Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 December 2019:
This Christmas is going to be very painful for millions of Sierra Leoneans, who have patiently waited for almost two years for the newly elected government of president Julius Maada Bio to turn the economy around.
With fewer than 40% of young people in the country – who make up the bulk of the population, in gainful employment, most households are finding it very difficult to afford three square meals a day.
Prices of foods and other basic consumer items remain high, as the value of the Leone continues to fall, losing more than 20% of its value in over a year – since the Bio-led government came to power.
Signs of an economic recovery are yet to be seen. But the government is confident it can turn the country’s fortunes around next year, which is built on mineral exports; blaming the former APC government’s mismanagement and corruption for the current economic hardship.
The opposition and sections of the media are lampooning the president and his ministers for their expensive overseas trips, running into millions of dollars while millions of people starve.
The government says that these foreign trips are designed to promote Sierra Leone and woo investors. But the reality is that so far, not a single investor has poured money into the economy, while mining companies that are responsible for keeping the economy afloat are being chased out of the country.
Since coming to power, president Bio has signed countless number of Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) with “potential investors”. According to State House media report, yesterday, president Bio signed five more agreements and MOUs with a high-level delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), led by its Minister of State – Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber.
Critics say that this is reminiscent of the former Koroma – led government, whose obsession with MOUs was never translated into real investments in the economy. (Photo: Sierra Leone Finance Miniser – JJ Saffa signs agreement).
“As part of strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two countries, the UAE head of delegation said he was instructed by His Highness, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE, to focus on sectors such as mining, oil and gas, infrastructure, education, health, water, roads, renewable energy and agriculture.
“The five agreements also covered the avoidance of double taxation, the protection of investments, a joint committee for cooperation agreement, a framework of cooperation for the agricultural production of rice and maize and a memorandum of understanding on small and medium scale enterprises,” the State House report said yesterday.
But where are the jobs? Where are the investment projects? How much are the Arabs investing in the country and how soon?
The signing of these “paper agreements” which Sierra Leoneans have seen before – far too many times, was preceded by a two-day joint working group meeting between the governments of Sierra Leone and the United Arab Emirates, aimed at exploring possible areas of investment between the two countries, which took place last weekend at Radisson Blu Hotel in Aberdeen in Freetown.
Chief Minister of Sierra Leone – Professor David John Francis said that “the two countries have made tremendous progress and that was the result of the visit; to deliberate and come up with roadmaps to build strong lasting bilateral relationship focusing on economic diplomacy that would change and transform the two countries.”
Fine words, but how much will be invested by UAE and when?
Professor Chief Minister also said that “the government of Sierra Leone is committed to develop strong long-lasting bilateral high level strategic partnership between the two countries and expressed hope that the high level visit would provide an opportunity for the joint working group to share ideas and to identity the critical sectors for development.”
Director of African Affairs Department at the UAE, Ms. Shaikha AlZaabi, said that “the two countries are meeting for the second time in Freetown in order to enhance their bilateral relations and through the signing of six agreements and Memorandum of Understanding that would be evidence of the willingness from the two countries in enhancing diplomatic ties through trade, economic cooperation and shared dialogue.”
The people of Sierra Leone need more than the current fluffy and patronising platitudes coming from the government. People are hungry, and quite rightly feeling quite impatient for change.
The president (Photo) and his ministers were fully aware of the massive challenges ahead when they were elected in March 2018, after promising to turn the economy around in six months and address the country’s bread and butter issues.
It is now fast approaching two years, and still there are no signs of an economic turnaround.
The Auditor General’s report into the financial management of the country’s affairs by the government, speaks of massive corruption – running into tens of millions of dollars. This is not the Christmas present the people of Sierra Leone were hoping to receive from the government.
So, what will president Bio tell the nation in his Christmas and New Year’s broadcast?
HAPPY NEW YEAR AND MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL SIERRA LEONEANS EVERYWHERE. Yes, the government promised a lot during election time. yet these promises will come in late; and as you know the president is fighting corruption to put the economy in good shape and this is not easy for the president, because the investment has nothing much to do with the economy.
The investment is foreign and not local. Everybody must understand this. I am deeply sorry for the hunger in the country. Investment is quite possible in the next seven years. Investors have to study the country and loopholes before venturing into the economy. HAVE A NICE DAAY BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
All I see here is blame shifting, not citizens that can stand on behalf of Mama salone to make it right…We are all victims of the said comments/event/situation but what have we done as individuals to help the lives of others, rather than picking on past and present government.
I pity the life of others that depend solely on government to put food on their table, when there are things they can do to contribute in nation building instead of pointing fingers on others. Most of the people have left their villages and farming activities to roam the Capital city begging for their living. We all know that the government has a huge role to contribute to nation building, and so are we the citizens.
Lets work together and put politics aside and then we can see a better Sierra Leone.
This is positive news for the people of Sierra Leone for the visit of the Director of African Affairs Department at the UAE, Ms Shaikha AlZaabi which shows a level of respect and commitment in the negotiation process which usually takes time to reach an amicable understanding and final agreement. The difference this time around as compared to the former APC government is that the New Direction government is committed to sincerity, honesty and partnership rather than begging.
The new direction government has also committed to paying workers on time and converted all volunteer workers from the Educational and Health sectors to full time Salay workers. Parents with 10 children do not have to be worried about paying school fees or providing lunch next year because of the Free quality education; and most students around the country now have access to cheap bus transportation.
During this festive season, people seem to be enjoying themselves which was evident from a concert at the Stadium which has a capacity of thirty thousand people but was jam packed with One Hundred and fifty thousand; and even the premier league has created jobs for the youths – and there are indications that the ground is now wet due to sweat and hard work of our citizens rather than the corrupt and stolen monies from the former APC crooks.
