By Mustapha Wai,
January 1, 2018
Fatima Bio has clearly been a very supportive wife of her husband, the SLPP flag bearer, Julius Maada Bio. She has stood firm by the side of her husband in difficult times over the years. She has championed initiatives geared toward uplifting the women’s wing of the opposition SLPP. She has orchestrated several humanitarian initiatives resulting in donations to vulnerable people in the communities, including women and children. These are the kinds of contributions expected of a first lady.
In addition, a first lady is expected to be the mother of all. She must be seen as one who brings everyone together. She must be the one that everyone comes to for resolution when conflicts emerge. A first lady serves as the moral guarantor and honest broker for all. Whatever the case is, a first lady must not take sides openly, especially when it comes to matters having to do with supporters of her husband. But lately, Mrs. Bio seems to have taken on a new role. A role that is not typical of a first lady, and more importantly likely to jeopardize her husband’s campaign for the presidency.
Many longstanding diehard supporters of Bio are complaining about Mrs. Bio, accusing her of taking sides and unduly influencing the outcomes of the party symbol elections. Photos of Mrs. Bio emerged on social media recently in which she is seen stumping on the campaign trail for specific candidates, against others. It will be difficult for Bio to remove himself from the actions and utterances of Mrs. Bio, irrespective of whether she is acting on her own accord. When two Bio supporters go into a race for a party symbol, it is expected that one of them will lose. The loser, in some cases can become disgruntled. Bio, and by extension Mrs. Bio are expected to be the ones to console losers, give them morale boast, and convince them to stay the course in supporting the SLPP candidates. When Mrs. Bio takes sides, this reconciliation becomes difficult, if not impossible. Moreover, she loses the moral high ground to be a mediator in conflicts involving supporters of her husband. She also gives supporters of her husband the right to challenge her decision, and by extension that of her husband openly. And if Mrs. Bio is electing to exercise her right as a citizen to support whomever she wants, she must understand that supporters of her husband also have the same right.
The outcomes of SLPP symbol elections in Kailahun and Kenema, which left two longstanding supporters of Bio—Mayor J.S. Kelfala and District Council Chairman, Alex Bhonapha defeated have been blamed on Mrs. Bio. In both races, Mrs. Bio stands accused of campaigning openly and making public utterances in favor of her choice of candidates, and in some cases implicating her husband. J.S. Kelfala in particular has been known to be not only a diehard supporter of SLPP, but in fact an unapologetic Bio supporter. Many believe that the ruling APC government’s reluctance to bring any meaningful development to Kenema City over the years is due to J.S. Kelfala’s unflinching support of the SLPP and Bio, coupled with his refusal to play ball with the ruling government like many elected SLPP officials have. Many believe that J.S. Kelfala may have lost the symbol elections anyway. And if that is the case, what sense does it make for Mrs. Bio to have taken sides in such a race?
Reports also indicate that Mrs. Bio has no good working relationship with the elected Women’s leader. If this is the case, I wonder how she is going to effectively contribute in energizing women to rally around her husband during the campaign period. A number of first ladies and first ladies-in-waiting including Mrs. Sia Koroma, Mrs. Philomena Yumkella have managed to stay clear of the internal politics of their husbands’ parties. A lot can be learned from these two, especially the current first lady, Mrs. Sia Koroma, who has served in her role for a decade. It is time for Bio to rein in his wife, Fatima Bio, or risk losing supporters.