Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 August 2015:
Former head of state and 2012 presidential candidate of the SLPP, Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio, has told radio listeners in Sierra Leone that SLPP must develop the country for ordinary people.
Speaking from London in a radio interview on Kiss 104 FM on Thursday 27th August 2015, Julius Maada Bio thanked the people of Bo District in particular and Sierra Leone in general, for their strong show of support – even in his absence.
A confident Julius Maada Bio told listeners: “I want to assure everybody that no one will stop us this time round.”
Asked about his message for Sierra Leoneans, he said that the country should be developed so that ordinary people will have access to education, good health facilities and the many other opportunities in life.
“I want to lead a government which puts people at the centre so that by the time I leave government, people will say we have moved on from where we were when I took over. I promise to offer a disciplined leadership and not just cosmetic changes, which people do not see the benefit of,” said Bio.
Speaking about the cheap propaganda which has been used by certain detractors that Julius Maada Bio is not contesting anymore as a flagbearer aspirant, he told the listeners that the cause he is leading is not about him, rather it is about the lives, future, hopes and many aspirations of people who believe in him.
He said that he will never abandon the people, and will continue to carry the aspirations of many people until victory is won. He declared: “I will stand by you. I will lead you and victory is in sight.”
Asked about the way forward for the SLPP, Julius Maada Bio re-echoed an earlier message he had given during a radio Monologue interview. He said that a transparent, free and fair flagbearship election, where someone emerges as the credible flagbearer, will help to unite the party.
He stated that he is the most experienced aspirant, based on the fact that he has been contesting since 2005.
Commenting on the current situation where the SLPP is perceived as factions-driven, he argued that, as long as many people have interests in contesting for the flagbearership, this will always create several differing groupings, even with our collective efforts to unite the party.
Julius Maada Bio also had a message for women across the country. He told his listeners that women are his strongest support base in Sierra Leone. He said that women should be partners in development, and not just there to go to the kitchen.
He reminded the people that because of his appreciation of the contribution women make in society, that was why he appointed a respected woman – Dr. Kadi Sesay, as his presidential running mate in 2012. “I hold women in the highest esteem,” he said.
He assured the people of Sierra Leone that in September 2015 – a few weeks, he will be coming home to meet and speak with them.
He told listeners that his father was not a founding member of the SLPP, but in his home district of Bonthe – which was dominated by the opposition PMDC party at the 2007 general elections, 96% of the people voted for the SLPP in the 2012 elections, when he Bio led the SLPP party.
Bio said that SLPP won 37% of votes at the 2012 elections, despite all the electoral malpractices of the ruling APC. Therefore SLPP members should avoid risking all the hard-work that he and they have invested to improve the party’s chances of winning next time.
“We only need to top up in the 2018 elections,” said Bio confidently.
Without personalising the debate about who should lead SLPP, he said that the party must not risk derailing the destiny of the party by placing it into the hands of someone who has never voted in Sierra Leone, never voted for the SLPP and cannot even boast of having a constituency he has delivered for the SLPP.
He told listeners that, at the last elections in 2012, the people did not get what they voted for. However, in the next coming elections in 2018, the people will get what they vote for.
He reminded the people that he did not buy them in 2012 with money, and that they voted for his leadership because of their natural love for him, and therefore nobody should buy them now with money.
He rhetorically asked; how can anyone lead the SLPP party, if they do not know the constituency chairmen of the SLPP, or the grassroots members of the party.
And he dismissed his critics who say that he will not win a general election in Sierra Leone.
“If President Koroma contested in 2002 and won about 23% of votes, and then became president in 2007, how much chance do I have in 2018 after winning 37% of votes at the 2012 general elections?,” Bio asked.
Julius Maada Bio mused that there are two most popular politicians in Sierra Leone: One of them is not contesting the next general elections, but contesting to lead the SLPP now.
He urged his supporters: “Stay strong, we are on the right path, we will win the next elections and we are on the straightest line to State House.”
