Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 January 2019:
President Julius Maada Bio yesterday visited the diamond-rich district of Kono, eastern Sierra Leone, as part of his nationwide thank-you-tour, where he assured a mammoth welcoming crowd that Kono will soon have a state-of-the-art science university.
Welcoming the president to Kono, Paramount Chief Member of Parliament – Sahr Yongai Kontanday Mbriwa of Fiama Chiefdom, said it is an honour to receive the President and his entourage in Kono, for the first time since his election in March 2018.
He said that President Bio’s visit is historic, because it also marks the grand home-coming of vice president Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh and the country’s First Lady – Mrs Fatima Bio. Both were born and raised in the cosmopolitan diamond mining and cash crop producing district.
“We the people of Kono are extremely happy to receive you, Sir. This shows how much value you have attached to us as a people. We also want to thank you for the government appointees from Kono and for the introduction of the Free Quality Education. But most importantly, we thank you for your dream of providing a university for the people of Kono. We shall forever remain grateful to your government and the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party at large,” he said.
Mayor of Koidu City, Komba Mathew Sam, said the people of Kono are happy to have the president visiting the district of precious minerals. He expressed hope at the prospect of the people of Kono benefiting from the New Direction Government’s effort at prioritising education.
“We appreciate your government, Mr President, for the Free Quality Education that you have introduced. This is the first time after almost a decade that 17 schools in Kono have been approved and have received their packages of the Free Quality Education,” he said.
Mayor Sam thanked the government for its sustained plans and steps in the fight against corruption in the country. He pledged the people’s support for the government in the pursuit of political accountability. He said fighting and ending corruption is the only way to assure the country of lasting development.
He thanked the President for his promise of Kono district having its own university; and announced that the Koidu City administration has already provided 17 acres of land for the construction of the university. He, however, encouraged President Bio to continue his support for Kono, so that it too can develop as other cities in the country.
Addressing the people of Kono, vice president Dr Juldeh Jalloh, said that president Bio is the promised saviour sent to transform the country with honesty and sincerity.
He introduced the president as the godfather of the Free Quality Education and a man who has pledged to increase the country’s human capital investment through education, to a level never attained in the country.
Addressing the people of Kono, president Julius Maada Bio said he is happy with the turnout of people who gave up their busy schedules to welcome him to Kono, and thanked them for overwhelmingly electing him as president in the 2018 elections.
The president told the people that he had prepared for several years to govern Sierra Leone with righteousness, so as to usher in lasting development.
“My victory as a president is as a result of the collective support of everybody, including that of Kono. I have long prepared for this leadership and I will not be failing you. I will use every energy in me to ensure that Sierra Leone is transformed into a place that everybody will be proud of. Diamond and gold will vanish, the only thing that is sure to transform this country is human capital development. This is the reason I have placed 21% of the country’s annual budget to support education. This, I think, is the best offer every right-thinking Sierra Leonean should embrace with all sobriety,” he assured.
Speaking about the Commissions of Inquiry, president Bio said they are part of a genuine fight against alleged thieves. He emphasised that the commissions will not target any sect or tribe or region, but will investigate wicked people who have robbed the country of her resources.
“Anyone who stands in the progress of the Commissions of Inquiry will receive the stiffest resistance from me. There was not enough reason why the country suffered from the civil war, but if fighting is the last resort for the Commissions of Inquiry to progress and stop corruption in the country, then it is a rightful fight that we must do to ensure we eradicate thieving and embezzlement from politics,” the president sternly warned.
This is wonderful news.
President Bio’s trip to Kono district was very good. No one will dispute that. Also, there was no heavy military presence observed as compared to the president’s visit to Makeni. Friendly territory I will assume. Many Konos including myself were disappointed not with the president, but with the VP, the MPs and paramount chiefs present. What we heard was all welcoming statements and nothing of substance.
Why did the MPs, VP and paramount chiefs not ask the president while he was in Kono to consider projects like building the Binkongoh waterfall for electricity. Giving the people of Kono a good health centre at the very least. Also, nothing was heard of building schools, roads, good water supply and farming.
People in authority should always have district projects at hand for the president when he visits their district. They must understand that the president does not come all the time. These MPs and paramount chiefs should simply have said and I quote ‘Thank you Mr. president for building this science university. But the people of Kono need good health care, good roads, jobs and the list goes on and on’.
The building of the Science University has long been decided before president Bio’s visit. The president left with no new proposals or project for Kono. An opportunity well missed. This president does what he says. They should have done all what they could to force the president to accept one important project like a very good health centre or at least a power generator that could power the whole district. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
I hope history will not repeat itself. Kono has the VP and first lady as in the past APC government. But no major projects – health, infrastructure or agriculture was realised. This is what president Bio said whilst in Kono: ‘Kono will soon have a state-of-the-art science university’. That was all. Who will blame president Bio in the future if no further development projects are given to the people of Kono. The MPs and the paramount chiefs have made a very serious blunder.
Because of this blunder, the people of Kono from now on have to hold them responsible in 2023 if no further development projects are brought to Kono and not the SLPP government or the president. The president clearly played his card.
Politically, they have given him victory. As I always say, the 2023 election will be a referendum on president Bio himself and not party politics.
Finally, Vice Presidents have not been lucky to succeed presidents throughout Sierra Leone political history. The people of Kono should not dream of having a president Dr Juldeh Jalloh after president Bio leaves office. May be it will happen this time. But I personally doubt that. We must get the maximum development for Kono whilst president Bio is in power. I am really disappointed. Final word – Make hay whilst the sun shines.