Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 April 2021:
Just three days after commemorating Sierra Leone’s 60 years of independence from British colonial rule which most Sierra Leoneans are of the opinion that after 60 years the people of Sierra Leone have nothing to celebrate or shout about, president Bio has today announced a snap reshuffle of his cabinet ministers. (Photo above: Professor Francis).
The president has removed his controversial Chief Minister – Professor David Francis. Francis will now become the new Foreign Minister, whilst the incumbent minister – Mrs Nabila Tunis has been sacked from the cabinet.
Mrs Tunis is the wife of the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament – Mr Mohamed Tunis, who ironically was honoured by president Bio with one of the highest civil ranks – Commander of the Rokel (COOR) in his Independence Day Honours list.
Speculations are rife as to why president Bio has decided to remove Professor Francis from his much loved ministerial role that he Francis had created for himself, after president Bio won the 2018 elections, to become the second most powerful man in the government.
Professor Francis has been Maada Bio’s friend, PhD thesis mentor and supervisor, political lieutenant and adviser long before Bio became president of Sierra Leone? So what could have gone wrong between two chums?
There is suspicion that Professor David Francis may be following the same political and career path taken by Dr Samura Kamara – the 2018 presidential candidate of the All People’s Congress (APC) Party, who after unsuccessfully serving as the country’s finance minister, was then appointed by president Koroma to serve as foreign minister, only to later come back to contest the 2018 presidential election which he lost to Maada Bio by a slim margin.
Whether Professor Francis is being groomed by Maada Bio to become the 2023 presidential flagbearer of the ruling SLPP Party is anyone’s guess. But what is clear today is that there are many in Sierra Leone who say that today’s decision by the President to remove Professor Francis from the second most powerful job in the government to take over the Forign Affairs Ministry is nothing but a demotion.
What is even more controversial about today’s cabinet reshuffle is the appointment of Finance Minister – Jacob Jusu Saffa to take on the role of Chief Minister in addition to his finance ministry portfolio – at least in the shortterm, until President Bio can find a replacement Finance Minister.
Removing JJ Saffa from Finance is a major victory for millions of Sierra Leoneans that are blaming him for their economic suffering.
Since his appointment as Finance Minister in 2018, promising to make life better for ordinary Sierra Leoneans by addressing what he reffered to as “bread and butter issues”, the country’s economy has gone from bad to worse, with his inability to control government finances, and corruption in high places has soared.
By taking over the role of Chief Minister, JJ Saffa will become virtually redundant, just as his predecessor – Professor David Francis who has now left that role, which many – including the Sierra Leone Telegraph have described as “superflous to requirement, a duplication of the vice president’s role”.
It is not yet clear who will take over the Finance Ministry. But there are doubts as to whether there is anyone in the government that can take on that role and perform effectively, without being compromised and sabotaged by State House interference.
Another fallen giant from today’s wielding of the axe by the president is Mr Alie Kabba, who for the last three years has led the country’s mission at the United Nations.
Alie Kabba competed against Maada Bio for the SLPP’s 2018 presidential flagbearership and lost, but went on to serve in the Party as president Bio’s election campaign manager, for which many were expecting president Bio to have rewarded Kabba with the vice presidency.
Instead, Kabba was posted out of the country – away from local politics where he could have continued to nurse and nurture his presidential ambition.
In today’s cabinet reshuffle, the president has demoted Alie Kabba to far-flung Egypt, where he will serve as Ambassador. Many now believe that this move could spell the end of Alie Kabba’s presidential ambition and political career.
This is today’s presidential cabinet reshuffle:
Young4na – Many thanks for your compliments. I feel very upset to see that Bio takes our people for granted. He is under the illusion that by making recourse to a crude and bizarre game of musical chairs – reshuffling his personnel at whim – our people will see him as a serious, dynamic, hands-on leader, capable of doing what is right and when it is right for the good of the country. The reshuffling he has done is quite simply a pointless exercise as the fundamentals of the politics and economics of the country remain unchanged: tribalism and regionalism in the distribution and exercise of political power, unbridled corruption in high places, chronic underdevelopment and widespread poverty.
Let us hope and pray that come 2023 our people will see the last of him and his incompetent and rapacious bunch of self-serving ministers. You are hundred percent right: our country needs to move forward, led by people who think and act differently.
Carving out the role of a Chief minister is not only misleading in a small country like ours, because we don’t have any such arrangements in our constitution. Even a Mayor of a small state in United States of America, can run and deliver for the people of Sierra Leone. Yes in a federal system of government, like India, Russia, Nigeria,the United States, they have titles for the heads of the smaller states that make up the Federation. In India, they are called Chief Ministers. In Nigeria, Kenya and the United States they are called Governors. In South Africa they are called premiers. The role of the President and vice president is clearly defined in their constitutions. Thats why we have Buhari and his vice-president. Biden and Kamala Harris. Kenyantta and his vice president, William Ruto.
