In 2018, Sierra Leoneans decided to choose Julius Maada Bio as the President to run their affairs for the next five years. On April 4 2018, President Bio was sworn into office and he started working immediately having won a tightly contested election.
One year has gone so fast and the people of Sierra Leone are concern about what the President has achieved so far.
President Bio upon assuming office was quick to launch his ambitious free education project from primary school to senior secondary school. By launching the project, Bio silenced sceptics that it will be difficult for such project to kick off. Bio has added to that by ensuring that children of teacher who have taught for ten years have free university education. He has also ensured that the children of people in the forces received free university education as well as all students in the sciences. So far in one year, President Bio is doing well in his flagship project of free quality education but the concern is for better condition of service for the teachers.
Any economic policy that is not impacting the people should be reconsidered. In his one year in office, President Bio is doing very well in generating revenue but Sierra Leoneans are yet to see the impact of the brilliant revenue drive of the government on their lives. Perhaps it is as a result of the wastages which President Bio promised to tackle but is still in place
“The new direction specific policy action will now pursue to manage public spending in an efficient and effective manner…harmonize the wage structure in the public sector to keep the wage bill sustainable.” (New Direction 2018)
The above quote is from the New Direction Manifesto of the present government in which they promised to reduce the wage bill but the current situation is that there have been more offices in government than before and government expenditure keeps increasing than what we are generating.
“Thus, between 2007 and 2016, economic conditions have suffered a sharp deterioration and there is growing hardship for a large segment of the population. Prices of essential goods have risen. For example, the cost of 50Kg of rice, the staple food, has risen from Le 60,000 in 2007 to Le 250,000 in 2016.” (New Direction, 2018)
The above statement from the SLPP manifesto pointed to the hardship the country went through in the days of the APC government but a year down the line; the reality is that the prices of essential goods have tripled the prices they were in 2017. Inflation by the government statistics is at 17.19% which means that the government should put its shoulder on the wheel to ensure the sufferings of the poor masses are ameliorated.
“The APC’s governance strategy has been characterized by divisiveness, exclusion and the weakening and subversion of state governing institutions. The patterns of dismissals, appointments, promotions and transfers within the public service are among the most palpable, threatening our fledgling democracy and national cohesion.” (New Direction, 2018)
The fact of the matter is that the same politics of division and exclusion has continued in the Bio led government as massive replacement based on regions and patronages is happening in the name of restructuring which is very bad for Sierra Leone as a nation.
In the area of good governance we have similar trends of the last regime continuing. We have seen situation in which the President has used executive orders to squash businesses in the country. We have seen situation in which State House has been violating the rule of law and even in cases where they are cautioned by the Sierra Leone Bar Association it has fallen on deaf ears.
President Bio has transformed state house into the Public Service Commission, leaving the commission redundant.
The President is doing well in the fight against corruption but we are still waiting for him to amend the ACC law in 100 days to include the publication of assets declaration.
Even the draft ACC Amendment Bill does not have publication of assets and it has questioned the sincerity of the President in the publication of assets declaration.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Buhari of Nigeria are examples of making known their assets before coming into office.
The one year of President Bio has created mixed feeling amongst Sierra Leoneans depending on who you talk to.