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How and Why I endorse Julius Maada Bio for President? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw, Senior Lecturer in Media and Politics, Northumbria University, UK   
Monday, 16 October 2017 12:24

I have

I have endorsed Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio for the SLPP presidential ticket in the March 7 2018 elections because I strongly believe in his project and ability to succeed as our next president if given the opportunity.  Perhaps I need to provide  some context as to how, when and why I took this decision.

Maada Bio is the second presidential candidate I have ever endorsed in Sierra Leone. The first was late president TejanKabbah during the campaigns in the 1996 general elections, which he won. I was then publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Expo Times, which won the best-selling newspaper award from the National Vendors Association that year. At the time, my newspaper was the largest circulation and most widely read newspaper in the country and my nearest competitors were For Di People and Concord Times. When the presidential election campaigns became heated and the battle lines were clearly drawn with the three front-runners, TejanKabbah of the SLPP, Karefa-Smart of the UNPP, and Thaimu Bangura of PDP (SORBEH), For Di People declared for and endorsed Karefa-Smart and the UNPP while Concord Times declared for and endorsed Thaimu Bangura and the PDP. Dr Prince Harding and Banda-Thomas then approached me to endorse and help TejanKabbah of the SLPP, who was then the clear frontrunner according to Opinion polls, to win the elections. 

Why TejanKabbah, and not Karefa-Smart and Thaimu Bangura

It was a very difficult decision to make at the time, not least because my newspaper had gained the trust of majority of people as the most fearless independent newspaper in the country. Another challenge was that my editorial team was split along the three main front- runners; most favoured Karefa-Smart while others favoured Thaimu Bangura, and only my deputy editor LansGberie and I clearly favoured  TejanKabbah for the presidency. Probably because of the fact that I was born and raised in Kenema, a very strong hold of the SLPP, I was inclined to support TejanKabbah and his SLPP project. Moreover, I was convinced that he was having the best campaign in terms of his vision for the country, especially in pushing through the on-going 1996 Abidjan Peace Accord, which was initiated by the NPRC junta then led by Maada Bio. I was particularly convinced that TejanKabbah would push through the Abidjan peace process because he was, before running for the presidency, the Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the NPRC, which initiated it in the first place.  As most of those who were following developments in the country would remember, my newspaper was in the forefront of those calling for a peaceful resolution of the Sierra Leone civil war, which was only benefiting the rebels and those selling weapons to them and the government troops. I clearly saw TejanKabbah and the SLPP representing my vision to push for peace and development in the country. Because of all this, I threw my weight and that of my newspaper behind TejanKabbah. However, I made one promise to Dr Prince Harding and Banda Thomas:  that I was going to do my best to use my newspaper to defend the case for Kabbah’s bid for the presidency and mobilise support for him among our readers on one condition that if Kabbah won the election we would celebrate together and give his government six months of breathing space after which we would go back to our editorial independence.  After all, as is the case even in developed democracies, it is normal for a newspaper to take a position during national elections and then revert to its neutral position after the settling of the political dust; and so we were not acting out of tune with our responsibilities as journalists. Therefore, this was how and why I decided to use my newspaper to endorse TejanKabbah and help him and the SLPP in the campaign to win the 1996 elections.  After the elections, I remember that things initially went very well between my newspaper and the government. I was even given a  VIP invitation by Banda Thomas to attend the SLPP victory dinner and dance at Cape Sierra Hotel and Dr Prince Harding following his appointment as Minister of Mines regularly visited me in my office at Short street.

Things Fall Apart!

