100 Days Of President Bio *SLPP Claims Successes *APC Says, It Is Woeful Failure

The ding-dong political claims and counterclaims of successes and failures between the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) continues with the release of the former’s first 100 days in power report card that highlights successes scored by the Bio administration.

At the same time, the APC Secretariat has released its own assessment of President Bio’s 100 days in power that highlights what they say are abysmal failures. Below are the first 100 days’ achievements of President Julius Maada Bio’s government prepared by the office of the Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman:

Transforming the Economy

The new administration took over governance of the country under very challenging economic conditions. To address these challenges, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio announced two separate Executive Orders: Executive Order No. 1 on Revenue Mobilization (Published 9th April, 2018), and Executive Order No. 2 on Expenditure Control (Published 25th April, 2018).

Achievements – Part 2

  1. Within the first 100 days, the Ministry of Finance through the Audit Service, has instituted a financial and technical/forensic audit on all domestic arrears for goods and services left by the previous Government amounting to Le10.7 trillion (US$1.4 billion). The audit is to verify the authenticity of the arrears and it is expected to be completed by mid-August.
  2. The Extended Credit Facility (ECF) programme of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) derailed under the previous administration mainly due to weak domestic revenue collection resulting from the non-implementation of agreed measures with the Fund. Within the first 100 days, the Ministry of Finance re-launched the ECF with the IMF. Subsequently, the IMF made a staff visit to Freetown between June 4 -12, 2018 to carry out stocktaking of the country’s economic, fiscal and financial situation. The IMF commended the Government for the measures taken so far and a second visit is being planned for September.
  3. Within the first 100 days, the Ministry of Finance carried out a review of the system used to track and monitor the status of the audit recommendations. In addition, it reviewed progress made by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) in implementing the recommendations of the Auditor General contained in the 2015 Annual Audit Report.
  4. Within the first 100 days, the Ministry of Finance has engaged development partners for the enhancement of the budget support that was not disbursed by development partners in 2017. In particular, the Ministry of Finance requested the World Bank to increase the budget support to US$30 million for 2018 and the Ministry has finalized the financing agreement with European Union (EU) for budget support covering 2018 – 2020 amounting to Euro 80 million. It is expected that the budget support programme will be submitted to the Board of the World Bank in October 2018 and that preconditions for the disbursement for the EU funding will be completed by end of July 2018 and submitted to the EU for release of the 2018 budget support.
  5. Within the first 100 days, the Minister of Finance tabled in Parliament a revised Supplemental Government Budget and Statement of Economic and Financial Policies with the theme: “Road To Efficient Economic Management.”
  6. Within the first 100 days and to drive the process of delivery, the Minister of Agriculture set up a Technical Advisory and Resource Mobilization Team to lend support to the Ministers and the professional team in the delivery of agricultural services. The team has been tasked to create an effective system for delivery, alignment of MAF’s operations with the President’s vision and priorities for agriculture; promote accountability and coordinate efforts between divisions in the Ministry and with partners.
  7. Recognizing the indispensable role of the private sector towards the achievement of food self-sufficiency as articulated in the President’s State Opening of Parliament Speech in May 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture has planned to organize a trailblazing private sector investment conference scheduled to take place this year. The conference aims at directing the attention of the private sector towards profitable investment opportunities in the rice value chain in Sierra Leone. This consultative engagement will not only focus on presenting a strong business case for investing in the agricultural sector but also, it is set to obtain concrete commitments from key private sector actors.
  8. Intensive logging for timber is a major threat to Sierra Leone’s forests; even protected areas have been breached in the past decade. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is providing leadership towards the development and operationalization of a National Forestry Management Agency to ensure the sustainable management of our forest resources. In the same vein, a sustained nationwide reforestation campaign is being scheduled for August 2018 to take advantage of the rains. Noteworthy, the MAF has also initiated a public-private partnership to develop a real-time monitoring system for sustainable forestry management.
  9. Within the first 100 days, input distribution for the 2018 cropping season has commenced: 40,000 farm families at 1 bushel (25kg)/farm family will be supported for lowland rice cultivation across the country; 74,000 bags (3,700 MT) of fertilizer have been prepositioned for distribution to farmers across the country to accompany the seed rice.
  10. The previous APC Government was very weak on tax collection from mining companies as many were given tax exemptions. Within the first 100 days, the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources has collected US$2.7 million from various mining companies on revenue collection.

Note: The Economy is one of four components of the New Direction Manifesto. In this four-part series exclusively on the economy, you will see ten more instances of how the New Direction Government literally took over an ailing Economy, resuscitated it and got it back on track to a speedy recovery.

