Ibrahim Labor Fofana: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 May 2023:
After five years in office, every president in Sierra Leone is expected to go back to the people to seek a fresh new mandate. If the president has done well, the people will re-elect him for a second term. This is the normal election cycle in our country since President Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
Sierra Leone is in that five-year election cycle again. This time, the military general who handed political power over to a civilian democratic government in 1996, went away, changed his uniform, came back in mufti, contested, and won the 2018 presidential elections, is seeking another five-year mandate from the people.
Though this process of seeking new mandate from the people every five years is a new democratic phenomenon, a pattern is already forming. In 2002, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah went to the people for a new mandate. Based on his laudable achievements, he was re-elected “wootehteh” (with a landslide victory) over his APC competitor. When Ernest Bai Koroma sought a fresh mandate from the people in 2012, he was re-elected even though not with the same kind of resounding victory as his SLPP predecessor, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
Now the military general, who first became Head of State in his twenties and now President in his fifties, is seeking re-election. Will his re-election victory be as history making as that of late President Kabbah or will it be just an okay victory like that of his predecessor, Ernest Bai Koroma?
To answer that question, let’s look at some of the successes of President Julius Maada Bio and compare them with Ernest Bai Koroma’s.
In just five years as President of Sierra Leone and head of the SLPP led government, President Bio has employed more teachers than in the eleven years of Ernest Bai Koroma’s APC government. President Bio has absorbed more nurses into the health sector than Ernest Bai Koroma did. The government of President Bio in his first five years has created more jobs compared to the government of President Koroma during his first five years.
The Bio government has increased the minimum wage as well as the minimum pension, a development that was lost to the Ernest Bai Koroma government. In fact, teachers across the country received a 30% salary increase in 2020 and another 45% increase is planned for 2023-2025. This has never happened before.
Additionally, this government has provided electricity to more communities than was the case with the previous government. In fact, some communities have only seen electricity for the very first time in 200 years while some got it back now after 40 years. Just a few days ago, residents of Moyamba town jubilated when they saw trailers load with electricity generation equipment. It is almost forty years since Moyamba town last saw electricity.
In the area of hospital infrastructure, this government has constructed more health facilities across the country, provided more medical equipment, supplies and other medical consumables than its predecessor. In just five years in government, the terrible health statistics which Sierra Leone was notorious for in decades, Maternal and Child Deaths has been reduced by 60%. Now death of a mother or child during delivery is infrequent. During the 11 years of the Ernest Bai Koroma APC led government, only a meager 6% of the country’s budget was allocated to the health sector. Now the Maada Bio administration has increased that to 11.6%, in only five years. And for the first time in the health sector, Sierra Leone now has Hospital-on-wheels (mobile clinic) which provides essential health care services to people who cannot make it to established health facilities. This addresses the accessibility gap to health care services.
Through the introduction of the Free Quality Education program, this government has significantly turned around our education system like no other government has done since Sir Milton Margai. With a well-managed School Bus system, free School Feeding program for some schools, free books, free learning and teaching materials, fee-free public exams for government schools and free education for girls studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, this government has been lauded and globally recognized for moving the country in the right direction to development.
There are more classrooms and more pupils in school this past five years than in the entire eleven years of Ernest Bai Koroma’s APC era. Kono University of Science and Technology is under construction while ten districts have at least one vocational training centre each. To make tertiary education more accessible and affordable, this government introduced the Student Loan Scheme.
To show how serious President Bio takes Human Capital Development and how much he wants to transform the future of this nation, government’s spending on the education sector is 22% of the nation’s budget from 8% during the 11 years of the last regime. This is phenomenal.
In just five short years, President Maada Bio, First Lady Fatima Maada Bio and some members of the President’s cabinet have contributed significantly to restoring and improving Sierra Leone’s international image than the total 11 years of Ernest Bai Koroma led APC government. For example, the African Union (AU) and ECOWAS endorsed Sierra Leone for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. President Bio co-chaired the UN Transform Education Summit, co-chaired the Leader Group of the High-Level Steering Committee on SDG4.
Sierra Leone chaired the Advisory Board on the Global Education Monitoring Report. Added to that, Sierra Leone co-sponsored UN Resolution on Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence and our First Lady, Fatima Bio presented the Resolution to the General Assembly which was unanimously adopted. Sierra Leone, under the leadership of President Bio, opened additional embassies in Morocco, Egypt and UAE and for the first time in our history, Sierra Leone opened an Honorary Consulate in Kingston, Jamaica, the only one in the entire Caribbean.
I will stop here for now until Part 2, with these few successes of President Julius Maada Bio and his administration. If president Bio can achieve these under 5 years, even with the ravages of Covid-19 and the economic strangulation of the Ukraine war, think of what can be achieved for another 5 years with him at the helm.
With Part 2 still to come, it is certain that he is on the right path to transform our country and for a shoo in for “woojemeteh” re-election victory with no Run-Off in the June 24, 2023, Presidential Election. Another five years to complete the job, because you don’t change horses in midstream.
Bob Massally, you have said it all. Currently I am unable to write much because of demands on my time. Like you, I abhor 99.99% of the politicians we have in Sierra Leone, they are worse than criminals without a conscience, which positions them on the peripheries of lower-rank animals like monkeys.
Allah/God knows that if I had to choose between SLPP,APC and Satan (Shaitan) I would choose the latter because I know his ultimate goal, which is to shove me to the opposite side of heaven. Therefore, I would be in a “man buttu man waach “ with him every split second of the day and night. SLPP and APC try to pass themselves off as Angel Gibril (Gabriel) when, in fact , they are the devil.
KKY that I was depending on to change the face of Sierra Leone’s politics has become another story. So be it.