However, things started to go bad between my newspaper and the Kabbah government when, after its first six months in power, we conducted a street vox pop about its performance, especially in the area of pushing the peaceful negotiations of the country’s conflict inherited from the NPRC government, in which the overall opinion was below average. The government appeared to be a bit sluggish in pushing the Abidjan Peace Accord and this made the RUF rebels to renew their offensive and cause havoc in many parts of the country. It was like the democracy, which we had hoped would create the atmosphere needed to deliver the peace, was failing us. Within a very short time, since the coming to power of the TejanKabbah government, I suffered persecution twice.  The first involving a court matter with an American businessman who was then supported by some top government ministers, which led to my deputy editor and I spending a week end in Pademba road prisons because Magistrate Noami Tunis who was to sign our bail papers left her office earlier than expected on a Friday. The second involving Inspector General of the police Siaffa sending police to raid my office in search of what they called a computer stolen from Sierra Rutile. Both cases came to nothing; the first, which was a libel, was kicked out of court because there was no case to answer while the second was simply dismissed for lack of evidence. It turned out that the idea was just to harass me to stop exposing the weaknesses of the Kabbah government, especially in pushing the peace process.  I suffered the worst persecution in the hands of the Kabbah government when my two assistant editors GibrilGbanabomeKoroma(now editor and publisher of the Canada-based online newspaper, Patriotic Vanguard) and Charles Roberts and I were arrested and put in Pademba Road prison for almost a month  in 1997. We were charged with seditious libel and spying for the enemy (the first and only time journalists were charged with such treasonable offence) for publishing an opinion article written by the former criticising the arrest of RUF rebel leader FodaySankoh by the then Nigerian military leader Sani Abacha and spelling out how this would undermine the on-going Abidjan Peace Accord. We were refused bail five times during our detention and we were only released on bail after we went on hunger strike for three days and following international pressure.   This was too much and we certainly did not deserve all these treatments from Kabbah’s SLPP government given the role that my newspaper played in their election victory. But the worst was yet to come. Following the AFRC junta coup in May 1997, which forced the Kabbah government into exile in Guinea Conakry, which put on hold our ongoing trial while on bail, I was branded collaborator of the junta, which was not true.   When the AFRC junta was removed by ECOMOG and Kabbah’s government reinstalled in 1998, I was forced into exile because my name was on a death list of so-called junta collaborators circulated by vigilantes and militias of the newly reinstalled Kabbah government. 

How and Why I Embraced the APC?

 I only returned from exile in 2007 following the change of government with APC’s president Koroma coming to power. Because I was clearly bitter with the SLPP government after all the harsh treatment my colleagues and I suffered in their hands I decided to turn my back on them and embrace the new APC government which gave me hope and allowed me to once again return to my country. I even went to the extent of registering with the APC party and became the Bristol branch publicity secretary for about a year.

Enter Maada Bio!

However, the turning point came when three years ago, following a series of meetings, I was approached by Maada Bio to join his PAOPA project core team in preparation for the next general elections.  It was a very difficult situation, after considering all the harassment and persecution I suffered in the hands of the SLPP, which I clearly did not deserve, given all what I did for the party to get to power in 1996.  Yet, I must say, it was really difficult to resist Maada Bio’s very warm, comforting, and reconciliatory words while trying to  kindly and calmly ask me to put the past behind me and work with him to implement our dreams for a more peaceful and better Sierra Leone. Moreover, when I looked at Maada Bio’s track record as the NPRC junta leader who actually initiated the 1996 Abidjan Peace Accord, which my newspaper openly endorsed and defended, albeit at a prize of many rounds of persecution, and the fact that he openly demonstrated his love for a peaceful and developed Sierra Leone by accepting democracy before peace in line with the wishes of the people expressed in the historic Bintumani conference even when he and his NPRC junta clearly favoured the later, I quickly realised that I actually shared his  vision for a peaceful and developed Sierra Leone. I must  say that I was really impressed by Maada Bio’s patriotism and democratic credentials when he accepted the wishes of the people to hand over power after serving just three months as leader of the NPRC junta following the palace coup against Captain Strasser. I also admired his courage and determination by working hard to add value to himself by pursuing further education to the level of Masters in the USA and most recently a PhD programme in the UK. His position is further strengthened by the experience he gained in his first shot at the presidency in the last elections in 2012, where he did very well by polling about 38% of the overall votes, coming against a then still relatively popular incumbent President Koroma. In contrast to what some critics have been saying about Maada Bio’s determination to still run for the SLPP flagbearer for the country’s top job, I believe that is a strength rather than a weakness.  I think that he stands a better chance than all the other candidates do because he already has a political base and all he really needs to do, if given the opportunity, is to build on that to cross the finishing line in the next elections.   All this put together has convinced me that Maada has prepared himself very well and is more than ready to serve our country once again, this time in a much better and stronger position. After accepting to support and work with him three years ago I straight way registered as a member of the SLPP and I have since been working hard with others in the UK and elsewhere to provide support and advice where necessary.  I also like the way he has handled the tensions and egos within the SLPP leading to the recent very successful SLPP party convention in Kenema.  I strongly believe that Maada is capable of replicating this magnanimity if given the opportunity to lead Sierra Leone. I also commend  the newly elected SLPP Chairman, Dr Prince Harding, and the rest of the new SLPP executive for working so hard to reach out to everybody in the party, including those who lost the election and their supporters, since the Kenema convention. What the party needs most at this crucial time is unity and so I would encourage the new NEC to expand their outreach efforts to include even those who have left the party because of differences in opinions and approaches, and those who are still in the party but not completely engaged with the ongoing processes and activities of the party moving forward.  It is normal in politics for people to disagree on issues and approaches but it is always better to find ways and means of resolving these differences from within rather than from without in the interest of the unity of the party which is needed to put up a good show in the next elections. It is in this spirit that I raise my hat to all the other SLPP presidential flagbearers who have decided to weather the storm and stay in the contest, as well as those who have withdrawn from the race for personal reasons but are still strongly in the party. I commend their efforts for putting the unity and overall interest of the SLPP above their personal interests.




