Power Changes Hands

The importance of last Saturday, May, 12th 2018 inauguration of His Excellency, (Rtd) Brigadier Julius Maada Worni Bio on his fifty-fourth birthday as Sierra Leone’s fifth elected President was attested to be the record number of Sierra Leoneans from all walks of life in the country and from neighboring countries and overseas that thronged into the National Stadium to be part of the momentous event.

By estimation, over one hundred thousand people crammed into the open stands to see the spectacle of former President Koroma handing over the baton of power to President Bio with many more refused entry. Some people even took to the floodlights to see what was going on inside the main bowl of the stadium.

Remarkably, in spite of the record turnout of people for the once in five years event, the atmosphere within and outside the stadium and the entire nation was calm, peaceful and friendly. Security forces reported no skirmishes or acts of lawlessness and violence before, during and after the event. Everybody dispersed and went home peacefully and quietly.

Indeed, it was a momentous event that was worth being part of. Heads of State from Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Togo and the First Lady from Gambia were all in full attendance and so were all the embassies and envoys from other countries represented here. Also, First Lady, Fatima Jabbie-Bio’s friends from the West Africa entertainment scene were at event – the likes of Ibu, Gomez and Omotola.

After a colorful military parade, the entire stadium erupted into cheers when former President Koroma smiling graciously handed over the staff of the highest office to its new handler. What did former President Koroma whisper into the ears of President Bio? That was the question many people asked. Was it a bit of friendly advice? Only the two and God know. Before that, Chief Justice Abdulai Cham installed President Bio as the country’s Fountainhead of Honor and Justice, Grand Commander and Member of the Order of Rokel, the country’s highest honor.

Overwhelmed by the magnitude of the responsibility that he was now officially taking over from his predecessor, a visibly highly emotional President Bio started his speech with a bit of a stammer. As he gradually settled down and warmed up to the occasion, the country’s new head of state who said the occasion was momentous and historic said he will be a president of the entire nation. Stating that he felt proud of the country’s democracy, he thanked the people for voting him in as the country’s president and implored the nation to depart from the past and be prepared to break new frontiers.

“It is our responsibility to work together as a nation in order to enable us improve the economy and ensure a good standard of living for all,” President Bio appealed to his fellow countrymen and women. He thanked his fellow heads of state that graced the occasion and in the same spirit of cooperation, President Bio called on African nations to work collectively.

He honored President Koroma for the peaceful transition of power from his administration to the current one and promised that he will work with President Koroma to achieve prosperity for all. He praised his predecessor, calling him a good man and one of his words.

The thrust of President Bio’s address to the nation was his promise to tackle indiscipline, corruption and poverty. For this, he called on the people to be at the forefront of the war against these three enemies of the state and its people. He prayed for God Almighty to help him rule the country in the direction of Unity, Freedom and Justice and pledged to work diligently for the nation and re-echoed the development plan that he had outlined earlier during the week at the State Opening of Parliament. This includes his flagship free education policy; stating that his five years national development plan will hinge on a vision of education for development

His mission, he said, is to change and transform Sierra Leone into a nation that we all can be proud of. This, he said, he will do through effective leadership and prudent political and economic management of the state and its resources.

On accomplishing difficult tasks, he quoted Nelson Mandela to underscore that even though the development challenges are momentous, they are not insurmountable.

His government, he said, will build on the gains made and the tentative successes that he has scored so far in furthering the nation’s collective development. Towards this, he said his government and governance will be all inclusive.

“We have one country,” he reiterated, adding, “we must all work together to make it a country we are proud of.”