President Bio renews wedding vows today as economy goes belly up

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 February 2020:

Today president Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone takes his wife – Mrs. Fatima Bio to the altar at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Regent , where they will renew their matrimonial vows which they first took in London in 2013 at a low-key Islamic wedding.

According to ministry of information sources, today’s ‘wedding’ will be a private affair. But critics say it will have all the trappings of public office – the Presidency, which makes the wedding a public matter.

Although a public holiday has not been declared, few in Sierra Leone will have much to talk about today other than what is now dubbed “Sierra Leone’s Royal Wedding”.

Estimates put the cost of the wedding at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But according to ministry of information officials, not a penny of this cost will be met by the taxpayer. But many in Sierra Leone are doubtful.

Some are suggesting that the Bios have used their public offices as President and First Lady to raise most of the cash they will be splashing out today, in a country where over 4 million of its citizens will be going to bed hungry tonight.

Sierra Leone has one of the highest mortality rates in the world, with fewer than 50% of all adults expected to live to see their 50th birthday; almost 20% of pregnant women and children under 5 years old – dying needlessly because of poor healthcare and poverty.

A recent World Bank report warns that Sierra Leone’s economy is facing serious challenges, as the government runs out of cash to pay the salaries of public sector workers; export revenue falling at an alarming rate; prices of basic goods and foods in the markets and shops rising; the value of the Leone falling against global currencies.

Unemployment, especially youth unemployment continues to grow – year on year, as the capacity of businesses to expand and create jobs, are hampered by high interest rates and poor access to investment finance.

Hundreds of university graduates entering the labour market every year, are faced with the hard choice of staying on the path of ‘honest living’ or enter the world of criminality. Many, turn to drugs to dull the pain of daily existence.

Sierra Leone’s economy has been in serious recession for the past five years, especially as a result of the twin shocks of Ebola and global economic downturn in 2014.

The former APC government of president Koroma was voted out of office after two terms in power, as citizens became disenchanted with its inability to manage the economy and the rampant corruption at all levels of government, costing hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

The Koroma government survived on foreign aid and rising government borrowing, raised mainly through the weekly sale of treasury bills, as well as taking cash from commercial banks that should have gone into private sector business expansion.

In 2018, after winning presidential election with a very narrow majority of about a  few thousand votes, and unable to win  parliamentary votes, president Bio vowed not to default to similar pattern of reckless economic behaviour in governance. He began with an economic austerity many applauded, which he said was designed to close leakages in government finances.

Two years on, there are signs of avarice and vanity creeping into the psyche of the Bio-led government, stemming from State House, from where much discipline was promised. There are financial leakages reported by the Auditor General in her latest report across government, as Billions of Leones cannot be accounted for.

Today as president Bio and the First lady renew their wedding vows, most people in the country will be worrying about where their next meal will come from.

The wedding celebrations started in earnest last night with a lavish, mouth-watering all night party, few in Sierra Leone can afford.

Has president Bio got his priorities upside down, as the economy goes belly up?

In three years’ time, president Bio will face the people at a general and presidential election, where he will seek to renew his vows to the people of Sierra Leone. Will he be remembered as the president who took his eyes off the painful economic circumstances people are facing today?

Will he also be remembered as the president who looked inwards for self-gratification and fulfilment, rather than the gratitude and happiness that comes from the people after a job well done as president?

President Bio is not alone in seeking self-gratification in painful times of economic misery. Take a look at his Finance Minister – JJ Saffa throwing cash at his wife’s birthday party, and you will begin to see where this New Direction government is heading (see video below).

This is the Finance Minister who promised to fix the economy and ease the suffering of the people in six months. Today he is one of the wealthiest people in a country classed as one of the poorest in the world.

Wedding bells will be ringing in Freetown today, but few will hear the sounds which will be drowned by crying mothers, who will lose their babies in hospitals lacking vital medicines, trained staff, and suitable medical equipment.

Wedding bells will be ringing in Freetown today, but few will hear the sounds which will be drowned by the hustling and bustling sounds of unemployed youths, elderly and disabled men and women with young children begging in the streets for their next meal.

No one is denying the Bio’s right to renewing their wedding vows if that’s their priority. But when the private life and decisions of the president affect his public life, questions must surely be asked about his sense of judgement, his ability to govern and lead the nation out of the deep economic mess and social divisions that have opened up in the last twelve years.

Highlights of the wedding so far:

11 Comments

  1. Splashing 100x Le10.000-Notes is just equal to the price of petrol to tank two SUVs, which is not too much money. Who knows if he had not instructed that they should collect the money and return it to him. Mohammed Kamarimba Mansaray had splashed 4 or 5 times more Notes per day earlier in 2018. Today you will hear him too critizing the Min. of Finance and the Pres.

    This Wedding really makes no sense and it is not necessary, but it is not extrvagant, compared to some similar Public Weddings, e.g. that of Haja Dankay (Daughter of Former Pres. Koroma).

