Categories
Blog

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio Addresses the Second Sustainable Development Goals Moment, Outlines Country’s Efforts at SDGs Despite COVID-19

United Nations, New York, Monday 20 September 2021 – His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has submitted to this year’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Moment, convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, his country’s inspiring SDG actions despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

He said although the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 had further exposed nations to heightened vulnerabilities they also pushed them to rethink delivery on the SDGs, reiterating the call for partnerships and cooperation to deliver on the targets in order to achieve a secure where no one was left behind.

“Sierra Leone’s Medium-Term National Development Plan is our nationally owned roadmap for building a society that is cohesive, secure, and just. It is aligned with the African Union Agenda 2063 and the global SDGs.

“It prioritises Human Capital Development, and we have identified SDG4 (quality education) and SDG16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions) as our Accelerator Goals. Those Goals remain pivotal to the transformation of our country and my government remains fully committed to their implementation,” he said.

President Bio also registered Sierra Leone’s commitment to delivering on SDG 4, citing his government’s increased budgetary allocations to education, free and inclusive access to quality education in line with a recent policy of radical inclusion, policy reforms, and infrastructural and other developments to support education.

“In spite of COVID-19, school enrolments have increased; there are higher student success and comprehensive safety indicators; families are saving in excess of $500 a year per student, and completion and retention rates are also up.

“On SDG 16, my government is operationalising the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion. There is expanded nationwide access to justice and the Legal Aid Board continues to provide free legal representation to under-served Sierra Leoneans with a 93% increase in service rates from 2018,” he said.

He also disclosed that the government was working with civil society actors, noting his government’s repeal of the seditious libel laws, that criminalized free speech and abolished the death penalty.

“In spite of COVID-19 challenges, my government will continue its work on strengthening governance, deepening decentralisation, and streamlining domestic resource mobilisation through our Integrated National Financing Framework. We are using science, technology, and innovation to simplify governance, financial management, and procurement systems,” he concluded.

For More Enquiries:
State House Media and Communications Unit
[email protected]

Categories
Blog Videos

President Bio And First Lady Fatima Bio Receive Award In London

Categories
Blog Press Release

ACC Concludes Probe Into Office Of The First Lady And No Criminal Responsility…..

Categories
Blog

Challenges/Criticisms are Expected and Welcome – First Lady Fatima Bio

Challenges / Criticisms are expected and welcome. We will deal with it accordingly and more importantly; learn and grow from the experience.

Categories
Blog

Over Standard of Demeanor… Cassandra Garber Calls for First Lady to be Cautioned

By Foday Moriba Conteh

One of Sierra Leone’s outstanding female personalities, Cassandra Garber, who happens to be a former Principal of the Freetown Secondary School for Girls has, in a stunning article addressed to the leaders of women-led organizations in the country, urged those organizations to address the negative utterances of the country’s First Lady, Fatima Bio saying that her elevated position in the country demands exemplary behavior to all ranks and levels of the citizenry.

Cassandra Garber noted that as Sierra Leone clocks 60 years of political independence this year, 2021, she is thanking God for His mercy, adding that it is a blessing for her to be one of the few Female Senior Citizens to be alive.

She pointed out that she honours her responsibility as a citizen of Sierra Leone and that the State has likewise recognized her contributions and has twice awarded her National Honours or Awards, furthering that she therefore regards it as a national obligation to voice her disappointment and displeasure at the new and repulsive habit of exchanging coarse language on social media platforms especially at the level of the country’s leadership.

Cassandra revealed that globally, the spouse of the Head of State is instinctively accorded respect and courtesies by all nationals and non-nationals within a country and that correspondingly, that spouse is expected to exhibit the highest Code of Conduct.

She categorically stated that ever since the country gained a Republican Status in 1971, all former First Ladies, including Mama Rebecca Stevens, Hannah Momoh, Patricia Tejan-Kabba, all of blessed memory, and Sia Koroma, behaved with the dignity expected of their position.

