President Bio’s message of hope for a better New Year – 2020

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 January 2020

Today, the world celebrates the beginning of a new decade with hope of a better future, driven by economic progress, new technology and increased wealth creation. But for the people of Sierra Leone, there is little hope of a better and brighter future.

The people of Sierra Leone have experienced ten years of economic struggle, with rising and chronic unemployment, low economic growth, alarmingly high government borrowing, rising cost of living, low investments in key sectors of the economy, and collapse of the value of the currency – the Leone.

Although successive governments promised to do all it takes to transform the country from a poverty stricken and foreign aid dependent nation, it seems the political will to take tough policy decisions, and put country before selfish, partisan interests is in short supply.

When president Julius Maada Bio was elected in March 2018, he too promised to end the suffering of the people of Sierra Leone. He promised to change how the country is governed. He promised to end impunity and lawlessness. He promised a New Direction.

But how much has changed in Sierra Leone since March 2018?

The country now has a free education programme for all state-run primary and secondary schools, which critics say is being crippled by lack of funding, low teacher morale, and growing household poverty.

There is also a new government mantra in town. Instead of the former president Koroma’s “attitudinal change and my government is running the country like a business” chorus from State house, president Bio’s mantra – “we are building the nation’s human capital” is yet to gain traction.

President Bio says investing in developing the country’s human capital is key to the country’s economic future, and its chances of capitalising and benefiting from the fourth industrial revolution pioneered by new advanced technology and innovation. Fine words indeed.

While many in Sierra Leone would agree with him, there are just too many hungry people in the country; far too many children are still dying before their fifth birthday; most adults dying before their 50th birthday due to poor health and poverty.

Access to clean drinking water and electricity, are posing immense difficulty for the vast majority of Sierra Leoneans across the country.

And with over 70% of adults out of work, including thousands of qualified university and college graduates, president Bio’s dream of taking the people of Sierra Leone to the promised land by investing in a technological revolution is proving hard to sell.

Far too many farmers are struggling to increase their production yield due to lack of investment finance, use of low productivity seeds, lack of modern farming techniques, and weak supply and value chain structures.

Far too many small and medium sized businesses are struggling to survive.

In his second New Year’s message to the people of Sierra Leone, president Bio is calling for the people, not only to be patient, but to be the change that they too would like to see in the country.

This is what he said today:

Fellow citizens, welcome to a new year – a time to   bid   farewell   to   2019   and   a   time   to   look forward to 2020. As   we   look   back   into   2019,   we   were   shackled with high domestic and foreign debt repayments, unfavourable   mining   lease   agreements,   low domestic   productivity,   high   youth unemployment,   high   inflation   and   currency depreciation.

Throughout   the   year,   our confidence   and   optimism   as   a   nation   were shaken   by   mild   economic   turbulence   and unavoidable shocks we inherited.

Typically, Sierra Leoneans have made light of the situation with the usual humorous jibe, “the gron dry”.

But in 2019, we also made huge progress. We   launched   the   medium   term   national development   plan;   increased   domestic   revenue mobilisation   by   streamlining   and   automating revenue   collection   and   deposit   processes; clarified and reduced the tax and duty burden on businesses; made it easier to establish and run a business   including   providing   aftercare   at   the highest   levels   and   provided   more   support   for small to medium enterprises. We do this with the firm belief that private enterprise is the engine for economic expansion.

As we look forward into 2020, our Country is at peace   with   falling   crime   rates,   lower   prison populations and no security threat. At Bintumani 3,   Sierra   Leoneans   suggested   ways   to   further lower   tensions   and   establish   a   permanent infrastructure   for   peace.

We   have   moved   to repeal   criminal   libel   laws   that   successive governments had used to suppress free speech. We   continue   to   open   up   civic   spaces   and   we encourage our citizens to speak up and make our democracy stronger and better.

In spite of the cynicism about foreign travel, we have,   through   those   travels   transformed   the reputation and image of Sierra Leone abroad by comprehensively telling our friends and partners who we really are and where we are taking our nation. And they have   watched our unrelenting and determined fight against corruption.

We passed the MCC’s “Control of Corruption” indicator with very high scores.   They   have   watched   us   crack   down   on fraud   and   waste   and   reform   public   institutions and practices. And you know what, the IMF, EU, DFID, World Bank and our international partners have all expressed   confidence   in   what   we   are doing and they have re-engaged fully.

