Dr Sylvia Blyden arrested as US government signs multi-million dollar grant aid with president Bio

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 December 2020:

After over a decade of trying to win the US Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) major grant funding award, which for many African countries run into hundreds of millions of dollars, Sierra Leone has at long last succeeded.

It is not yet clear how much exactly the MCC has awarded Sierra Leone but there are reports in Freetown that the government will be receiving a whopping $400 million.

A statement published by the US embassy in Freetown today did not specify the exact sum, but this is what it says:

Demonstrating the United States’ commitment to helping lead the fight against global poverty, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) Board of Directors selected Sierra Leone for an MCC compact program – a multimillion dollar grant agreement – on Tuesday, December 15, 2020.

“The compact program will follow the successful $44 million threshold agreement between MCC and Sierra Leone that is currently improving water and electricity services in the greater Freetown area.

“Since MCC’s inception, MCC has invested more than $13 billion in economic growth projects around the globe that are expected to benefit about 190 million people. The US government agency invests in projects that drive growth and help people lift themselves out of poverty, like power, education, clean water, land rights, and roads.

“Once a country is selected for compact development, the partner country leads a constraints analysis that determines which sectors are limiting economic growth.

“This analysis is then used by partner countries to design the compact programs and tackle these constraints.  The final investment amount will depend on the strength of the projects and their ability to support long-term economic growth in the selected country.

“The U.S. government and the Sierra Leone government are committed partners in Sierra Leone’s economic growth.   Since 2012, the government of Sierra Leone and MCC have worked closely together to support good governance and reducing poverty through economic growth.

“MCC looks forward to continued collaboration with the government of Sierra Leone and to launching the compact development process.

But there are questions tonight about the sincerity of president Bio in abolishing the seditious libel laws which criminalise anyone who makes public statements against the government, as opposition female politician and journalist – Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden was this afternoon arrested by dozens of heavily armed police after surrounding her home in Freetown.

Today’s arrest goes against the spirit and substance of the government’s avowed belief in freedom of speech and civil liberty – key tenets of the US Millennium Challenge Corporation’s grant funding programme.

Dr Blyden was arrested on charges of seditious libel early this year and was kept in prison for several weeks without trial, before appearing in court on several occasions without any tangible evidence brought forward by State prosecutors to corroborate their charges.

Sources close to Dr Blyden say that she has been arrested today after a local newspaper – Awareness Times – of which she was editor and proprietor, yesterday published a frontpage story accusing president Bio of lying to the people of Sierra Leone and the international community, about the true reason as to why she was arrested early this year.

Critics of the Bio-led government are today saying that by awarding $400 million to president Bio, the US government is rewarding bad behaviour – human rights abuse and poor governance in Sierra Leone.

It is not clear whether Dr Blyden will spend the night – and possibly the whole of Christmas behind bars yet again, in what is being described by many as “government retributive justice” based on orders from above.

Sierra Leone’s seditious libel laws may no longer exist in the statute books, but arbitrary police arrests, based on orders from above, continue with impunity.

11 Comments

  1. What a brave lady. If only a few of APC politicians can fight for democratic freedom like her, in today’s Sierra Leone, the political equilibrium would eventually be redefined. As if it was coming. The SLPP has always come up with an outrageous activity when their nose has been bloodied in the political arena. This has been their consistent STRATEGY, and in this case, it has been deployed in an attempt to divert attention from the throbbing that Kadie Davies of the Opposition APC party inflicted on their candidate (Josephine Jackson) in the just concluded elections at constituency 110.

    Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden is also an important character that could stand to invalidate the dubious existence of the Paopa SLPP as the ruling party. Her petition in the Supreme Court against the legitimacy of Maada Bio’s presidency, which had been put aside for almost 3 years, is now very active in the courts. Coupled with that, is Dr Samura Kamara’s petition of same that can create the necessary inertia. Who knows the outcome of these petitions? Perhaps, the judges may like to set a precedent in order to straighten the awkwardness of Sierra Leone politics. As a result, the SLPP would be quite content to confine Sylvia Blyden for some time – probably until the end of their final 2 years in office. Check it out.

  2. Celebrating for what? Did I hear someone say every patriotic citizen should be celebrating for another multi-million dollar funds into the hands of kleptomaniacs? Exactly what major development or improvement into the ordinary citizens life can you point to with over 2 or more billion dollars international donor funds given to our nation, falling into the hands of these same crooks that call themselves politicians, over the past 3 years? Just name me exactly one index of economic development that we have attained with such colossal amount of money poured into a tiny country such as ours for any sane individual to be celebrating.

    Right now as we speak, in this holiday season, while your political gods are busy shopping for their loved ones, buying and acquiring exotic gifts for every member residing in their mansions, millions of citizens across the nation are scratching their heads, going hungry on each given day, while wondering whether or not they can even afford soda-soap to wash some of their old dirty cloths which they can at least wear on Christmas day. So please if God has buttered your bread, don’t come on this glorious platform making a mockery of the less fortunate!! The least you can do is to be considerate!!

  3. I really do not understand how this historic development of winning $ 400 million from the MCC is associated with the invitation of Sylvia Blyden by the C.I.D. In my personal opinion, I believe that every patriotic citizen is supposed to be celebrating this achievement rather than minimizing or reducing this achievement to the level of an attention seeker. Under the New Direction government and the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio who is the Fountain Of Honor and the Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces, Sierra Leone will continue to RISE.