When it comes to Sierra Leone, we have the president and vice president. And these are elected representatives of the people. They ran on the same ticket. And were duly elected by the people of Sierra Leone. There is a mandate there from the people. So the idea that professor Francis, whose name never appeared on the 2018 presidential election ballot, or any ballot paper in any constituency for that matter, can claim a mandate and throw his weight around cabinet ministers, is a role that doesn’t exist. It goes to show how we Sierra Leoneans are mistaken either for being stupid, which I think we are not, or our level of tolerance has no boundaries. Our country has seen a lot of false prophets, and this Bio government is one of them. This power grabbed mentality is purely based on egocentric mindset that we don’t need in a unicameral state like Sierra Leone.
It is not only an abuse of trust towards the president, but an abuse of trust on the people of Sierra Leone, that elected a lame duck president in the form of Bio. Whatever one think of president Stevens, the one thing you can say he was good at, was government officials knew their place in the pecking order. He was the president. Unlike Bio, no one makes any decisions without his agreement. Then you had Hon. Sorie Ibrahim Koroma as first vice president, then you had the Hon C. A. Camara-Taylor as the Second vice-president. Bio needs to step up, or step aside. Righ tnow, he hasn’t lived up to expectations. And when you think he is the president of our country, there is enough food for thought.
WOW! That was a hell of a comment. Anyway, I never thought that the Chief Minister was an appropriate position considering how small and fragile Sierra Leone is and her economy for them to have a president,a chief Minister,and then the Vice President.Just like I said before that some Ministries should not have had deputies right away. The permanent Secretaries and some other staff could have suffice for the deputies in some of the Ministries, untill the country picked up a little bit. You cannot please everyone at ONE TIME. I also do not understand how can the Chief Minister’s position be higher than the Vice President’s position? I thought the Vice President should be the # 2 person in the cabinet and the country.
From my outside observation,I think Vice President Judeh is serving the President well. He appears to be a humble man and I just said the other day that it was a strategic move for President Bio to have selected the Vice president who happens to be from the north. I think President Bio should have given the Foreign Minister position to the professor from the start of their administratiin, rather than allowed the creation of a Chief Minister position which was in necessary and redundant can now create some rift between them when he is removed.
Whatever it is, I pray that all parties involved will not forget the real stakeholders of this whole thing – and that is the people of mama Salone. I pray that the good Lord guides and guards the president and his cabinet to make wise decision for mama Salone. IJMN. Amen.
Sierra Leone’s interests will only be best served if President Bio shuffles himself out of Sierra Leone Politics because he had been wavering between disasters and catastrophies!
Dauda Yillah says —“ This cabinet reshuffle is quite simply a gimmick. A pretence, a simulacrum, a semblance of change, not the real thing. This is crude political theatre, or rather, a game of musical chairs: the performers are moving in circles, swapping roles, singing and dancing to the same tired tune, empty of substance: a comical act with very tragic consequences none the less for a helpless, unamused audience. ”
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, when it comes to the so called cabinet reshuffle, say no more, because one of our revered linguistic mentor, professor Dauda Yillah, has described it in the above quotation, concisely, aptly, and succinctly. If you are running a business or company, and hired individuals whom you thought were the most capable and qualified, placing them in top managerial positions. However, after 36 months in the job, having provided them every available incentive and lucrative salaries, yet your business/company still lags behind among the competitors — as a result of the mediocracy of your managerial team.
The questions now becomes, as a shrewd and competent businessman, with thirst for success and a vision to stand tall among the competitors, what exactly will you do to salvage your nightmarish predicament? Are you going to tap into fresh outside knowledge with a propensity to inject new ideas, new stimuli and fresh energy, or are you simply going to move around the same old incompetent managers, with lingering stench of ARROGANCE, INEPTITUDE, and NEPOTISM? Ponder my thoughts!!
What has President Bio actually done? To revive his ill-fated presidency? The chap should be reminded that his engines have failed and he is on dangerous glide with no suitable landing spot in sight. He has left things too late. He has been unable to come to terms of governing as a civilian where he has to unavoidably interact with strange and opposing forces all the time. These forces have completely subdued him to the point where his “new direction “ has become a nightmare. His white Paper has fallen into the dustbin of history. All he now sees are enemies with their daggers drawn.
What will David Francis do at the Foreign Ministry? It’s quite likely that he asked for the job to use it as a vehicle to start relocating back to England; each time he travels at our expense he will take a couple of suitcases full of his clothes. Come 2023 , just before the elections, he will leave the country on the pretext of attending a conference and never return. J.J Saffa has been rewarded for his proposal about two years ago that Bio should be given a blank cheque whenever he travelled for him and his wife to go on spending spree. The man knows nothing about managing a pub ,let alone a whole economy. Ali Kabba? Well, assuming that he is a Muslim, he has been given the chance to slip over to Saudi Arabia as many times as he wishes to perform Hajj , to spiritually cleanse himself. President Bio has done nothing to redirect his “new direction”.