We have actively promoted   business   in   Sierra   Leone through   various   investment   conferences   and foreign   delegations   have visited   our country   to explore investment opportunities.

The   fisheries,   tourism,   and   agricultural   sectors are   set   for   significant   foreign   private   sector investments in the near future. We are focused on   rice-sufficiency,   cash   crop   production   and agricultural value-chain addition.

As   we   go   into   2020,   more   than   two   million children,   especially   girls,   have   access   to   free quality   education,   free   teaching   and   learning materials, expanded healthcare services, school buses and free school feeding in some areas.

We have   intensified   our   national   campaign   against early   child   marriage,   introduced   robust enforcement   and tougher   sentencing guidelines for sexual and gender-based violence.

Teenage pregnancy, menstrual health and hygiene are no longer taboo topics. Our women are   at   the   centre   of   our   country’s   future development and security and we have recruited more women into our armed forces than at any time in our country’s history.

We   are   investing   heavily   in   STEM   disciplines especially for girls and through the Directorate of Science,   Technology,   and   Innovation,   we   are harnessing the power of data and technology to support   governance,   business,   healthcare, education, and agriculture.

We recently launched the   first   drone   corridor   in   West   Africa   and   the first   block-chain-based   national   digital   identity platform   that   will   improve   financial   inclusion among other benefits.

Soon,   we   will   convene   a   national   forum   on   the future   of   education.   We   do   so   mindful   of   our national   development   priorities   and   goals   and knowing   that   for   our   children   to   lead   and participate   in   the   Fourth   Industrial   Revolution and the global economy, they must be equipped with a 21st century education.

We enter 2020 in a Sierra Leone where mothers in   labour   and   critically   ill-cases   can   now   be rushed   into   a   nearby   hospital   or   community health centre by an ambulance they can call toll-free   from   the   comfort   of   their   homes.

We   will continue   work   on   lowering   maternal   mortality rates,   expanding   primary   healthcare,   training and   recruiting   more   healthcare   workers,   and refurbishing   or   building   new   health   centres   all over the country.

In 2020,   we will   turn   sod   for the   construction   of an   ultramodern   diagnostic health Centre using funds recovered from corrupt officials as seed money. Our public sanitation and waste disposal   investments have   yielded   public health benefits.

We   enter   2020 with   a renewed   commitment   to fighting   climate   change   while   improving   clean energy access in off-grid rural areas and tackling energy   poverty   through   the   nearly-completed regional grid and other new initiatives.

We   enter   2020   with   extensive   judicial   reforms that   have   led   to   more   access   to   justice.   Our social protection   programmes   continue   to support   vulnerable   families   and   we   have launched   a   $50   million   urban-mobility   project.

We are also rehabilitating key trunk roads from Kailahun to Freetown and building new bridges nationwide.   Big   impact   and   high-value infrastructural projects will commence in 2020.

Our   youth   empowerment   projects   and   our support   for   sports   development,   especially   the Sierra   Leone   Premier   League,   have   been   very significant.

Fellow   citizens,   together   we   have   started   an inspiring   journey.   The   challenges   are   huge   but they are not insurmountable. Your expectations are high but they can be met. Your aspirations are boundless but they can be fulfilled. Nothing is impossible, even the miracles you expect us to perform.

Therefore, I call for your relentless optimism and hard work to develop our nation. If you share my belief   that   we   can   make   Sierra   Leone   a   better place, I urge you to share the responsibility with me for doing so with a firm commitment to make, act and be the change you want to see.

My family and I  wish you  all  a  happy  and prosperous New Year. I thank you.

You can watch the broadcast here:

16 Comments

  1. God bless pa Bio. May God protect you and our country – the land that we loved our Sierra Leone. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020.

  2. I received my POLLING DATA from my hard working colleagues who are working hard on the ground to enable us know the voting intentions of voters on the other side of the POLITICAL DIVIDE in the country. Our POLLS are only for internal use. Because I have to update the system and analyze the DATA, I will be absent and thus, miss this GLORIOUS PLATFORM for a day or two.

    Also, it will enable me take a rest after a busy day of discussion/contribution on this PLATFORM. Before I forget. Sorry for the typo mistake in my last comment. GOD and not GOOD. All questions and arguments addressed to me will definitely be answered on my return.

