Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 April 2021:
President Dr Julius Maada Bio and three of his most loyal and trusted ministers – basic education minister Sengeh, finance minister Saffa, and Information minister Swarray, appeared frantically on national television yesterday morning to defend the government’s three years record in office.
After months of allegations of rampant corruption across his government, accusations of tribalism and poisoning of the country’s political space, critics of the president say that president Bio sounded yesterday like a used car salesman trying to convince his discerning punter to have faith in him.
President Bio looked uncomfortable and sounded inarticulate and incoherent in his attempt to explain and defend why billions of Leones were withdrawn by his wife – the First Lady, from the government’s Cash Account held at the Bank of Sierra Leone to spend on her pet project, rather than on the country’s crumbling cashstrapped public service.
To many watching the president yesterday, it was evidently clear that the president was defending corrupt practices not just at State House but across government departments, and that his so-called fight against corruption is nothing but a sham and a cover-up for the aggressive looting of State resources by stealth.
Justifying the massive cash withdrawal made by his wife from the Bank of Sierra Leone, president Bio said that; “if the money was used for the purpose it was intended, then I don’t see anything wrong with that”.
In his own defence and that of his wife, president Bio said: “Our fight against corruption has been robust and we are making a steady progress. We are not there yet as a nation, but our collective work is helping our international reputation. For the first time in the history of this country, we have ranked the highest on MCC scorecards and subsequently we are now eligible for the compact programme. I, therefore, encourage all citizens to join the ACC to make corruption unfashionable”.
And what many would have found shocking was the president’s comment, that, his wife’s project is more popular than the government’s funded national programmes that are being starved of much needed funds.
Cleaning staff at the country’s main hospital in Freetown – Connaught Hospital have not been paid for several months, leaving hospital wards and corridors filled with uncollected rubbish, amid fears of deteriorating sanitation and risk of disease infestation.
The president said that allegations of corruption against his wife are being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
But few are pinning their hopes on a positive outcome of the investigation, as the ACC has decided to widen its terms of reference to include investigation into the affairs of past First Ladies.
On the question of the Commissions of Inquiry into corruption in the previous government and the recovery of alleged stolen funds from the former president and his ministers and senior officials, president Bio without much conviction, said that the process in ongoing.
But there are serious concerns across the country that the Commission of Inquiry was all a waste of taxpayers’ money, as deals are being made at State House to hush-up the wrong doings of those accused of corruption, so that when president Bio leaves office he too will avoid the prospect of having his unlawfully acquired assets recovered by the next government.
Critics are accusing the president of hypocrisy and lawlessness, after last week’s decision by president Bio to hand over to the Speaker of Parliament – Dr Abass Bundu – millions of dollars’ worth of property that were confiscated – following due process decades ago, after Dr Bundu had failed to repay to the State, hundreds of thousands of dollars he had unlawfully gained from the sale of the country’s passport.
Questioned whether he will support a future Commission of Inquiry investigation into his governance and financial affairs after leaving office, president Bio said that it will be a matter for the next government.
Speaking about his so-called flagship free education project, president Bio said: “I introduced the Free Quality School Education to every part of the country. Every child must go to school irrespective of their origin and political affiliation. Government is paying fees for more than 2.5 million kids in the pre-primary, primary, junior and senior secondary schools in all regions. And we are making a steady progress by making sure that Sierra Leone regains the lost glory of being called the Athens of West Africa”.
Responding to accusations of tribalism in his appointment of ministers and senior government officials, president Bio said that his appointments to public office are based on ‘who he knows and what they can do, and not about inclusivity’.
This shocking revelation which evidently shows a president that cares little about national cohesion, in a country that is still healing from a brutal civil war that had its roots in nepotism, corruption, lawlessness and abuse of State powers, confirms the arrogance of the president and his dangerous pursuit of an ethnocentric policy of governance.
When questioned about the stalled Constitutional Review Process, president Bio was clueless about the direction his government is heading, suggesting that the much-needed change recommended by the Constitution Review Committee over a decade ago, is not a priority for his government.