  2. I can’t for the life of me understand the ire, anger and hullabaloo about the decision of president Maada Bio to renew his wedding vows to his beloved and beautiful wife Mrs. Fatima Jabbi Bio under the roof of his own place of worship, the catholic church where he privately prays to his god and say thanks for all the good things the almighty has done for him and his family? When has celebrating one’s own achievements and being thankful to those who have been by your side through thick and thin become a problem in our country?

    Love Maada Bio or hate him, the man has worked hard by making some real sacrifices in his life. He has been focused, disciplined and achieved concrete things in his life and must be respected for that. Just because he is the president of our country does not mean he should not have a personal life. If he decides to celebrate his achievement with friends and family, he should be able to do so without the rancor and negativity around it. For It is only when a man is emotionally stable and satisfied with himself that he can adequately and effectively perform at his highest ability in a demanding and stressful job like the presidency.

    Congratulations to President Bio and his able and adorable wife for renewal of their wedding vows. The haters should stop the hate and allow the president to live his life like any other Sierra Leonean. After all, he earns a salary and he should be allowed the social space to do what he wants with his hard-earned income.

    Do we expect the president to put his life on hold because of the dismal economic situation in Sierra Leone that is not of his creation and making? The former corrupt APC government created this problem and all the Bio government is trying to do is clear it up. The economy can be compared to a farmer clearing an area to plant his or her crop. The farmer should first brush the area, burn the dry brush, plough the field and then plant the seeds, nurse the seeds until they grow to a full crop, be it rice, corn or cassava. Analogously, the SLPP government is working hard to create an enabling macroeconomic environment by developing policies to lower interest rates, minimize corruption, lower taxes to encourage investments in the economy through Foreign Direct Investments.

    These policies take time to percolate through the economy to inject confidence for take-off. These things take time to mature and materialize. In retrospect, we must produce and sell before we can earn foreign currency to be able to stabilize our foreign exchange problem. So is the situation with interest rate. APC operatives who took loans from the two local commercial banks must pay up before funds are available to lend to the public.

    It is the toxic loans sitting in the books of our commercial banks that is responsible for the huge cost of borrowing in the financial markets. Thus, the whole episode seem to be political to me, as the APC party and apologists are trying to milk propaganda out of the president’s domestic life and use it against him. It’s not going to work because honest and sincere people can see through this manufactured crisis.

    In fact, from an economic perspective, the celebration is good for the economy because the spending of the president and friends’ earnings injects effective demand into the economy with concomitant multiplier effects that will boost economic activity

    Effective Demand is what creates economic activities in any country or economy. The rural mountain area where this wedding is taking place is going to reap a windfall as goods and services will be purchased which is how income is created for those providing the goods and services.

    Sierra Leone is moving on without the APC in power. Just because the APC is not in power does not mean the country is in crisis because some lazy Freetonians are no longer having a free reign with our national wealth through thieving and corruption. J.J. Saffa and Maada Bio have every right to spend their hard-earned income the way they deem it fit without their critics and jealous people crying hell fire!

  3. This article could have made more sense had the author provided tangible proof that the President had used his office “to raise most of the cash they will be splashing out today.” Human beings don’t cease to be human beings when they become president. Wedding vows are celebrated in Sierra Leone every week. Thus, to argue that the president is insensitive because he has decided to receive the holy sacrament of matrimony in the church that he belongs to is unfair.

    President Bio is a staunch Roman Catholic who has been denied Communion in his church because his marriage was never blessed by the Catholic faith. So, does it not make every sense in the world for the President and his wife to receive the holy sacrament of matrimony in the Catholic church so that both would henceforth receive Communion in the catholic church?

    The unfortunate thing about this memorable day in the lives of the president and the first lady is that the entire process has been exploited by the opposition and unwisely lambasted. But the truth is, the process of a church wedding is all about faith and nothing else. Thus, the question that begs an answer is, are public officials not free to exercise their faith in a secular society?

    For goodness sake President Bio and his wife are not poor. They have never been poor and hopefully, in future will never be. The president is employed by the State of Sierra Leone and does receive a salary. Moreover, weddings in Sierra Leone are only expensive for the poor. Those that have a job, including the president, can afford it. I was at a couple of weddings in Freetown in December last year and can estimate that a wedding with a guest list of 300 at a decent reception place in the capital would cost no more than $1300 (One thousand three hundred dollars). Are we now insinuating that the president whose monthly emoluments are in excess of $1300 would stoop so low to steal that money from the public?

    It has been said that Ernest Koroma’s State House was frequently visited by Ariogbos and juju men and that the man himself was on a few occasions seen dancing to Paddle while splashing some of his ill-gotten wealth on other dancers. Conversely, President Bio’s faith is rooted in the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church. And unlike his predecessor, there has never been any evidence of the president going on an extravagant spending spree of public money.

    Yes, the economy is not yet where it is supposed to be. But should that stop us all from going about our normal and usual engagements, exercising our faith included? Should the president be openly weeping everyday because poverty exists in Sierra Leone? Interestingly, contrary to the pessimists of the APC and the NGC, in a recent interview with our own Umaru Fofana, the outgoing IMF First Deputy Managing-Director, David Lipton, uttered the following words: “we see the economy continuing to grow as it has been in the neighborhood of 5%.”