    Finally, I hope everyone will behave. No PERSONAL ATTACKS and no WAR OF WORDS. Just keep the PLATFORM calm and interesting for our numerous readers. I wish all of them a HAPPY NEW YEAR. So, concentrate on the ISSUES to “GET SALONE SORTED”. GOD BLESS YOU ALL. SEE YOU SOON.

  3. Maada Bio is the best president Sierra Leone has ever produced. Some people hate him because he is fighting against corruption; and corruption is in their blood, just like the people they are idolizing (EBK, Sam sumana etc). If you love this country as you are claiming you must have 100% love for Maada because he is the only one that can save us from the madness APC left us in.

    Two years ago I listened to Sam’s interview on Al Jazeera and he was so plain about the APC we all know. In the interview, he spoke about the corruption in the party, tribalism, selfishness and greed and even claimed that they wanted to kill him. What is happening now? Are you expecting us to elect someone who has no religion, who is not qualified as he claimed to be, who is not righteous to be our president? No you must be out of your mind. Sam will never rule this country and all those hoping for him to do so, are day dreamers.

  4. Mr. Alimamy Turay, I hope you are not trying to let me get caught in the middle because I believe that this is just a preface of the upcoming APC party circus that is about to IMPLODE in Port Loko approximately 10 days from today. I base my information on a documentary I watched on YouTube video where some of his classmates and former principal (who I believe is man of integrity) made positive statements about the then Sixth form Senior prefect or Head Boy of the prestigious Bo School who was described as a disciplinarian.

    For Mr. Matturi, probably your perception about the NPRC is different from most Sierra Leoneans who at that time saw those young soldiers as HEROES of a long awaited revolution that redeemed them from one party dictatorship under the tyranny of the APC Communist Party. “Life is a circle and the end always justifies the means“ – that’s why I tried to connect the past with the present which always sums up to 360 degrees.

    Mr. Kalokoh just gave a perfect excuse why both late President Momoh and former President Koroma failed miserably which was as a result of their “ Pot bellies or Borbor Belleh” but I believe that they both failed because of their Ideology which is mainly Corruption or in Krio – “USAI U TIE COW NA DAE E DAE EAT“. But with President Bio and millions of people with One Pack stomach that was previously Six pack stomach before the age of 50 years (when the chest muscles usually collapse and convert to stomach muscles) their ideology is based on HONESTY, INTEGRITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY which are the recipes for success.

    The Krio proverb always states: HOG DAE ASK E MAMA WATIN MAKE E MOT LONG DEN D MAMA SAY WAE YOU REACH ME AGE YOU GO SABI.

  5. I promised to come back to this article. I have kept my promise. The President mentioned in his Christmas message about DFID. Has the President already been informed about the MERGING of DFID into the FOREIGN OFFICE? Things are definitely going to change when the MERGER takes place. I have been following POLITICAL and ECONOMIC development in both EUROPE and the US. All of these countries are changing in terms of how they give their TAX PAYERS MONEY away. They will never think of even PROPOSING LAWS to give their LEADERS a FREE SPENDING SPREE BLANK CHEQUE without ACCOUNTABILITY, more or less say attempting to pass it to LAW.

    The present PRIME MINISTER of the UK is determined to change the way DEVELOPMENT GRANTS are given. What most countries receiving GRANTS are failing to understand including ours, is that even DEVELOPED and RICH countries have their own problems. They do anything to satisfy their CITIZENS. There are AREAS and REGIONS in developed/wealthy nations where people by their own standards are STRUGGLING to make ends meet. They will prefer diverting or reduce GRANTS destined to help countries like ours to help their own CITIZENS. That is normal. Who will say it’s a bad idea?

    This just tells me that getting DFID GRANTS in the future will not be easy as it used to be in my view. No one knows what the CRITERIA for getting DFID GRANTS will look like in the future after the MERGER. So, anyone who thinks that the DFID is happy with them and will just get DFID GRANTS like drinking SPRING WATER from JUI, will just be “HABOP PAN DIEMAN SOOS”. Let’s say it like that.

    Until we “GET SALONE SORTED”, we will always “HABOP PAN DIEMAN SOOS”. GOD HELP “GET SALONE SORTED”. That’s the only way out. Chief Sam Sumana will do that. Believe me.