President Bio commented on the idea of proportional representation and his desire to end 60 years of local democracy, by bringing in legislation that will remove multi-party elections from local government. This creeping move towards a One Party State, has been strongly condemned by opposition political parties.
Finally, the president was asked to reflect on his three years in office and what he could have done better. The president told the people of Sierra Leone that; “it is too early to tell what could have been done differently”, and that his government is very busy consolidating its policies and programmes that many people in Sierra Leone believe have failed to address the basic problems facing the country – mass unemployment, poverty, crumbling public services, and lawlessness.
You can watch some of the reactions by opposition politician Dr Femi Claudius Cole and TV presenter Rachel Bangura Davies:
We have a head of state, elected by popular vote. And as the powers vested in him by the constitution, he is the fountain of honour, the commander in chief of the Republic of Sierra-leone armed forces, the head of the executive branch, the man whose signature is required to sign laws passed by Parliament. He has the authority to declare war and peace, the power to commute a death sentence or give it the go ahead to be carried out. I wonder if any one ever sat Bio and told him the enormous powers of the presidency. Not so it seems. And how his decision or the lack of it has the power to impact more than seven million of his fellow Sierra Leoneans.
And this president has got the brass neck or the audacity to go on a sofa interview and confessed on national television tbat he is tribalistic, that anyone who thinks otherwise should either take it or lump it. Our country will never progress, as long as you have this unapologetic president at the helm. For all his blistering attack by Bio on the intelligence of Sierra Leoneans that put their trust in him, is slowly but surely coming to the realization we have the most unashamed inept president our country has ever elected as our leader. Bio is not even fit to guard state house, let alone call it his office.
Never in our history have so much been promised, and so little delivered. What a wrecking ball, tin pot dicator we have allowed to take our country backwards, instead of what he was elected to do. To unite the country. And bring all tribes and people together. Anyone who harbours optimism that Bio will bring opportunities in Sierra Leone is living a big fat lie. Wake me up after 2023.
Haahaha…Gentlemen my phone has been ceaselessly ringing all day;my friends from all over our beautiful earth have been trying desperately to reach me after watching the interview of the President just so that they can tell me that I am PROPHET.(lol) Indeed everything I have ever uttered on this glorious forum about this SLPP President,his Gold Digger and rag tag bunch of potbelly degenerates has now finally come to pass;It was with good reason that I called him a Tribalist,Conman,liar,traitor anarchist,and an opportunist,and time has proved me right.
This President has now become sick and tired of disguising his thieving ways;(lol) His wicked, authoritarian tendencies are boiling inside his veins causing him to become jittery,easily agitated and insecure.(lol) The SLPP thief that once dressed neatly in the garments of a religious monk has finally disrobed himself in the eyes of the world like a drug addict completely high on Crystal Meth,and it ain’t pretty.
The cruelty and hostility he has always kept quietly hidden behind a friendly facade has transformed itself into the angry scowl of a ruthless armed robber hell bent on ripping off the arms and limbs of the poorest of the poor among us if they dare to utter or whisper a word of protest. Folks, there is a heartless thief in State House and a Gold digger that have been ripping off the lame blind beggar and the mentally ill of what rightfully belongs to them.But Stargazer are you sure that these SLPP Criminals and imposters have not already gone haywire and sold our struggling country for peanuts to self-seeking foreign entities?Only the good lord knows what they have done but time will reveal all things;In due time friend we will be able to scrutinize and examine their every past dealing as if they were a biological specimen under a scientific microscope.(lol)If they should attempt to crawl into holes like rats and hide we will smoke them out of there until they come out coughing and choking in tears begging for mercy. (lol)What more is there to be said good people of Sierra Leone? A President that surrounds himself with friends and YES men, that doesn’t believe in all inclusiveness, that manipulates and encourages others to embrace a negative,disdainful view of other tribes in my beloved Sierra Leone in my humble view is nothing but a remorseless tribalist on a mission to destroy our beloved Sierra Leone(lol)
This guy feel he will confuse us – Bio is a big liar. Please people of Sierra Leone don’t listen to tha junta leader. He wants to fool the Mende people.
