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: