Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 November 2021:
President Julius Maada Bio was yesterday heckled and humiliated by hundreds of school children in Kono, where the president was delivering a speech about the progress he says his government is making across the country, including his Free Quality Education programme.
President Bio could be seen to be visibly shocked at the response of the children shouting – “we want light – we want rice”; others were shouting – ” light nor dae, rice don dear” – in reference to the acute shortage of food, water and electricity in the country, especially in towns and cities such as Kono in the east of the country.
Since winning elections in 2018, there has been a significant drop in standard of living of most Sierra Leoneans as income falls and prices rise.
Although the government is blaming the Covid pandemic and its impact on the economy for rising prices, critics of the president say that reckless spending and rampant corruption are the root causes of the economic woes most Sierra Leoneans are facing.
Few days ago, a video on social media showed the son of the president dancing around and playing with lots of cash in his hands, which many in Sierra Leone say makes a mockery of the millions of poor suffering children in the country who go without sufficient food every single day of the week. And now school children are fighting back.
You can watch the school children heckling the president here:
Policy Analyst and commentator – Mahmoud Tim Kargbo said: “The people are so tired with the unfulfilled promises of this government. An establishment that’s set up to exploit the suffering majority will never succeed in governance. Tejan Kabba (RIP) succeeded in bringing this country together after a very nasty war that brought all economic activities in the land to a halt because he rallied all nationals behind his cause irrespective of their tribes, regions or other affiliations.
“This isn’t what we are seeing from the selected few that surrounds Bio. They are determined to make money for themselves and live luxurious life styles at the expense of the suffering majority.”
A picture speaks a thousand words. In this case the videos clip of Bio looking rattled and looking around for some form of support not only validate the accepted wisdom that for now under his leadership, his government had managed to anger every one including this school children, that were supposed to act like cheerleaders in his mission to preach to the converted . His body language shows this is clearly a baptism of fire, that the president is not used to . I mean you got to give it to the school children. They have pulled off a class act, that no one saw coming. And the good news is, unlike us in the days of Momoh when we led demonstration against his government, with the threat of arrest and explosion from school hanging over our heads, this time, it appears to be spontaneous with no one telling the children what to say. So taking action against any one of them, for taking Bio to task is no brainer. He have suddenly ventured out to the real world.
Maybe to Bio and some of his people, Sierra-leone might be a land of honey and plenty. Unfortunately, for vast majority of people that have no connection with his government, is a different story. More like he’d walked in to a lion’s den, this time young cobs that wants to make a meal of him. Who ever organised this outing for the president, didn’t do his home work properly. There should have been an advanced party a week before the president make his car crash visit to guage the temperature of the local community in Kono District, before he walks straight into the school children trap.
But since his government, are averse to transparency and accountability, and only good at public relations exircise, this is the moment Bio might have felt he rather be any where eles surrounded by yes men than confront unruly school children that definitely felt the need to express their anger, since the adults and the elders and religious organisations , the Press, the opposition parties have abandoned their duties to speak the truth to Bio.
Why some people address President Bio’s government a “fail government” and what is a fail government? If the previous government worked so hard to make Sierra Leone a better place for its citizens, Sierra Leone would have improved and being in better position at least economically and infrastructurally during the 11 years rule. But this is not in the case study going back through those 11 years rule from the previous government. Let me take few examples, the price of a bag of rice during the 11 years, it went up and up but never came down. Petrol price went up. House rent went up and also demanding payments in US Dollars and not in Leones. Lights was in very short supply and even that was for the privileged few mostly benefited from it.
You and I know this list can go on and on, so I rest my case. Do you still have to call Bio’s government a fail government?.Do not cast blame now, it all started from previous governments. President Bio is trying hard to improve our beloved country MAMA SIERRA LEONE to be a better place. Lets give him the support he needs to make Sierra Leone a better place for us and for our children yet unborn. People are mostly opposing President Bio’s government purely with political affiliation set minds rather than helping build a better Sierra Leone for all.
I honestly think this is democracy at work in our country Sierra Leone regarding President Bio and the Kono school children. Voicing their demands to the President directly is good for the President and the people of Sierra Leone. This is what I guess President Bio would prefer from citizens, than to spread out lies to the people of Sierra Leone in the social medias. I guess the President was pleased to hear from the school children directly. Why must him be embarrassed? There was nothing for him to be embarrassed about. A good leader has to face the people be it on a good day or bad day. It can not always be rosy for him with sweet chants and praise at all times. He is the President of Sierra Leone and he needs to listen to his people directly. There is no 100 percent perfect leader on this planet with a clean slate of solving/fixing its citizens demands. Some people will complain, demand more and criticize even good things done by their leaders.
