OPINION: Why President Maada Bio Deserves a 2nd Term By Sylvester Rogers
Several times, I have told people that President Dr. Julius Maada Bio, by the look of things appears to be genuine, God-fearing, peace-loving, magnanimous, and above all a very tolerant leader that we the peace-loving people of this country should be proud of.
Had it not been that President Bio possesses all the above mentioned attributes, this country would have long ago returned to its ugly past following the defeat of the All Peoples Congress Party at the March 31st, 2018 historic Presidential run-off elections.
Since President Julius Maada Bio ascended the throne on 4th April, 2018 there have been several insinuations purportedly by the Chairman and Leader of the Opposition APC Ex- President Ernest Bai Koroma, the APC 2018 defeated Presidential Candidate Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara, Ambassador Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh, a nonentity who calls himself Adebayo, a renowned blasphemer who labels himself as Evangelist Samson, a little known Gibril Bangura and their supporters have been causing unrest with the premeditated motive of making the country ungovernable thus scaring away genuine foreign investors.
The utterances of the Opposition APC Party to make the country ungovernable are not strange nor are they new to the people of this country. Afterwards their Chairman and Leader now Ex-President Koroma is on record to have said as Presidential candidate that if the 2007 Presidential run-off election results were not announced in his favor, he would make the country ungovernable. Period!
When I listened to President Bio’s Eid-Ul-Adha audio message nearly two years ago, acknowledging the hard-pressed economic hardship on the general populace, I mumbled something like “ANOTHER MOSES” has returned to salvage our sinking country.
Read the transcribed EID-Ul- ADHA audio message of President Julius Maada Bio as follows; ”I know it is hard for my people. I was expecting this but I did not promise simplistic solution that will only last a week. I promise a total fix and it will take time and I am working on that…I want to be judged at the end not at the beginning. We have only started a long journey. And I am going to assure Sierra Leoneans that we are definitely making progress. In terms of making sure that Sierra Leone becomes the best destination for foreign direct investment which has an impact on definitely providing a better quality of life, because it will provide jobs and then other opportunities for Sierra Leoneans to be able to have a better quality of life.”
Truth be told, President Julius Maada Bio inherited a country that was on a slippery slope. The economy was in shambles and the country was deeply and sharply divided.
As far as I am concerned, the God-fearing and peace-loving President Bio, whom many had dubbed, “The Father of our country’s fledgling democracy” is determined to do everything in his power to restore the country’s lost glittering image.
President Bio in his own wisdom, love for countrymen and women with his great party the Sierra Leone Peoples Party’s (SLPP) motto ONE COUNTRY ONE PEOPLE on his mind is still going the extra mile to unite the country. Many social commentators here now believe that the President’s quest for a united Sierra Leone was what in fact precipitated the convening of the Bintumani 3 National Conference.
Although every state and non-state actors including all registered Political Parties across the country were invited to participate in the Bintumani 3 National Conference, the main opposition party, the APC with the exception of Alhaji Dr. Alpha Khan boycotted the conference. Or better still, the APC Party was conspicuously absent from the conference without any valid or convincing reason.
Events unfolding since President Julius Maada Bio took over political leadership in this country a little over three years ago suggest that the opposition APC are not in a hurry to give peace a chance to the Bio led administration to govern the country in a conducive atmosphere. Instead, last year, there were upheavals upon upheavals during which some of our fellow compatriots lost their lives.
In my honest and humble opinion, if the opposition APC means well for themselves and want to regain power, they would have been reflecting on the 2018 run-off elections defeat and strategize for the 2028 polls. Rather, their Chairman and Leader Ex- President Ernest Bai Koroma and his allies have allegedly been financing and supporting upheavals in the capital city of Freetown and the countryside all in a show of defiance known here in local parlance as ”GBAGBATI” as if to say there is no rule of law in the country. Or better still as if we are living in a jungle.
I am yet to figure out any reason or reason(s) as to why the main opposition APC Party has resorted to a blatant display of defiance ” GBAGBATI” since President Julius Maada Bio took over the mantle of political leadership in this country, to the extent that the former President allegedly created a parallel state MAKENI with himself as the Governor General.
Whether anybody likes the above assertion or not, this was evidently seen during the October 8, 2020 standoff when the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC ) (an institution that was established by an act of Parliament) was prevented from carrying out their constitutional mandate of investigating acts of corruption allegedly involving the former President who hails from Makeni.
How can merely going to interview Ex-President Koroma about his alleged role in acts of corruption suddenly metamorphosed into a parade of over two dozens of assorted mask-devils, setting up of road blocks leading to the premises of the Chairman and Leader of the APC, using school children as human shield just to stop the ACC investigators from accessing the former President?
Interestingly, majority of the mask devils were clad in red and white which is the party color of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) Party.
The supporters of the Ex-President in a continued show of defiance ”GBAGBATI” during last October’s standoff in Makeni reportedly provoked the anti-graft investigators and security apparatus to anger.
Thankfully, there was no reported incident of a shootout at all on that fateful day as the security forces displayed high level of professionalism which left both the bewildered crowd and the organizers of the standoff in an indignant mood.