26th IPRA Conference in Sierra Leone Ends on a High Note

The International Peace Research Association (IPRA) successfully held its 26th General Conference on ‘Agenda for Peace and Development: Conflict Prevention, Post-Conflict Transformation, and the Conflict, Disaster Risk and Sustainable Development Debate’ in collaboration with the 10TH Dealing With Disasters Series, Northumbria University (UK)and Sakarya University (Turkey) and  the University of  Sierra Leone at the Bintumani Conference Centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone from November 27 to 1st December 2016.


Business News


The Parliament of Sierra Leone on Monday 04th December 2017 debated and ratified two additional agreements aimed at improving and expanding Ports facilities in Sierra Leone to be at par with international best practices.

Presenting both Agreements prior to ratification, the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Balogun Koroma said that the additional Agreements are geared towards addressing some of the concerns raised by MPs, in respect of expanding our Ports facilities to accommodate larger vessels, and the issuance of license with the view of combating money laundering, contra-band goods, and attracting more funds for Government.

Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, Minority Leader of the House, also supported the ratification of the two Agreements, saying if our Ports are not developed, we would not be able to attract huge vessels; thus the need for the continuous improvement of our Ports facilities.


Media News

Two veteran Journalists, now in the United States have paid a courtesy call on Sierra Leone's Ambassador

Two very respected and veteran Journalists who are in the United States of America for various reasons have called on Sierra Leone’s Amr. Bockari Kortu Stevens not only to appreciate the work of the Embassy, but also to pay courtesy as protocol demands.

Mr. Rod Mac-Johnson, former Lecturer Fourah Bay College, former Director of Information Ministry of Information and Communications, Former Director Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA), Former Chairman Independent Media Commission (IMC) and stringer French News Agency  etc. is on vacation and Mr. Cyril Juxon Smith Director Information and Communications House of Parliament, former Acting Director General Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) and former UNESCO Media Consultant  is in the United States of America to attend the funeral of his father.

Speaking at the Ambassador’s residence on 4821 Colorado Avenue, Washington DC  Mr. Rod Mac-Johnson said “Thank  you Amr. Stevens for accommodating us in the middle of your tight schedule, and also to discuss with us in a homely spirit.




Your Excellency Sir,

For over a month now, since the ECOWAS Regional Court in Abuja, Nigeria handed down their landmark opinion on the Vice President, Samuel Sam-Sumana’s appeal law suit against his “unconstitutional removal” from power by your APC government, having been legally sanctioned by the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, I have been taken, both by extreme trepidation and satisfaction, as I continue my reflection. In their ruling, (in resume,) the ECOWAS Courtoverturned” the Sierra Leone Supreme Court’s seemingly “compromised” opinion that saw Mr. Sam Sumana arbitrarily or constitutionally deposed from his position as the duly elected Vice President of Sierra Leone (alongside you,) midway your second presidential tenure in 2015; just after the infamous Ebola viral epidemic devastating scourge on Sierra Leone. The ECOWAS Court ruling therefore “ordered” the immediate reinstatement of the vice president, furthering that all backlog of his remunerations and emoluments be accorded him, from the time he was sacked, to date; along with his claim for damages of U. S. $ 250 million.

Upon the ruling by this higher regional court, I have had to do some very sober reflections and musing over the “political manoeuvres” and intrigues that originally erupted from an internal APC party wrangling that proceeded to the Sierra Leone parliament, and had to eventually culminate into what most objective and independent legal minds considered a “blatant travesty of justice and breach of our constitution.” This ruling also brought a legal embarrassment to the Sierra Leone justice system in the sub region, continent and world over. And whereas I would not want to meddle with the political ramifications and implications of that higher regional court’s “legal opinion,” I would like to briefly examine the moral and economic considerations, as I objectively see them. This then obviously takes me back to my caption question that I would summarize as “Who Pays the ECOWAS Court’s Ruling Charges??”


