By Sheikh M. Bawoh.
Things have wound down. Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio of the then main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is the new President of Sierra Leone after a bitterly fought election runoff between him and the then ruling party candidate, Dr. Samura Kamara.
President Bio’s return journey to State House was never smooth. It was as caustic as it was bloody. It was a journey replete with hate and state sponsored violence against his person and his supporters.
But as expected, Maada Bio emerged out of decades of campaign of calumny and physical threat to his life unscathed, thanks to his very astute statesmanship.
Bio’s trouble began when he declared his intention to vie for the flagbearership of the SLPP in 2005. I recalled vividly when my late cousin, Ahmed Bob Kanneh of blessed memory took me to his then Circular Road office to conduct an interview with him for the New Storm newspaper. The furore which that publication triggered and the wave of diatribes it generated dragged on for over a decade. But as the saying goes, that is now history.
Taking over an economy that is in dire straits after a decade of fiscal malfeasance, can only denote the new Bio government as starting from scratch like late President Kabbah did when he took over government during the country`s civil war.
Even more unenviable and unpalatable for President Bio is, he has succeeded a President whose fiscal imprudence, heralded by his lackeys as ‘generosity’ plunged the country in to an austerity which brought the country`s economy almost to a halt.
The task of making life better for the vast majority of Sierra Leoneans- the ordinary man- the 70 or more percent who are food and water poor is very herculean. Of course this bad economic situation greatly affects the downtrodden, a fact that the new President Bio himself knows very well.
So if he is to succeed, President Bio’s government must put politics aside, and pay the greatest of attentions, first to the bread and butter issues which is a matter of priority for the vast majority.
The fight against the poverty menace shouldn’t and needn’t be pregnant with raw partisan politics. It is a national fight which must be devoid of partisan inclinations, one that can accommodate capable and determined Sierra Leoneans with proven records of highest degree of patriotism.
President Koroma failed because he was brazenly partisan and intrinsically tribal in his approach to issues of national concern. He saw Sierra Leoneans not as citizens, but as voters painted with red or green colors.
As he sets the wheels of his New Direction in motion, President Bio should learn from those mistakes of his predecessor, knowing full well that at the end of his term, he will be judged by what he delivered.