  6. UNDERSTOOD and NOTED Mr. Abdul Rashid Thomas; and I take full RESPONSIBILITIES for my actions. I APOLOGISE to anyone who might have been OFFENDED. Taking RESPONSIBILITY for our actions and finding solutions is all what TRUE LEADERSHIP is about. I hope people in power and government will follow our examples here on this PLATFORM. One of the CRITERIA to “GET SALONE SORTED” is TRUE LEADERSHIP which hopefully will be delivered very soon.

    DISCIPLINE is PARAMOUNT on this PLATFORM. That is why I am PROUD to be part of it. No one is above the rules. Sometimes our EMOTIONS just get out of hand and sometimes we tend to say things that are UNACCEPTABLE. But the editor is always watching to make sure all is OK.

    GOD BLESS OUR GLORIOUS PLATFORM and GOD help Mr. Abdul Rashid Thomas maintain DISCIPLINE on this PLATFORM. GOD HELP “GET SALONE SORTED”. AMEN AND AMEN.

  7. Happy New Year to this forum. I have just returned to my base in the Diaspora from a well-earned vacation in Sierra Leone. While in Sierra Leone, I stayed away from the internet as I didn’t want any distractions to my celebration of life in my motherland.

    One of the curious developments that hit me upon accessing the internet again was the news of Mr. Samuel Samsumana rejoining the APC. Is this the return of the prodigal son to the dysfunctional formation often referred to as the ALL People’s Corruption or is it something else? Before commenting on this, I would like to know who made Samsumana chief? A chief in Sierra Leonean culture is a revered individual who is trusted by his/her subjects. How can anyone in his/her right mind elevate an obnoxious character like Samsumana to that pedestal?

    Samsumana and the APC may be attracted to each other because just as it is tendential for unsavory characters to blossom in unsavory environments, so it is true that repulsive formations would tend to look out for insipid characters to promote their obnoxious and nauseating existence. But even with this, it is hard to imagine that a political party that is fronted by core tribalists and regional hegemonists would ever think of electing as leader a person from a totally different region.

    At any rate, let’s for the sake of argument contend that the APC would SELECT the morally bankrupt Samsumana as its flagbearer in 2023. Would Sierra Leoneans really elect as president a man who was caught in an AL-Jazeera sting operation soliciting a bribe while serving as vice president? The videos of that infamous development still exist in social media and would easily be used by Sierra Leone’s development partners against Sierra Leone.

    Notwithstanding the above, the same APC that is now welcoming Samsumana is the same party that had expelled him a few years ago for lying about his religion and his academic qualifications. So, what kind of government would Samsumana be expected to establish in Sierra Leone? A government in which a gory of corruption would become the defining character trait of power and leadership?

    Suffice it that Samsumana is as unserious a character as the party that he dreams about leading. Sierra Leone has turned the corner and the trajectory of development that is now uplifting the country should neither be interrupted by a nefarious political party nor by an integrity-challenged man who could easily pass for the bogeyman of Sierra Leonean politics.

    • Mr. Bilal Coleman. You are very wrong about your analysis concerning the ALJAZEERA report over Chief Sam Sumana. Did you follow the story very well or you just got some FAKE NEWS from, I don’t know where. I respect the Sierra Leonean journalist who was misled on this SCANDAL very much. He was just tricked.

      It was difficult for me then to see one of our greatest JOURNALISTS in such a MESS. The problem was so terrible that even ALJAZEERA has to abandon him. The journalist in question was one I respected so much because of his DOCUMENTARY and REPORTING on the rebel war. But what I would do, is to tell everyone on this PLATFORM that you are wrong and your evidence is incorrect. By the way, do you have any evidence that you can provide to us to prove the FAKE NEWS?

      Finally, I am kindly asking you to help elect Chief Sam Sumana become the next APC LEADER and “GET SALONE SORTED”. You can help in many ways. The simplest way is to ask APC members, friends or MPs to vote for Chief Sam Sumana in any APC future LEADERSHIP election. If you do that, you will be one of my heroes and will get a roll in the “GET SALONE SORTED” MOVEMENT. Does that make SENSE or CLICKS good?
      GOD BLESS Mr. Bilal Coleman and may GOD help him join the effort to “GET SALONE SORTED”.

