Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 August 2021:
Last Friday, President Dr Julius Maada Bio presented a cheque of Le10 million to each of the 88 fire victims, tollaling Le880 million, and provided other support to three households affected by the disaster of 5th March 2021 that gutted the Belgium Market in the central business district of Freetown.
Madam Zainab Bangura, one of the beneficiaries and the Women’s Leader of the Belgium Sellers’ Association representing a large community of businessmen and women in the central business district, thanked President Bio and his gesture. She said they would forever be grateful to a man who helped them during difficult times.
While presenting the cheques, food and non-food items to the beneficiaries, President Julius Maada Bio said: “I know you suffered during the fire incident. That is why I am here in person to try to compensate for your loss. We are a caring government, and we love our people. The 88 individual businesses and three households identified will benefit from this gesture,” he noted.
What is truly remarkable is the president’s reckless attitude towards the wearing of mask which many believe typifies his three years in office.
After his address and presentation, the President encouraged his audience to take advantage of the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination, so that the country can beat the Coronavirus, but could not tell them about the importance of complying with the government’s Covid regulation that makes the wearing of masks in public places mandatory. He too did not wear mask.
President Bio himself was in clear breach of his own government’s Covid rules that he tells the people of Sierra Leone to comply with.
Such poor showing of leadership, lawlessness and recklessness is why many are now questioning whether president Bio is fit for office.
Director-General of the National Disaster Management Agency, Lt. General (Rtd.) Brima Bureh Sesay, said the separation of the agency from the Office of National Security (ONS) was to have a body that would effectively and efficiently advise on issues relating to disaster mitigation and to minimise incidences across the country. He added that it is a manifesto fulfillment of the New Direction government to ensure that citizens living in disaster-prone areas are properly taken care of in times of disaster.
“From November 2020, the National Disaster Management Agency has supported 774 homes, 17 schools, churches and mosques and 12,448 people throughout the country. This shows that President Julius Maada Bio is a listening leader who cares for the well-being of his people,” he noted.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Edward Hinga Sandi, said the fire incident at the Belgium Market community is a blessing in disguise because it drew the attention of the central government to how pushful and focused those businessmen and women are, adding that apart from President Bio’s goodwill gesture and commiseration, they will now benefit from the next set of the government Munafa Microcredit facility.
“My ministry will create a special opportunity to ensure that the Belgium Market gets a direct link with suppliers. I think it will add more value to your businesses,” he assured.
“Uneasy lies the head that wear the crown”. If I am to answer the question of whether my president, your president, our president Dr. Julius Maada Bio is serious about the fight against Convid-19 I will say yes. To start with, he happen to be the first president in the sub-region and even Africa as a whole to start taking the convid-19 vaccine in an open and transparent view of the public in order to alleviate the fears Africans used to have for the vaccine. That alone shows he is serious about the convid-19. Also, we have seen the several measures put in place by our leader and his government to address the issues of the spread of the virus. Some of these measures have helped to minimize the number of cases and deaths in Sierra Leone compared to other nations.
To say that he was spotted not using face mask on the occasion doesn’t mean he is not serious about the fight of convid-19. We are all aware that once you have taken the convid-19 vaccine, you can be at liberty now to either use face mask or not. Besides, the picture taken was just an event, and that doesn’t mean he wasn’t with a face mask in his possession. Perhaps, as a leader, he had wanted the media to take a full photo of him handing over the cheque to the lady so that critics will not say the picture is another individual or resemble something else. Non the less, remember that these monies used to carry out such activities are state money that people will want to know how it was spent. Since wearing a mask often disguised our true portrait in public, my president, your president, our president Dr. Julius Maada Bio choose to decide that way.
However, we all can agree to the fact that his gesture was timely as that goes for serving humanity. It doesn’t matter whether these affected people belong to a party or not rather what matters most is about getting them aid to get back to normal life.
Sorry, Mr Samuel Marconi Kamara. Time to intervene. I respect your point, but I can’t entirely agree with it. Let me put the records straight for the 26000 plus readers who visit this glorious platform daily. You wrote this – “To start with, he happen to be the first president in the sub-region and even Africa as a whole to start taking the convid-19 vaccine in an open and transparent view of the public in order to alleviate the fears Africans used to have for the vaccine”. I believe that Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo received his COVID 19 vaccine before President Bio. Am I right or wrong, Mr Samuel Marconi Kamara?
It’s sometimes challenging to make statements on this glorious platform without fact-checking. Isn’t it? God help our leaders lead by example and follow the rules. Not a difficult thing to do, Mr Samuel Marconi Kamara. The vaccines are not a cure but an essential preventive measure. You can still catch the virus and spread it even if you have taken your booster vaccine. My advice is to put your mask on, especially when you are in a closed environment. God bless Mr Samuel Marconi Kamara. “Waytin dem wan tell we”?
Showing compassion ,and commiserations to the victims of the fire tradegy fo the Belgium Market residents is great.We wish this President have extended the same compassion and commiserations to the families that fall foul of his government inspired actions that resulted in the loss of young lives not only at Pademba Road prison facility, and the youths that were killed by his trigger happy out of control security services for which he is the commander in Chief at Makeni . One year on some of those families are still mourning their loss. And asking for answers like any other family would like to know why the Sierra-leone police that are paid to protect life and property, turned their guns on youths protesters that at the very least not a threat to anyone’s life and property. Nevertheless , were only protesting for what they believe is rightly there’s. The right to protest against government policies, or local issues that affects you and your community, is embeded in our Constitution.Just like the right to life and freedom of speech. So it was within that frame work, that those youths were out there protesting.
The first lady Mrs Fatima Bio demanded answers, when her younger brother was unfortunately murdered. May his soul rest in peace. If wooden Bio really want us to take him serious, that his conversion is not a publicity stunts, he should at the very minimal, order a public inquiry to both incidents just like any other democratically elected government that is accountable to the public would have done.The families of the victims at Pademba Road prison, and Makeni at this stage would have given up on finding out about those security forces responsible for the deaths of their family members.But the WHY? is still playing up in their minds. And rightly so. The questions foremost in their minds are:Who ordered the killings? And the Why remains the hunting factor that families have to live with for the rest of their lives.Just like he he cleared his schedule and make time for the families of the Belgium fire incident, will he ever visit the families of the victims of the Pademba prison death and deaths of youngmen in Makeni, Pujehun, Lunsar, Hastings, for a Mobile phone , Tumbor, under his watch.
Or better still invite the victims families at state house for one to one chat and offer his sincere apologies for the loss of life. Or Iam missing a point here. Are we finally seeing Bio the caring president have turned a page, and is putting a humanly face to his appearance. Lets hope that the case. Our countrys population is too small for such tragedies to take place and the only reward we get from our elected leaders, is indifference. It should not happen and should never had happened. To many Sierra Leoneans Bio have always looked rigged, wooden like a human statue carved out of the Gola forest.We know one is going to be charged for the murders in Makeni and Pademba Road Prison, but it will give little solace to the victims families to know why. And most importantly if there President is caring or just being his usual self. Hugging the lime lights for his own political gains.