Shameful for a whole President to laugh at opposition members for being economically broke and ‘suck-air’ politicians



In a labelling that received deafening applause from his supporters, the president of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, called main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) politicians “suck-air politicians”, loosely translated to mean that they are broke, hard-up or any word connoting or meaning that they are financially strapped hence struggling.

During the speech to his supporters in the second city of Bo in which he threatened to meet protesting civilians, bullet with bullet, president Bio alleged that after five years of being in the opposition the broke APC politicians are finding it hard to cope under the current economic squeeze the nation is grappling with and are desperate enough to do anything to come to power, even employing the use of force under the cover of a protest action.

Speaking to this medium at the nation’s law making house, the Parliament on Tower Hill in Freetown, a ranking Member of Parliament (MP) belonging to the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) speaking on conditions of anonymity has said that the president should be ashamed of calling opposition politicians broke and for acknowledging that times are so hard that even these people, who are mostly assumed to be well off, are finding it hard or difficult to cope.

‘If opposition party politicians are finding it hard to cope under the current economic crunch then how is the average man coping? The president should always be guarded when making speeches to the public. I and several other MPs find his calling APC politicians “suck-air” to be distasteful. Apart from the careless but potentially dangerous threat that his regime will meet protesting citizens bullet for bullet, saying that APC politicians are broke without the ruling party government not lifting a finger to help then means that he has long forgotten what former President Ernest Bai Koroma did for him when he was leading the then opposition,’ the SLPP MP of the Sixth Parliament reminded the president and nation.

The MP, who said he is “deeply concerned and troubled” whenever either president Bio or his wife addresses the public, disclosed that there is a time long and honoured practice for APC and SLPP to work as a team as they carry out the work of the government of Sierra Leone on behalf of the people home and abroad.

‘The practice is that whenever the APC is in power the party government will look out for or take care of members of the SLPP because we have friends belonging to both parties. The idea here is that if even a party spends 10 or more years in power after they are voted out all that money will finish. Therefore it makes sense to assist those in the opposition fully aware that your time will come to step out of the way and all the access you used to have to the public purse. If the APC politicians are broke then the SLPP should do an introspection and ask if they have been doing for the APC what Ernest Bai Koroma did for Bio to keep him from the poorhouse and public ridicule,’ the SLPP MP surmised.

Reminding the forgetful president, the SLPP MP alleged that former President Ernest Bai Koroma gave or made money available to Julius Maada Bio on many occasions. During the nation’s fight against the devastating Ebola pandemic that resulted to the death of thousands of our brothers and sisters including some foreigners here to help us fight the scourge, the MP alleged that EBK, as President Ernest Bai Koroma is fondly called, ‘gave Maada Bio to canvas SLPP strongholds with the Ebola prevention messages’.

‘Considering the hardships at the time, Ernest Bai Koroma didn’t call SLPP politicians “suck-air” politicians. Remember that after being in power for just a few months Bio allegedly embezzled $18 million of donated money to the then junta regime. After spending that money, “suck-air” met him; and who bailed him out time and time again? EBK! We know of a situation where Bio was stranded at an airport and couldn’t afford to pay certain charges. He sent word to President Ernest Bai Koroma who quickly had that money plus some more made available to the former junta leader.’

‘The president should really check himself and know that he will not be in power forever. With the way he is known to be a “BMF” – someone who “blows money fast” or spends large sums of money surprisingly fast, he should be very careful because if “suck-air” meets him he wouldn’t have anyone to turn to. “Suck-air” will find any former president and his cabinet or party supporters that did not play his or her part for the opposition when they were in the trenches. With what we know about how they spend and live, all the wealth that the Bios are amassing will not be forever,’ disclosed the SLPP MP.

Our source went on that it costs a lot of money to maintain a former president with his security detail and other privileges. Knowing this, he said president Bio has set a bad example with how he has treated former Presidents Ernest Bai Koroma and Valentine Strasser including former Vice President Sam Sumana.

‘As head of state president Bio did not make sure that the former presidents and vice president are provided with state sanctioned security details. As a matter of fact he had their state provided security people removed. Therefore these men who sacrificed their time, experience and expertise to push the nation forward move about just as any other citizen. But these men are not ordinary people; they are special. They are former heads of state and deserve such security and large pension to maintain them. During the 2018 campaign Maada Bio said it was unconstitutional for EBK to remove Sam Sumana and promised that as president he would settle Sam Sumana’s backlog pay, security and other perks. Up to today he has not kept his promise. This will one day come to haunt him. The presidency is not for life; Bio will have to step down one day,’ the SLPP MP assured.

Concluding, our source, the SLPP MP belonging to the Sixth Parliament, said he and many members of the party and government are not happy with the president’s comment, saying that it was not a funny comment to make as it exposed the ruling party government as not only failing to meet their obligation to their colleague government workers belonging to the opposition, ‘but also an admission that things are very difficult’.

He asked: ‘If things are so hard for opposition politicians, then how are the poor and struggling people of the country keeping up?’ Lonta!

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