Sierra Leone Telegraph: 02 January 2022:
Last week, President Bio was endorsed in an election held by the members of his ruling SLPP party at their national convention as leader and chairman of the party. He will also be contesting next year’s presidential election as the SLPP flagbearer, hoping he will win his second term mandate.
But calls are growing for regime change through the ballot box, amid growing poverty, rising youth unemployment and poor access to electricity, clean drinking water, and good healthcare provision.
With 2022 promised to herald the beginning of the end of the global Covid pandemic and a return to economic growth, President Bio has used his New Year’s nationwide address to tell the people of Sierra Leone about his government’s progress and plans for the future.
This is what he said:
Fellow citizens, just over a week ago, I switched on the CLSG interconnection at Tiloma, bringing sustainable electricity to the regional capitals of Eastern and Southern Sierra Leone. This year alone, working with partners, we have lit up 23 more towns and communities in rural Sierra Leone including Masiaka, Foredugu, Mambolo, Mange, and Rokupr in the north; Moyamba Junction, Taiama, Sumbuya, Koribondo, and Sulima in the south; and, Gorahun, Boajibu, Jojoima, Mobai, and Manowa Town in the East.
My government’s 148 MW energy generation agreement for the Western Area has been ratified by parliament. We are refurbishing transmission and distribution assets and lines and planning new investments in the energy sector.
Four years on, we have moved from very expensive and dirty temporary energy fixes to more sustainable and affordable options including green energy sources. That is progress.
In 2021, we completed the 46 km Bo-Bandajuma Road and substantial work has been done on the Bandajuma to Mano River Union Road including three bridges. The 36 km Moyamba Junction to Moyamba Road including 4 major bridges is complete.
The 28km Pendembu to Kailahun Road is near completion. Over a hundred kilometres of city roads in the north, south, east, and west have been or are being completely resurfaced. We have done extensive re-gravelling work on 1,800 km of roads across the country.
As a result of my much-derided travels, our friends in the European Union and World Bank among others have given Sierra Leone grants of over a hundred million US dollars for the Resilient Urban Sierra Leone Project and modern bridges that will replace hand-pulled cable-ferries.
The highway to Masiaka is completed with tree-lined medians. In a few months, I will commission a brand new and modern Magbele Bridge over the Rokel River and a brand new and modern Mabang Bridge over the Ribbi River. That is what national infrastructural development is. That is progress.
In 2021, we kept millions of children in school, including girls and children with disabilities. We provided them with free teaching and 3 3 learning materials and food in some locations. Radical inclusion is here to stay.
In 2021 we have trained thousands of teachers and education sector workers, built or renovated over 100 schools and resourced libraries, updated and reviewed curricula, and, in collaboration with civil society, international institutions, and development partners used cutting edge technologies and introduced ground-breaking policies.
We continued to nail our flag on the mast of innovation with a Sierra Leonean, Jeremiah Thoronka, winning a global prize for technology.
As a nation, we have been recognised for developing effective home-grown, technologymediated solutions to fight COVID-19 and deliver healthcare.
In 2021, we have delivered on our promises to restructure the governance of tertiary and higher education, resolved the Limkokwing impasse, rehabilitated infrastructure across all public institutions, established and improved TVET across the country, and provided greater access to higher education, especially for women studying STEM disciplines.
Social safety-net schemes are now better structured and more impactful for vulnerable populations than 5 years ago. We expanded opportunity for youth, women, and persons with disabilities. Entrepreneurship and stimulus grants, job-creation, skills training, and low-interest loans have benefitted women and youth.
From youth farms, youth in fisheries, youth carwashes, and to youth-at-risk training schemes and start-up kits, we are putting thousands of young people on the path to empowerment and economic opportunity.
2021 was the year of strengthening the foundation for transformative change in the health sector even as we battled and prevailed over three waves of COVID-19 attacks. We expanded primary healthcare services by increasing Primary Healthcare Units (PHUs) to 1500, spread throughout the country so that every Sierra Leonean has access to one within a 5-mile radius.
For 2022, we are all focused on improving our pandemic preparedness and response; enhancing the quality of services delivered at PHUs through infrastructure and equipment upgrades; improving quality of staff at the different cadres and making high quality drugs available in hospital pharmacies; and improving the quality of services at all the secondary and tertiary hospitals.
In 2021, we increased budgetary allocation to the health sector to 11.6 % of GDP. Our international partners such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, and the World Bank expressed their confidence in our reforms by increasing their funding support to $157M, and $78M respectively.
With these and additional resources, 2022 will be an even better year for transforming the healthcare sector, dramatically reducing maternal mortality, improving infant survival, and expanding quality physical and mental healthcare to Sierra Leoneans.
In 2021, we provided more garbage skips throughout the country to improve public sanitation, especially in urban centres. We have increased investment in public safety and disaster management. We have improved our climate mitigation and adaptation interventions and we intend to follow through on our green commitments while actively seeking green investments in our business-friendly ecosystem.