“I therefore lament the present scenario in which Sierra Leone has a First Lady whose general approach is unbecoming, and whose language is very often not only offensive but also unprintable (by acceptable decent standards). I recently became aware of verbal tirades conducted by the First Lady. Sadly, she appears to relish taking on citizens; the practice of retort and exchanging ‘un-pleasantries’ by the First Lady has now become quite commonplace! In addition, she seems to revel in the use of filthy expressions!Her description of the proposed punishments for rapists will go down in the history of her very own project ‘HANDS OFF OUR GIRLS’. It is a pity that people in the Corridors of Power do not perceive this behavior as undermining the country’s level of international respectability,” she lamented.

She revealed that she had lived through the dawn of independence and witnessed the elegance and elocution of First Ladies of Sierra Leone and other countries in the West Africa sub-region and she cannot help but recall the outstanding wife of the late Ivorian President, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Marie-Therese, a fittingly pioneer First Lady, adding that she married in 1951 at the young age of 21; an inexperienced debutante but she went on to perform her state duties so magnificently that she was dubbed by the White House in 1962, “Africa’s Jackie Kennedy”.

Cassandra furthered that another First Lady, equally young and inexperienced, Njaimeh Jawara of the Gambia, maintained the remarkable standards expected of her position. From the legacies of these women, it is clear that age is not the determinant of Good Performance, according to her.

It is against such a background that she stated that it is time the various strata of Women’s Forum in the country must address the negative utterances of the country’s First Lady and that her elevated position in the community demands exemplary behavior to all ranks and levels of the citizenry.

She said with the customary display of Pride shown by their respective Ex-Pupil Associations, she do hope her alumnae co-members will take this as a wake-up call to rescue the reputation of their Alma Mater.

“The First Lady has abundant energy for directing her many projects. We welcome a change in her behavior and approach,” she concluded.

The article was addressed to women leaders of female organizations which includes Coordinator, Campaign for Good Governance, President, 50/50 Organization, Centre for Public Enlightenment & Dialogue for Peaceful Conference, President, Sierra Leone Association of University Women, President, Zonta International Sierra Leone, President, Business and Professional Women of Freetown, President, Sierra Leone Mothers’ Union, President, Sierra Leone Muslim Women’s Network, President, Women’s Network of the Methodist Church Sierra Leone, President, Soroptimist International of Freetown.

(C) The Calabash Newspaper

Categories
Blog Press Release

ACC Commenced FULL Investigation Into The Office Of The First Lady

ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION
CATHEDRAL HOUSE
3 GLOUCESTER STREET
FREETOWN
SIERRA LEONE, WEST AFRICA

Ref: ACC/PR/21/008 9th February, 2021

PRESS RELEASE

ACC COMMENCES PROBE INTO ISSUES WITH REGARD PAYMENT TO AND EXPENDITURE OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY THE OFFICE OF FIRST LADY OF SIERRA LEONE

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) wishes to inform the general public that its attention had been drawn to reports in the Auditor-General’s Report 2019 and various releases on traditional and social media on issues of budgetary allocations and expenditures of funds relating to the Office of the First Lady of Sierra Leone.

The Commission wishes it to be known that it had commenced full and comprehensive probe into the Office of the First Lady, past and present, dealing with matters of budgetary justifications for allocations and expenditures of State funds to that entity and the legal and regulatory framework, if any, for them. Preliminary findings show that the entity known as “Office of First Lady” had been receiving Billions of Leones of State funds yearly, spanning 14 years to date – and most of the payments were either directly made to the holders of that office or channeled, through the Presidency, as normal presidential official expenditure signed-off on by respective Secretaries to the President. We are similarly reviewing Section 39 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016; which gives the State, authority to expend State funds to unallocated Head(s) of expenditure to a certain threshold, to “necessary” public cause(s), and whether such threshold was used and/or breached in making payments such as the ones under review, over the years.

We are therefore at the stage of collecting and analyzing records of accounts, official approval documents and any legal or regulatory framework around such payments; and the conclusions reached will assist in determining progress on the issue. We will also interview persons of interest in that regard, where necessary. We shall keep the public fully informed on our findings, conclusions and next steps.