Even our Lord Jesus Christ according to the bible was not fully accepted by the Romans and hence they crucified him. As we all know, party supporters of various parties always do or say things on party lines just to please their leaders. Those school children of which some have no party affiliations has the courage to express their feelings directly to President Bio. But knowing politics is a dirty game, I wonder if members of the opposition parties were not among the school children to gear them up with such demands. If they actual did that, then it is a plus one point to President Bio because he is now aware of the students gut feelings and he will certainly work towards solving them.
Thanks to President “Talk and Do” Bio for fulfilling one of his manifesto promises to turn the sod for the construction of Kono University of Science and Technology. This is the first time in history for the students of Kono to pursue their ambitions without traveling to other parts of the country.
Most of the students that are now benefiting from the Free Quality Education are grateful to the New Direction government. I hope and pray that some disgruntled opposition parties will ALLOW OUR KIDS TO BE KIDS.
He is a complete disgrace to our nation, this dude haven’t accomplished anything since elected just slogan and fly fly all over the world
Finally the wheels are coming off the Bio wagon. And this time the ones that are making their voice heard, are children that are not even old enough to vote, but nevertheless understand the failed economic policies being pursued by the one direction government of President Bio is hurting families up and down the country. The heckling of Bio by this school children might go down in history as a first in our country. But if we cast our minds back, to the start of the RUF civil war, a lot child soldiers took part in that war. Some were forced join and fight. Others were left with no choice. As adults, it will be naive of us to think, today’s children are not politically informed, or engaged. Maybe childrens of the 1970s,and 1980s might claim to be the age of political innocence. Back then, children are only seen but never heard expressing their views on any subjects under the sun, especially if we are in the company of our elders.
In those days, our only source of information, was the SLBS, and BBC Focus on Africa programmes broadcast on Medium Radio frequency. Fast forward to today’s world, where the information you want is at your finger tips. With Social media, and the easy access to the latest IPhone and Ipad gadgets, this school children are looking at their counter parts in other parts of the world, Europe, Asia, the Americas, and marveling how well they are looked after by their elected political leaders, in terms of infrastructure, electricity, housing good roads, and comparing their misfortune to those other children in those advanced economies, and asking themselves, why do we have to put up with this under development in our country?
Too much suffering in Sierra Leone, with no light at the end of the tunnel. Rightly they conclude to themselves, if our parents are willing to suffer in silence, we are going to raise our voices, to send a clear message to Bio, whilst the Free Education for children like us are welcome, we also have the right not to go to bed hungry everyday, because some of your governments ministers are stealing the money meant to feed us, for their own selfish needs.If Bio is smart enough, which is a big if, he should start to change his one direction mantra, and work to improve the lives of every Sierra-leoneans. The problem with Bio, he is surrounded by” YES MEN “that are always busy looking after their own interests, rather than the interest of Bio, never mind the country.
This President has become a celebrity everywhere in this country, cameras behind him no matter what. Bio as a presidential candidate in 2018, survived an assassination attempt in his opponent’s home town” Kamaloo”, and no apology comes from Dr. Samura Kamara to date.
The late Lt, Col. Tom N’yuma was beaten like a snake by APC, with the allegation that, he attempted to inflict harm on the then President EBK. Today, we have forgotten to realize that the majority of the voters voted Bio in office 2018, but he was chosen by God. The APC we knew yesterday and the current are quite different.
The late Tom Nyuma was beaten by ex-soldiers aggrieved that he had been a mole in the army and was responsible for the deaths of countless soldiers.See the T.R.C report.
I am so proud of these children. In the history of our country, this is unheard of. Is this going to be a trend or sign of things to come? Is our able President going to take the heat or retreat to his bunkers? In all his public speaking and interviews he has performed badly, no substance but lies. How did we elect him?
The numerous killings of innocent citizens who dared took to the street to demonstrate against the regime’s infringements on their rights, appeared to have sent a chilling effects and complacency, with many of the adult population being cowered, fearing any other attempt to take to street, will be met by live bullets as in the past.
Face with such predicament, and living under a rogue state, it appears young kids, who normally suffers the brunt of the economic ills in a nation are taking matters into their own hands. Bio and his gang of thieves must be confronted. Bravo to the young children of Kono district, for standing up against a tyrant.
We should not only depends on rice as staple food, let us subscribe to cassava and potatoes just as Ghana did and now today they are far ahead of we interms of development. Those students didn’t know their purpose of going to school I feel so sorry for their parents. Together we help ourselves the more we will develop as a nation.
This administration is a disgrace to our country all they do is corruption and travelling like they looking for international citizenship. President Bio sit down and fulfill your promises. This lie lie don too much, you have eroded the democratic process in our country. He unlawfully kicked out members of parliament elected by their people, now suspending the audit service head is just some of the stuff the military junta is engaged in. We are now worse off than Ernest bai Koroma era. What a disgrace is this dude to our nation
You are very unpatriotic idiot are you blind to the mismanagement of this fail government