In 2021, we made progress toward sustainable food security. We made a big push to support private sector engagement in the agriculture sector by establishing 14 mechanisation service centres, making a Le100 billion low-interest agriculture credit facility available for agri-businesses, providing Le8.2 billion worth of improved rice seeds through an e-voucher system targeting youth and women, and cultivated over 15,000 hectares of rice to support food insecure households across the country.
As a result of these interventions, there is a 21% jump in rice production from 2020, according to an ECOWAS pre-harvest assessment.
From job creation for youth and women, competitive financing for value addition and agribusiness, new tree crop establishments for cocoa and oil-palm, a National Comprehensive Soil Survey, a National Mechanisation Policy, a National Irrigation Master Plan, to the Smallholder Commercialisation and Agribusiness Development Project, we are making steady progress towards food security and wealth creation in the agricultural sector.
Across Government, we have made significant improvement in governance and ruling justly. There is more devolution, more engagement with civil society, and greater citizens’ participation in local governance.
Our much-lauded judicial and justice-sector reforms now mean far greater 5 5 access to justice for more Sierra Leoneans than at any time before. We will soon release the Government White Paper on Constitutional Reforms that will account for gaps and lacunae in our current constitution.
In 2021, we abolished the death penalty forever and also laid in parliament a seminal law for gender equality and empowerment.
For the control of corruption, the Millennium Challenge Corporation scores Sierra Leone at an unprecedented 83% this year – up from a failing 49% for the past government – for our effective fight against corruption. Domestic revenue mobilisation is up, inflation is largely in check, procurement and other financial processes are better monitored, and public-sector salaries are paid regularly each month.
In 2021, we launched the geodata from the national geophysical survey, amicably resolved disputes and attracted new investments and created hundreds of new jobs in the mining sector. As a result of our policies and our collaboration with our partners, the mines have stayed open and added more jobs throughout COVID.
Reduced telecoms rates and expanded coverage in a more competitive telecoms sector, increased internet penetration, and legislative and other reforms in the communications sector have been truly remarkable in 2021.
No journalist is in prison for the practice of journalism; our cybercrime laws are in accord with international best practices, and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and international bodies have recognised that media freedoms are at an all-time high.
In 2021, Sierra Leone became the fourth African country to sign the global pledge on media freedoms and Sierra Leone will further bolster its global reputation for religious tolerance by signing up to the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance.
In 2021, our international profile improved even further with continental leadership of C-10, consideration for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and recognition at several international summits for investing in education and especially girls’ education, protecting and promoting women’s rights, and for maintaining and widening win-win relationships with historical and new partners.
In 2021, our Sierra Leone was recognised as the 4th most peaceful country in Africa. In sports, Sierra Leoneans brought home laurels in dozens of disciplines. We continued to improve on and invest in sports and in a few weeks, Sierra Leone will be playing in the African Cup of Nations after 25 years.
As Sierra Leoneans, we have a lot to be proud of. In 2021, we achieved a lot in spite of the turbulence of these times; in spite of the unpredictability of the global economy; and in spite of the misinformation laden rhetoric of bad politicians.
Sierra Leone is forging ahead, undeterred and with purpose. We are determined to keep our nation on the path of a new direction. Happy New Year and may God bless Sierra Leone. (END)
You can watch the President delivering his address here:
Like in the movies, another captivating speech by the PAOPA dear leader, meant to further hypnotize an already converted blind followers, many of whom their education level means nothing, in shedding light between fiction and reality. As for majority of our citizens however, who for the past 4yrs been experiencing untold suffering in the midst of the most turbulent political period reminisce of that of old Pa Sheki, where citizens are randomly harass and locked up in prison for speaking against the government, this speech is nothing other than the usual propaganda machinery this regime has been known for.
If you are a kin reader and happen to follow politics and developments back home, please take note of the word COMPLETE being mentioned over and over as the president listed his purported infrastructural accomplishment. What this denotes is that, virtually all the project mentioned were already started, with most near completion, when the current regime took over. From the ongoing solar electrification of townships of Masiaka, Moyamba Junction, etc to the Chinese construction of the Welington-Masiaka toll road, Magbele and Mabang bridges, all these were project inherited from the previous regime, with the current regime only needing to supervise work and make sure work is completed. Absolutely none was initiated by this regime, though the PAOPA propaganda seem to heap all the praises to themselves deceptively.
Now on the area of Agriculture, does it make sense for the price of our staple food rice, to have double (200,000 -400,000 leones per bag), if according to the president, local production has increase 21%? “ No journalist is in prison for the practice of journalism;” Maybe so at the moment, but we have Mohamed Kamraimba, an outspoken opposition figure languishing in prison on frivolous charges and technicalities. Oh, what about Dr. Sylvia Blyden, a renown journalist and politician who spent several months in jail for a facebook post? Just few weeks ago, several opposition women were reported to been locked up in prison for simply opposing a census. Many areas remains to be dissected on this speech but Mr. ART word limit needs to be heed.
