Sierra Leone marks 57 years of independence today – but there will be no celebrations

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 April 2018:

Fifty-seven years ago, on the 27th of April 1961, Sierra Leone gained independence from British colonial rule. It was a day that was full of hope and promise. A new dawn, that brought dreams of  a vibrant, developing and confident Sierra Leone, where no one will go to bed hungry; where no one will be left behind, because of lack of education or connection.

But fifty-seven years on, those hopes and dreams have been shattered by corruption, poor governance, and lack of leadership. Where is Sierra Leone heading?

Today, Sierra Leoneans are far more divided than ever. The recent elections held last month have left deep wounds and divisions. The country is financially bankrupt, after ten years of malfeasance, lawlessness and impunity by the outgoing APC.

Today, Sierra Leone is still classed as one of the poorest nations in the world, despite massive wealth of natural resources, which according to estimates should generate an annual revenue of $500 million for the government.

But, today without donor aid support, Sierra Leone would cease to function as a modern state. Foreign aid now accounts for over 50% of government revenue.

International debt has risen from $200 million in 2007 to over $3 billion today, as the APC government embarked on reckless spending, with little or no accountability as evident in the country’s Auditor General’s reports.

Eighty percent of young people in Sierra Leone are unemployed. Average daily earnings for those lucky enough to find work is less than $1.50.

The majority of Sierra Leoneans will sadly die before their 50th birthday, because of poverty, poor healthcare, and poor sanitation.

The newly elected SLPP government has no money. Yesterday, president Julius Maada Bio announced strict measures aimed at controlling government spending, including the sacking of all ambassadors and politically appointed staff working overseas.

But as is customary on this day of independence anniversary, the president addresses the nation. President Julius Maada Bio has today spoken of Sierra Leone as a broken society that is in dire need of healing, change and transformation through his New Direction agenda.

He said there will be no celebrations in the country today, to mark the country’s 57 years of independence. There is no money. Many in Sierra Leone and abroad will welcome this strong show of leadership by the former military brigadier.

This is the 57th Independence Anniversary Broadcast to the Nation by His Excellency the President Julius Maada Bio,  today, Friday, 27th April 2018:

Fellow Sierra Leoneans

Today, we are celebrating the 57th anniversary of our independence. This has been a momentous year that has taken us through the tragedy of the floods and mudslide in August 2017.

But at the same time, for the hopes and aspirations of millions of Sierra Leoneans who voted for change in a New Direction to develop and transform our beloved Nation.

Today, we have a new opportunity as a nation to collectively and individually work together to take this country forward, to develop and transform Sierra Leone that we can all be proud of.

During my Swearing-In on 4th April 2018 as President of the Republic, I said that my election and my new administration is the dawn of a new era to change and transform Sierra Leone.

As a nation we must resolve to use this opportunity to change and transform our beloved Sierra Leone.

We have to resolve as a nation to lay the strong and credible foundation for our children and our grandchildren. This is the only way to create the conditions for a united, peaceful, confident, enterprising, dynamic and progressive country.

As we celebrate 57 years of our independence we have to acknowledge the fact that as a country we are at a crossroad and that we are faced with the stark choice between the corrupt and undisciplined business as usual status quo, or a change to the New Direction where every Sierra Leonean is given the ladder of opportunity to climb and achieve their greatest potential.

We have to ask ourselves that after 57 Years of independence, what do we have to show for? As a nation, we have made great strides in laying some of the critical foundations for socio-economic and political development.

Today, we can confidently say that we have now laid the foundation to consolidate our nascent democracy after holding five successive democratic elections that have seen the transfer of power from one civilian administration to another.

After 57 years of political independence, we are still faced with some of the most critical problems and challenges of development and social progress. At 57 we:

  • Are not able to pay for our basic and essential services as a nation without depending on external development assistance.
  • We have not provided effective political and economic management of the state and our natural resources for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans.
  • We are still classified as one of the poorest countries and the most corrupt country in the world.
  • At 57, Sierra Leone has changed from the international recognition as the ‘Athens of West Africa’ to a country where 3 in every 5 Sierra Leonean cannot read and write.
  • At 57, we are today a divided nation along ethnic, regional and sectional lines with very negative impact on the professionalism and functioning of our state governing institutions

These depressing social and development challenges will have to change. I have been given the mandate to change and transform this country. And I will provide the disciplined leadership needed to take this country forward. I have therefore directed that:

  • Given the current economic and financial crisis that we have inherited, there should be no budgetary allocation from the Ministry of Finance to fund independence celebration activities across the country.
  • My government will only fund future independence celebrations across the country when, as a nation, we are able to pay for our critical and basic services without relying on any external development aid.
  • My Government will only approve future funding for independence celebration activities when our domestic revenue collection make up 20% of our Gross Domestic Product.

