Maada Bio: Reviewing a Remarkable 2015
In January 2015, one of the major governance issues which was topical for public debate was the study titled “The credibility of the 2015 Census in Sierra Leone: Will all Heads be Counted” published by The Institute for Governance Reform (IGR). The findings amongst other things pointed out the noticeable biases in the cartographic field mapping and the recruitment of known APC members as District Census Officers. Rtd. Brig. Bio fully aware of the seriousness of the findings issued a Press Statement on the 29th January 2015 calling for the postponement of the Census process until after Sierra Leone was declared free of Ebola and made four (4) solid recommendations to government. Subsequently, the government postponed the census from 4th -17th April 2015 to 5th – 18th December 2015.
By February 2015, the national discuss had focused on the Auditor’s General Report which revealed shocking findings on the management of the Ebola Funds. Understanding the implication of the report for the image of the country, on the 22nd February 2015, Rtd Brig. Bio wrote a letter to Pres. Koroma raising grave concerns and outlining a six-point recommendation amongst which was that a further audit be carried out from November 2014 until Sierra Leone was declared Ebola free.
In March 2015, a political firestorm had engulfed the country – the sacking of the elected Vice Pres. Sam Sumana. Sadly, on 11th March 2015, Rtd. Brig. Bio had returned home to mourn with bereaved SLPP families on the passing away of two illustrious members – Hon. Tamba Sam and Hon. Maigore Kallon. However, on Saturday 21st March 2015 Rtd. Brig. Bio joined the SLPP NEC denouncing the arbitrary dismissal of the elected vice president. After the Supreme Court ruling of the matter, Rtd. Brig. Bio reiterated his disagreement with the judgement. But as someone who cares about the peace and security of the country, he called for citizens to respect the ruling.
By May, at the international stage, the country had a candidate for the presidency of the AfDB election in the person of Dr. Samura Kamara. Despite the party politics, Rtd. Brig. Bio showed statesmanship and in a Press Release dated 26th May 2015 endorsed the candidacy of Dr. Samura Kamara. Even a fellow SLPP flagbearer aspirant, Mr Andrew Keilie, praised Bio’s patriotic credentials.
In June, the cheap propaganda and lies about Rtd. Brig. Bio not studying for his doctorate were buried. As a doctorate student of the University of Bradford, Bio was invited by two of the most prestigious universities in Africa – University of Pretoria and Addis Ababa University – to present a paper on the peace settlement in Sierra Leone. On 27th June at the Globe Venue in London, Rtd. Brig. Bio delivered one of his most passionate speeches to Sierra Leoneans in UK sharing his vision to rebuild Sierra Leone and called for Unity, Patriotism and Hard work.
However, the start of September brought a wonderful addition to the family of Rtd. Brig. Bio and his wife, Fatima Bio, with the birth of their daughter, Amina Bio (also known as Yie Amie). Despite providing support to his wife and daughter, once again national duty called – the tragic incidents of severe flooding which caused havoc to families, homes and communities in Bo District and Freetown.
Some of his critics say he is a poor man but surely he has the heart of giving, Rtd. Brig. Bio made two sets of donations including hundreds of bags of rice, condiments and non-food items to affected families in Bo district and Freetown. On the 18th September 2015, while in London, Rtd. Brig. Bio also released a statement expressing his condolences to the families and friends of loved ones who passed away as a result of the flooding disaster.
On 11th October, Rtd. Brig. Bio returned home to a historic welcome unlike any politician in recent memory. But Bio’s return was not for the usual politics rather it was another call of a national duty – to contribute to the social mobilisation process to attain the 42 days of Zero Ebola cases. In every district he went, he had a simple message “Ebola for Don” and the people responded “Paopa”. Rtd. Brig. Bio’s motorcade did not have to drive through market squares to take pictures of bystanders or unsuspecting “market-goers” to fake “popularity”.
The tour was not about politics but in every district tens of thousands of people in flattering green “ashobis” and t-shirts gave Rtd. Brig. Bio a rock star reception. The social mobilisation tour inadvertently energised SLPP members across the country and showed Rtd. Brig. Bio is the most popular politician across the country. The tour also set a very high bar which has made other recent political tours by politicians looked like “leftover dinners”. And if you are an “SLPP aspirant” on a tour and your supporters who received you wore mostly red and yellow then suspending your tour is more sensible than facing embarrassment.
In November when Rtd. Brig Bio ended his nation-wide social mobilisation tour his few critics were so imprisoned by the success that the smear campaign that the tour was sponsored by President Koroma only made the smear campaigners looked like comedians. While Rtd. Brig. Bio was dedicated to the tour, he also granted interviews on radio stations where amongst other things he called for unity within the SLPP and clearly stated his position on “more time” by calling President Koroma to respect the two term limits in the constitution.
As a statesman, part of Rtd. Brig. Bio’s social mobilisation was also about thanking various stakeholders and institutions including the Association of Journalists and officials at the National Ebola Response Centre.
On the 3rd December 2015, in a letter which has been acclaimed by many as one of the most detailed findings from the Ebola outbreak, Rtd. Brig. Bio wrote a letter to President Koroma titled “Lessons Learnt from Management of the Ebola Virus Disease in Sierra Leone”. In the instructive letter, Rtd. Brig. Bio shared with the President eight (8) recommendations to support the post-Ebola recovery and future development of the health sector.
Equally, if there was any doubt as to Rtd. Brig. Bio’s commitment to issues relating to women empowerment then 2015 would have at least convinced the doubting Thomases with the launching of the Julius Maada Bio Women’s Wing in the United States, United Kingdom and Sierra Leone. And when the women empowerment initiative is the brainchild of your wife then it becomes very close to your heart.
But sometimes for Rtd. Brig. Bio, it is not all about politics. Part of his passion in life is also about helping and caring for people in society. Therefore, throughout the Christmas and festive season through the Maada and Fatima Bio Foundation, Rtd Brig. Bio and his wife, Fatima Bio organised feeding events for thousands of children and donated gifts to those in hospitals. For some who had asked the question – what has the Foundation done – they now praised the Foundation for its generous work. The children who benefited from the generosity may not be members of any political party which meant that caring for people is not about politics it is about humanity.
So in 2015 whether it was on governance issues, putting the country above party politics, being an academic, showing compassion to flood victims, his unending commitment to women issues or caring for children, Rtd Brig. Bio showed statesmanship. This new year, 2016, will be memorable in many ways and Sierra Leoneans should be assured that Rtd. Brig. Bio will continue to show statesmanship while at the same time remain true to some of his beliefs and values – respect for rule of law, fairness, a united country, women empowerment, justice for all, caring for vulnerable children and putting the interest of the country above party politics.
By: Julius Maada Bio Media and Communications Team
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