The Commission wishes to reassure the public of its commitment to protecting public funds and to address all levels of corruption throughout Sierra Leone without fear or favor.

For further enquiries on this and other ACC matters, please contact MARGARET MURRAY, Public Relations Officer on +232-78-832131 or via email [email protected].

……………………………………………
PATRICK SANDI
DIRECTOR, PUBLIC EDUCATION AND OUTREACH

Categories
Blog

The Media As A Watchdog… The Case Of Africanist Press Vs The First Lady

A Commentary By Ranger

Over the BBC last week, the editor of the Africanist Press, Chernor Bah, alleged that the Office of the First Lady, Madam Fatima Jabbie Bio, spent more than Le7.89 billion (over US$780,000) of public funds on personal shopping needs and the travel and hotel expenses for foreign guests she invited to Sierra Leone to witness the launch of her flagship program, the ‘Hands Off Our Girls Campaign’, launched in mid-December of 2018.

Chernoh Bah maintained that our finance laws do not authorize the First Lady to receive or use any public funds to undertake a social activity or public campaign.

Replying, the First Lady denied ever receiving funds directly from the Government. She added that her office is an appendage of the Office of the President; and that she was merely the face of the ‘Hands of our Girls’ project which she said is a presidential project.

On procurement, she said that anything her office wants, she writes to the Office of the President who fills the request. Thus, she called on her accuser to make an inquiry in the Office of the President.

She expressed disbelief at the figure quoted by Chernoh Bah by asking her interviewer Umaru Fofanah to look around her office and see if that amount was reflected in the furniture that he saw in her office.

On the allegation of paying for air tickets for colleague First Ladies that attended the launching of her ‘Hands of Our Girls’, she said she only provided them with accommodation. In an earlier reaction, she said whatever public funds allocated to her organization were used for “the intended purpose”.

Whilst the jury is still out on the truth of the allegations made by Africanist Press against the First Lady, the fact remains that just after assuming office in April 2018, President Bio in August 2018 reiterated his New Direction Government’s commitment to transparency and accountability while addressing a delegation from the Open Government Partnership (OGP) at State House when he said that his administration was doing all they could to be open and accountable to the people in order to increase public confidence in governance.

“We are trying to settle down and find our way in a still difficult environment but we are very much committed to accountability. We do not want to hide anything from our people. My Government is people-centered and we know we have a social contract with the people of this country and that contract needs execution. We have started and whatever needs to be done to earn the confidence of the people, we will do it,” he assured.

President Julius Maada Bio reiterated this commitment in September 2020 at the press conference for the formal presentation of the report of the Commissions of Inquiry and the Government White paper. On the Report he said:

“In my inaugural address to this nation, I declared three peaceful democratic wars against indiscipline, poverty, and corruption. The nexus among the three is obvious: indiscipline begets injustice and bad governance; corruption is a product of the former, and it accelerates poverty, and constrains national development.

As I have reiterated, corruption is a threat to our moral timbre as a nation of upstanding citizens, to our national development, and to our national security. Our only option is to confront corruption head on and fight it boldly and resolutely. It is a fight that we must fight; it is a fight that we must win if we must survive as a nation.”

Holding Government accountable forms the bedrock of Sierra Leone’s relationship with its international development partners including the USA, Britain, the World Bank, IMF and the EU.

In which light, in November 2020, the European Union Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Tom Vens, at a public event said: “I have no hesitation to state that strengthening the role of national civil society organizations in democratic processes, and promoting social accountability models based on transparency and sustained trust-building dialogue between State and non-State Institutions have always been at the core of the EU engagement with its partner countries…”

He added: “And along with that, we have reinforced, widened and ‘[be deepened our partnership with civil society organizations (to which the Africanist Press belongs) to become an effective force not just in the fight against COVID19 but for deepening democracy, social cohesion and public accountability.”

