Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 July 2019:
The ‘earth shattering’ mystery surrounding president Bio’s disappearance has now been unravelled, despite efforts by State House to keep his whereabouts unnecessarily and unprofessionally secret.
The Kenyan government yesterday reported that president Bio is in the country, where he is enjoying a luxurious safari holiday, few in Sierra Leone can afford.
The president also held ‘unofficial’ talks with the Kenyan president – Uhuru Kenyatta, about developing trade between the two countries, contrary to erroneous report that president Bio is in London enjoying a well-earned rest from his busy private schedule.
The facts are out – president Bio is out of the country on business and pleasure, leaving behind a country broken by decades of economic mismanagement and corruption.
Economic hardship is biting really hard for most Sierra Leoneans whose average daily earnings is not more than $1.50.
Successive presidents have been accused of health tourism and for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars enjoying luxurious holidays abroad at the expense of the country’s beautiful tourist resorts that are struggling to attract visitors.
Sierra Leone is not only endowed with vast precious mineral resources, but has a small pocket of very rich political class who needs to inculcate the habit and patriotism of spending their cash locally, in support of local industries that employ the millions of poorly paid Sierra Leoneans.
The economics concept of ‘the multiplier effect’ of local spending in order to boost the circular flow of income in the economy, must be respected and practiced seriously by those in power, rather than keep looking up to foreign investors for salvation.
If those in political leadership continue to spend the bulk of their wealth on holidays and business investments abroad, then Sierra Leone will always depend on handouts from the international community and loans from the IMF and World Bank. Charity must begin at home.
So why is president Bio in Kenya, apart from enjoying a luxurious safari holiday few in Sierra Leone can afford?
According to the Kenyan Brodcasting Corporation, president Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday, Thursday, held talks with Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio and Mauritius Acting President Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory, where tourism and trade topped the agenda of their discussions.
At the meeting between President Kenyatta and President Bio, the two leaders discussed ways of promoting tourism and boosting trade between Kenya and Sierra Leone.
President Kenyatta commended his Sierra Leonean counterpart, who is in the country with his family for vacation, for choosing Kenya as a holiday destination. But is this not at the expense of Sierra Leone’s local tourism operators that are struggling to stay afloat?
Less than 20,000 tourists visit Sierra Leone every year, which as a result, there are very few airlines flying to Sierra Leone. And when they do, the cost of flying to the country is beyond the average visitor looking for a cheap holiday.
Not surprisingly, the Kenyan president encouraged other African leaders to pick Kenya as holiday destination of choice, which he said has a well-developed tourism and hospitality sector with so much to offer its visitors, such as president Bio of Sierra Leone.
Those criticising citizens for requesting information about the whereabout of president Bio must keep in mind that president Bio was elected by the people, and is therefore the most senior public servant in the country. His affairs of state are of public interest; and will be held accountable as long as he is the head of state.
To lie about his itinerary or failing to inform the public as all leaders before him have done, is a betrayal of trust and the principles of probity and transparency, which president Bio himself promised to uphold.
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