The ‘New Direction’ Uncontrollably Swinging To The Wrong Direction – A Tale of Lies And Deceptions

“The 10 years of APC government misrule and economic mismanagement since 2007 has created considerable suffering for our people. I have seen this first-hand during my nationwide tour of the country. The bad governance of the APC government under President Koroma has made Sierra Leone one of the poorest countries in the World and the third worse country in the World where
people do not have enough food to eat. Ordinary Sierra Leoneans have seen how the APC government’s Agenda for Change transformed itself into the APC Agenda for Corruption and the country is now one of the most corrupt in the world. As if this was not enough, the APC again crafted an Agenda for Prosperity which has since mutated into the APC Agenda for Poverty. We are a rich country bountifully endowed with enormous natural resources but the APC government has made us into a poor people, where our youth do not have jobs, our teachers, our nurses, our
police and all public servants are poorly paid. Under President Koroma’s APC government, our education system has been completely decimated while they send their children to private schools in America and England.”

Words of President Julius Maada Bio in the 2018 SLPP “People’s Manifesto”.

According to data by Statistics Sierra Leone, the cost of food in Sierra Leone increased 17.10 percent in June of 2021 over the same month in the previous year. In 2017, the average inflation rate in Sierra Leone amounted to about 18.22 percent compared to the previous year. This year it has reached the highest rate in ten years! Also, Sierra Leone is currently facing its worst food crisis in a decade, a World Food Program report indicates. The report continues by saying: “Overall, the findings of the 2020 FSMS show a concerning deterioration in food security in Sierra Leone compared to February 2019, with the total food insecure population increasing from 34 percent to 47.7
percent. This implies that almost half of the population of Sierra Leone (3,921,752) are not consuming a sufficiently nutritious diet to live a healthy life.”

On 12 May 2018, exactly three weeks after the head of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) pronounced the results of the 2018 general elections in Sierra Leone, current president Julius Maada Bio was sworn in as the president of the Republic of Sierra Leone. After eleven years of the Ernest Bai Koroma-led government, the people of Sierra Leone voted for “change” and “bread and butter” promised as per manifesto, by the “New direction” Paopa government. But since then, the country has seen a persistent increase in the price of basic commodities, little or no activities of infrastructure, a president that is addicted to overseas traveling – all this in an unstable, ineffectual and shambolic economy which is aided by reckless spending by political vampires and zombies.

Before the 2018 general elections in Sierra Leone, the country’s two main political parties, the All People’s Congress and the Sierra Leone People’s Party faced off to convince the people of Sierra Leone why they should vote APC or SLPP. The SLPP, which had the current president as their flag barrier, promised the people of Sierra Leone to resolve the “bread and butter” issue and stabilize the economy in less than a year. In the SLPP 2018 manifesto called “People’s Manifesto,” let’s not forget that the current President Julius Maada Bio, in his 2018 manifesto promised the people of Sierra Leone “unlimited jobs, food, education, and health services”. Today, the “unlimited jobs” have turned to limited jobs, the “unlimited education” has turned to a crippling education, the “unlimited food” has turned to an unlimited food crisis, and the “unlimited health services” have turned to unlimited depleting health services. He promised Sierra Leoneans Dubai and gives them a South Sudan Pro Max+.

“The people of this country are yearning for change and change is inevitable and inescapable. The SLPP is ready and prepared to lead this democratic change on 7th March 2018. In these Elections, I am again offering the nation hope and a new promise that Sierra Leone will be better for all under my leadership. I promise a New Direction for Sierra Leone as a united, peaceful, progressive, dynamic, confident, enterprising and happy nation where the people have unlimited access to jobs, food,
education and health services and where there is equal justice and equal opportunity for all. We must transform Sierra Leone into a Middle Income Country of the 21st Century”.

Words from President Julius Maada Bio in his 2018 manifesto

As the country is currently facing its worst food crisis in a decade, the president and his family are busy flying around the world like a Tsetse fly in tropical Africa. Africanist Press, the country’s leading investigative digital media press, reported that the president and his wife spent over LE 10,000,000,000 on a lavished trip to Lebanon whilst one of the country’s biggest hospitals, Connaught, lacks constant electricity, oxygen supply, medicine for the sick, and sometimes even PPEs for nurses and doctors to work. But this doesn’t seem to disturb the president or give him sleepless nights. In December 2020, Africanist Press reported that the president and his wife “spent more than Le5.2 billion (over US$520,000) on travel costs and per diems”. Remember, this is a president that said he will make “corruption unfashionable”.

One doesn’t need to be a professor in Economics to be aware of the crippling state of the Sierra Leonean economy. The World Food Program (WFP), in a report, says that over 4.7 million people in Sierra Leone are food insecure (that’s 66% of the country’s 7.8 million population). The report by WFP shows the number of people in Sierra Leone facing severe hunger has tripled (3×) in the last ten years.

In the just-released Audit Report, estimated cash losses under this current regime amount to over LE 113,000,000,000 (One hundred and thirteen billion Leones), more than double for estimated cash losses for 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 financial years. Even though these findings seem more true, the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission seems to be not bothered. It may look like the Anti Corruption Commissioner is, perhaps, more concerned in chasing the opposition. Perhaps, it could be the commissioner is scared to call to question his paymaster; as the saying goes “you don’t bite the hands that feed you”. Even before the revelations of the Audit Report findings, the Africanist Press seems to have been releasing eyesore findings which the President and his wife, the First Lady, have been squandering billions of Leones through per diem and exuberant overseas traveling that are yet to yield significant changes in the health sector, infrastructural sector, and most importantly basic commodities. In the 2019 Audit Report, the Auditor General describes illicit payments involving the First Lady Fatima Bio, the then-chief minister Professor David Francis and the then central bank governor Kelfala Kallon. These damning reports by the Auditor General were, unfortunately, not debated in parliament and the Anti Corruption Commission decided not to indict the aforementioned three.

Excerpt from the Audit Report 2020

Sierra Leoneans were/are not expecting change overnight, but for the smallest things like food prices, electricity, pipe-borne water distribution, and basic healthcare services – this government has woefully failed in addressing the aforementioned areas of national concern. In fact, the president himself, with no iota of respect and shame intentionally ridiculed Sierra Leoneans who are concerned about his zero-yield excessive overseas traveling by saying on a national TV that “ladies and gentlemen, I will continue to fly”. This, thus, can be justifiable to the fact that the president cares less about the struggles his people are enduring every day to make ends meet. Just like Nigeria’s Buhari, the Sierra Leonean president has become an addict to planes. He could barely stay in the country for a week without traveling. This has confused so many who are asking if the president doesn’t have a cabinet to represent him in some international bilateral conferences, which could save the country billions of Leones.

Although there have been positive strides in some areas, in terms of overall performance, the results of this administration in the last three and a half years would show F (Fail).

Author: Abu Bakarr Jalloh

Abu Bakarr Jalloh is a Sierra Leonean writer, storyteller, Neo Pan-African and founder of The African Dream media platform. Abu Bakarr Jalloh began telling the stories of change-makers in Africa in 2018 as a writer for Salone Messenger. Mr. Jalloh has worked tirelessly to uncover the stories of change-makers in Sierra Leone and the continent of Africa at large. Due to his passion to tell inspiring and compelling African stories, Mr. Jalloh founded The African Dream, an online media platform that tells inspiring and compelling African stories. Contact email: abubakarrjalloh@theafricandreamsl.com WhatsApp: +23276211583

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