The Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio has sacked his Chief Minister, Professor David Francis, and demoted him to the Foreign Ministry Department, after a damaging scandal involving corruption at a large scale reported by the Africanist Press involving millions of dollars siphoned from the state treasury by the office of the Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister who has been accused of being arrogant and rude was reported to be shocked when he received the news which was announced on state television and radio. The credible Africanist press revealed that huge sums of money were withdrawn from the banks in the form of illegal procurements authorized by the Chief Minister’s Office. This press has also been reliably informed that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) led by Francis Ben Kaifala, had started preliminary investigations into alleged corruption in the office of the Chief Minister and the initial findings may have prompted the Head of State to take immediate steps to get rid of his trusted confidant before it becomes a national scandal.
The Finance Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa, has been elevated to the Chief Minister position in a mini cabinet reshuffle, Saffa is reported to not being a huge fan of the Chief Minister, after being rebuked by the Chief Minister for not taking instructions from him, Saffa is seen as a safe pair of hands by the President and has been a close political ally of the President even prior to him assuming the state presidency.
Professor Francis will now be answerable to and take instructions from Saffa on all ministerial matters. Saffa is said to now be donning attire resembling that of former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan with a felt hat and glasses to compliment his African ‘Agbada’- depicting his ambition to maybe take over from his boss to lead the SLPP party in which he once served as Secretary-General.
Francis will have to lick his wounds for a long time as his fallout with Bio may have dealt a big blow to any long-term ambition he may have of one day assuming the presidency. And it seems Saffa has been positioned to be the heir apparent after the demise of the SLPP which is looming come the next general election slated to take place in 2023.
Sacking his Chief Minister is a bold initiative taken by President Bio considering the fact that Francis was his Ph.D. thesis Tutor at Bradford University in the UK, and has been a close confidant as well of the president during the early tenure of his presidency. The fact that he was retained in the cabinet reveals that the president may have been hesitant to get rid of Francis completely because he is fully aware of how much Francis knows and the International connections Francis has that might derail his chances of securing a second term in office.