What was disheartening and most distasteful in the whole Makeni standoff episode was the alleged participation of the University of Makeni (UNIMAK) a private owned Catholic University where students were seen in a video recording carrying placards depicting support for the embattled former President.
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The alleged involvement of some of the students of the University of Makeni in the stand-off of October 8th had created mixed emotions of fear and doubt in the minds of many here as to whether the University still belongs to the Catholics Mission or to Ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma.
That, students of the University of Makeni allegedly came out in their numbers arrogating power to themselves and beating their chest in jubilation in support of the Ex-President for corrupt practices left a lot to be desired.
That, students who are in training to become future leaders in our country were seen in large numbers supporting the Ex-President who is being accused of endemic corruption during his eleven years of governance is a complete mistrust casting a slur on the integrity of those students who participated in the Makeni standoff episode. Makeni City, the Northeastern Capital city was almost last year in both local and international news for all the wrong reasons.
The relocation last year of an Electricity Distribution Supply Authority ( EDSA ) standby generator after series of meetings with the Minister of Energy Alhaji Kanja Sesay and stakeholders of Makeni to another Northern town of Lungi turned violent with some Makeni youths taken the law into their own hands by setting up road blocks, burning of tires, vandalizing the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party ( SLPP ) office and four people reportedly losing their lives which gave rise to the slogan “MAKENI LIVES MATTER”.
When Ex-President Koroma returned to Makeni City after his partial interrogation by the anti-graft investigators in the Capital city of Freetown, some of his supporters who came to welcome him were making disparaging remarks, using unprintable invectives against President Bio’s parents and his person and family.
However the Internal Affairs Minister, David Panda-Noah in collaboration with the higher echelon of the Sierra Leone Police swiftly made some arrests and whisked them off to Freetown. Whether the suspects have been released or charged to court is not immediately clear.
The tolerance of President Bio since he took over political power in this country a little over three years ago is remarkable to the extent that some people have misunderstood it to be weakness on his part.
I almost laughed my sides out the other day when somebody I presumed to be a new supporter in the SLPP or better still as they are known here in local parlance as WATERMELON supporter was insinuating on his Facebook page that President Bio is afraid of the people of Makeni and went on to say that even the relocation of the EDSA standby generator that turned violent during which the SLPP office was vandalized, to the extent that nothing absolutely is going to come out of it, he asserted on his Facebook page.
Whether charges have been proffered against the perpetrators of the violence during the relocation of the EDSA standby generator to Lungi or they have been freed because of President Bio’s magnanimity is not immediately known.
Last year, when the violent upheavals in the Capital city Freetown and the countryside were becoming a bit unbearable, President Bio went over both the national broadcaster and television and hit the perpetrators very hard describing their action as an act of terrorism although Dr. Dennis Bright, the Chairman of the National Grand Coalition ( NGC ) Party was quoted on Opera News as saying that there was not enough evidence to refer to their action as an act of terrorism.
The strides President Julius Maada Bio has been and is continuing to make to transform our great country to be counted amongst civilized nations in the world since he ascended to power a little over three years are enormous.
What has been very much commendable and most dignified in my humble and honest opinion is the Bio government prioritization of the investment of human capital development which precipitated the Free Quality Education (FQE) which we are all benefiting from as a people and a nation today.
That this government met the national kitty empty and didn’t hesitate to pronounce Free Quality Education (FQE) is but a very laudable achievement to say the least.
The paying of school fees, buying uniforms, core text books, schooling feeding program for a total of two million five hundred thousand (2, 500,000) children in primary, junior and secondary schools through the length and breadth of the country is no small achievement taking into consideration that this dispensation inherited the worst economy in our country’s history.
The payment of tuition fees and allowances by President Bio’s government for all those in tertiary institutions with priority given to women offering Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics with the exception of private owned institutions is also commendable.
That the Bio led administration has the political will to robustly fight corruption that over decades had eaten into the fabric of our society and had even become a way of life in some instances with a former President, Vice President, Ministers, senior civil servants, heads of MDAs have and are still been prosecuted with over $3m United States Dollars recovered from these former government functionaries is a welcome news for the NEW DIRECTION dispensation.
These recovered monies I understand are going to be used to build an ultra-modern health village equipped with sophisticated machines in the outskirts of the Capital city of Freetown and a diagnostic centre where all sorts of medical examinations will now be done to save Sierra Leoneans the trouble involved in seeking medical attention abroad.
Previous Presidents paid a mere lip service to the repeal of Part V of the obnoxious Pubic Order Act of 1965. They used the law to clampdown on the FREE PRESS and their political opponents.
President Bio, in spite of all the vilifications and calumny against his person, families and relatives didn’t hesitate to repeal Part V of the Public Order Act of 1965. Media practitioners (both in the print and electronic media) on the 28th October 2020 celebrated an end of an era that criminalized libel after 55 years of its existence.
These and other achievements not mentioned here are compelling reasons why President Bio should be voted for a second term in office come 2023.