April 4th 2018 is a date many Sierra Leoneans in diverse spheres of life would never forget.
It marked the ruling Sierra Leone People Party’s (SLPP) third years in office.
A day the then opposition SLPP ‘won’ the presidential election, and brought in “double reference” President Dr Julius Maada Bio to run state affairs, with hopes of rapid and positive change from all fronts.
The government due to fears of its fire brand opponents is however hardly making the right impression as expected. A situation president Bio is fully aware and he is somehow worried about his administration failures, having turned down so many people with disappointments to deliver the needful benchmarks promised three years ago.
Sunday, 4th April, 2021, marked President Bio three years in office, with more broken structures than what should have been be up and running by now.
The SLPP and President Bio have broken and divided Sierra Leone more than how they should be building the nation, and uniting the people, instead the president recently endorsed divisiveness along political, ethnic and regional lines…
Like dummies even when they happen to be products of the Bo Government Secondary, fully equipped with everything at their disposals, yet failure served as their best options, and waited for another chances to retry to secure passing grades. So even as the past three months experience at State House, yet that couldn’t save the country from dragging in the mess we are swimming in today.
This is exactly how Bio’s governance situation has manifested its failures from April 4th 2018 – to now. All recorded as gains in thirty-six months are the unlawful ways of running government with fears of opposition might of unseating them through the ballot box. The rest of the messes speak for themselves.
And the president is very much worried about fears around him in that he has not done much in the last three. Any sector asked about during his recent rushed campaign media bliss all he said was work in progress, which is why he is coming up with all sorts of strategies to rig the approaching 2023 elections.
Although they started on a very sound footing based on the solid foundation left them by the last All People’s Congress – APC government of former President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, yet failures, excuses, grumblings and poor performances by the Bio led SLPP administration are massively outweighing real time service deliveries in the public sector. This is deceptive though!
In the name of shifting blames on the last government at the detriments of the suffering masses, the only tangible achievements are wide spread of hates, grand corruption, widely divided nation and indiscriminate political intimidation of opponents even in the well of parliament. That in itself is threatening the ruling party of securing a clean second term.
These implies a shaky chance of neither handling state affairs, nor well equipped with the required capacity to continue to run a progressive administration that stands the chance of genuinely securing a second term, amid unfulfilled campaign promises made by President Bio, with very little efforts being made by government towards actualizing its party’s vows.
What if the SLPP is given ten years or more to rule, what would be the fate of the country and masses? Of course continuous suffering, police brutality, harassments and arbitrary arrests and detentions, display of disrespectability for law and order, constitutionality, the rule of law and the list of trend of undemocratic ways of governing the people and the country. These are unacceptable in democratic rule. Of course nobody wants such a team in next time.
Moreover, fears by the SLPP as if they should not in any way be checked mate by their opponents, is causing troubles for other players in the democratic process thus even in parliament – the supreme foundation of our democracy, the SLPP is always fighting opposition parties, refusing them the space to participate for and on behalf of their various constituents. Classic example is the Monday 19th April, 2023 incident in the House, which presided over the speaker, Dr Abass Bundu.
Out and about in the streets, sounding views on the level of performance of the Bio SLPP led government in the last three years, this team of reporters at separate places and time met with Michael T. Mondeh at Juba, West of Freetown, whose experience under President Bio, sounds like this; “I just don’t know exactly what to say, looking at the present retrogressive state of affairs of the country. I think Sierra Leoneans and as a nation, we really have to move away from culture of traditional loyalties to the political parties, and think ourselves, our emerging generations compared to our neighbours in next door countries. For sixty years of we have still not achieve anything impressive. All due to ineffective and dishonest leaderships we continue produce.” Mondeh believes there was a place, and people still called Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans, therefore every citizen need to be nationalistic, developmentally oriented rather than continue to dance behind rogue politicians during election. By the look of things, it appears as if Sierra Leoneans still don’t know what they want from their our leaders…for all you notice from them at the material time of critical concerns and questions are dancing for politicians and their parties. “We must get tired of these before our coming generations hold us accountable in the nearest future for an unbelievable wasted three years of cat and mouse play in governance,” he said.
It’s indeed unimaginable three years in office with nothing tangible recorded as mark of achievements by the Bio led SLPP administration, compared to former President Koroma of the APC regime, which turned Sierra Leone around in its first thirty-six months in office, even at the peak of the towering global recession. All we are envisaging are violence and discipline at the very core of the SLPP regime under Bio.
His is not worthy of celebrations, nor do we continue to glorify endemic high profile corruption under a regime yearning for a second term. This is inconvincible as if nothing was learnt from the 1992 up to 96 lessons at State House.
More importantly, the people are no longer looking for intermittent, but regular electricity and pipe borne water supplies, more paved roads and infrastructural development initiatives, a sound and stable national economy, agricultural productivity with high self-food sufficiency, reliable medical and healthcare facilities, job creations and employments, women’s empowerment and an encouraging business and investment atmosphere. Not the current nightmare.
With the continuing absent of these opportunities, coupled with less than five percents honest, sincere and patriotic leaders, create slimmer hopes with a very shaky chances of re-election of the SLPP and Bio come 2023, despite plans at hands to rogue and win the elections through the imposed mid-term and the proposed local council law.