The Kiss FM radio interview was sponsored and organised by the group – ‘Youth in Action for Julius Maada Bio’ – a grassroots and young people campaign mobilisation group, which has been established to promote the candidacy of Julius Maada Bio to lead the SLPP and become the next president of Sierra Leone.
I still have the same question I had the last time Bio contested for the presidency of Sierra Leone. Aside from engaging in serial coups, what is his record of leadership? I just want to see his record of leadership for the last 20 years. Let us see the results of his leadership.
If there is anything that Sierra Leoneans should have learned from Ernest Koroma it is that candidates need to be properly vetted. EBK advertised himself as an insurance executive. What is the insurance industry in the Sierra Leonean context. Of the 6 million people, how many are actually engaged in the insurance industry? Was EBK a leader of any significance?
EBK promised to run the country like a business. The only problem is that the people didn’t know he meant a mafia syndicate. Now youth unemployment is over 70%. They have buses with no bus fare, roads but no cars to drive, and hunger with no food to eat. The rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer.
I hope Sierra Leoneans won’t be duped by another inferior leader. The people must have leadership that can be effective on a global stage. I’m glad Bio is popular in Bonthe, but can he garner the same support in Berlin, New York, London, or China?
Sierra Leone needs major investments. Will global leaders be comfortable with Maada Bio?
It will be interesting to see if Bio can raise the funds needed to run a successful campaign. I’m sure the millions needed will have to extend far beyond his popularity in Bonthe.
Vetting of candidates within the SLPP is through the process of open competition, where all candidates who meet the qualification to run for flagbearership of the party, apply for the coveted position and pay up the contestant fee. Once that threshold is cleared, candidates will then be subjected to the marketplace of ideas, where they will present their credentials for examination.
In an efficient market, unexpected good news from public records and information may cause voters to view a candidate as less risky and win the approval and votes of the electorate. On the contrary, unexpected bad news about a candidate can cause an opposite reaction.
The SLPP as a party that cut its teeth under the rule of law and democratic fundamentals, will definitely be conducting the flagbearership election within the rules of the “efficient market hypothesis” that I just explained.
Nonpartisan, you are therefore quite right to point out the need for more information on all the candidates that are going to put themselves up for election under the SLPP ticket to lead the party. Such information should however be backed by empirical evidence, not anecdotal narrative.
This will make the analysis credible, fair and objective. There is indeed need for vigilance and critical analysis of the records of all contestants, so as to pave the way for the absolutely best man with the best value and public record in terms of service, academic and practical qualifications to represent the SLPP this time – and by inference, a heart beat away from the presidency.
Lastly, all members of the GOP of Sierra Leone should doff their hats to the current executive for the great job they did, rising up to the occasion in clearing Dr. Kandeh Yumkella as a paid up and legitimate member of the party, thereby welcoming him to the office last week in grand style.
There was no ambiguity, obfuscation, and equivocation. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella is a Sierra Leonean by birth, a competent, qualified and proud member of the SLPP and deserve to be treated as such by all and sundry within the SLPP family.
We will accept nothing less, and I hope a clear message has been sent to those who think that they can deny him the right to participate in the political process within the SLPP and Sierra Leone at large, to now accept that Dr. Kandeh Yumkella is part of the process.
The ball is now in his court to make the case for his election to the coveted position of flag bearer.
Thanks to the SLPP executive, particularly chairman Chief Somano Kapen, and Mr. Manso Dumbuya – the Western Area chief executive of the SLPP.
Sierra Leone was a one party system for 23 years under Shaka Stevens regime. The vote then was only “yes” or “No” for a recommended APC Candidate. Many People chose not to vote by then.
Kandeh Yumkella who was born in 1959 and grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, and was too young to vote. Those were the only years democracy was at work in Sierra Leone.
Late Tejan Kabba brought back democracy to Sierra Leone in 1996. Kandeh Yumkella went to the USA for Studies in the early 1990s but returned back to Sierra Leone briefly during the NPRC regime.
Now tell me, do Sierra Leoneans living abroad vote at elections? How do you expect Mr Kandeh to vote? Come on Maada!