Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Sierra Leone Getting Ready for Presidential Inauguration

President Julius Maada Bio 
Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio is a very lucky man. Probably very few people give the thought to just how lucky one has to be to become the leader of an African country twice. African leaders typically do not have graceful exits. However, many of the African countries where individuals have become leaders at two different periods are in West Africa.

During the period in our continent's history when military dictatorships were common, Julius Maada Bio took over the reins of power in Sierra Leone and shortly hereafter handed the country over to civilian rule without any fussing or fighting. It was a very selfless decision.
APC Parliamentarian IB

Many of President Maada Bio's primary detractors love to say he had no option at the time he gave up power.  They state that at the time, it was the pressure and agitation of the civil population and the international community that forced him to give up power. In my opinion these statements can be attributed to the fact that in the midst of the hardship that has come to characterize our country  Sierra Leone, one of the attributes that has helped the people stay resilient is the possession of a relatively short memory span.

If the average Bio detractor did not have a very short memory, he/she would remember that Johnny Paul Koroma, a more recent military leader in a very similar position  refused to hand over to the country's elected civilian government, even when he had massive multinational forces arrayed against him, while facing substantial domestic civil and military resistance. Johnny Paul held on to power until he was practically chased out of the capital Freetown, later dying in obscurity and buried without pomp and pageantry. 
APC Inauguration Seat
Dumped in Backyard 

It is said that some people create their own luck. Maada Bio is one of those people. Leading up to the 2007 elections, Maada Bio tried his hand at being the presidential candidate of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party. He was defeated so comprehensively that many thought his foray into politics was over. However he came back for the 2012 elections and managed to clinch the party presidential candidacy, only to lose to the incumbent Ernest Bai Koroma.

After the 2012 loss, Maada Bio left to study for a doctoral degree in the United Kingdom.  While in the UK, he was simultaneously engaged in his studies while fighting challenges from all quarters within the SLPP to his candidacy as party flagbearer in 2018. Maada Bio's singular determination, the tenacity of the President's Paopa group within the party, his name appeal, the defection of some of his primary opponents to form the National Grand Coalition (NGC) and early support from some other aspirants put him in pole  position to win the leadership of SLPP the second time around.

In the general election the much hyped  support for the NGC and their candidate Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella did not materialize. Many people saw the NGC as a party of elitists and bourgeoisie supported by Sierra Leoneans living abroad. The APC party, while being plagued by poor economic performance in the country, also had a very lackluster candidate, Dr. Samura Kamara, whose credentials were more impressive on paper than in person. Samura had the unfortunate tendency of easily falling asleep during public appearances. APC's problems were compounded by the dismissal of the elected Vice President some years ago, which myopic action succeeded in  cannibalizing support for the APC in the highly populated Kono district from which the dismissed VP hailed. 

Having been marginalized by President Ernest Bai Koroma, many strong past APC campaigners showed little public enthusiasm to campaign for Samura. So Ex-President Koroma did most of the campaigning with the delusion that he was still massively popular in the country, in spite of his failed policies. The common  belief among the APC elite was that APC was too strong a party to lose and Maada too weak a candidate to win. This belief proved to be a catastrophic mistake, as was evidenced by APC’s shellacking.

So on Saturday May 12th, 2018, as world leaders descend on Freetown to celebrate the Presidency of a man who was vowed by many to never become President of Sierra Leone ever again, Maada Bio will be taking in all the sights and saying to himself, "never say never."
President Bio and Weah
Of Liberia.

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