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.