De Gron Dry SLPP Youths Tell Bio Bio Asks, How De Gron Nor Go Dry?

With the honeymoon long since over, one year on after his March 2018 presidential election victory, His Excellency President Bio now has the difficult job of delivering on his 2018 election campaign promises; chief among which, is the delivery of jobs for the country’s vast army of unemployed youths.

He was starkly reminded of this promise when on Saturday 6th April, 2019 visited the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) headquarters on Wallace Johnson Street in Freetown to celebrate his one year in office with the party grassroots who are seething with impatience that the government has not provided them with jobs.

SLPP National Organizing Secretary, Jimmy Batilo Songa who arranged the meeting speaking on behalf of the grassroots thanked President Bio and the government for the good work they are doing on behalf of the people but told him that as the popular musician Emerson noted, “De gron dry”; the youths want jobs. “We want jobs,” he told the President.

Batilo’s deputy, Bockarie Kowa expressing the frustration and impatience of the youths told President Bio that the benefits of politics should be enjoyed here on earth and not in the thereafter.

Addressing the grassroots, President Bio stated that he did not promise a quick solution to the problems that he inherited from the former government. However, he stated that his government is the best solution to the country’s problems. For example, he said the SLPP led government is the first to keep the capital city Freetown clean after ten years in filth.

On the issue of ‘de gron dry’, President Bio asked rhetorically that if the state has been massively looted with a widening gap, ‘why de gron nor for dry’? He accordingly called on the grassroots to give him and the government more time to put in place the structures and mechanisms for fixing the economy, adding that his foreign travels are all geared towards attracting investments into the country, leading to creation of jobs which, he said, the government alone cannot do but with the participation of the private sector. Whilst he acknowledged the role of the grassroots in bringing him and the government to power, he stated that his mandate is to develop the country for the benefit of everybody and not few.

Addressing the grassroots, His wife, First Lady Fatima Bio greeted them with, “Asalamalaykum”. She prayed that God continues to bless the President to continue serving the country well. She stated that President Bio is SLPP and will always protect SLPP and its members and supporters. On the complaint that government functionaries stop SLPP members seeking favors from seeing them, she said President Bio does not know about that and should not be blamed. She sympathized with those that are suffering, hungry and jobless, stating that they are in the majority.

However, she called on them to exercise patience, telling them pointblank that not everybody will be lucky to get a job but that whatever is destined for somebody will happen. She denied allegations that whilst the government has placed a ban on employment by the MDAs, she is employing people. She appealed to those who like washing their dirty linens in public to stop, stating that party members should be able to resolve their differences in house. If anything, they should use the right channel to reach President Bio who will listen to their complaints. “The party must be righteous; must support each other,” she appealed.

Earlier, on the same issue of ‘de gron dry’ in a BBC interview on his one year in office, President Bio admitted that the economy is in bad shape, that times are hard and that it is extremely difficult for the government but maintained that a lot has been achieved so far. He mentioned the free education and strides taken so far in upgrading the country’s health infrastructure as well as beefing up of its delivery capacity with the deployment of 167 ambulances countrywide for emergency service free of cost, recruitment of 1, 000 nurses with 1, 000 to be recruited and inventive that have been provided medical staffs. He admitted that the health system could do with more specialist staff that are currently in short supply.

Asked if he is pleased with the state of the economy, President Bio replied yes and no. He stated that whilst efforts are being made to stabilize the economy at the macroeconomic level, it is inevitable that the people at the bottom will in the short run suffer. However, he expressed optimism that eventually the benefits of the ongoing economic reforms will trickle down to the people at the bottom.