(C) The Calabash Newspaper

Categories
Blog

Anyone Who Fails to Report Rape Will Face the Full Force of the Law… Office of the First Lady Admonishes the Entertainment Industry

By Ranger

It has now been two years since the Hands Off Our Girls was launched by President Julius Maada Bio in December 2018 and within this period much has gone under the bridge.

When the initiative was launched, President Bio made it clear that as part of its human capital development agenda it is imperative to protect and educate young girls in order to achieve their full potentials.

The launch of the Hands Off Our Girls saw First Ladies from several African countries join in a peaceful protest march against rape in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The peaceful protest March was 100% spearheaded by our First Lady, Her Excellency Fatima Maada Bio working with the Ministry of Gender. This was the first time in the world, that there was a unified voice in the fight against rape. A position note was handed to the then Attorney General to make the Judiciary step up their fight against rape.

Since the launch much has happened including: For the first time in Africa, a national emergency on rape was declared by the President of the Republic in 2019, the Sexual Offences Act was amended in September 2019, a Presidential Task Force was set up to deal with SGBV in 2020 and the Sexual Offences Model Court was established in July 2020.

As a matter of fact, the collaboration that has so far taken place between Government and Non-Governmental Organizations in Sierra Leone has been unprecedented. There is now a unified strategy in the fight against SGBV with emphasis on rape which has led to an increase in the reporting of SGBV cases because women feel more confident.

According to the Office of the First Lady the entertainment industry has always had a lackluster attitude towards the fight against rape. It continued that fortunately, there are few artists that have produced songs and films as their contributions, but as a unified body, they are simply not interested unlike other organizations.

It furthered that the industry is becoming notorious for compromising serious rape allegations by going on social media to accuse the alleged perpetrators; taking the law into their own hands and bluntly refusing to report such serious allegations to the Police.

Many have commended the President for his extreme seriousness in dealing with SGBV (Sexual and Gender Based Violence), and when there are alleged cases of rape, it will be fully investigated by the Family Support Unit of the Police Force.

The Inspector General himself joined the First Lady on a peaceful march against SGBV in December, and again the IG joined members of the Family Support Unit in a peaceful protest march against SGBV.

The Office of the First Lady continued that it is unfortunate that the entertainment industry takes the issue of rape as an issue they can use conveniently in their “beefing” or feud to promote themselves.

According to them it is a criminal offence to protect an individual by deliberately refusing to report details of a rape case to the Police. They said the compromise on the part of the entertainment industry, greatly undermines the great strides made in the fight against SGBV in Sierra Leone.

More importantly, it was underscored that it sends out the wrong message, that if you have a rape case it is better to resolve it on Facebook and not involve the Police.

The Office of the First Lady maintains that most entertainers are seen as role models and if their actions clearly go against reporting serious rape allegations to the Police, their fans will believe that is the right thing to do.
It said it is important to note that the Presidential Task Force on SGBV, coordinated by the Office of the First Lady, of which the Police is an integral part, will not tolerate anyone undermining the fight against rape.

The Office of the First Lady said that the Inspector General of Police was very clear in his meeting with the Heads of FSU a few months ago saying there will be absolutely no sacred cows.

It continued that the perpetrators and those trying to compromise or settle the case outside court will be severely dealt with adding that it is evident that there are members within the entertainment industry who are trying to come together to “discuss” the issue, and settle it amongst themselves adding that for their information that is a criminal offence.

It was highlighted that the First Lady will not tolerate rape in any shape or form, and the perpetrators or those trying to compromise the case will face the full weight of the law.

The Office of the First Lady underscored that the culture of rape needs to be dealt with by changing the mindsets of people. To that end, President Bio said the Task Force should develop a full-fledged preventive programme for SGBV, it was stated.

According to them the Entertainment industry should not be afraid to report cases of SGBV and should encourage others to do so.
The Office of the First Lady concluded that the “Hands Off Our Girls” initiative should be owned by all because a multi-sectoral approach makes the solution proffered more effective.

(C) The Calabash Newspaper

Categories
Blog

Remember That I Have Today Dared You Madam First Lady – Dr. Sylvia Blyden

DR. SYLVIA OLAYINKA BLYDEN OOR DIRECTLY ADDRESSES FATIMA JABBE (MRS. BIO) THE SELF-CONFESSED WITCH.

