Serious questions about the democratic credentials of Sierra Leone Opposition SLPP Presidential candidate Julius Maada Bio

The SLPP presidential aspirant, Brigadier-General (Rtd.) Julius Maada Bio is good at blowing his own horn about having democratic credentials by handing over power to a democratically elected civilian government in 1996. But he is not really interested in what the people really need – do as you preach.

Julius Maada Bio – No democratic credentials

Why did Maada Bio ignore police instruction to allow the President his constitutional right of way as he goes about his daily activities? When Maada Bio was head of state for three months under the NPRC who ever dared block his convoy? Why didn’t he think about this when he foolhardily blocked the President’s convoy? Was he looking for trouble? During the course of this piece I will attempt to show you how the SLPP’s flag bearer thinks and what he’s capable of judging from his past record and associations.

Although the democratic credentials of Julius Maada Bio are somehow imposing, former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah (who acted as Adviser to the NPRC) has said that Maada Bio handed over power grudgingly and reluctantly “as a result of the irresistible and overwhelming desire and determination of the population for an elected civilian Government.” This claim was further buttressed by Professor Arthur Abraham who maintained that “when the international community and the people generally pushed for elections, both the RUF and the NPRC were opposed to it and wanted ‘peace before elections’”. So, Maada Bio should stop lying to the people of this country about his democratic credentials. He was forced to hand over power as we were all witnesses to the staccato burst of gun-fire by the NPRC on the very day of the elections in 1996.

The RUF and NPRC were opposed to ‘elections’ because they had the same aim. You would recall that in 1995, “the NPRC put forward certain peace proposals, which the RUF rejected. In January 1996, when a palace coup removed Strasser and installed Brigadier Bio, whose sister was a top ranking RUF official, as head of state, the RUF immediately agreed to discuss peace proposals.” So when the people maintained at Bintumani Two that elections must go ahead, a situation they couldn’t stop, the aggrieved RUF/NPRC camp “resorted to the addition of a new item on its endless list of bizarre and macabre methods of savage atrocities and mutilations – cutting off the hands of helpless villagers, later ‘sophisticated’ into a choice of ‘long sleeve’ or ‘short sleeve’ (Abraham: 1997; Time, 25 Jan. 1999).

I am bringing these things to your attention as citizens of this country because like His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma said last week in Makeni, “Sierra Leoneans should not allow this country to fall into the hands of jokers, human rights violators and politicians who do not respect law, order and authority”. The reason being we have come too far to return to retrogression. We have made tremendous strides as one people so much so that Sierra Leone is now the envy of the world. For anyone including the SLPP flag bearer to imagine that he could undermine these unprecedentedly massive gains all across this country today is absolutely unfortunate and outrightly presumptuous.

According to former President Tejan Kabbah who Maada Bio now sees as a supporter, “Some of them have irregular promotions, lacking in discipline, and believing that by creating an atmosphere of indiscipline and disorder they could seize power,” in this country. Is anyone surprised that the SLPP presidential aspirant had the nerve to block the President’s convoy last week? Pa Tejan Kabbah had already described the NPRC as disorderly, lawless, indiscipline, reckless, irresponsible and bogus, and I’m sure he must have been threatened to openly declare his support for the same Maada Bio who he had said, “sowed seeds of discord in the army against the civilian government” by convincing every soldier that there was going to be a 500% salary increase which the IMF and World Bank had already provided before he (Bio) left office. All of this turned out to be lies as “these organizations do not make such provisions” nor was there a decision by the NPRC that was communicated to the Tejan Kabbah administration about any salary increase to the military. This further demonstrates Maada Bio’s treacherous and dubious tendencies all endorsing the claim that he never handed over power willingly to his former adviser, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

To further prove that Maada Bio lacks democratic credentials was his complicity in the extra-judicial killing of 29 persons on, 29th December 1992, eight months after they unconstitutionally removed the APC government. The only testimony about the torture and subsequent killing of those 29 persons was made by Julius Maada Bio at the thematic hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Much as SLPP spinsters may want to say that their man has accepted collective responsibility, however, that does not absolve him from blame in this case, because he could have resigned to save his face today.

