70 Days Of The Bio Administration… 2 Fired

 

It has been a hectic 70 days since His Excellency President Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio was sworn into office by the Chief Justice on 4th April, 2018 after the National Electoral Commissioner announced him as the winner of the 31st March presidential runoff election.

Immediately after he acceded to office, President Bio, who promised to run a disciplined, transparent and accountable government, started firing and hiring officials that would serve him and the nation as ministers, deputies, civil service bosses and parastatals heads.

7o days into his administration, the President has fired two senior government officials that have caused tongues wagging nationwide. The first was his Secretary, Dennis Vandi. He was summarily dismissed as Secretary to the President at the end of May after he committed the unforgiveable mistake of reading wrongly a presidential directive on the three Finance Acts and going on to issue a statement on the subject that misinformed the public.

The miscommunication was reportedly unacceptable and unforgiveable. SLPP supporters said it was an embarrassment to the President, whilst anti-SLPP opposition led by a ferocious APC press reportedly howled for Mr. Vandi to be sacked by the President.

Whilst the public was baying for his blood, an apologetic Dennis Sandi in a letter of remorse to the business community and the people dated 28th May, 2018 stated that what the President had said was that, given that Parliament has the authority to amend or alter the said Acts at the request of the Minister of Finance, he was suspending discussions on the matter until he held discussions with the Minister of Finance and development partners. “I erred,” Mr. Vandi stated. However, his apology was not enough to save his skin; he was dismissed from the office on 30th May, 2018 and replaced by the Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr. Julius Fofana Sandy.

Then late on Monday evening, 11th June 2018, a nation about to go to bed was made to sit up when a broadcast from the Office of the President announced that the controversial Leader of the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), Charles Francis Margai Esq., who had thrown his weight behind President Bio in the presidential runoff election and was rewarded with the Office of Attorney General and Minister of Justice, had been sacked. When the nation woke up on Tuesday morning, speculation was rife everywhere as to what caused Charles Margai’s quick downfall. Many said he has a mercurial temperament and must have fallen out with his boss. Some said the split came about due to Charles Margai stubbornly refusing to obey an order from his boss.

Many said they knew that sooner than later, Charles Margai and President Bio would fall out; as the former who had abandoned SLPP to form PMDC is not a true ‘New Direction’ disciple. Others speculated that Charles Margai is calculative and vindictive and had picked bones with several perceived enemies and political opponents including allegedly the Chief Justice, the Director of Legal Aid Board, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) boss, the Registrar General and her deputy, Commissioners of the Human Rights Commission, as well as threatening to transfer Judiciary staff that he suspected of not being loyal to him.

Whatever the circumstances of Charles Margai’s unexplained firing, the fact remains that President Bio had warned his employees that he would not tolerate any deviance from the ideals, principles and expectations of the ‘New Direction’ in his determination to deliver to the people what he had promised them during the campaign. Certainly, along the way, Charles Margai would have transgressed, hence his dismissal.

He has been replaced by Dr. Priscilla Schwarz (nee Fofana) a career law professor in the United Kingdom, who is also a Barrister and Solicitor of the Sierra Leone Supreme Court that cut her teeth on State Counsel at the Law Officers Department between 1996 and 2001 serving as Personal Assistant to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Solomon Ekuma Berewa. She was instrumental in setting up of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Dr. Priscilla Schwarz holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from Fourah Bay College (FBC) and undergraduate law degree from University of London; LLM and PhD from King’s College and Queen Mary College.