Amid economic hardship, electricity problems, and a struggle to provide basic amenities, the frequent travels of President Julius Maada Bio have come under intense scrutiny. The President has dismissed these concerns by saying he will continue to fly, but this dismissal will not stop us from raising concerns.

Sierra Leone is grappling with severe economic challenges. Citizens are facing daily hardships, from power outages to the struggle to access basic necessities. In such a context, the President’s frequent travels raise questions about the priorities of the administration. Each trip incurs significant costs, and there is growing concern about whether these expenses are justified, given the current state of the nation.

One of the most troubling aspects of President Bio’s travels is the lack of transparency. Details about the composition of the delegations, the costs involved, and the funding sources for these trips remain undisclosed. This opacity fuels speculation and mistrust among the public. For instance, there is no clear information on who pays for the Vista Jets the President uses for his international travels. The citizens have a right to know how their money is being spent, especially when the country is facing economic difficulties.

President Bio’s current trip to South Korea is a prime example of these concerns. The Korea-Africa Summit 2024 is scheduled for June 4-5, but President Bio arrived in Seoul on May 30, five days before the event, for a state visit. This extended stay raises questions about the necessity and cost. The lack of transparency about the delegation accompanying the President further complicates the issue.

According to Yonhap News, President Bio met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on May 31 to discuss trade, investment, and cooperation in education, public health, and food security. While these discussions are undoubtedly important, the question remains: do the benefits of such trips outweigh the costs, and is there a more cost-effective way to achieve these goals?

Another critical issue is the gender balance in the President’s delegations. Despite President Bio’s professed commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment, very few women are often included in these important trips. The current delegation to the Korea-Africa Summit is no exception. If the President is genuinely committed to gender equality, it should be reflected in the composition of his teams, especially during high-profile international engagements.

As Sierra Leoneans continue to endure daily struggles, it is imperative that the government prioritizes the needs of its people and ensures that public funds are spent wisely and transparently. It is time for President Bio to heed the calls for greater transparency and accountability. The citizens deserve to know that their leaders are acting in their best interests, both at home and abroad.