President Bio returns to Sierra Leone amid claims of spending millions of dollars in Turkish military hardware

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 August 2021:

Sierra Leone’s president Bio yesterday arrived in Freetown, after his controversial two weeks holiday in Turkey where he had private meetings with the president of Turkey – Erdogan and his wife.

According to State House report, president Bio was in Turkey on a private visit aimed at wooing investors for Sierra Leone’s key industry sectors, such as farming and mining.

But few days ago, photos were released showing president Bio inspecting an array of lethal military weapons and armoury in Turkey. These military hardware do not come cheap.

Sources say that president Bio has agreed a concessionary loan, amounting to millions of dollars with the Turkish government to build the fighting capability of Sierra Leone’s armed and police forces, who have been criticised for turning their weapons on civilians across the country, killings dozens – including unarmed prisoners in Freetown and protesting youths in Makeni.

Sierra Leone’s economy is on life support – thanks to international donor support which makes up over 60% of the government’s budget, as well as loans and grants from the IMF and the World Bank.

Over 80% of Sierra Leoneans are at serious risk of malnutrition as costs of basic foods accelerate. Food inflation is now almost 20%, with unemployment rising faster than in the last previous three years.

Although the IMF has warned the government to curtail unnecessary spending and external loans, due to declining taxation receipts and export revenue, however president Bio appears to be showing very little concern for the poor state of the country’s finances as poverty grows.

Spending millions of dollars on new military hardware and weapons for the police force ahead of the 2023 general and presidential elections, may boost the confidence of ruling party supporters but raises questions about  president Bio’s intentions, and his commitment to holding free and fair elections in 2023.

15 Comments

  1. Thanks Mr. Sahr Matturi . We have to thank the Almighty for his grace during this difficult time. Hopefully I will be back full time, because I have been on Vacation mood since I took my vaccination around April. May God bless you.

  2. Retired Brigadier Dr. President Julius Maada Wonnie Bio who is the Commander-In-Chief of our Armed Forces and Fountain Of Honor understands the dangers of war based on his personal experience . He also believes that in military tactics “the best offense is a good defense and to maintain sustainable peace, you must always be prepared for war”. He peacefully handed over power to the winner of a democratically elected government after ruling for only 3 months. He cherishes our democracy and thanks to the voters he is now the democratically elected president of our beloved country, and he took an oath to protect and defend our nation. May the almighty continue to bless and protect him and his entire family. Amen and Ameen.

    • Mr Alusine Fallay, a staunch supporter of President Bio, is back. I was worried about your absence because of the COVID environment we now found ourselves. Great hearing from you on this glorious platform, my brother and political adversary. Welcome, and may God bless you. Yeah.

  3. The behaviour of Maada Bio continues to reaffirm his cavalier disposition towards the people he is supposed to be leading. He is the only head of state in the world with a tendency to disappear completely from the surface of the Earth only to resurface in unexpected locations, apparently to have a good time with his wife at taxpayers expense. He forbids his communication team from informing the nation about anything concerning his overseas travels – they have to guess. Pictures first appear of him unexpectedly arriving in Turkey after flying in from England where he and his wife had done justice to the social scene and washed away some of the sins associated with it by attending a church service. One of the sins is stagflation back home, with people quietly dying of hunger and stress.

    The second notable pictures showed Bio looking at military hardware surrounded by Turkish officials. The nation still does not know the purpose of the inspection of the military weapons, hence the wild speculations that surrounded it, not least of which is that the globe trotting President is preparing for the 2023 presidential and Parliamentary elections which he and and his party may lose in an unprecedented manner. The nation has become conscious of how Bio has become immune to any pangs of conscience after ordering his security forces to open fire at civilians.

    It’s quite probable that now that the President is back in town he will secretly sell portions of the country to enable him to buy one of the jets he has been renting as part of his military-style planning, which he will use to escape in the event that he loses power in 2023. A president who does not believe in excellent public relations buries himself in controversy and speculations, especially when the official opposition is all but dead. I urge all Sierra Leoneans not to bring APC back in 2033, they have become extremely hungry. Let’s give NGC a chance. It’s the bloodless revolution we need to retrieve ourselves from extinction.

