In an interview on the News Magazine in 2012 by Stephen Williams, President Julius Maada Bio, then the presidential candidate of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, SLPP, was asked why he wanted to be President, and in his words, “to return our country to its glory days and also invest in the future of the country. Our young people deserve to be trained and equipped for future jobs, and that is what we intend to do.” Since 2018 when he eventually won the popular vote to lead the country, he has spent every day in office rekindling hope and returning Sierra Leone to its glorious past. His massive investment in the country’s young people has gained global acclaim.
As the country goes to the polls in a few days, the electorates have a general feeling of enthusiasm. They are eager to see President Bio complete the transformational programmes already taking shape in the country.
In presenting the SLPP People’s Manifesto, titled: The New Direction: Consolidating the Gains and Accelerating Development, at the Eastern Technical University in Kenema, southern Sierra Leone, President Julius Maada Bio maintained that “The People’s Manifesto is designed to continue our New Direction national development agenda, consolidate our gains and accelerate the social and economic transformation for a better Sierra Leone.” Continuing, the President stated, “Our Manifesto 2023 is anchored on FIVE KEY INITIATIVES for building an inclusive and prosperous Sierra Leone and for faster and lasting transformation: Feed Salone; Human Capital Development for Nurturing Skills for 21st-Century Industry; Youth Employment Scheme; Revamping The Public Service Architecture Through Delivery, Efficiency and Professionalism; and Technology and Infrastructure Programmes To Serve as Pathways For Sustained Economic Growth.”
Unlike most incumbents, President Bio has consistently spread the message of the SLPP’s BIG FIVE Initiatives – visiting over 140 chiefdoms across the country’s five regions. His campaign has been steady and sturdy in the past couple of weeks, attracting applause from Sierra Leoneans who have generally welcomed the message, often laden with hope, passion and sincerity. A Twitter user, Foday Daboh (@Fodaydee), captured the President’s campaign tempo more succinctly when he tweeted, “I have never seen a more effective campaign in this country, especially by an incumbent who is poised to win anyway. This shows how serious you are and how you don’t take anything for granted. You are on track to match ATK’s numbers in 2002 or even surpass them. Kudos, H.E.”
For President Bio, Purpose-driven leadership, love for people and servant leadership has been at the heart of his leadership trajectory. President Bio has been consistent from cradle to full bloom, and his leadership inspiration has continued to shine as the northern star.
The past five years have been another testament to his fidelity to service. The first test of leadership and public-spirited demeanour came when he took over power on 16th January 1996 as the Military head of state. He kept his word of organizing elections and handing over power to a democratically elected president – resisting pressures from contemporaries to act against his conviction. Happening at the time when military coups were in fashion in West Africa makes his decision all the more riveting.
In 2018, in pursuit of a better life for the millions of Sierra Leoneans, President Julius Maada Bio led the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)to upstage the ruling party and emerge as the country’s democratically elected President. Five years on, he has performed creditably – scoring high in major development indices as put forward in the New Direction Agenda, amidst global economic headwinds occasioned by COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine War.
In presenting his Government’s agenda at the time, President Bio maintained that “Our New Direction therefore offers the people of Sierra Leone a STARK CHOICE between the current’ Business as Usual Status Quo’ of the APC that has converted Sierra Leone into a land of poverty, rampant corruption, gross indiscipline and underdevelopment and the SLPP’s New Direction’s promise of Change and Transformation that will make Sierra Leone a significantly better country through inclusive politics, inclusive economic growth, inclusive development and inclusive governance.”
He added, “Our New Direction will give every Sierra Leonean the ladder of opportunity to climb and achieve their greatest potential for personal development.”
True to his words, the New Direction Agenda has invested more in building people as the most significant resources of the country.
Today, it’s almost like a Dejavu, but the stakes are different. Most analysts have maintained the Bio’s leadership has achieved in 5 years, what the APC government couldn’t achieve in their many years of leadership in the country, hence the general believe that, this year, its straight victory for President Bio on the first ballot. Unlike in 2018 when both candidates didn’t win popular majority in the first Ballot, most political watchers believe that, President Bio has etched his name in the minds of the people to guarantee victory in the first ballot.
President Bio’s desire to build a strong and vibrant economy that works for all has not waned, they are as strong as they were in 2018, and he looks set to continue on the positive trajectory of moving Sierra Leone from its dark past to a future filled with joy and prosperity.
An enthusiastic electorate is eager to reward him with another term to complete the onerous task of consolidating the gains recorded in the past five years of the SLPP administration in Sierra Leone.