Monday December 14th 2020.

Fatima Jabbe (First Lady Mrs. Bio), I am going to ignore your oblique reference to my late father which you made this morning. I have already requested our mutual friends in The Gambia to go and report your comment to your stepfather and your mother.

Fatima, I am NOT Casada Kitchen or any of those you molest and intimidate. I am also not any of those APC Comrades whom you may be blackmailing or intimidating. *You seem to forget who I am.* So, I dare you to open your mouth again and drop hints against me like you opened your mouth in Constituency 110 last week to make scandalous comments about my expressed Night-Time political movements.

Fatima, infact I now dare you to state one more negative reference against me – whether in hint form on Social Media or otherwise. If you think you can continue to get away with what you have been relentlessly doing to me since you became The First Lady, think again.

Fatima, make one more negative reference about me again. Make we address we sef now.

*Fatima, let us not have those your cowardly SLPP attack dogs making audios and writings with so much malicious lies about what directly transpired between you and me in The Gambia two decades ago or during the time when you lived in London.*

Fatima, be brave and stop hiding behind State and other Apparatus to molest me as a Woman.

Fatima, you are a very, very loose Woman and so your looseness negatively dominates all your otherwise laudable efforts as our country’s First Lady.

Fatima, you are so loose that you last week openly said you are a Witch who flirts with the occult. Well, since you are now the self-confessed *”First Witch of the Republic of Sierra Leone”,* take note that I am NOT a Witch but a believer in God. It was God which overcame your expressed Witchcraft to give the APC victory in Constituency 110.

Fatima, you are clearly unhappy and frustrated over your Loss and our Victory in Constituency 110 elections. I want you to see that loss as the start of your Exit out of State House. Sierra Leoneans may be divided on many things but one thing I do believe the majority are now resolved on, is that Fatima and Maada Bio are not fit for purpose. Sierra Leoneans are determined to put any differences aside and come together to produce high quality, empathetic Leadership for our People. Fatima and her husband H.E. Maada Bio, are certainly not fit for purpose.

💥🔥Fatima Jabbe (Mrs. Bio), I have today dared you. Open your mouth and drop any more hints against me again, like you did in Constituency 110 last week and let us roll for Sierra Leoneans this Christmas Season.

Fatima, you think you are now able to molest and suppress me because you are married to the President and I am a potent member of the Opposition, determined to bring my APC party back to governance. You are one of those who fully know my political potentials and clearly, you fear my skills so badly.

Fatima, you, of all people, saw first-hand how I deployed my God-given political talents to help re-elect H.E. President Yayah Jammeh in 2001 in your Home Country of The Gambia. You very well know what I am capable of doing in clean politics, so you are naturally running scared that I am opposed to your husband’s Regime.

Fatima, you think you will use your Powers to therefore oppress and suppress me. I believe in God to protect me. So, if you continue in your insidious ways, I will show you that I am still your Big Sister, who had once tried so hard to help smoothen your rough edges for you back then.

In Sierra Leone, they say OKRO NOR DAY LONG PASS IN MASTER.

I here pause to ask you to help me address some hypocrites.

Fatima, help me to ask all those who are suddenly ‘outraged’ at my reference to your KOLONKO and KORO style dancing, to produce any evidence of similar expressed outrage, when you, Fatima, were behind the scenes, tacitly enjoying yourself as your husband, our President, gave a speech on May 8th 2020 *LYING* to the World that it was not for my writings (as a Creditable Journalist) that made his Regime detain me but it was because I am akin to a criminal terrorist. Your husband broke our sacred Presidential Oath of Office when he opened his lying mouth and *LIED* against me to this Nation on May 8th 2020 so as to justify the psychological and physical torture that your Regime was by then putting me through behind the CID Walls. Your Regime has committed international crimes against humanity on my person and then your *LYING* husband went over the air to *LIE* that it was not because of my writings. Your husband, like yourself, are both well-noted as blinking *LIARS.*

