Is President Bio Serious About Citizens’ Welfare?

Is President Bio Serious About Citizens’ Welfare?

By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)

The manner in which President Julius Maada Bio is currently running Sierra Leone’s economy appears to indicate that he lacks basic knowledge in home economics. For how can he talk about “plugging the leakages”, with the intent of reducing the wage bill and other local financial obligations, yet he is making new appointments week-in week-out which will burden the already burdened economy of the state.

In the last couple of days, he has appointed about five Presidential Advisers which shows that he appears to be seriously unserious about the general welfare of ordinary citizens, on the one hand, and on the other hand shows that his knowledge in basic economic principles seems to be zero! What he has done, with these recent appointments, is to recycle recycled deadwood politicians whose productivities have reached their nadirs. Probably, just a probability, he has made those appointments to fill the seats at the “Credentials Hall” at State House and get applauses every time he is having an occasion there!
Now let me explain to you some of the economic implications of President Bio’s recent appointments on the already over-bloated wage bill. The monthly salary and other perks of a single Presidential Adviser (minus airfares and per diems whenever the Head of State goes on his so-called “rebranding” overseas escapades) could pay the monthly salaries of twelve trained and qualified government teachers and ten traffic policemen combined.

And that’s not all. The monthly salaries, weekly fuel chits, annual leave allowances, and yearly ex-gratia payments of five presidential appointees at State House will feed the entire population of Kroo Bay, thrice a day, for a month! Yet, our “Tok En Do” President (you can read savage sarcasm here) is still keeping mum on the issue of salary increment across the board or an increase in the minimum wage generally.

But let’s forget about the maintenance of the fleet of vehicles involved in taking these presidential appointees to and from work every day. And we can even pretend that these presidential appointees’ offices are not furnished with expensive furniture or the fortune involved in purchasing stationeries and office equipment and gadgets to facilitate their working vacations. The fact of the matter is: most of the current presidential appointments are duplications of already duplicated jobs which are meaninglessly meaningless in the current circumstances!

With his latest presidential appointments, President Bio has created the comic situation like that of a beggar behaving like a king. Imagine, our Commander-in-Chief, who is running a national shoe-string budget, aims at spending on salaries and other perks for presidential appointees like a CEO running a multi-billion dollar oil company. Even the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which have been providing budgetary supports for his administration, appear to be no longer interested in propping up a government which seems to lack financial sagacity. And worse, the National Revenue Authority (NRA) is no longer meeting its monthly and yearly targets while President Bio is opening up more floodgates than plugging the leakages he promised to plug.

And to splash petrol into the raging inferno, Sierra Leone now has a Chief Minister who behaves like an over-excited village boy on his first day at a prestigious inner city school. Through his words and actions; Dr David Sengeh appears to think that he is the protagonist in a badly written and produced Nollywood movie. He seems to always be in his elements whenever he is projecting the double standards of the Bio-led administration.

The double standards which have now been a permanent trait of the Bio-led administration, the lack of empathy for ordinary Sierra Leoneans by most government ministers and other presidential appointees, and the frequent tongue-in-cheek comments by most apologists for the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) are nauseously nauseous! Yet, “my president, your president, and our president” (courtesy of the late Professor Septimus Kaikai) has been behaving like the proverbial ostrich! From most of his recent speeches, President Bio appears to be painting the picture of ordinary Sierra Leoneans not suffering but just downright ungrateful!

At times, I really wonder what manner of man is President Bio who appears to sleep soundly at night while ordinary Sierra Leoneans are in states of sleeplessness. The inhumane taxes and heartless tariffs, which his administration has been frequently imposing on the citizenry to keep its sinking ship afloat, are increasing the already increased hardships in the country.
While majority of Sierra Leoneans are finding it extremely difficult to afford even one un-square meal a day; President Bio is telling the world over that Sierra Leone is a nation “…where our aspirations for abundant jobs, food security, quality education, and equitable healthcare are not mere dreams but manifest realities. Where justice and opportunity are not the prerogatives of a few but the birthright of all.… (According to his speech at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly.)” Such a speech is what I would describe as an irony wrapped in paradox and placed on a platter of inhumane taunts!
But I am forgetting that President Bio appears to be only concerned about the “true Sierra Leoneans” who are SLPP supporters and presidential appointees. So, it seems as if the “abundant jobs, food security, quality education, and equitable healthcare” are only meant for the “true Sierra Leoneans” not ordinary Sierra Leoneans generally.

So, I will not be surprised if, in the coming weeks, President Bio makes more appointments in trying to create more meaningless jobs for the boys (and girls) at the detriment of financial sagacity. In my opinion, I think our Commander-In-Chief needs a crash course in home economics so that he may be ably able to “plug the leakages” rather than create more floodgates of opportunities only for the “true Sierra Leoneans”!

It is on that note that I will end today’s One Dropian dropping with quote from Joseph E. Brooks that says, “Show me a country, a company, or an organization that is doing well and I’ll show you a good leader.

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