Correspondingly, APC on Wednesday 25th July, 2018 released its assessment of the SLPP’s 100 days in power.  Addressing the press, the APC National Secretary General, Ambassador Osman Foday Yansaneh started by stating that until the SLPP Government desists from the unabated human rights abuses and state condoned widespread spate of violence against Sierra Leoneans, APC will continue to invite the press to serve as the channel of information between them and the general public. Below are the highlights:

The APC Secretary General continued that owing to the prevailing threat to freedom of expression, he wanted to use this opportunity to thank the press for the objective dissemination of APC’s response to the SLPP Government’s biased Governance Transition Team’s (GTT) Report, adding that APC was able to prove that the GTT is a carefully orchestrated tool of oppression targeted at selected people based on their political affiliation.

He remarked that it is now apparent that we are all missing the APC Government’s remarkable commitment to democracy, good governance and development of the past ten years. The scribe added that he was proud of the level playing field the APC Government provided for all political parties to participate in the March, 2018 national elections.

Overall, he went on, APC has revealed too many missteps in these early days to warrant vigilance by citizens, stating that: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

Ambassador Yansaneh gave the history of assessing Presidents in 100 days increments – an American tradition. The principal aim, he said, is to assess a new leader after he had enough time to take action on his public policy pledges.

He started APC’s assessment by comparing

ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma to President Julius Maada Bio, noting that the former took up office with a sweeping agenda to restore Sierra Leone’s image globally and to rebuild the nation after a protracted war followed by the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) junta.

Under the Agenda for Change, President Koroma implemented his pledge to restore electricity in Freetown in his first 100 days in governance. The Agenda for Change included infrastructure, energy, agriculture, education, and public health. Change was visible everywhere in those first 100 days.

On the other hand, the APC Secretary General said President Bio’s first 100 days exposes inexperience in the elements of good governance as glaringly seen in the quick-and-eager-to-please actions for political gain rather than rational basis in development undertakings. These lofty goals without the essential groundwork on how public policy is made will inevitably lead to failure.

The SLPP’s “Transforming the Economy; Human Development; Improving Governance and Improving Infrastructure” document contains too little to behold as ‘achievements’ to the ascendant SLPP administration that has already lost its way in a ‘new direction’:

THE ECONOMY

We have not seen any improvement in the economy although amidst the noise of fiscal responsibility in managing the economy. If the SLPP continues with the recovery plan initiated by President Koroma to put back on track the plans for a middle-income economy, it would be in our national interest and the credit of the APC for sustained management of our economy.

EDUCATION

Pitfalls lie ahead in the proposed overhaul of the 6-3-4-4 system because of the hasty manner it is being done before an inquiry by thoughtful educators to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of both systems. We urge the SLPP administration to take the logical necessary steps towards the provision of free education so that it becomes sustainable.

Bio’s Executive Leadership

The Legislature: The founders of the 1991 Constitution framed a constitutional democracy, which is predicated on Separation of Powers, and related Checks and Balances among the three coordinate branches of Government. A review of the 7th March, 2018 official parliamentary results declared the APC in Parliament with 68 seats out of 132 Ordinary Members of Parliament; followed by the SLPP 49; Coalition for Change 8; National Grand Coalition 4 and 3 Independent Members.

The SLPP Government through intrigue masterminded to diminish the majority status of the APC in Parliament and subverted the proper establishment of Parliament. This is an outrageous abuse of power to rank the APC as a Minority Party when it holds the majority of the seats in Parliament. The SLPP administration, through frivolous court injunctions usurped the APC’s parliamentary majority and undemocratically overturned the will of the people.

Consequently, not only has the Bio administration disenfranchised voters in our strongholds but has unconstitutionally established a lopsided Parliament to favour the SLPP by electing a Speaker contrary to the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone and the Standing Orders (SO) of Parliament. More than this, by sending the police to invade the sanctity of the Chamber of Parliament to forcefully and violently eject all 68 APC lawmakers alarmed one of the architects of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991. Hon. Justice Dr. Abdulai Osman Conteh noted that the Act “is reprehensible and disgraceful and is the lowest point so far in our democracy and the administration of justice. It smacks of no less than contempt of Parliament and abuse of the process of law and the rule of law.’’

Use & Abuse of Executive Orders: President Bio has begun his administration with blunder, abuse of power and unsettling the three pillars of our democracy. He has taken measures incompatible with the expressed or implied powers vested in the President or authority granted by Parliament. He has issued a number of questionable Executive Orders which deserve scrutiny.

He abrasively dismissed Ady Macauley, the Commissioner of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) by sending him on “Special Leave” where Parliament had prescribed a clear method of removal.

State of Democracy and Human Rights: The importance of political stability cannot be overemphasized in our young democracy. The SLPP has not been magnanimous in victory. The SLPP has used its narrow and questionable victory as a license to vilify the APC and to govern like a military autocracy. Sierra Leone’s post-election environment has had strained socio-economic uncertainties resulting from political intolerance, harassment, intimidation and violence.