  4. Yeah I have the same pacifist convictions. I grew up during the 1980s Iran /Iraq war. I spent awful lot of my formative years demonstrating against the inequalities I saw under the Stevens and Momoh governments. I was a supporter of the African National Congress of South Africa and SWAPO under the leadership of Sam Nujuma. We went to School with Namibian exiled students. I read European History especially topics that cover the rise of Hitler and Nazisem in 1920s Germany leading up to the second world war. And the war in the Pacific, until the Americans dropped their nuclear bombs over Hirosima and Nagasaki. And more recently, the genocidal regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia. And the 1994 genocide in Rawanda and of course the War in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Me and you can be opposed to war. And we want to live in a peaceful world, where people just learn to get on with each other.

    But at the same time we have to acknowledge not every one share those pacifist beliefs. We have jihadist terrorism, Far right extremists, and people that are so brain washed they can tie a bomb around their waist and blow themselves up in the name of their beliefs. How do you argue with such people. To tell them, to kill a fellow human being is not written in any scriptures.? We might opposed to war. But there are others who believe in voilence to effect change. Foday Sankoh and Charles Taylor.

  5. Folks, it’s disingenuous and pathetic for someone using the pseudo name ‘James Kerefa Smart’ to come into this glorious intellectual platform, castigating our poor suffering, starving citizens, for the the economic woes strangulating our beloved nation for past decades. At best, the sentiment expressed here by James Kerefa smart are tantamount to an outsider who happen to have come across a poverty stricken starving family, turns around, blaming the kids and dependent family members for their laziness, instead of the leader of the family, who by virtue is expected to devise sound economic and survival schemes, laying the foundation for his/her kids, along with members of the family who looks up to him/her for leadership and guidance.

    To make matters worst, Mr. James Kerefa smart is exonerating here, a leader/head of household (country), who by all indications have failed woefully to inspired any of his dependents, after being jobless for over 20yrs, surviving by handouts from people of goodwill; and just by sheer luck, happen to accidentally landed on a goldmine, putting him in charge to manage resources donated to the starving family members, opting instead to frequently hire expensive private jets, flying around the globe, living the good life, while his dependents continue to suffocate in abject poverty. How dare you Mr. James Kerefa Smart!!

  6. There is always two side to a story. If President Bio’s visit to Turkey is for holidaying, and sightseeing that is out of sync with the reality of what most other world leaders are doing right now. Staying at their home countries, and figuring out ways to bring an end to the deadly COVID19 pandemic by trying to get their hands on more vaccines for their people. And in the process get people vaccinated, and help formulate policies to kick start our sluggish economy. On the other hand, if his visit is to boost up our military capability, by buying military hardware from Turkey, and by extension signing defence pact with the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey , then that’s a smart move. Turkey has the second largest number of military personnel in NATO, with just of 437,000 personal after the United States. With an annual budget of 21billon dollars, that’s a formidable fighting forces.

    Sierra leone military expenditure now stands at 20 million dollars, compared to 25millon dollars in 2019. So we have a long way to go to able to stand up and fight on our own. We need friends and allies. We live in a rough neighbourhood in the west African region. We need to boost up our defence capabilities, or risk being taken advantage of by big countries like Guinea. The Yenga fiasco in 2020 was a case in point. If we had a strong military, the RUF and any other Sierra Leoneans malcontents, or deadbeats , that don’t want to follow our constitutional order to bring about peaceful change of government through the ballot box, but the barrel of the gun would have bitten more than they can chew.

    Turkey have proved to be a reliable defence partner. From deploying troops to Qatar, during their dispute with Saudi Arabia, to the recent intervention in the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the Turkish troop deployment in Libya which sped up the signing of the Libyan peace accord. Make no mistake the West Africa Sahel region is bustling with free Lance jihadist, and other groups, like soldiers of fortune, or taxi for higher soldiers if you like . The recent success of the Taliban have given this terrorist attack groups the succour to try and repeat the same feat in West Africa. We should not be caught napping. So any defence contract or acquisition of military hard ware for the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed forces is welcome.

