In what appears to be an unprecedented twist in the drama over the 900% increase in salaries for the President his Vice and Cabinet Ministers as contained in a statutory instrument the Secretary and Principal Adviser to President Koroma yesterday tendered his resignation with profuse apologies as he accepted “full responsibility for the entire episode”
Speaking to the press Monday at State House, the Presidential Spokesman, Alpha Kanu on behalf of the President said, government was concerned about the issues and after lengthy meetings yesterday at State House, the Secretary to the President James S. Koroma resolved to resign his position because the events have led “to an embarrassment to” President Koroma.
In his letter of resignation read to the Media by the Spokesperson, Sanpha Koroma stated that the consent of the President on the issue “was conveyed to Parliament on a Statutory Instrument by one of my Principal assistants, which consent Your Excellency neither gave nor knew about”.
Secondly he wrote that, “an instruction for the payment of pension benefits to former President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, was sent to the Secretary to the Cabinet by another of my assistants without any instrument or authority to the effect”.
As a result Mr Sanpha Koroma stated that “under the circumstances it is only reasonable and in accord with international best practices for me, even though they both acted without my authority or instruction to the effect, to take full responsibility for their respective actions” and “accordingly I hereby tender my resignation from my appointment as your Secretary and Principal Adviser.”
A press release from State House later stated that “His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma views this action very seriously and has regrettably accepted the resignation of the Secretary to the President, Mr. James Sanpha Koroma, with immediate effect.”
Presidential Affairs Minister, Alpha Kanu further told journalists that as a government they are going to investigate the issue. “The resignation of the Secretary to the President is not the end of the matter” he said.
Finance Minister David Carew who was also present at the hurriedly convened press conference yesterday disclosed that, the salary of the president is not above $1,500 and that Ministers earn around Le 2.2m . He said, plans to raise the pay of civil servants will be looked into when the country is assured of a strong revenue generation drive.
The episode over the alleged plans to increase the salary of the President, his Vice and Ministers started when a statutory instrument titled: The State Salaries, pensions, gratuities and other benefits, 2003(Act No. 4 of 2003) was tabled in Parliament last Thursday along with the new drug laws.
Following press reports notably over the BBC focus on Africa programme the office of the President through the Presidential Affairs Minister Alpha Kanu and Information Minister I.B. Kargbo vehemently denounced the proposed salary increase claiming that the President had no knowledge of the Statutory Instrument and was not interested in a salary increase at this time.
This apparently led to crunch meetings at State house Monday morning which resulted in the President accepting the resignation of his Secretary and Principal Adviser. By John Baimba Sesay