The world is watching Sierra Leone
Looking for an extremely tendentious speech? Well, go no further. President Bio and his team of PAOPA speech writers and spin doctors are once again going it blind, weaving ever so recklessly and of course unapologetically, an intricate web of glaringly exaggerated facts and downright falsehoods relating to what they see as their great record of achievements in the four years or so that they have been in power. In a way, this is not a surprise. Bio is addressing a convinced and converted audience of committed and single-minded party faithfuls: PAOPA disciples and worshippers swooning with ecstasy to the point of being almost comatose as they gobble up every syllable of the intoxicating but no less vacuous rhetoric spewed by their divine leader, seen frothing at the mouth as he dishes out the usual party political propaganda.
I am sorry to disappoint Bio, his spin doctors and captive audience by stating the obvious: all they have succeeded in doing is confirm to non-PAOPA readers and listeners that the speech is emblematic of an inescapable fact: their brand of politics is the art of lying taken to its furthest limits and perhaps even beyond, verging as it were on the sacrilegious, not to say the abominable. The glib opening statement says it all. Well placed, factual, clear and simple in appearance, the statement bears nonetheless the hallmarks of sophistry and sophistication inherent in political spin – in doublespeak to put it in Orwellian terms. More precisely, it is an indubitable fact that Bio has switched on interrupted electricity supply to Bo and Kenema. What the President deliberately and propagandistically leaves unsaid are the many years of hard work predating the switching on of the power supply in question. In point fact, all Bio has had to do is switching on the light! A divine gesture you might think, harking back to Genesis – to the Divine Order ‘Let there be light’, given on Creation Day. Easy-peasy though in Bio’s case, for as we all know, the groundwork for the project of lighting up Bo and Kenema and its actual construction phase had largely been completed before Bio and his PAOPA team came to power. One would have to be in an incurable state of intellectual torpor or be suffering from irreversible amnesia to buy into their propaganda and mendacity.
But for the constraints of time and space, I could go on and on, unpacking more instances of the half truths and blatant lies contained in every claim made in the speech, showing how it is at the opposite end of the great hardship ordinary men, women and children right across our country have been experiencing since Bio and team came to power. Suffice it to say that the forthcoming elections will hopefully prove just how Bio, his PAOPA Party and Administration are wrong in taking Sierra Leonean voters for granted, in thinking that they have nothing between the ears and are incapable of recognising falsehoods dress up and trumpeted as truths.
“Do the right thing even if it is hard. The pain of discipline is much less than the pain of regret” . My president, your president our president Dr. Julius Maada Bio I want to thank you for the good work done. Your effective plan for the betterment of our country, Sierra Leone resonates well with the reasonable citizens both home and abroad. All of the activities and achievements outlined under your leadership and reign clearly defines objectives of your manifesto that relate to current and future aims. “PAOPA Sierra Leone go become better”.
It gives me the urge to express my profound admiration over the manner in which you have shown to Sierra Leoneans and the world over that inquity is key in your heart and the way you administer your government. Such can be seen in the free education program rolled out, the lighting of towns such as Masiaka, Foredugu, Mambolo, Mange and Rokupr in the North; Moyamba Junction, Tiama, Sumbuya, Koribondo and Sulima in the South; Goranhun Tonkia, Boajibu, Jojoima, Mobai, Manowa in the East. Without you, when will these communities would have gain access to light? Perhaps the next 50 years as assumed. Thank you sir.
Is happy new year to Bio and his government. But for the vast majority of your fellow countrymen and women, they can’t wait to see the back of 2021. It has been a long and miserable year for them, due to your misguided economic policies and the failure to tackle the cancer of corruption both with in your government and the public services sector. If the past is any guide for the feature, we are celebrating the arrival of 2022, with a degree of pessimism and calling on the Bio government for a course correction. A total reset the way government works. Because what 2021 have thought us, government is not working for the people that entrusted their fate in your hands. It is time to reach for the reset button, because we know how the past looks like, we don’t need Bio to remind us about his government achievements, is all around us.
Youth unemployment is on the rise, burglaries, rapes, cost of living is high , road accidents in our not fit for purpose roads is all time high, child mortality is up, pregnant women’s dying whilst giving birth is up, school buildings falling apart, child poverty and malnutrition is high. Yes there has been little progress, but at a snail pace. The reality of course his government is just acting like a bridge and building on the investments projects identified and made by previous governments to bring them to fruition. So taunting them as his government sole achievements, and playing politics by failing to acknowledge the efforts of previous governments is not only misleading but being economical with the truth. For vast majority of Sierra Leoneans, it has been a reversals of fortune, since this one directionless government came to power.
The real challenge for Bio and his government is to come up with a clear plan on how to dig our country from the economic malic that covid19 have presented to us. We all know about the past, but the feature is a blank slate handed to us . We need courageous leaders, with a clear lens for the feature and to tackle the fundamentals problems we all know exist to stand any chance of making economic progress, that will have a meaningful impact on the lives of ordinary people up and down the country. 2021 is for Bio and his cronies. Let 2022 be the year for the ordinary Sierra Leoneans citizen.