As a government, we are determined to lay the solid foundation for change and transformation in Sierra Leone. Already, the signs and achievements of our New Direction revolution is visible everywhere.

The Executive Order No. 1 issued on 9th April 2018 on ‘Domestic Revenue Mobilisation’ and Executive Order No. 2 issued on 25th April 2018 on ‘Fiscal Control Measures’ have made it possible for my new administration to pay Salaries for the first time without using Bank Overdraft facility.

These domestic revenue mobilisation efforts by my new administration clearly shows that change is possible in this country. The people of this country have voted for change. We all want change, but we must also be prepared to work for change and accept the challenges that change will bring.

This is the price that we have to pay, as a nation, to change and transform our beloved Sierra Leone.

Expectations are high and rightly so. The people want to see immediate and visible change in their lives.

We can only achieve change and transformation in Sierra Leone today if we work together to build national cohesion and end the culture of indiscipline, lawlessness and corruption.

We want to attract and tap into the best brains and expertise that this country has to offer to drive our New Direction inclusive development, inclusive economic growth, inclusive politics and inclusive governance programmes.

This is the only way to develop and transform Sierra Leone; and together, we can, and we will make this possible.

My government recognises and appreciates the important contribution made by our development partners. And I do call on them to join us and support our New Direction policies and programmes to change and transform Sierra Leone, into a country that will no longer be dependent on aid.

Congratulations on our 57th Independence Anniversary. I wish you all a happy and memorable 57th Anniversary Day. And God Bless the people and the Republic of Sierra Leone.

You can watch President Bio delivering his speech on SLBC:

8 Comments

  1. Hi Mr President, Your plans highlighted on your independent celebration speech was good for the country.
    Sir, we would appreciate if conditions of service for teachers were improved. These men and women are terrible. They can not boast of having any future assets of their own.

    Moreover, owning a house is impossible; all on rentage. Many died without a house: a case in point is my step father and brother.

    So please come to their aid and make their lives comfortable to live. Surely, we shall have the glory of Sierra Leone education, corrupt practices in schools, rampant school lessons that tax parents, would stop henceforth.

  2. Dear President Bio,

    Your speech to mark the 57th anniversary of the end of colonial rule, echoed all over the world where there is a Sierra Leonean. For those who were adult as our flag was being raised to mark the occasion, they must have been transported back to that remarkable day when everybody felt that henceforth we would plot our own destiny and climb to heights which hitherto had not been seen anywhere in the African world and beyond.

    But in 1967 we tripped, by allowing Siaka Stevens to enter the scene. And it has been downhill ever since. President Kabba did try to salvage something, but he was handicapped by the bloody civil war the country was subjected to, led by Foday Sankoh, who I hope is today on the opposite side of heaven.

    In effect, Sierra Leone has had two leaders since independence – Sir Milton and Ahmad Tejan Kabba. May their souls rest in perfect peace. They meant well for the country, but were handicapped in different in ways.

    Your speech, President Bio, tells me that you have not forgotten your third form Economics, especially the notion of Opportunity Cost – on which rest the subject matter of Economics, that resources are scarce and so an individual or a nation has to decide which competing area such resources should be diverted to, while casting aside others for the time being.

    The hope is that eventually, even those sectors which are to be ignored for the time being would benefit through multiplier effects.

    The crowning moment of the speech, President Bio, was your announcement that there would be no formal celebrations given the economic straits in which the country finds itself. That was a move of gem, for how can one celebrate the birthday of somebody who is on death row? This is where Mother Sierra Leone finds herself.

    Your next attention seizing move, Mr President, is to cancel any formal inauguration and divert the funds saved to buy hospital beds for all the major hospitals in the country.

    I am NGC Mr President, but this does not mean that I won’t support or defend you when you do the right thing. Wish you Allah/God’s speed Mr President.

  3. Mr President, you have inherited not only a bad financial status but also the way to make things better. The following was brought about not by you: the TRC Report, the Auditor General’s Report, all information on the Ebola Monies and those of the Mudslide.

    Mr President, I urge you to act on them to retrieve all monies owed to the people of Sierra Leone. Nobody will accuse you of witch hunt.
    I wish you all the best
    – S I Kamara

  4. I am unconvinced about the sincerity of newly elected Sierra Leone President Maada Bio and our newly elected Parliament. He still has not listed and invited inputs about the changes needed to convert our current morass into the essential and desirable and how to achieve them – his management and administration of changes!
    I am still waiting.

  5. Yes, we can make a Change for a better Sierra Leone. We the YOUTH will make sure that, we exposes those who aim to undermine your Government. We the people, welcome those executive orders as part of reducing suckling filaments, OPEN Thefts and unpatriotic men an women that have failed us completely.

    Mr president, go on and work for the interests of ALL SIERRA LEONEANS. The world is watching APC and SLPP system of Government.

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