These uncertainties have been compounded by a spate of marked instances of human rights abuses especially aimed at APC public officials and our party faithful including an earlier cowardly attack on APC’s Freetown City Council (FCC) Mayor, Yvonne Aki Sawyer by SLPP hoodlums on her way to the office followed by recent brazen attack on her in front of her office.

The heinous murder of the APC Tonkolili District Youth Leader, Issa Kamara aka Adel, Lumley Zonal Chairman, Abu Bakarr Kamara and the ensuing harassment of APC Ministers together with the violent attacks on APC supporters across the nation. There was also forceful displacement of women and children of APC families from homes of their birth to distant districts while the SLPP’s lawlessness extended to the looting and burning of shops and homes belonging to APC adherents, unwarranted detention and travel ban on political opponents among other instances of human rights abuses have become a commonplace.

Grounding of the cross-party committee report, a committee the APC leadership asked H.E. President Maada Bio set up because of the unbearable post-election violence, which was thoroughly investigated by all political parties in Parliament, the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), the Human Rights Commission – Sierra Leone (HRC-SL), the Inter-Religious Council and local stakeholders nationwide.

The investigated and confirmed attacks against political opponents have been extended to Mohamed Kamaraimba Mansaray, Leader of the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP), whose arrest was ordered by government after his public remarks on the first 100 days of President Bio.

Similar suppression of freedom of expression and rights to assembly were extended to Civil Society Activist, Edmund Abu, when he called for a peaceful demonstration against the hike in price of fuel and the high cost of living in the country.

 

Other SLPP abuses of human rights include:

Arbitrary termination of workers perceived to be APC supporters mostly by Executive Orders or instructions from the President; dismissal of 101 members of staff from the State House; the Chief of Immigration Officer, the Chairman of National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), ACC Commissioner, dissolution of all Boards of parastatals and other state institutions, the HRC-SL, National Commission for Democracy (NCD) along with all the Commissioners and their entire staffs, and the frivolous termination of 56 Regent Chiefs in the North and two in Kenema and Kailahun districts. The rash and unlawful repatriation of diplomats and the non-payment of benefits of former ministers, diplomats and other government operatives; forceful displacement of APC supporters mostly women and children from Kono to Masingbi; indiscriminate arrest of perceived APC supporters in Freetown; unlawful breaking into and searching of the houses of APC supporters and former government officials without warrant; the forceful breaking into and searching of the former Minister of Internal Affairs’ house in Freetown and the looting and carting away of valuables from his house; forceful removal of a High Court Judge from his rightfully assigned vehicle in broad daylight in Freetown by the Government Vehicle Recovery Team; embarrassment of the former President’s daughter and husband in their house by the Government Vehicle r

Recovery Team.

The poorly investigated and written GTT Report which named former APC ministers and government officials as suspects of investigation and promoted SLPP officials who bear equal or similar responsibilities; blanket order for all former ministers, government officials to surrender their ordinary and diplomatic passports and all other travel documents to the CID as if they are all criminals or subject of investigation; intimidation of and sometimes arrest of opposition party members; and the arrest of the ADP Leader for criticizing President Maada Bio.

To avoid the consequences of human rights abuses once more in our country, we must take notice of Philosopher George Santayana’s admonition: ‘’Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In that regard, Sierra Leoneans are asked to recall the lessons of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report which spoke of major human rights abuses among others that tore our society apart.

The Judiciary: Apart from abuse of power, disdain for the rule of law, the intimidation, harassment and violation of human rights, there is apprehension in the Superior Court of Judicature of Sierra Leone, which will disturb the independence of the judiciary. The constitutional right to travel under the Freedom of Movement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Sierra Leone has been indefinitely suspended. Such executive actions tend to lead to interference of the independence of the Judiciary.

Conclusion: President Bio has spent his first 100 days bouncing between a series of blunders in quixotic military manner. APC finds President Bio first 100 days troubling, and his stewardship troublesome. Based on the evidence cited above including abuse of power, disdain for democracy and the rule of law, abuse of human rights, and civic incompetence among other signs of unfitness for the highest office of the land, President Bio is ill-prepared to steer the ship of state, as he is unable to inspire the nation. This is the view from market women, farmers, grassroots, school children, teachers, Okada and Kekeh riders, civil society, the youths, people with disabilities and the citizenry of Sierra Leone both at home and abroad.

APC estimates President Bio’s early stewardship as a failure in the manner of Giordano Bruno, the Mathematician when he said on such measures, “If the first button of one’s coat is wrongly buttoned, all the rest will be crooked.”

The assessment ended by maintaining that APC cannot be intimidated, annihilated or succumb to war of attrition aimed at rendering the party an endangered political party.