“Words matter,words have meaning,but only those who say the words know their true meaning” My president, your president, our president Dr.Julius Maada Bio is confident that he is doing well even to the admiration of his critics. When he first told the nation that he is going to bring free education in Sierra Leone his critics did criticize him saying he won’t be able. Today, his words have come to practice. Come 2023, you will come to realize that his vision of the free education will be an enviable one by all opposition leaders to such an extent that free education promises will be sounded by all presidential candidates in their campaign trail in order to win the hearts and minds of young electorate.
When he talked about fighting corruption and blocking leakages,his critics did not believe him. Today, if his achievements can be written in any history book, one thing to note is the approach used by the ACC boss to commit defaulters to agree to pay back stolen funds which we all have witnessed. It is very difficult for someone to agree to the fact that he/she is corrupt. This is due to the political will.
Perhaps this achievement goes with mixed feelings from members of the public. In my opinion,to say that we have not reached there yet, but however making progress as a nation is something notable. We still need time and space to evaluate him in the next few days, weeks, Months and years.
If really president Bio means good for this nation then let him prove himself before 2023.
Fight on corruption! Probably mistaken collaboration to fighting corruption. Your man’s leadership has been collaborating with looters not fighting them.
For those still fanatically, delusionally and, I dare say, cowardly wedded to the belief that OUR ONE AND ONLY EMPEROR is decked out in fine, fancy, golden furs of NEW NATIONAL DIRECTIONALITY, I say wake up and smell the coffee. For the Emperor has spoken, telling it as it is: he has no new robes on – the golden furs are indeed non-exitent! In their place stand revealed as always the Emperor’s TRIBALISM, NEPOTISM and CORRUPTNESS in all their nakedness. Indeed, has he not finally owned up to his and his wife’s insatiable greed and looting of our nation’s resources and admitted running the country as a private concern, hiring only those he knows and having no truck with such pointless notions as inclusivity?
I have used the words ‘owned up to’ and ‘admitted’. Wait a minute. Is OUR ONE AND ONLY EMPEROR really offering a mea culpa of sorts? Do not hold your breath. His are not words of contrition, acknowledging and asking for forgiveness for his and his government’s various acts of omission and/or commission during the three years they have been in office. Rather, he is goading us to do something about those acts if we dare.
He is throwing down the gauntlet, saying with undisguised arrogance: ‘Yes, this is what my wife, team and I have done, dared to do. If you are man enough, stand up to me and mine and see where such audacity will land you’. This is a challenge the Sierra Leonean electorate should welcome, with 2023 being only two years away.
Like him or hate him, this president is a straight talker. Anyone listening to him, knows he never mince his words, and he never takes prisoners. In his lacklustre attempt to defend his failing record in office, I have always maintained Bio and his government will not look out of place with the Mobsters of New York in 1980s. Bio the head of the “BIO CRIME FAMILY” is the Al Capone or the Pablo Escobars of our times. The late Columbian drug lord. Only difference Bio tricked the people of Sierra Leone to elect him as the overlord of his made men. Bio is not interested in fighting corruption or promoting national cohesion,as long as he has his foot soldiers to do his bidding. When he talked of the MCC scorecard, its TELLING.
It shows he is only interested in being in the good books of the international community, or international financial institutions, nothing to do with what the people of Sierra Leone. To improve their standard of living, and lay the foundation stones for future economic development. That much he’d confessed he only appoint people he knows, not what they know. And to come out publicly supporting his wife that was never elected in the office of president, now we know who wears the trousers in Bio’s household.
To say president Madam Fatima Bio and thanks to Bio himself at least he is an equal opportunity type of guy, we have our first female president by default, since Bio has abdicated his duties. President Fatima Bio is delivering for the people of Sierra Leone,more than the lame duck president Julius Maada Bio is revealing to say the least. Maybe next time you should swap roles and put her name down for the flag bearer of the SLPP party, at least we will test her popularity with the people of Sierra Leone.