      • Here again Mr Reihard Wiecha, turing up again from the woodwork denying the on going jihadist war in Mali, which is nine hundred miles away from Sierra Leone. That Boko Haram’s Kidnapping of School children in Northern Nigeria is a made up story by Sierra Leone’s conspiracy theorist Abraham amadu Jalloh. . You might even deny that the long term serving former president of Chad was killed by jihadist in the Northern part of the country. The proliferation of Libyan weapons after the overthrow of Gaddafi’s dictatorship was none existence. That the five thousand French and thousands of United Nations troops deployed in Mali are just there to take in the famous tourist spot of Timbuktu or the sand dunes of Goa. Mr Wiecha I rather you put some meat to counter my arguments, since I have finally concluded, and not with reason that you are wedded in conspiracy theories, from denying the effectiveness of Covid19 vacine, with scaremongering stories, to people like us that took the vacine.

        Now all my opinion pieces about Turkey being one of the dominant military power within Nato and the only Muslim country within the North Atlantic Organisation to enjoy that position in the Muslim speaking country. Yes president Erdoğan is not everyones cup of tea, but the one thing you can’t accuse him of, he not a Patriotic Turkish national. Thats why he stood up to the French president Marcon, and the German Chancellor Markel. Coming back to Sierra Leone, we need a strong military that can defend our country. We don’t want a repeat of the RUF wars. Some of us lost family members in that war, because our Military at the start of that war not prepared and supported to fight a ragtag group of deadbeats. Fifty thousand Sierra Leoneans lost their lives in that war. Unless you are denying the war ever took place in the first place.

        Please next time back up your arguments by facts not friction. Thats why we are here. To educate each other. Not to try and shut some one up we disagree with.provide us with facts not sound bites my friend.

        • Dear Mr. Jalloh, I like to answer only short. This forum of the telegraph is a good forum, but there is not space enough to lead an in-depth political discussion. The other point: who will read it? you and me we belong to a small privileged group of people reading this newspaper. In Sierra Leone, I believe, less than 10% of the ordinary people will read the comments.

          Sometimes I have the feeling a lot of people like to hear themself talk. At the end, my conviction is that with weapons you will never solve problems. Only with open dialoque, considering all the causes.

  7. Please don’t compare Kenya and Sierra Leone, Kenya has been fighting Islamic militants from neighbouring countries for long time and only a few years ago a shopping mall was attacked by Islamic militants and killed dozens of civilians. So they need heavy armouries to protect their borders. We have never faced these problems,in the history of Sierra Leone, we have never had war with our neighbours.

    We do not need these weapons.
    Our free education needs a lot of beefing up , teacher are poorly paid and sometimes don’t even get their salaries paid on time . Speak to teachers in government sponsored schools, then you will understand their plight. Couple of years ago only 5% of the student that took the WAEC exams had a pass grade . The whole educational system is failing the students. We need money spent on that not on armouries that will not be able to go beyond the city because those in charge will be using the fuel to fuel their cars or sell it.

    Our hospitals are falling apart, Doctors poorly paid , no equipments , poor sanitation and poorly trained Doctors and nurses are killing many patients in government hospitals around the country. To name only a few, we need more money spent on these sectors not on armouries that can only be turned on it citizens.

  8. It is pathetic to note that the Bio government is doing the very best to improve the lives of Sierra Leoneans including:
    – free education and lunches –which has been the envy of the majority of countries around the world
    – good infrastructure around the country including the construction of the Mabang bridge, the Moyamba junction and Moyamba Road which has been terrible condition for the last 40 years. I travelled on that road in 2013 and the potholes were one metre deep.

    It’s a shame that the Guinea troops had an incursion into Sierra Leone territory in 2020 and the government was not able to respond. Beefing up the military is a thing that every nation should aspire to do. You have millions of 100s of thousands of uneducated people migrating to Freetown every year. They lacked basic education and skills training to survive in Freetown. Its an unattractive option for them to stay in their villages and do farming or animal husbandry because its unattractive. They all want to be in Freetown with mobile phones on Facebook whole day doing nothing. But waiting for the government to grow and harvest rice, cook it and give to them for free.

