Idrissa Hilton Gogra in Berlin
I recently read several commentaries on social media on His Excellency, rtd. Brig. Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s participation in the Global Education Summit in London, United Kingdom. Some of the comments clearly underestimated if not misconstrued President Bio’s determination to fulfill his promises to the People of Sierra Leone, particularly in the education sector. These critics must of necessity understand the character of President Bio before jumping into their ceaseless criticism of his New Direction administration.
I was fortunate to interact with President Bio during the 2018 campaign for the Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Education was his key campaign message to the people of Sierra Leone.
Having campaigned and won the presidential elections, President Bio courageously launched the Free Quality Education initiative, despite inadequate funds and a poor infrastructure left behind by the Koroma administration.
President Bio has invested in the educational sector more than any other president of Sierra Leone. His stance to promote human capital development through education has earned him the admiration of the government of the United Kingdom. In other words, to be invited to the Global Summit on Education is recognition of our President’s strides to improve education. He is a man who is focused of his political objectives and his critics will not veer him off course.
President Bio’s resilience has taken him to where he is today. It is common knowledge that he was disparaged by sections of the Sierra Leone Media ahead of the 2018 Presidential and Parliamentary elections and notwithstanding biased reporting on his candidature, he moved with resilience until he arrived at State House.
I therefore invite the social media politicians to come to the ground and see what my President is doing. He is a man with civility or good manners and this served as his guiding principle during his campaign as well as in his presidency. He is respectful to all his supporters and non-supporters.
To make sure people can express their opinions freely, he repealed the obnoxious Seditious Libel Law of 1965, something that looked like anathema to all the presidents before him.
I encourage critics to spend some time going through the SLPP Manifesto and they will easily attest to the fact that President Bio is delivering his promises to the People of Sierra Leone.
Speaking at that ceremony of the repeal of the seditious laws of 1965, President Bio expressed his delight for delivering one of his key campaign promises.
The Repeal was welcomed by all stakeholders in the country and beyond Former president of the Sierra Leone Bar Association wrote on his Facebook account “I am pleased to live to see this day. I feel like I have been born again….”
In Agriculture, President Bio launched the Tormabum Rice Development Project with the aim to minimize the importation of rice. The project also focuses on developing 12, 500 acres of land for small holder’s farmers in the riverine grassland area of Tormabum in a bid to increase production of rice in the country to help bridge the gap between local demand for rice and local production.
In order to actualize this project, the Bio Administration has done the following
1. Acquired farm machinery and implements and provided of mechanization services
2. Established a seed multiplication and experimentation unit
3. Developed infrastructure including the construction of feeder roads and the provision of health and water facilities for the projects for the revenue generation of the farmers.
This Tormabum project collapsed in the 70s. This partially explains why we spends a huge amount of hard currency importing rice every year.
Under the Bio Administration in Sierra Leone, progress has been made in expanding the opportunities for women and girls to promote gender equality and empowerment of women in meeting obligations, legislative reforms, and several reforms have been enacted to meet the 21st century standards.
Energy– Government in encouraging more investors in this sector for permanent solution. The indefatigable Minister Alhaji Kanja Sesay is the man of the century.
The Republic of Sierra Leone under this administration is working assiduously with the West African Power Pool with to address the endemic power shortage. Sierra Leone is in the Right Direction!
TRADE AND INVESTMENT IN SIERRA LEONE
Despite the global pandemic, Sierra Leone’s trade sector is flourishing. Key exports of Sierra Leone include Titanium Ore, Rough Wood, Diamond, Aluminum etc. There are several other areas for investment and Government is creating the enabling environment as recent trade deals can attest.
Abolition of the Death penalty.
The Sierra Leone Parliament has voted unanimously for the abolition of the death penalty. The new Law will make Sierra Leone the 23rd African country to abolish capital punishment. The abolition of the death penalty has attracted great nations that have commended the Bio administration. The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres on his Twitter account said: “I commend the Parliament of Sierra Leone for their unanimous vote to abolish the death penalty. Death penalty has no space in the 21st century.
Enhancement of Sierra Leone representation abroad.
The Bio administration has increased Sierra Leone’s representation abroad. The establishment of Sierra Leone High Commission in Nairobi and our Embassy in Morocco has been lauded. In the same vein, he has nominated and supported Sierra Leoneans for International representation. The nomination of Justice Miatta Maria Kargbo nee Samba to the position of Judge at the International Criminal Court and the support given to Commissioner Francis Ben Kelfala of the ACC and the successes in the elections for both candidates at the international stage, clearly demonstrates President Bio’s determination to change the national narrative.
Sierra Leoneans love sport, particularly football. This was manifested when the country for the first time qualified for the African Nations cup in which President Bio played a pivotal role 1996.
In his campaign, he promised the People of Sierra Leone that he would take Leone Stars back to the Nations Cup. Three years after his promise, the country’s national team is back on its feet. He has also provided enough funds to the Ministry of Sports to boost all sports activities in the country. As I type, the Green White and Blue is flying at the Tokyo Olympics.
A former President of the United States of America once said, that Africa does not need strong leaders, but strong institutions. President Bio believes in the creation of strong institutions and not to make himself a strongman bullying his own people. He is a reform-oriented leader. Sierra Leone has experienced reforms under his administration since April 2018.
As far as I am concern, I consider President Bio as one of the greatest leaders of our time. Imagine! Amidst this pandemic, he is able to embark of such rebranding moves for the country he once laid his life for.
Bio President is not a President for life, but if given the required support, he will leave institutions for the benefit of generation yet unborn. Let’s support him!
Stay tuned for more articles on President Bio’s rebranding of Sierra Leone. For your comments and observations, please contact me at:
Idrissa Hilton Gogra
Embassy of Sierra Leone