unending now, lecturers of one of the country’s public colleges, Njala University have grounded their services to students because of salary arrears among other issues with the government.
Against this backdrop, Hon. Bashiru Siliki, SLPP, Bo District Constituency 072 has restated his call on the House to look into the Njala University lecturers’ strike saga which is ‘still not settled.’
“This matter has still not been settled and Njala University has still not re-opened,” Hon. Bashiru noted.
He blamed Parliament for not meeting the expectation of the students and lecturers to resolve the matter adding that “up to this moment, we, (Parliament) have not intervened to see how we can settle that matter.”
“Mr. Speaker, Honorable Members, I have expected the Committee on Education to have met with the Ministry or the Njala University administration to see how best they can settle the matter between the Ministry and the University,” Hon. Siliki said.
He said that plight of the students is depriving to them having paid for tuition service that they have not been rendered by the University.
“We should take this matter very seriously as we have been hearing from the social media that the students have been demonstrating, approaching the administration and up to this moment Parliament, we have not intervene to see how we can settle that matter,” Hon. Bashiru lamented.
The MP said that the first semester is almost coming to an end and Njala is yet to open and expressed fear that it will be a violation of the Education Act, if the students cannot attend lectures for ninety days.
“I am urging the Education Committee in this Parliament to speedily look into the issue and report to this Parliament so that we can see our brothers and sisters and children resume classes. Most of them now are very idle,” he said, a point that the Speaker, Hon. S.B.B. Dumbuya said cannot be over-explained.
In response to the consistent notion being expressed by the opposition MP, Hon. Bashiru, Chairman Education Committee, Parliament of Sierra Leone who also doubles as Deputy Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business, Hon. Leonard S. Fofana, APC, Kenema District Constituency 015 said that the call of Hon. Bashiru Siliki is loud and clear and attempted to explain the role his Committee has been playing in the matter.
Hon. Leonard said: “We are not oblivious of the fact that the strike has taken a long time but the fact of the matter is that the Education Committee is working.
Just last week, the Minister of Education was in the provinces and he visited Njala. We hope the strike will be brought to an end very soon. We don’t need to be going to the housetops to start shouting but we are working assiduously to make sure that the strike ends. We are all concerned like you rightly said; we have children, we have grand children in that institution and above all we have voters. As a government, we are concerned that the college resumes operation very soon,” Education Committee Chairman, Hon. Fofana assured during the last plenary sitting of Parliament, held on 16th March 2017, Parliament Building, Tower Hill Freetown."