    Folks, we should all chill as good times are just around the corner. The president is doing a good job in stabilizing an economy that was in a free fall due to the depravity and profligacy of men that had no business spending even a day in the corridors of power. Thus, instead of trying very hard to draw a nexus between the president’s humble exercise of his faith and a phantom “belly up” of the economy, we should be praying for President and Mrs. Bio as they walk to the altar to receive the holy sacrament of matrimony. A couple that prays together stays together. And a couple of faith that stays together to work for the people leads their country to economic prosperity.

  4. I just watched the blessed Marriage between President Bio and his beautiful wife First Lady Fatima Bio. May the Almighty continue to bless the Union . “ What God have joined together let no man put asunder .” Happy wife happy and longer life.

  5. Watching this videos I will say am very proud to be part of this civilised nation. This is the type of progress we are looking forward to come to Sierra Leone. So keep on going pa Bio. Sierra Leone loves you. May God bless pa Bio and the land that we love our Sierra Leone. Peace and love. United we stand.

  6. Wait a minute – do I hear people complaining, and whining? Perhaps,you should have payed closer attention to the warning sounds of the trumpet I was playing.(lol) Didn’t I warn you people using loud wailing sirens,to get out of the way of a disaster in the making? Since day one, I have always insisted – Beware of these Freeloaders,and Conmen?Now they have taken their masks off, showing you what I saw veiled,and hidden,a long time ago – a mans true character is like smoke, it cannot be contained; eventually it is bound to break free,spread,and soar for all to see.(lol)

    They are celebrating in hard economic times, wasting dough, popping champagne, renewing marital vows, rubbing it in the faces of poor people who cannot afford a meal a day. I told y’all that this Potbelly President and his Hangman JJ Saffa were up to no good. Now my words have all come to pass, like an evening sunset many hours after a mornings sunrise – You can now all, call me PROPHET! (lol) Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  7. But in 2013 I congratulated and wished the couple God’s blessings and a happy union. What has gone wrong now that they are in a rush to get wed again. This is not a renewing of wedding vows already taken. This is self-gratutious and insensitive act of selfishness. Do these people really care about the poor masses who will be watching this helpless, and believing that those in power only care about their own welfare and happinness. Wow. Mugabe and Grace comes to mind!!

  8. What in heaven’s name is going on!! This is my government in power. As a staunch SLPP, I am appalled at what is going on in my country and in my name today, Friday 21st February 2020. I am ashamed to see this kind of insensitive behaviour by people I trusted to do the right thing. Bo, my friend you wan renew you marade nar so for do am with all the problems this country is going through? I stop here. I am saddened and appalled at such display of callousness.

    My government is struggling at this moment to solve the economic problems of the country, but please let us not stick our fingers in the eyes of the poor people who are watching this wedding as I am right now on TV. Its a disgrace.

  9. It’s now loud and clear that our current president along with his cabal of ministers are in power only to serve themselves and families. There is no mistake about it, only a fool with inadequate mental processing will believe all the rhetoric that these selfish unpatriotic individuals have been spewing. Upon assuming office, these crooks claimed they inherited a bankrupt and worse economy ever in our nation’s history.

    Believing that it’s true what they had claimed, let’s examine what their actions were in the months that follows: 1. The size of government was dramatically increased, making duplicating positions to accommodate party loyalties and sympathizers. 2. The president engaged on a spending spree taking huge entourage as he crisscrossed the globe with the disguise of seeking investors; in Dubai for example, the president’s family were filmed entertaining themselves in luxury yachts while lodging at over $500 a night hotels. 3. After taking office for just over a year, the president disappeared for over a week; we later founded out that he had been crisscrossing between the Safari (Kenya) and London treating his family with the most luxurious vacation.

    Leaving aside the many corrupt practices like the 141 billion Leones unaccounted for in the audit report, the 1.5 million dollars by the chief minister, the over 50,000 missing rice supplied by the chinese, etc, we are again witnessing a full display of self-gratification and personal enrichment with this expensive wedding at the expense of our national coffers. Absolutely no individual with a good sense of judgement can tell me this is all done with the president’s personal money. No way can this be any near from the truth.

    The fact is, our current president was a jobless citizens for almost 20years. After wasting the millions of dollars he corruptly obtained during the NPRC junta regime in Ghana and other places, he basically depended on handouts to survive for a good number of years. There was no established business or firm by the president, so he was basically an unemployed, broke citizen.

    • We are missing the point! Sierra Leone is a religious and political country whose citizens are blind and have strayed from academic prudence. How can they ignore the things taking place in a once academic Athens? Educated individuals critically think, research, and find answers to problems; in our government, we solve problems that don’t exist and leave unsolved issues to continue feathering their nest. What a shame

  10. That picture of the finance minister splashing money while the economy he is overseeing has gone weary says it all. Bio and his team are taking the resolve of the people of Sierra Leone for granted. Their insensitivity will come to hunt them soon.

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