View Point


Dear Mr. President, events leading to, including the horrible aftermath of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease, the twin disasters of mudslide and flooding convey unarguably a fatalistic dose of stress. Worsening is the inflation of basic food stuff and the devaluation of our Leones which has made life very difficult for the average citizens.

Mr. President,stress is increasingly becoming visible in the conduct of most Sierra Leoneans; hence stress is a pressure or worry caused by the problems in somebody's life.

Before 2007 elections, protestation songs by Emmerson Bockarie, Innocent and "Dry yai crew" assumed the role of the opposition parties against the Tejan Kabbah-led SLPP government. Today, public transport cabs/buses, ghettos and the ‘Ataya base’ have now assumed that position in venting out frustrations against your APC led government.


News - Press Release

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation presents AWOL Awards to outgone Minister

(MFAIC Press Office, 4th January, 2018). The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Dr. Kaifala Marah has presented the All Walks Of Life (AWOL) prestigious award of ‘Best Ministry of the Year 2017’  to the outgone Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Samura M.W. Kamara at a press conference held at the Ministry’s conference Hall, Tower Hill, Freetown.

In his brief statement before officially handing over the award to the outgone Minister, Dr. Marah gave a brief overview of the introduction of performance contracts in 2014 by His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma that set in motion the process of enhancing and operational mandates in various MDAs. It is against this background that the Ministry was among the five best performing Ministries based on the outcome of the Ministry’s Performance Contract Assessment Report for 2016/17 (Performance Tracking Table – PTT) in the country.

Dr. Kaifala Marah lauded the relentless efforts of Dr. Samura M.W. Kamara, during whose tenure the Ministrydeveloped and articulated, for the first time ever, a comprehensive strategy to guide and re-invigorate the national approach to foreign policy and international cooperation in a rapidly changing global environment.


Society -Local News


(MFAIC Press Office, 5thJanuary, 2018). Five Foreign Envoys including the Head of Delegation of the European Union, Amb. Tom Vens; the Honourary Consul of the Arab Republic of Syria, Hussein Jawad; Charge D’ Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Nadali Heydari; Charge D’ Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Wang Xinming; and the Honourary Consul of India, Harish Agnani; have paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Kaifala Marah at his Tower Hill office in Freetown.

According to the foreign envoys during their separate meetings with the Minister, their visit to the newly appointed Minister is to enhance and deepen the existing partnerships and bilateral relations between their respective countries and the Republic of Sierra Leone. They extended fraternal salutations and congratulatory messages from their Government and people of their respectively countries to the Government and people of Sierra Leone.

The foreign envoys underscored their Governments’ continuous assistance and support to Sierra Leone. Thecurrent electoral climate in the countrywas discussed within the perspectives of bilateral and multilateral relations, underlining the common interests in developing political, cultural and economic relations, as well as the interpersonal relations between the EU, the Arab Republic of Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran,the People’s Republic of China, India and Sierra Leone.




The Ambassador of the State of Israel to the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Ambassador Chaim Choshen today 4th January 2018 paid a courtesy call on Sierra Leone's Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Ambassador Omrie Michael Golley, at the Sierra Leone Mission in Seoul, the South Korean Capital. 

Ambassador Choshen, who was appointed as Ambassador of Israel to South Korea in August 2016, expressed his appreciation for being warmly received by his Sierra Leonean host and counterpart, and stated that his Government was very keen to expand its relations with Africa, citing the examples of Official Visits in recent months by the Israeli Prime Minister Mr Benjamin Netanyahu to various countries in Africa.

Recounting the recent Official Visit of His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma to Israel, Ambassador Omrie Golley stated that the recent visit of President Koroma underscored the importance that his Government was attaching to expanding Sierra Leone's ties with Israel, particularly in the economic sphere.



It will not be business as usual – Bio assures diaspora

He was passionate, confident and assuring as he addressed hundreds of Sierra Leoneans at the prestigious Royal Regency Hall in London on Saturday 9th December 2017 with a very simple message that as the next President it will not be business as usual.

For a man who has a solid track record as a disciplinarian, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio continues to attract many voters who feel the country needs a strong and disciplined leadership.

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