October 17, 2017 By Mohamed Massaquoi
The newly elected presidential candidate for the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in the forthcoming presidential election scheduled for 7th March, 2018, has accused the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) of creating more calamity for the people instead of providing quality leadership and reliable socio-economic growth of the country.
Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, while delivering his acceptance speech at the Catco International Hotel, west of Freetown, said the bad governance and visionless leadership of the APC have reduced the resource-rich country to the very bottom of the international development ladder as the most corrupt, the poorest of the poor and the most miserable around the world, adding that such bad governance was palpable.
He said a lot of people have suffered as a result of man-made flooding and mudslides, Ebola, among others, and that the Hajj scandals. Bio, who was also the party’s candidate in 2012, said there was rampant corruption, raping of the national constitution, high youth unemployment, supersonic rate of deprivation and hardship suffered by ordinary people who cannot even afford a decent meal for their families.
He also spoke about abuse and misuse of power, reckless management of the economy, high inflation, devalued currency, exploitation in the mining sector, poor standards of education and healthcare systems, adding that they are all testimonies of the extraordinary extent to which the APC has failed Sierra Leone and the people.
“So much is this the case that the name APC which in yester years meant the All Peoples’ Congress has now acquired a new meaning: ‘Agenda for Poverty and Corruption, enough of this bad governance because the People of Sierra Leone deserve better,” he said.
The one-time head of state assured thousands of his supporters that “This time around, for the 2018 Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections, we want it to be clearly understood that nothing short of free, fair and transparent democratic elections shall be acceptable to the SLPP. All of us therefore, government and opposition parties alike, bear full responsibility to ensure that credible and democratic elections are held.”
Bio further asserted that in the 2012 election an SLPP victory was stolen as it was done in 2007 when 477 polling stations were cancelled when there was in fact no law in existence to permit such.
“In 2012 the Presidential Election results were declared whilst counting and recounting of votes in a number of electoral districts was still in progress. The SLPP, as a Party that is supremely law-abiding, allowed those rigged results to stand in 2007 and 2012 only because we believe in the maintenance and preservation of peace, stability and security in our nation and we did not want to see our country degenerate into violence and anarchy,” he said.
He added: “I believe today I am the only Presidential Candidate for the 2018 Elections with a proud record of military service when I defended this country from armed attack by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, aided and abetted by external forces in 1991. The second time I sacrificed self for country was when, as the head of a military government in 1996, I voluntarily handed over power to an elected civilian government following the General Elections of that year organised under my watch.’’