The dissatisfy populace expected much from government though hopes have been mismanaged by the SLPP and Bio, through distractions from doing the right works for the nation, which seems to be responsible for such terrible performance of the government.
A continuation of this remains a worrisome situation for the system to an extent that good number of critical minded SLPP members, supporters and patrons wilfully feel guilty of their party’s massive abuses and failures, as well as maltreatments of their political opponents. And they are presently calculating their exit plans should in case the electorate refuse SLPP and Bio a probable second term bid in 2023. They feel they and their party have failed to meet their obligations to the people, through the poor performance of government ministers especially ‘bread and butter’ Finance’s Jacob Jusu Saffa and other heads of departments and agencies.
Yet, for Bio and his ‘paopa’ allies, it is a different scenario as his government is said to have firmly positioned itself to maintain its grip on power even beyond 2023, with what he always refers to as a ‘work in progress’.
Parts of strategies geared towards accomplishing these; start with the very rendering of all democratic institutions including opposition political parties ineffective, with constant bullying, with imposed poverty on the masses, illiterate and incapacitated and some corrupt ruling and opposition MPs.
But a Consortium of Progressive Political Parties have out rightly condemned the mid-term census, intended local government law and the cybercrime bill for failures to observe procedures in carrying out their formulations. They say the census is ‘illegal’ and ‘untimely’ thus must be rescheduled to 2025, which is the normal ten years period set aside by law to conduction of housing and population census, and not a mid-term census. For the local council bill they are trying to disenfranchise people from vying for local council seats, the consortium said it ‘undemocratic’ and will affect the democratic process.
That besides, the SLPP is employing all sorts of tricks trying to secure the 2023 elections by all means including deployments of heavily use of armed security personnel at all polling centres, especially in the north and western areas to intimidate voters from venturing to make it to vote in APC strongholds such, as Port Loko, Kambia, Kono, Tonkolili districts.
God save Sierra Leone from the claws of two-faced leaders for these are not the real hopes and aspirations of the people, who are tired of excuses of ‘broken economy and corruption’ allegations against members of the last APC administration, failing to clean themselves from allegations of massive graft under the incumbency led by president.
Further gauging opinions of a well determine is the electorate, these reporters stopped at the Salad Ground Market, and engaged a frozen chicken vendor; Marian Sandi, a mother of three, on how is she copping with businesses; ‘why in the first place do I need to waste time to talk to you, when you can’t fix even 2.5% of my problems. I don’t need any torment from journalists because business is difficult for us these days and we are always running at lost. Prices of everything continue to be sky rocketed so for me personally there is nothing impressive about businesses and investments in particular. And we the small scale enterprises are suffering by the tick of the clock. So business is so difficult for us so if I may say anything to you, she explained.’
These ‘repeated’ failures of the SLPP and Bio towards meeting promises made during the last elections, three years on are shameful. And the unfulfilled commitments remained fresh in the memories of the people, with most of them regretful of wasting their votes for deceptions. These are the more reasons why so many people have vowed not to vote come next election as in their views, there will be no reforms even if they vote the country would always continue to be retrogressive.
This level of consciousness of the SLPP’s collective failures to serve as real leaders, that would have liberated Sierra Leoneans from wretched poverty, block the leakages in public finance expenditures as promised, fix institutional problems such as the mitigation of corruption, the problems of indiscipline are some of the critical concerns decent citizens are not happy about under the Bio led SLPP administration.
Also, the incompetence of the government to improve the living standards of the people, address economic damages being caused in just three years, as well as a huge lack of common sense by the entire administration to reposition the country on an impressive trajectory towards attaining sustainable livelihoods for all, are self-defeating factors hurriedly hunting the Bio led SLPP out of power in 2023. Hunting them in that, with no means of calling for redress, the electorate only options of reaction come at the ballot box.
That is why being fully aware of his under performances, Bio with all his strategies, is busy having sleepless nights dashing all over the place always going northwards, trying to consolidate support and political ties with northerners – Port Loko, pro-SLPP northerner, chiefs and Falaba, Koinadugu, Tonkolili and Kambia all in furtherance to get firm hold of support in APC strongholds to secure a smooth second term victory at first ballot. Not forgetting his regime’s mass murders of innocent lives in cold blooded particularly in the north.
Assuming office three years ago, his attention was never pay to the north and northerners; instead they were welcomed with hates, sacked from jobs, removed from businesses and brought in their south and easterner siblings to places of works they could hardly perform in.
Bio’s moves northwards is seen by observers as mere cheap political tactics towards tricking northerners again for their votes and in the end up dump them when once he shall be entrusted with their votes. No way, we can no longer be taken for a ride, said Bockarie Conteh, an ‘okada’ rider in Waterloo rejects, adding; ‘we have decoded the SLPP and Bio long ago and our votes won’t be sold nor misplaced anymore for peanuts. For all we know and are seeing now is that Sierra Leone after 2018 election remained regionally and ethnically divided.’
The only option left for Bio is the over use of security power through unprofessional police and military deployments at elections centres to constantly intimidate opposition parties so that they can win, observed Mariama Seray Fofanah at Wellington.
With all these undemocratic behavioural problems and incompetence being manifested by the government’s ill-equipped team headed, there is likelihood that the unpopular SLPP and its leader have a very slim chance of winning the 2023 elections, says Steven Santigie Munu Tarawallie a vegetable vendor at Dove Cut Market.