Fatima, help me to ask these citizens in their new-founded outrage, to show us their expressed outrage, when you Fatima, as First Lady, stayed mute on May 1st 2020 as I was kidnapped from my house by policemen serving under your husband’s Executive Authority; As Mother of the Nation, you watched and superintended sectors of society to stay mute as all of my Constitutional and Human Rights, especially my Feminine Gender Rights, were abused by your *Fatima and Maada Bio Regime;* with me subjected to Sexual and Gender Based Violence of an egregious dimension. They all stayed silent but yet they are upset and outraged for merely having your rather vulgar dance steps appropriately described?

Fatima, ask these hypocrites to show us their published outrage, when on the 5th and 6th day of my unlawful detention by the Bio Regime, during the time I was menstruating,(yes, bleeding), your Regime sent Police Officers into the faeces-filled cell without windows, where I was kept like an animal, to remove my panties, stick their fingers into my bleeding vagina, removed my tampon from my vagina, claiming they had to search for a mobile phone inside my vagina.🤷🏽‍♀️ As if that is not unimaginable enough, this your cursed Bio Regime repeated the odious performance THREE TIMES over a 24 Hour period.

Fatima, tell your handlers to show us the outrage expressed, when your Regime sent Police Officers in to my locked cell to search inside my bleeding vagina three(3) times between the night of May 5th and the morning of May 6th. This was all well publicised in the media so it is not a secret. Let these hypocrites show us their expressed outrage at that egregious molestation of me, as a Woman and then they can be deemed qualified to talk against my description of your very vulgar dancing; in my opinion, you danced like how a PROSTITUTE dances and that is not fitting of how a country’s First Lady should dance in public.

Fatima, help me to tell these hypocrites who are feigning outrage that if they are so in awe and fear of the Fatima & Maada Bio Regime, that they stayed silent back then, then it is advised that they please continue to stay silent right now and leave me and you Fatima to address ourselves.

Fatima, you started the ball rolling by directly dropping hints against my Social Media Posts that I engage in Night Time Political Movements. I have now described your dancing to be a Koro styled one. You have now dropped hints about what you suspect to be my expensive upbringing of electricity meters in all rooms. That one is your weird and frustrated talk this morning. So I will jump over it. So, what next? I suggest you just SHUT UP Fatima and avoid me completely. I also STRONGLY suggest for you to advise your social media crew to stop their vile trash about me and you in The Gambia.

Once again, as I close this address, remember that I have today dared you Madam First Lady (or First Witch) to state one more Hint against me like you did last week about my Night-Time politics in Constituency 110. *I DARE YOU FATIMA. I DARE YOU.* Say one more Hint, Innuendo or Negative Comment against my person and let’s roll.

*Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden OOR.*
Monday December 14th 2020 – FEEL FREE TO RESHARE

Categories
News

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio Concludes Official Visit to Gabon, Visits Special Economic Zones to Engage Major Exporters

Libreville, Gabon, Wednesday 9 December 2020 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has concluded his 3-day official visit to the Gabonese Republic where he met and had bilateral meetings with His Excellency Ali Bongo Ondimba and other senior government officials in the capital, Libreville.

The President also visited the Gabonese Special Economic Zones, GSEZs, to engage major agricultural and industrial projects being undertaken by the Central African country with abundant petroleum and foreign private investment. It is one of the most prosperous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

After his closed-door meeting at the Presidential Palace in Libreville, President Bio addressed the press outside and told them that whilst his meeting was private, he wanted to say what he saw during his tour of the economic zones and other industrial areas was quite impressive.

He praised the high-quality products being produced at three of the country’s major factories and exporters, among them La Sante Pharmaceuticals, the first manufacturing plant for generic drugs like tablets, capsules, syrups and ointments in Gabon. He also visited Star Ply Gabon, a conglomerate of companies that was into high-quality plywood manufacturing and construction at the Special Economic Zones in Nkok.

The President and his entourage are expected to return today Wednesday 9 December 2020.