I am not a supporter or sympathiser of any Sierra Leonean Politician because our country is always in the bottom 20 of most development and happiness indexes. As far as I am concerned, the whole lot are nation-wreckers and not nation-builders. Having said that, as most things in life, it is all about relativity. Combing through those indexes, however, clearly shows it was during Ernest’s reign that Sierra Leone was moving far away from the bottom of the human development and happiness indexes as well as the world peace index either through sheer luck or otherwise. We all know there were after-thoughts about Ernest Bai Koroma when his first ACC Boss resigned in intimidating circumstances. I for one then wrote him off completely in his second term when he went rogue with the constitution and jettisoned his Vice-President in mid-flight and replaced him with corrupt Victor Foh of Voucher-gate fame to cement the strong belief amongst most Sierra Leoneans that being accused of corruption in Sierra Leon is a badge of honour that our failed politicians and nation-wreckers wear proudly in anticipation of future rewards and promotions.
And boy oh boy! Rewards and promotions they do get. Who will forget late President Tejan-Kabbah attaining the highest office even after a Commission of Enquiry in the late 60s implicated him of corrupt practices at the then thriving Sierra Leone Producing Marketing Board (SLPMB) and banned him from holding public office? As “monkey nor blant lef ee black hand” we all know the corruption scandals that plagued his regime even after being the beneficiary of an international debt write-off and the country handed a new economic slate. Talking about corruption, I guess you all remembered a certain Prince Harding. He is once again on the gravy train and calling the shots in the SLPP. Also, some could talk about extenuating circumstances of being President during and in the aftermath of a bloody RUF war, but the killings and human rights abuses under Kabbah dwarf only Bio’s NPRC and PAOPA SLPP.
Winding up the film reel fast to the present day, the present occupant of State House had corruption accusations swirling around him since he started basking in the political limelight during his NPRC days by no-less-a-person as former President Kabbah among others. In the last five years, as his regime in cahoots with the ACC boss point corruption fingers at the previous Ernest Koroma regime, the other four fingers of the hand are all pointing back as highlighted by the yearly Audit reports and Chernor Bah’s well-respected Africanist Press.
As a matter of fact, Chernor Alpa Bah, has been so good at what he does that he has been offered a post-doctoral research grant by his US North Western University to dig deeper into illicit financial flows not only in Sierra Leone, but the whole of West Africa. Interesting times are ahead of us, I suppose. I will be waiting for that research about Banga Investment and other Off-shore shell companies of corrupt Sierra Leone companies with baited breath. Bio and his caboodle are wearing that corruption badge of honour proudly, prowling around and dancing up and down the country. Knowing fully well the myopia and short memories of the average Sierra Leonean, he now has the temerity of doing an Oliver Twist and asking for more as he believes 5 years is not enough and satiating to curb his appetite and quench his thirst for power without bringing tangible and material benefits to the poor and long-suffering people of Sierra Leone.
Ibrahim Fofana, if President Bio is so sure about his accomplishments, why is he restricting the political space for the opposition? The people of Sierra Leone know what their concerns and desires are. We see SLPP going all over the place to campaign and seemingly turning the country green everywhere. Why won’t they give the same latitude to APC while revealing all election data. Scared – are they?
I am not APC or SLPP. I intensely hate both of them, I just long for fairness.
I personally believe that comparing the past and present SLPP government of the late President Tejan Kabba and current President “Talk and Do” Bio to that of the corrupt and destructive APC 11 years of misrule is like comparing DAY and NIGHT.
Despite the fact that whenever the APC party are in opposition they always embark on “making our country ungovernable” which was manifested on May 26,1997 and recently the insurgence of August 10,2022, both SLPP governments have triumphed in the face of adversity. During those challenging times, the international community and our law enforcement officers succeeded in preserving our democracy which was restored by the “FATHER OF OUR DEMOCRACY” President Julius Maada Wonnie Bio within his 90 days in power. Late President Kabba and his Vice President Solomon Berewa also handed over power and allowed former President Koroma to govern peacefully for the first 5 years, and then flag bearer of the SLPP Retired Brigadier Maada Bio did the same after losing the 2012 presidential elections and migrated to the United Kingdom.
The links below shows the economic situations inherited by former President Koroma of the APC in 2007 and that inherited by current President Bio in 2018 ,combined with the current pandemic and the Russia/ Ukraine war:http://www.sierraherald.com/kabbah-handingover-speech.htmhttps://www.thesierraleonetelegraph.com/imf-approves-us172-million-finance-for-sierra-leone/
Sierra Leoneans don’t appreciate good things until they are gone. Tejan Kabba’s administration was only appreciated after he had left office.
Yet the country’s GDP per capita has dropped to $414 under Bio making us the second poorest in the world. It was once over $700 in the recent past under EBK.https://sierraloaded.sl/news/sierra-leone-poorest-country/
EBK never made us the unhappiest people in Africa and the 3rd least in the world. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/worlds-happiest-countries-2023/
Inflation and currency depreciation has trebled since 2018. The national debt is almost reaching $2 billion dollar – the first time ever. The jobless rate is as bad as it has ever been. Add the poor NPRC-like human rights record of Bio to those terrible performance metrics, you will see a Momoh-like abject failure. Momoh though had the humilty to admit his shortcomings. Now even our iconic cotton treee has given up hope on us.
That spot where our ancestors used to pour libation and give offerings to the the Gods and spirits to look after our country is no more. It is a bad omen.
A coin has two sides. The atrocities committed and blood Bio has shed in just five years, his two predecessors never committed or shed during their individual ten years tenure. This is not to talk about STATE CAPTURE of the institutions of state. He has BLOOD on his hands. He is a OTP.