How Fatima Bio would deter President Bio’s second chance
April 30, 2019
By Alusine Sesay
The first time I interfaced with First Lady, Fatima Bio, was at a press conference organised by Africell as a prelude to the launch of the Hands Off Our Girls’ campaign. As a way of supporting her campaign prior to the visit of her colleague First Ladies from within Africa, Africell organised the press conference specifically for Editors. It was a snappy press conference and we were given the opportunity to ask questions. Since the fight against exploitation of the girl child in Sierra Leone is not a novelty because it has been done by previous first ladies but the situation still remains the same, I asked her as to what difference she would make to minimise or eradicate the menace. Looking at me quizzically, she responded that ‘First of all, I am a First Lady with a difference. I have launched a politically campaign and emerged victorious. I don’t know how the other first ladies went about theirs, but mine would be a success.”
Yes, it would be a success with the appropriate political will and support. To me, her response was not satisfactory but rather boisterous. At that particular press conference, she uttered certain offensive words against some groups of people, but we decided to take it off the record because we hadn’t wanted to create chaos as the media is meant to promote development. After the press conference, some of us critical minds arrived at a conclusion that she needs a professional communicator, who should guide her before she faces the press. In the United States of America for instance, the First Lady cannot just dream overnight and do things as and when she likes. Before she goes public on any national issue, she is first of all guided by the White House Communication team, as well as legally minded people because whatever she says or does, would have either negative or positive implication on the presidency.
Since the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) assumed power, Fatima Bio has just been saying and doing things as and when she likes without taking into consideration the repercussion of such utterances and actions. By virtue of her current position as First Lady, Madam Fatima Bio should be surrounded by professionals, who should remind her about the protocol around the presidency, of which she is a critical part. I see Fatima Bio as someone that is seemingly egoistic, with the tendency to destroy the dreams of her husband. She believes she knows everything, but seemingly knows little. As the adage goes ‘He who knows everything knows nothing’. I may not be hundred percent correct but her demeanour has the tendency to put a knife on the things that brought Bio to power. She is still oblivious of the fact that she is no longer in the movies and that she is now guided by protocols as First Lady.
As a First Lady, one of the gravest mistakes she has ever made was her outright support for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) because ‘I am a circumcised woman’ without taking into consideration that she might be offending the donors that would support her Hands Off Our Girls campaign. She failed to be diplomatic in responding to the question posed by the TV journalist in regards to FGM.Could you imagine that someone advocating against child marriage, teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse and rape could openly support FGM –one of the earmarked harmful traditional practices in Africa and Sierra Leone in particular. That particular interview constituted a minus to her campaign because donors have spent a lot on the campaign against FGM. She is only using a kangaroo political means like the unpopular State of Emergency on rape to achieve her dream. How can you opposed early marriage and openly support FGM which is one of the conduits for early marriage and teenage pregnancy? How do you want the public to believe whether you are genuine in your campaign against girl child exploitation?
Madam Fatima Bio has succeeded in personalising state functions because she is the First Lady of Sierra Leone. From the inauguration of her husband to the celebration of national independence, she almost grabbed everything as if she is the only competent woman in Mama Salone. She championed the inaugural ceremony for which she has never accounted to the public. Disgracefully, she organised a parallel program to mark the celebration of the country’s independence at the National Stadium, while President Bio was at State House to issue out awards to deserving personalities and institutions. What a shame? Such a venture has never been undertaken by any First Lady in the history of Sierra Leone, let alone other countries across the world. Indeed, she is a first lady with a difference! She is a First Lady with the zest to personalise state functions to the annoyance of all, even those within the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP) fold. Fatima Bio is really embarrassing her husband, who is mute about everything as if he is under spell.
How President Bio could be seated and allowing his wife to put his dream asunder? How Madam Fatima Bio could form a support group-Julius Maada Bio Women (JMBW) for Bio that is acting parallel to the women’s wing of the SLPP that fought tooth and nail to bring her husband to power? Where was this group when the women’s wing of the SLPP firmly stood behind President Bio in thick and thin? Why is Madam Fatima Bio fighting hard to get rid of the SLPP women’s wing after they had fought hard to make President Bio who he is today? I may not have answers for those questions but I think Madam First Lady should have a rethink and do things the way it supposed to be. She is in a position to make and unmake her husband.
President Bio is doing his own bit in terms of development and his wife should be an ambassador that should represent him well in society, but not the one to destroy his legacy. I am neither a member of the SLPP nor any other political party, but I am of the firm conviction that her action is creating a lot of disenchantment within the fold of the SLPP. The country’s independence celebration should have had a national face and the Minister of Tourism should have been seen championing the occasion, not the First Lady. Although some SLPP diehards are shamefully arguing otherwise, the National Stadium would not have been empty as it was had the program been properly handled by the appropriate authorities, including the women’s wing of the SLPP. Aside from his misrule as propagated by the Western media, former President Mogabe of Zimbabwe would have been in power till death had it not been the attitude of his wife, Grace Mogabe. Take note Madam Fatima Bio and have some break!