THE article by Elton Osiagalo carried in the Solomon Star issue #5954 dated Saturday 22nd August 2015 makes very interesting reading but unfortunately “lacks substance” and can only be summed up as “unconstructive and a classic example of one creating issues out of non-issues”.
However, I would like to thank him for exercising his right of expression.
After thoroughly studying the article by Mr Osiagalo, I could not make out even one single genuine reason to support his call for me to step down as Premier of Malaita province.
However, what is crystal clear from the article as far as I’m concerned is that Mr Osiagalo is a confused man and a loner.
His call for me to step down as Premier of Malaita province is baseless and therefore uncalled for in as far as my MART government is concerned.
If Mr Osiagalo thinks he can shoot down the people of Malaita province’s legitimate MART government with his unfounded accusations, then he better think again.
My MART government is intact and serious about the development of our beloved province Malaita.
As a friend on facebook Mr Liosulia Derique rightly puts it “how can he (Elton) divide a house that stands together?”
In his own state of confusion Mr Osiagalo went to some length accusing me and my MART government of breaking up the country of Solomon Islands with the declaration of the intention of Malaita to pursue a sovereign nation; not doing something about the poor road conditions on Malaita; not resolving the Gwaunaruu airport closure; and just dreaming and nothing to show for.
Are these genuine reasons that warrant me to step down as Premier, May I ask?
Let me help Mr Osiagalo by shedding some light on his accusations.
First, the declaration of the intention of the Malaita provincial Executive and Assembly to pursue a sovereign nation is not a “declaration of Independence” and is not intended to break up the country of Solomon Islands.
In actual fact this intention is aimed at opening a door for the MART government to continue the discussion and negotiation on the intention with the national Government, our Malaitan national MPs, our people of Malaita and other interested stakeholders.
It is for this reason that a special select committee made up of at least 13 educated and well respected Malaitans was formed.
Second, one of the priority areas of the MART government for the next four years is to address the poor road conditions on Malaita.
Tar sealing of Auki roads (by Dalgro) although slow in coming, will start soon in September and this was confirmed by Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID); Hatanga Ltd has been awarded the contract to repair the 14km missing link on the North Malaita road and work is expected to start soon; and work on East road, Fiu river bridge and other bridges on the North and South roads are also going to be tendered out by MID as well.
MART government has been working closely with the national Government through MID on these important road and infrastructure projects and this shows MART is serious about our roads and infrastructure development on Malaita.
Where did Mr Osiagalo get his idea from that MART Government is not serious and not doing something about our roads and other infrastructure on Malaita?
Third, the truth about Gwaunaru’u airport is that it is already open.
The only outstanding issue now is for the land owners and the national Government to sign a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) and this will allow the Solomon Airlines to resume flights to Gwaunaruu airport right away.
MART Government has been playing the crucial role of facilitating and coordinating consultation meetings between the different key stakeholders since March 2015.
Finally, MART Government is not dreaming. We have a vision for Malaita Province. I encourage Mr Osiagalo to consult our MART Policies 2015-2018 to see for himself.
Let me now turn my focus to other matters raised by Mr Osiagalo in his article.
Mr Osiagalo has claimed that the idea of “sovereignty” and “Independence” is not the Premier’s but those of someone in my Executive.
The answer to the first part of the claim is; “Yes, you’re right Mr Elton. The intention to pursue a ‘sovereign’ nation (not declaring independence) for Malaita was discussed thoroughly and passed by both the Malaita Provincial Government Executive as well the Malaita Provincial Assembly”.
Therefore this is not the Premier’s own idea but collectively that of the Provincial Executive and Assembly.
On the other hand, this intention is not the idea of someone in my Executive alone because as I already said, this is a collective decision by the Executive and Assembly.
At this juncture let me ask Mr Osiagalo the following question “do you have any personal grudges against one of the members of my Executive?”
Be honest with yourself. If you do, I suggest you settle your grievances with him or her outside instead of going to the media.
What do you get by going to the media? And by the way, what makes you think I’m allowing myself to be pulled by the nose?
Do you think I’m not capable of making my own decisions as a leader? In fact, I do not agree with you because this does not make sense to me or anyone in my Executive.
I therefore call on Mr Osiagalo to stop assuming things.
Let me just remind Mr Osiagalo that the decision making process adopted by the MART Government Executive and Assembly in all its dealings is based on “Consultation” and “conscientious”.
This decision making process has worked well for us in MART Government over the past eight months and we will keep it that way all the way to the end of our term in office.
To conclude, I would like say as a reminder to all of us that the best way to address development on Malaita is not to go to the media and start raising complaints and unfounded accusations against our leaders and those in authority.
The development of Malaita province does not lie with the Premier and the ruling Provincial government only but this is a collective responsibility – Provincial Government, national Government, donor partners, private sector, Civil Society Organisations, Churches, communities and individuals together.
In recognition of this responsibility, the MART Government has aligned our Policies with those of the Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) Government.
Through this alignment, Malaita province can achieve development through priority national projects earmarked for our province.
We Malaitans are known for being industrious and hard working.
Let us show this by coming together and supporting in partnership our Provincial and National Governments to implement and achieve much needed development for our province.
Partnership should be the vehicle for driving our development forward and as one facebook friend Decon Shultz meaningfully puts it, this “vehicle for development has no reverse gear”.
That’s right, let’s keep moving forward together as one people to bring development to our beloved Malaita Province.
By PETER C. RAMOHIA
Premier, Malaita Province