    • Mr. Bilal Coleman. Please read this piece from the STANDARD TIMES NEWSPAPER then.

      http://standardtimespress.org/?p=1406

      Compare this article with your so called video I would like to See. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me via this PLATFORM. Happy New Year and help “GET SALONE SORTED”. GOD BLESS YOU.

  8. Sorry Mr. Alimamy Turay. “TRAFFIC CONGESTION” on the PLATFORM. Maybe time to take some rest after the CELEBRATION. I REGRET AND APOLOGISE MATE. Some times “FRIENDLY FIRE” happens. Just take it as an unavoidable friendly fire. Please forgive me. GOD BLESS YOU Mr Alimamy Turay.

  9. Again to Mr. Alimamy Turay, I still stand by my words that I am going to HOLD FIRE for the time being. You can say anything now as long as you remain MEASURED with your RHETORIC. It takes me just a few minutes to counter attack if I want to and make you feel bad. That I will assure you. You have been warned. Make no mistake. I will respond in kind and with LETHAL casualty of words.

    Presently, I am engaged in making sure Chief Sam Sumana becomes the next APC LEADER and INFLICT heavy POLITICAL DISASTER on any OPPOSING POLITICAL FORCE come 2023. This is not only a NEW YEAR but a NEW DECADE. So, I want to start as HUMBLE as possible to make sure that we “GET SALONE SORTED”. I believe you want to “GET SALONE SORTED” too. So stop all your JEALOUS and BORING RHETORIC and talk to your friends, relatives, APC MPs and Members to help Chief Sam Sumana elected next LEADER of the APC PARTY and “GET SALONE SORTED”. PUNT UIT!

    Take caution and note that you are using words like erratic. When you use it, it’s no personal attack but when I counter by TWEAKING the QUEEN’S LANGUAGE, they come out singing “PERSONAL ATTACKS”. Mr. Alimamy Turay somewhere in the UNIVERSE PRACTICING PERSONAL ATTACKS and APPALLING, DISGUSTING, DREADFUL, HORRENDOUS, EVIL and JEALOUS RHETORIC against me. Can you imagine? I will come back to this comment sometime down the road. GOD BLESS Mr Alimamy Turay.

    • Mr Matturi – please calm down. Lets keep our discussions civil. The aim is to engage in debates, not war of words, otherwise we will fail to convince others to see and understand our points of view. Let us respect each other. Thank you.

    • Well, Sahr Matturi, I think you have got it all wrong mate. I have no complain about your ability to read and understand simple statements. My comment was in response to Mr Alusine Fallay’s comment.

      Perhaps, it would be worthwhile going back and read the two comments – Alusine’s and mine. Thanks for your opinion about me, though. I know the limits of my capability. No offence, mate. I give you the benefit of the doubt, this time.

  10. The biggest disaster that has ever happened in Sierra Leone is not War,Ebola,or mudslides,but the election of Madaa Bio to the highest office in the land!. Tell them Saidu Conteh said so! Deny it if you want to,but its true. Old Stevens the master of the game of Shrewd understood keenly,that the SLPP and their obstinate leaders,cannot,and will not ever embrace national progress, cohesiveness,and tolerance,no matter what you did.

    Shower them with bags of gold,or babysit them tenderly like suckling infants,it won’t make a difference,they will remain deplorable,and disagreeable all the same. Why are these big-headed,haughty people chasing investors away,and tarnishing the reputation of a country already struggling,and on its knees Saidu? Well, arrogance lacks the abilities to listen, empathize, prioritize, and negotiate; and sadly my friend – that’s the SLPP way,and it is disgraceful beyond what words can ever express. (lol)

    But Saidu,give them a chance,this is a new Year perhaps,just perhaps,these noisy featherless,disgruntled chickens,can somehow manage to grow wings,and fly.(lol). Wishful thinking,my friend,wings cannot be grown overnight,existence bestows them as a gift to those with hearts as clear as new mirrors,so that they can soar to the eternal heavens,and leave their footprints as magical engravings on the most bluest of skies.

    So is there no hope for the people of Sierra Leone Great Sayedna? Is that what you are really saying? Well,wherever there is life, there also will hope abound. But for hope to transform itself into a desired outcome,sincerity of purpose must lead and show the way. So you see friend, let us be real; a dubious, deceptive SLPP government without any honest and truthful soul, can offer you nothing but fake, flimsy promises that are eventually not ever going to be realized……Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

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