Sierra Leoneans concerned about the wasteful spending of President Bio and his wife Fatima Bio

With the Africanistpress investigative journalism unearthing an undeclared and unapproved state funds secretly and illegally transferred into the Sierra Leone bank account of the country’s first lady Fatima Bio , one would logically deduce that millions of dollars may have been secretly transferred into the overseas accounts of the first gentleman and the first lady that the country do not know about ,just as it didn’t know what were transferred into the first lady’s and the president’s local travel account, also held at the bank of Sierra Leone , until the Africanistpress published a damning financial crimes of the Bio administration.

Since these shocking misuse of taxpayers money through a two track process– one the treasury transfering huge undeclared and unaccounted for state funds transferred into the first lady’s accounts, she has responded by making video announcement attacking Mr Chernoh Bah ,being one of the Africanistpress investigative journalist in a futile attempt to discredit his revelations.

Earlier, the Africanistpress has also reported with evidence that between August to December 2020, her husband, who is the president of Sierra Leone spent one and half million USA dollars in total on overseas travel.

It was established that 1 million US dollars were taken out of the president travel account held at the bank of Sierra Leone to finance a one week obscured Lebanon trip, which no one knew why the president and his wife chose to travel to an unstable Lebanon during the pandemic lockdown.

The presidential press secretary had issued a statement that the president would travel for a week to Lebanon on a private visits and whilst there he would conduct a bilateral relations with the host country.

It  was outside the normal diplomatic protocol, as I see it, for a president on a private visit with his wife to conduct a bilateral agreement. But it makes sense to the paopas.

This was the only statement that the statehouse press secretary gave to the country, and for three weeks after the president and his wife had left for Lebanon, Sierra Leoneans pontificated what really president Bio had travelled to do in Lebanon.

But three weeks in to a trip that the statehouse press secretary had announced the president would stay in Lebanon for a week, we heard the first statement from Mrs Bio, wife of the president, that they were ” enjoying their honeymoon”

Furthermore, half a million dollars were withdrawn from the president’s local travel account at the bank of Sierra Leone to finance his three days visits to Ivory coast ,Guinea and Gabon.

This president, has travelled on overseas trips in a very short period soon after he assumed office more than all the travel undertaken by his predecessors put together, which the bewildered public had raised concerns.

Given that Sierra Leone is a low income country- with 70 percent of the population unemployed, comparable percentage in poverty and having been declared by the UN as a country of hunger, the frequent overseas trips by the president have caused immense controversy as to the government spending undeclared and unaccounted for tax payers money of largely unnecessary overseas trips .

There are considerable financial emoluments each time the president travels and it has been argued in some quarters that these frequent overseas trips by the president are motivated by the funds that he received from the consolidated fund in the form of per diem.

Those who holds these views, like me, have argued that the president doesn’t need to make that frequent and numerous numbers of overseas journeys in search of investors.

We suggested that, for the purpose of attracting investors, these can be done efficiently by the country’s trade minister and in collaboration with trade attaches in missions overseas under the supervision of the foreign minister.

My argument was underpinned by the need to cut waste on unnecessary overseas trips and for the president to focus on more pressing issues on the ground with the hardship in the country, which could not be readily addressed by investors.

What attract investors to invest their monies in a country is not through presidential visits , as this was the argument put forward by supporters of the government to justify the reckless spending of the country’s meagre resources on presidential trips abroad.

Before a sober investor decides where to invest and how, he would first examine the long term political stability of a country and its economic prospects.

These includes the existence of appreciable infrastructure to aid his business without incurring him an extra cost to his business.

More importantly, the world bank indicators on countries with good business environment provides critical data to make an informed decision. Sierra Leone, is sadly, 7th place amongst the bottom ten on the world bank good business environment indicators.

The president of Tanzania has travelled in only 5 countries in the 5 years of his presidency.

All these trips were in East and South Africa ,when for instance, he attended the inauguration of president Ramaphosa of South Africa.

He has never attended UN assembly meeting or travel to Europe. He sent his foreign minister to read the 15 minutes speech to the UN assembly.

President John Mugufile has said that it would deny the country vital funds, money which could be use to build social amenities like clinics ,schools and build modern healthcare system if he were to travel overseas as president with large entourage than when his finance minister , who he praised for representing the country well in international conferences.

The Africanistpress has established a nexus between president Bio and his wife pilfering state funds ,at an alarming rate into their local bank accounts.

The president has used his frequent overseas travels to build a huge personal bank account for himself.

In similar way, his wife,Fatima Bio, has been using huge amount of taxpayers money, secretly transferred by the treasury into her “hands of our girls” and other activities , even though it is not a statutory agency.

Most depressing in these terrible corruption saga is the revelations by Mr Chernoh Bah of Africanistpress that in barely two months after president Bio assumed office, the treasury department transferred million huge amount of money into his wife’s bank of Sierra Leone account, which was not known to the public and the money transfer took place at the time president Bio claimed he inherited a “battered economy”

Furthermore, substantial amount totaling multiple million US dollar, according to Africanistpress, were secretly transferred by the treasury into the president’s spouse bank account.

Notably, the money allocated to the president’s wife, Fatima Bio, was never announced or approved by parliament, but more sickening was that the total amount she received as a non government organ, doubled the operational annual budgets allocated to the country’s vice president and ministers.

Questions are now being asked, if such monies were transferred into president Bio and his wife local bank accounts in Sierra Leone, without transparency and accountability, how much more of the country’s taxpayers money have been secretly pilfered into their overseas bank accounts, indeed do they have overseas bank accounts? Yes, but unknown.

President Bio had , in coming to office, assured the people of Sierra Leone that his government would be transparent and accountable.

It’s in this spirit, that the president should and must come out and address the country about the most serious exposition of corruption that directly involve a sitting president and his wife.

It is absolutely imperative that he clear the rather, rather than leave it to his wife who is digging more holes by her appearances on videos to defend herself and discredit Mr Bah’s evidence based publication.

I love my country, that is why I speak my mind. Sorry if anyone is offended.

Yankuba Kai-Samba

Former UK and Ireland Secretary General of the ruling party in Sierra Leone, but had long resigned from the SLPP

Yankuba Kai-Samba

Chelmsford UK

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