Julius Maada Bio - Sierra Leone's New President
By Abdul Hassan Fackie,
Freetown, Sierra Leone.
On Wednesday April 4th, 2018, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio (pictured) of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) was declared duly elected President of the Republic of Sierra Leone after going through a Presidential run-off election with Dr. Samura Matthew Wilson Kamara of the All People's Congress (APC) in what political pundits have described as the most closely fought Presidential election since the reintroduction of multi-party democracy in Sierra Leone in 1995.
Brigadier Bio who had now had three shots at his Presidential bid- failed to get flag bearer in 2007, lost to out gone President Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC- polled one million three hundred and nineteen thousand four hundred and six (1,319,406) representing 51.81% of valid votes cast defeated his challenger, Dr. Kamara who bagged one million two hundred and twenty seven thousand one hundred and seventy one votes representing 48.19% of valid votes cast.
Brigadier Julius Maada Bio was part of the defunct National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) that overthrew the APC on April 29th, 1992 rising to the position of Deputy Chairman and later Chairman after he overthrew his boss, Captain Valentine Ezegragbo Melvin Strasser on January 16th, 1996.
Bowing to pressure from the people, he conducted the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections on February 26th, 1986, a run-off between Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the SLPP and John Karefa Smart of the United National People's Party (UNPP) on March 15th, 1996 and handed power to Ahmad Tejan Kabbah on March 29th, 1996.
He and key leading members of the junta were then retired from the Army and encouraged to study abroad.
He went first to France and then to the United States of America to study.
Nine years later in 2005 he returned to Sierra Leone after he was reported to have fallen foul of immigration laws and barred from entering America.
He then entered politics by joining the SLPP. Maada Bio's fight to become flag bearer of the party for the 2018 Presidential race saw a lot of verbal and physical confrontations between his supporters and supporters of other candidates and massive defections from the party.
Adopting the Mende word "Paopa," meaning "by force" as their campaign slogan, Maada Bio and his supporters became notorious for verbally and physically attacking their opponents, many if whom left the party.
He takes up the leadership of the country at a time when the economy has taken a downward trend with the dollar trading at seven thousand and seven hundred Leones (Le 7,700.00) to one dollar.
He rode on the crest of very ambitious promises, the flagship being that his government will provide free education for children from primary right through secondary school and heavily subsidise college and university education, unify the country and fight corruption.