Bio’s 100 Days In Office… The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

 

Today marks one hundred days in office of President Bio’s New Direction Government. Whilst it is expected that His Excellency President Bio would give an account of his stewardship of the state so far, there has been mixed comments – some favorable, some unpalatable – from a cross section of the populace about what his successes and shortcomings in these first hundred days are.

Members and supporters of his party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) who supported his bid, believe that he has got off to a very good start with regards his election campaign promises to provide the state with good political management as well as prudent management of the country’s resources. For example, during the presidential campaign, Bio promised that if he won the presidential election, he will introduce quality free education for primary and secondary school pupils in the country; as well as offer scholarships for girls in tertiary institutions studying the sciences. His government has made good on the promise by declaring that the programme would kick-off this September. Bio has been hailed by poor parents, guardians and students for making good on this flagship project which they say if properly implemented will greatly reduce the financial cost on education.

President Bio came into power on the ballots of the majority of voters on the promise of bettering the lives of his fellow Sierra Leoneans. When he addressed the House of Parliament on the 10th May, 2018, he reiterated that among his governance priorities is to wage war against corruption, indiscipline and hunger. Those who speak favorably of his administration credit him for, among other things, making good on his pledge to fight corruption by instituting the Governance Transition Team, immediately he was sworn in, with the aim of enforcing discipline, transparency and accountability in governance.

In the area of health, President Bio is credited for reintroducing the monthly national cleaning day which many say has brought significant improvement in public sanitation. This development was welcomed and has been contributed to by all and sundry across the length and breadth of the country.

Economic minded citizens credit President Bio for plugging huge financial leakages, something he promised to do during the campaign. So far, the policy has paid bountiful dividends to the state in terms of revenue intake running into hundreds of billions of Leones since April. Other financial conservation policies Bio is praised for includes measures taken by thje National Revenue authority (NRA) to enforce tax compliance that has resulted in increase in daily revenue from Le6.5bn in March 2018 to Le20bn. He is also praised for implementing the single treasury account that was recommended by IMF and World Bank as a means of plugging financial leakages; as well as placing a moratorium on the purchase of new vehicles, limiting the amount of fuel supplied to government officials; as well as putting on hold all new appointments in MDAs without presidential authority.

In terms of revenue generation, which is very important for financial liquidity that enables government to function well, the Bio administration has been able to increase revenue from the fisheries sector through increased enforcement and compliance. In many ways, the Bio administration through demonstrating sincerity and commitment to good governance has succeeded in instilling confidence in the people about government’s commitment to their wellbeing. For example, since coming to power, the Bio administration has fought tooth and nail to improve and stabilize electricity supply in the western area, the largest consumer base in the country.

On the minus side, many people deplore the government’s failure to react swiftly and proactively to the wave of violence, intimidation and lawlessness that was carried out against opposition APC supporters in SLPP strongholds in across the country after the announcement of the presidential run-off results on 4th April, 2018. APC supporters in Kenema, Kono, Bo and in Taiama were allegedly molested, intimidated, verbally and physically attacked, some of their houses burnt and properties lost in the wake. In Taiama, the new APC office built by APC’s Dr. Kaifala Marah was burnt down. His critics note that President Bio did not come out as leader of the nation to openly deplore and condemn the attacks on APC supporters which they say went further to divide the country ethnically and politically along the South-East North-West lines. In which vein, many people also criticize President Bio for what they see as his unlawful summary dismissal of officials of the former APC government, including the former ACC boss Ady Macauley whose sacking, many  say violates the constitutional provision.

All that notwithstanding, Bio is however commended for setting up an intra-party committee that comprised all political parties that traversed the length and breadth of the country in the bid to pacify the situation that was about to get out of hand.

With unemployment very high in the country, many people deplore President Bio’s executive order that dismissed 105 staff attached to the Chief of Staff at State House. These people are said to have been contract workers paid not out of the state purse and were working on a very important national development project aimed at achieving the MCC Compact.  Those who were affected think that it is improper and against the grain of national inclusion and participation for President Bio to dismiss heads of MDAs and parastatals appointed by the last government because they are perceived to be members and sympathizers of the opposition APC.

Opponents of the Bio regime also believe that not much has been done by the Head of State who promised that he will run an inclusive national government that serves all the people of this country, regardless of tribe, region, religion and political affiliation to put this promise into practice. They allege that the majority of appointments that he has made into the government largely favor South-Easterners and members of his party. President Bio’s critics state that he lambasted ex-President Koroma for favoring North-Westerners for appointment in his government at the detriment of South-Easterners.

Critics of President Bio also think that under his administration, the security situation in the country, particularly in the western area, seems to have deteriorated lately, witnessed to by a spate of armed robberies and murders that caused the police to recently issue out a strong public notice warning youthful perpetrators of violence and crime to desist forthwith.

On the economic front, the majority of poor people think that the Bio administration has not paid full attention to the burning issues of the continued devaluation of the value of the national currency against the major international trading currencies – the dollar, pound and Euro. Poor Sierra Leoneans lament that this has negatively affected their purchasing power as the price of imported rice and local foodstuffs soar.

Going forward, the Bio administration faces a daunting task dealing with the national debt, electrification, water supply, sanitation, health, education, agricultural and industrial growth and development, environmental protection and regeneration, housing, transportation and most critically creating the enabling legal, financial and logistic framework for the private sector to thrive so that the much needed jobs that will bring succor to millions of young and middle age unemployed Sierra Leoneans, their families and dependants can become reality in the next five years and beyond.