Prince Harding is no longer NATCOM Chairman: SLPP Chairman Sacked Before Bio leaves Lungi
Unconfirmed but credible reports from Lungi Airport on July 9th 2019 allege that H.E. President Bio has again flown out of the country. No formal press release was issued from State House.
However, social media was awash with a letter from the Office of the President which seemed to indicate that Dr. Prince Alex Harding, the National Chairman & Leader of the governing Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), has been abruptly sacked by President Bio from his government position as Chairman of the Board of the state’s National Telecommunications Company (NATCOM).
Dr. Harding had held the position for barely one year so Awareness Times tried to contact him last evening on the matter but to no avail. However, sources close to Dr. Prince Harding confirm that indeed he was sacked just before President Bio left for Lungi airport.
Sources say the sack was brutally felt by Harding as he was not given any opportunity to tender his resignation and maintain his public respect.
Rather, our sources say Harding had to suffer humiliation of the Minister of Information & Communication announcing to journalists – who posted the news on social media – that Harding had been “sacked”.
Both Harding and the Information Minister Hon. Mohamed Rahman Swarray (aka Rado) had not been on the best of terms after a violent political brawl in Kailahun few months back left some SLPP supporters with stab wounds. That was in February 2019.
Four months later in June 2019, another fresh political brawl and bloodletting on streets of Bo City, this time between SLPP men alleged to be in favour of Harding and those alleged to want him out as Chairman and Leader, resulted in Harding and his fierce rival Jimmy Batillo Songa being subjected to Police Investigations for alleged criminal conduct.
Harding is an experienced politician who is heavily credited with the Bio presidential elections victory of 2018 that unseated a sitting APC regime. He is well respected inside the country’s polity even within the opposition APC circles. The decision to subject the National Chairman & Leader of the SLPP to a criminal investigation this month had raised many eyebrows as Dr. Prince Harding was not known to have himself been physically involved in any form of violence.
With such an ominous development, when the news broke last night that he has been sacked from the lucrative position of NATCOM Chairman, many political analysts who spoke to this newspaper say they were not surprised at the turn of events though they found the humiliation of Harding to be what one person termed as “inexplicable”.
Harding has meanwhile been replaced as NATCOM Chairman by one Alhaji Mohamed Fouad Sheriff of whom not much is known. The letter of appointment of Sheriff is published in this edition.
A brief profile of Harding alongside a photo of Harding and President Bio taken 11 years ago when Former President Koroma traveled with them as his guests to an ECOWAS Summit, is on below..
Brief Profile of SLPP Chair Dr. Prince Alex Harding
Dr. Prince Alex Harding is a product of Bo School and King’s College London, London University where he obtained the terminal degree of Ph.D in Chemistry with bias in Petroleum.
He has served as lecturer/Tutor at his alma mater in London & Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, and worked as Executive Chemist at National Petroleum in Sierra Leone.
He has served as Minister in various Ministries namely Mines and Mineral Resources, Internal Affairs and National Security, and Transport and Communications.
At the communications ministry, he transformed the industry from Public to Private ownership and from Monopoly to Competition.. During his tenure, he created the regulatory body, National Telecommunications Commission, NATCOM. Before the inception of NATCOM, Dr. Harding successfully completed the following courses:
Telecommunications Regulatory Master class,from interconnect communications Limited, Bath, United Kingdom.
-Privatization 21st century challenges: Utilities, Regulation and Private Finance of infrastructure. A senior- Level training programme offered by Adam Smith Institute, London.
Certificate of Attendance where he fully participated in the five-day commonwealth seminar on the world Radio conference in spectrum Management, held in London, United kingdom.
In addition, he attended a series of high-profile international conferences across the globe sponsored by International Telecommunications Union,ITU. Before the birth of NATCOM, Dr.Harding successfully regulated the telecoms industry for several years with resounding success on affordability, choice and efficiency.
Dr. Harding has served as Member of National Defence Council and Chairman of the then National Power Authority.
On the political Front, he has served the SLPP as National Secretary-General, where he led a team to win two Presidential/Parliamentary elections (1996 and 2002) and the local elections (2004) when 16 local councils out of 19 were controlled by the SLPP.
He has also acted as Deputy National Chairman and leader and is the current National Chairman and leader of the SLPP under whose Leadership the SLPP has taken the reins of power with Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio emerging as President of Sierra Leone.
As it is clearly evident, Dr. Prince Alex Harding is politically and professionally equipped to carry forward the Agenda of the New Direction.