The woman minister explained to journalists that she was fortunate to be purview to some secret documents bearing a minute of a meeting by seven top disabled commissioners where arrangements for disbursement of the above money were concluded.
Minister Blyden said the documents revealed that the commissioner at the meeting agreed to allocate 70% of the budget to administration and 30% to disabled programs, which according to her, out rightly contravenes the Disabled Act which demanded that 70% of the budget must be allocated to programs and 30% to administration.
Furthermore, the minister said the same documents exposed the Commissioners of agreeing to pay the sum of Two Hundred Million Leones (Le200,000,000) as rent for a bungalow situated at Tengbe town in Freetown. The minister believed that such a bungalow does not worth the said amount as claimed by the Commission.
Also, she said the Commission has also claimed to spend a whopping sum of Le85,540,000.00 on vehicle and generator engine oil and lubricants, Le17,160,000.00 on local travelling, Le45,110.00 on foreign travelling, Le27,600.000.00 on stipend for volunteers, Le82,500,000.00 on capital expenditure, Le15,000,000.00 on rent for northern region office, Le15,720,000.00 on generator running cost, Le27,000,000.00 on vehicles repairs and maintenance, Le9,000,000.00 on legal retainer, Le12,600,000.00 on security personnel cost, Le128,740,000.00 on top-up cards and other communications, Le137,900,000.00 on miscellaneous operational expenses, Le244,630,000.00 on outreach and advocacy and Le322,330,000.00 on total cost for activities respectively.
The leaked documents according to the minister have it that the Commission claimed to spend Le763,870,000.00 on administrative cost and Le322,330,000.00 on activities which she said contravenes the purpose for which the budget was allocated for.
It can be recalled that Sierra Leoneans on Tuesday 24th October 2017, saw disable citizens, especially from the grassroots level but also including several university graduates, come out in grand style to support Hon. Minister of Social Welfare, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden for her firm stance against a Commission which was set up six years ago to look into welfare of Disabled persons.
Whilst the Disabled were rallying their support for the Minister, they were, according to the organizers, also protesting as a direct reaction to what they term as “the totally failed and unaccountable Disability Commission” who got less than fifty (50) hired people to protest to President Koroma’s convoy on Monday, 23rd October 2017.
Meanwhile, during their massive counter protest in front of State Avenue, hundreds of real disabled were under the pouring rain at Cotton Tree waiting patiently with their banners and placards whilst waving to President Koroma and Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh.
On the President’s arrival, he sent an envoy from State House to plead with the Disable persons to go to the Ministry of Social Welfare, where they would be addressed by Honourable Dr. Blyden, and directed by His Excellency President Koroma.
Upon being informed of this message, the humble Minister Blyden sent to tell the Disabled Persons that they should not strain themselves to move all the way to her offices but that she will instead go and meet them at the 15 ECOWAS Street headquarters of the organisers.
Arriving at ECOWAS Street to very loud cheers from hundreds of Disables, Hon. Blyden assured the Disabled Citizens that “those who pretended to be representing on Monday are just charlatans” adding that infact, she can categorically state that “Those charlatans were never given audience by His Excellency President Koroma at State House contrary to their lies broadcast on the media.” She maintained her position not to sign to release any funds to a malfunctioning Commission but assured that changes were on the way to ensure the interests of Disabled citizens were served by the Commission. To loud cheers, she assured that she will always work in the interest of disable persons across the country.
Many Disabled Persons at the scene recounted the excellent service which Minister Blyden has rendered to Disabled from even before she was appointed Minister. This is why they said they were very furious at the “nonsense and insults for the Minister”.
The poignant ending words of the Minister were as follows: “Lack of Transparency, Non-Accountability and Corruption caused Civil War to erupt in 1991. The Civil War caused Alhaji Lamin Jusu Jaka to lose his two hands to drugs-crazed rebel fighters. President Koroma formed the Disability Commission to pay special attention to welfare of people like Alhaji Jusu Jaka. If Government allows that same Disability Commission to now go on a path of Non-Accountability, Total Lack of Transparency and Corruption, then we are helping to set the stage for another Civil War! Not on our watch! In the name of all those who died during the Civil War and in the name of the War Victims who are now Disable, I have vowed to ensure the Disability Commission is forced to be accountable and transparent or the State changes all of them and bring new faces who can be accountable and transparent in service to our suffering people!”