    With abundance of arable lands and water, and farmers making millions around the world, it’s a shame to say that people are starving in Sierra Leone. I believe that some of you in the media are encouraging laziness and apathy in Sierra Leone . Why not motivate the youths and organise them to become self employed, produce crops and animals for export. Rearing a pair of male and female goats can v create a turnover of about 20 goats in five years. This is enough to get a youth out of poverty. Please motivate, encourage and organise the youth for self-employment and empowerment is instead of dependency. Watch Wode Maya’s programs about a man who developed his capacity out of scraps.

    • I agree with you on one point Mr James Karefa Smart, that we should encourage the Youths of today to go back to our villages and start farming. The issues is not so much people not wanting to go back. After the RUF wars, no government tried to make any effort to encourage and help the former child soldiers, some might have lost all their family members to go back to our villages. Blaming the media for encouraging youth laziness in Sierra leone, is missing the point. I will advised you to visit the grounds of State House, SLPP party headquarters, APC party headquarters, and witness the amount of young and not so young people milling around hopping to catch the eye of the” PA”or Madam to solicit for help.

      The bottom line is our corrupt politicians have used the youths as a cannon fodder during and after elections campaign for their own selfish ends. Blaming the media is what I called straight batting of the truth. The reality the illiteracy rate is so high in our country,the probability exist not every youth is capable of reading our news papers never mind go on line and browse through about events happening in their neighbourhood. I wish it was like that, so every person in Sierra leone can read and write. Maybe, and just maybe our corrupt political classes won’t able to lie to us. We will be voting with the knowledge we have acquired all the information we needed about a candidate, their political manifestos, before we cast our ballots.

      Right now our Youths have been told Fulanis, Temene , Mende, Krio, loko, Mandingo, Lebanese, Yalunkas, Limba, are all dangerous. They are out to get you. So even when the elections are over, instead of telling them the election is over, go back to towns and villages, this diehard supporters will stay back in Freetown to defend what ever type of government is in power until the next election cycle. So its not the media Mr Smart, its our rotten politicians that have politicised our Youths. That’s why Foday Sankoh attracts followers.

  9. With the exceptionally rapid expansions in technology made in the twenty-first century, many facets of human life have transformed permanently. One of the most noteworthy changes in Sierra Leone involves norms regarding the commission of intentional, premeditated homicide by governments. The practice is today termed “targeted killing,” but it differs only in the implementation of death from what in centuries past was called “assassination” and deemed illegal. Black ops involving shady assassins who stalk and eliminate perceived enemies under a cloak of secrecy are no doubt still carried out by governments.

    But the use of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) or lethal military weapons during elections to stalk and eliminate crime suspects and opposition parties in Sierra Leone is openly acknowledged and has been largely accepted by politicians and the populace alike as one of the military’s standard operating procedures. Parliamentary leaders in Sierra Leone should be approving provisions to reduce suffering buy weapons.

  10. Welcome back home, Mr President and your family. Nice to see you and your family arrive safe and sound. According to the article, you inspected a military hardware showroom. Although I believe strongly that the Turks are positioning themselves geostrategically in Africa to access their natural resources, they are also aware of what might happen if they make deals with leaders who will turn their weapons or hardware on their citizens.

    Many countries have acquired military hardware from Turkey, and there have been no reports of violence or human rights abuse in those countries with their weapons. Kenya received over 118 armoured vehicles a few months ago. Click on this link – https://www.dailysabah.com/business/defense/turkey-lands-new-deal-to-provide-118-armored-combat-vehicles-to-kenya.

    The Kenyans always receive the lions share on everything. What are their President and government doing that ours can’t do? Disappointing stuff. Negotiations between the Kenyans and the Turks took a very long time. The Turks wanted assurances from the Kenyans that they won’t use the weapons to crack down on their citizens and the opposition. On the whole, under President Uhuru Kenyata, the Kenyan government is doing well regarding respecting human rights, in my view. I don’t believe the Turks will provide President Bio with any meaningful military hardware before the 2023 general elections because of the present political situation in the country. Anyway, let’s wait and see. Finally, was President Bio in Turkey only negotiating for Sierra Leone’s weapons to be delivered after 2023? God bless President Bio and his family.

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