My personal advice to all Sierra Leoneans especially for us in the diaspora is to start thinking about investing in our beloved country rather than depending on foreigners to create jobs for our citizens. As late President J.F Kennedy said:
“ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU, BUT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY “.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, please let’s give this guy a chance till 2023 then we’ll tell the world if he’s or he isn’t.
Merry Christmas though and a happy and healthy New year. I thank you all and stay blessed.
So unfortunate, all the comments I have read so far are all palm wine bar base sort of dialogue. No creative objectivity is presented, but just the usual APC and SLPP backers jargons. Sierra Leone is rotten ship which constitutes us all. Indiscipline, mis-educated, and cultural misfits. Continuously craving for changing the operator of a broken ship without first fixing the broken mechanism is the thinking of a people whose heads are buried in the sands.
It’s about time we all embark on finding solutions to our problems.
Oluwale, please mind your language. Thank you. Merry Christmas.
Mistakes are too late to be corrected in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone government is doing well and it is doing its best for the people of Sierra Leone. You said millions are going hungry, come to the street of Freetown and see for yourself, go to the provinces and see for yourself if people are hungry, everyone is enjoying traveling and spending more than ever before.
Oh bootlickers!! Keep licking the Retired Brigadier’s old boots, you and your family will continue to be fed. But save us the propaganda and lies. I live in Freetown and know the hardship we are suffering here. Please if you have nothing better to say, continue picking the little crumbs that are falling off the president’s table. God will one day judge you people who cannot speak the truth because of politics and the little you are getting from the government. very sad.
Is it only APC or SLPP Sierra Leone. God will definitely bring and unlock the saviour to rule Sierra Leone in the right direction, come what may. Its all in the hands of the lord who has the power only. It has been a complete waste of time for the past nearly two years. People just work to trade Sierra Leone and smuggle all Sierra Leone’s wealth to other countries leaving citizens to perish. That is not clever. Its meanness thieving, and above all a lack of respect for the country. But god will fight for Sierra Leone.
I am sure it wouldn’t be long again, as too much of one thing is good for northing. I have never seen a government in western world where they have charities attached to the ruling party, except Sierra Leone, where you have the Bio charity women’s wing lead by the president’s wife, acting as the vice president of Sierra Leone. She was not voted for in the election, and does not know her job description. Abusing power and taking all what is supposed to be spent in Sierra Leone to benefit other countries. But God will fight for Sierra Leone.
I would rather spoil my vote than vote for an incompetent APC government that spent a decade in power and left the economy in ruins. This is typical of politicians taking the voters for granted no matter what they do in office.
I guess, the President Wil say “LIGHT IS IMMINENT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL. BEAR WITH ME ONE MORE YEAR. 2020 CHRISTMAS WILL ALL BE JUICY, CRISPY, HONEY AND STUFFED CHICKEN WITH PEAS, FRIED IRISH POTATOES WITH RED WINE TO QUENCH YOUR THROAT”. Just manage the 2019 CHRISTMAS which is just in the corner with your “DRY RES/BALLGOR WITH KAYNDA AND RED PALMY” if you can afford it. If not, drink PLENTY of WATER to keep you HYDRATED till 2020 CHRISTMAS.
What a SHAME that the majority of Sierra Leoneans can’t afford a DECENT and DELICIOUS food for CHRISTMAS. What a SAD and DISGUSTING LIFE. GOD WILL SURELY KEEP BOTH THE POOR AND THE RICH ALIVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON AND IN THE NEW YEAR. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HOPEFUL 2020 to everyone.
Gentlemen – There is an ancient Nepali saying that perfectly fits the unprincipled attitudes of this SLPP government now in power, like a key inside a padlock, like a piece of cardboard puzzle in its rightful place. It says,”Those who cannot dance will always complain and cast blame that the floor is tilted.” Sounds like the Incompetent SLPP doesn’t it.(lol) Always, pointing fingers at the opposition, always singing songs of blame!
Christmas – a season of happiness, celebration and joy,and millions are going to bed hungry? What the hell is going on? Friends, its just three men holding this nation of ours as hostages to abject Poverty: A morbidly obese,”Pot Belly” President, an inept short-sighted Finance Minister, and a tribalistic Freeloading, delusional Chief Minister. Three masqueraders,that’s who they are, on endless wild goose chase,signing countless MOU’s that never materialise into anything tangible and sustainable for our dear nation. They have traveled the world and its seven seas, wasted meagre scanty, resources and came back home with absolutely nothing.(lol)
Crowds of Dummies with round,protruding,bulging Tummies,surrounded by kleptomaniacs with hands tainted by thefts done discreetly behind closed doors,and windows that’s who they really are,and what they will always continue to be.(lol) Battalions of Bachelors, Masters degree Holders, not to mention Professors with boots strapped tightly, all showing nothing but shocking, disreputable, dismal displays of inadequacies through their endless, tireless efforts and contributions that always count as nothing, even when wrapped, tied up, bundled and put together.(lol)
Imagine my friends, the nauseating, gut wrenching, helpless feelings of despair thousands,and millions are having daily,just by knowing that we have an erratic Finance Minister that is hell bent on creating the worst Economic thunderstorms and most merciless Financial whirlwinds and hurricanes that wreck havoc, shatter and destroy lives and communities and nations forever to unfixable pieces through his goofy inadequacies.
Hey! If you voted for incompetence, that’s exactly what you will get in return. Next time you stand in line to vote, think about the future of your little ones and Vote APC….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.