Usually cabinet reshuffles take place midway through of the first term of your presidency, or your premiership. But the merry go round of ministerial changes seems to be an everyday occurrence under Bio. He most hold the record for reshuffling his cabinet, more than any other president in his first three years in office. Mr president you are the problem not your ministers. Because you are presiding over a weak government. And you haven’t shown that you are capable of strong leadership. Like a football manager, if your team is not performing in the pitch, and is in danger of losing to your opponents, you change the players that are having a bad day and bring in ones that can win you the game.
Since Bio took the oath of office, he has effectively admitted, by virtue of his actions or the lack of it, his game plan for moving Sierra Leone forward has hit the buffers. By allowing the toxic chief minister to create an alternative presidency. Professor Francis has created the notion that he is indispensable to Bio. He has abused the trust the president placed in him. More like he has become Bio’s Adam’s apple. You cant spit it or swallow it. It is there with you all the time whether you like it or not. Instead of being the gatekeeper to the president, Bio is now relegated to playing that role to professor Francis. Hence the chaos our country finds itself in the last three years.
Professor Francis knew our international partners can only deal with the Bio government through him. Professor David Sengeh the technology wizard is another one that felt like that but less of a threat to Bio. Vice president Juldeh Jalloh is another of those from the NGO world, but if he has any political ambition he has managed to keep them under wrap. The only person that Bio will trust to stand guard with a gun next to him is our finance minister Jusu Saffa. The president has total confidence in him. Bottom line – Bio has allowed himself to be over-reliant on people that don’t share his one direction agenda. They have taken his presidency hostage for their selfish agendas. And to some extent the country as a whole. Their behaviour is akin to researchers in a laboratory. But Sierra Leone is a country, not a lab for testing new ideas. Weak leadership and corruption is our problem.
Might Bio’s demotion of his erstwhile academic mentor turned his main political strategist and operative, be a sign of an unexpected rift between the two partners in crime? Or is it a tactical move aimed at taking the sting out of the intense and relentless scrutiny to which Bio and his government have been subjected ever since the appointment of an unelected government operative to a position of immense power, second only to the power of the President himself? Especially so, when the next general election is only two years away?
Sooner than later hopefully, we will get to the bottom of this sudden and unexpected change. What is clear, however, is that the former Chief Minister has lost his mojo. His arrongance and bossing people all over the place have been dealt a severe blow. The revered Professor is perhaps not that embodiment of a towering intellect that he is made out to be. Will Minister Saffa who has replaced him do any better? The answer is self-evident. As the great Nigerian wordsmith Chinua Achebe has it in his customary proverbial fashion, ‘You can tell a ripe corn by its look’. The corn that Saffa represents in his handling of our country’s finances does not look – to put it mildly, ripe enough to inspire confidence in his elevation – if that is what it is – to the position of Chief Minister.
This cabinet reshuffle is quite simply a gimmick. A pretence, a simulacrum, a semblance of change, not the real thing. This is crude political theatre, or rather, a game of musical chairs: the performers are moving in circles, swapping roles, singing and dancing to the same tired tune, empty of substance: a comical act with very tragic consequences none the less for a helpless, unamused audience. But perhaps the tragi-comedy, symptomatic of Bio’s reign more generally, is drawing to a close, and the performers including the Director-in-Chief himself, will, Allah willing, soon be gone forever.
O my beloved Sierra Leone – How are the mighty fallen in the midst of anarchy chaos,mayhem and enervating economic barrenness. Street vendors and fishmongers rejoice for this memorable day is yours and will forever continue to remain in our prayerful,compassionate hearts. O cruel Hangman with a financial noose thou hast been removed from your high places of rampant thefts, bribery, corruption and favoritism; What good are those sleepless nights of ceaseless incantations with sorcerers and spell-casters of the criminal SLPP Cabal to you now? (lol) The great master of Creation has heard the cry of the miserable, wretched and grief-stricken masses in Sierra Leone the only place I am proud my home.
The THIEF that enamored himself with the silken robes of a CHIEF is nowhere to be found; the unforgiving winds of change has whisked him away like dry leaves in a raging, blazing firestorm. Professor or should i say Imposter I am distressed for thee in the depths of my soul. There is still time left on the clock before this obnoxious political game comes to an end; still time to rob the blind lame beggar, and gormandize to your hearts content, but sadly you have been whisked away like a mist in a roaring storm to some faraway unknown place.(lol) Tell me Imposter or is it Professor how hard was that fall?
Do you feel betrayed by the Criminal in State House for using you as a puppet on a string? Well, well, its now time for you to lick your wounds in quietness and solitude and console that fractured, fragmented, freeloading soul of yours. JJ Saffa didn’t I tell you countless times on this glorious forum that you were incompetent; How long did you think that our sitting dummy in State House will keep on snoozing while you rob our poor elderly of their much deserved bowl of hot pepper soup? (lol) Rejoice folks for this is the beginning of the end,the mighty have fallen in the midst of battle. Blessed are you who roam our beautiful earth in hunger and thirst for by the exhilarating bounties of eternal Omnipotent Heaven.