  4. There must be a blood feud that is running between Bio, and Dr Blyden. You can only have such outrageous belief if you are orbiting in Bio’s world of political vendettas and witch hunts. How does one explain the unexplainable truth that this president, since taking office has abandoned the promises he made to the people of Sierra Leone that elected him in the first place, with a clear mandate, based on what is on the menu in the form of the SLPP manifesto. He said he will roll up his sleeves, and work his socks off, and try to revive an ailing economy that was on a life support, and above all else, work towards bringing people together North, South, East or west. In effect, by marshalling people to work for the common good of our country by firstly, fighting corruption and nepotism and then investing in the economy, peace, security and stability; work towards attracting foreign direct investment to our country, so it can stand on sound economic footing.

    The ripple effect of such well-thought out and executed plans will not only have a massive impact on people’s lives, it will go a long way to enhance the standards of living of the people. At long last they will start to see a difference that their elected representatives are making in their lives. Right now the vast majority of the forgotten people, don’t know why they vote for politicians, who only come around their constituency when they need them. I think with Biden taking office in January, Bio better start to rein in his dictatorial policies and start addressing the real issues affecting our country. The effects of covid19 to every economy is challenging, but when you factor Bio and his policies into that mix, it becomes a cocktail of unimaginable problems.

  5. We gave this government assistance for helping the homeless – an awesome thing to do for the nation

  6. Sylvia did not want good for the country. Why the criticise the government after the government has claimed 13 steps on MCC scoreboard card and the US is about to grant the country about 400 million dollars, so that the country will move to another level.

    • Why do we need aid? Why do we need foreign entities, whether they are charitable or not, or loan sharks like international financial INSTITUTIONS to grade our government performance? Why does our government need to be told by the IMF and the MCC to be transparent and prudent in their budgetary programmes? Why do we need to be judged by our government human rights record? Why should we celebrate this 400 million dollars? If our country’s resources are managed well with forward thing patriotic Sierra Leoneans, we will be giving aid to countries that are poorer than us. Why should Denmark or Scandinavian countries that depend on fishing and dairy farming be richer than us? I thought we got our independence in 1961 so we do not need any foreigners to tell us how to run our country of less than eight million people.

      Today almost sixty years later we are still being colonised by international financial institutions, without even realising it. This government both past and present are just a window dressing. The real powers that decide the value of fate and everyday life of Sierra Leoneans is based in the Paris club of five, the IMF and the World Bank. They are our unofficial elected representatives with no more than tribal, regional and party affiliations. And they are happy to keep us waiting outside the door with our begging hands. We are still not independent. Real independence comes, when you can manage on your own, not when you depend on others for your survival. May God bless Sierra Leone.

  7. If the reason given for Sylvia Blyden’s arrest (yet again) is correct, it shows how thin skinned President Bio and his team are. They lack self-confidence and abolished the seditious and libel laws half heartedly. These are people who cannot function in a real democracy or else they would die of stress or heart attack. If Sylvia Blyden says something that is untrue, a self assured President or his spokesperson will counter it and even go on the offensive to discredit the former minister, perhaps the only one in the Earnest Koroma government not subjected to public ridicule as a result of the White Paper. Her public cleanliness and persona may well be why she is an irritant to Bio and his gang – secretly they wish they can be like her.

    Well to be like Sylvia is very easy: Keep your hands out of public coffers and carry yourself with exemplary professionalism, integrity and a touch of arrogance – arrogance in the best sense of the word. Literally Sylvia Blyden is one of handful of politicians in our country who but for certain impediments should be voted in as President. She is the type that would keep the “ayampies“ (kleptomaniacs) under tight control, only trusting them with her naked eyes, and no further than he can see them. She is the brightest star in the APC firmament which can never be dimmed, unlike the others who are currently at the gates of the opposite side of heaven, thanks to the White Paper. President Bio should let her go if he doesn’t want to further soil his image with the Americans and get out of the nonsense of detaining people illegally.

  8. Finally it seems like Sierra Leone the land of the morally bankrupt, corrupt and criminally inclined has now succeeded in getting the monkey off her back by undoubtedly using underhanded, shady ways to win the MCC major funding grant award. Something just smells fishy – not so long ago we were told Sierra Leone had failed totally and miserably to meet the required standards that must be attained before the multi-million dollar grant can be duly awarded – strangely almost in the twinkle of an eye, it is clear that this has now changed. Good for the morally degenerate Americans; they say one thing and do another, they change their tunes and tones like sleeping hummingbirds for their own self-conceited “Trumpian” purposes.(lol)

    Hey, show me the money but first show me the “Fine Print” and every tiny detail not included in the main body of all signed and sealed documents and grant agreements. Sierra Leone my only home is entering into a questionable suspicious agreement; and woe is me! Lord knows that I do not trust JJ Saffa and the dim-witted Criminal SLPP Cabal to make the right decisions for our poor struggling people. I sense trouble on its way! Let me reiterate, I would like to see and become completely familiar with every piece of document that is involved in this MCC grant award and be made fully aware of all the specific terms, conditions, restrictions, limitations involved therein. Enough said!

  9. Whosoever in his/her wildest dream ever entertained the thought that a group of lawless individuals, who happen to have metamorphosized overnight into desperate politicians, with a mission of get rich quick scheme, will ever play along the dictates of a democratic state, let alone allow any form of free speech expression, must be considered among the most ignorant citizens of Mama Salone if not a political sycophant. Make no mistake about it, the mission is simple.

    First and foremost, formulate a pretentious fight against corruption, increase local revenue generation via increases in taxes from all businesses without worrying about the cascaded effect of rise in hardship, fabricate a host of societal issues and statistics, and present such data to our donor partners. The moment a gullible international donor partner is convinced, watch the flow of money into our bank accounts. With money and power on these crooks’ side, what makes you think human rights, freedom of expression or any other democratic principles is of any concern to them?

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