Moreover, it was under the NPRC that journalists were attacked and jailed for merely reporting a story that was already published in a Swedish newspaper. Dr Julius Spencer and other journalists of the New Breed newspaper were involved in that saga, and are testimonies to this.

So, when the SLPP presidential aspirant claims to have democratic credentials he should be very serious about it because the survival of the people of this country depends on politics. He cannot claim to be law abiding and peaceful and at the same time disobeying police order to respect the President’s convoy right of way. How is that possible? I even heard the SLPP putting forward as defense that the road was narrow or tight, and I asked myself what’s that if not disrespect for the office they are so desperate to occupy?

When Julius Maada Bio decided to run for the flag bearer position of the SLPP which he eventually won, he spread the slogan “Pa O Pa” (meaning at all cost) all across the country. Everywhere he went with his campaign team the slogan “Pa O Pa” was bellowed far and wide to the shock of those true SLPP stalwarts, members and supporters. Little wonder he got only 39% of the votes cast at their Delegates Conference to elect a flag bearer for the party. Scores of people were threatened with bodily harm and arson, while others were actually physically attacked.

The SLPP flag bearer essentially believes if he intimidates the President maybe that could just hand him the presidency at all cost. Otherwise, why would he want to put himself in such a complicated situation by ignoring police advice because of ego, thereby ended up blocking the first gentleman of the state? Who does he think he is? When I normally use the pun “Madder” on Maada’s name, my SLPP friends complain that I shouldn’t do that as they take it as an insult. But how can any serious citizen of this country who has seen, felt and appreciated President Ernest Bai Koroma’s developmental and transformative leadership not refer to someone who blocks the President’s convoy as being mad? Only a mad man can possibly block the President’s convoy because he doesn’t know what he is doing and the law will have no quarrel but to quarantine him at the Kissy Mental Home “Crase Yard”.

So as far as the SLPP’s presidential aspirant’s democratic credentials are concerned, there is really truly nothing to write home about. He does not respect law, order and authority and, cannot be entrusted with state funds as poignantly stated by former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, “Another instance of the reckless and irresponsible manner in which the affairs of State were conducted by the NPRC regime is in the granting of a general power of attorney to Steven Bio, the brother of the erstwhile Head of State and government, to conclude all and any defence and military contracts anywhere in the world and at his sole discretion, as the accredited agent of the Government of Sierra Leone.”

Pa Kabbah went on to note that “By virtue of such unusual authority, Steven Bio concluded a number of contracts running into tens of millions of dollars. Has Maada Bio ever denied these allegations? “There is no evidence that most of those contracts have been performed but Steven Bio has already been paid millions of dollars on them and he is claiming further amounts as arrears of payments”, the former Head of State said.

But former President Tejan Kabbah didn’t stop there. He went on to personally attack Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio as a defrauder of state funds when he revealed that, “Brigadier JM Bio himself on 1st February 1996, a few days before he left office, caused the Government to pay into the account of his private firm, P Banga Investment Limited the sum of Le235,000,000 (Two Hundred and Thirty five Million Leones) in respect of contracts that that firm has purportedly entered into with Government for the supply of spare parts for the replacement of helicopter engines which did not belong to Government. Incidentally, it was into the account of this same firm in the Channel Islands that Brigadier Bio paid his own share of US$400,000 (Four Hundred Thousand Dollars) from the passport deal which was disclosed recently.” What else do we need to prove that this man is a democratic imposter who truly believes Sierra Leoneans are not up to his level of education to know what he is up to? Is he serious by courting our votes when there are still unanswered allegations of his unfitness for the job?

Despite the rhetorical nature of the foregoing questions, I will attempt to answer most of them in my next article, “Sierra Leone Needs A Mentor, Not a Tormentor”. While a “mentor” is someone with vast experience who advises and helps others with less experience over a period of time, a “tormentor” is someone who causes others to suffer (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 8th Edition. I will be looking at this in my next article, especially so when we are approaching elections; a time when the people of this country must know the cardinal differences between the candidates, for a tormentor’s aim is not to earn democratic credentials. Therefore, Madder has no democratic credentials since he is Tormentor.

© 2012, Jarrah Kawusu-Konte. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.

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