By Joseph S. Margai
President Julius Maada Bio has, on Tuesday, 21st March, 2023, told the inhabitants of Dea Chiefdom that when the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) was in power, it used to spend public funds on individual pockets in the street but since 2018, his government has been spending public funds on the free quality education which is the foundation for an enlightened Sierra Leone.
President Bio made this statement in Baiwallah town, Dea Chiefdom, in the Kailahun District, Eastern Sierra Leone, during a working visit to the district, where he also said that some unreasonable Sierra Leoneans were grumbling that President Bio does not dole out cash in the street like his predecessor, thereby ignoring the fact that he has been doling out cash on their school going children.
“I prefer to spend public funds in educating the future leaders of this country than putting them in private pockets. The economic burden of paying school fees for over two million Sierra Leonean children is very heavy but I will carry it because it is the surest way to alleviating poverty in Sierra Leone,” he told his audience who were mainly supporters of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
He said the investment in education will not give an instant profit but in the long term, Sierra Leoneans would know that it was worth doing so, noting that already, the recent results from public exams have vindicated him in that regard.
He reminded the people of Dea Chiefdom that the SLPP is theirs and their own way of developing Sierra Leone, adding that whenever the SLPP is out of power, APC would destroy everything that the SLPP has built and invested in.
“We have heard that the APC is now threatening to remove the free quality education scheme if they the June 24, 2023, election. Once that happens, the paying of school fees, the school buses that my government has provided, the teaching and learning materials that we are providing, the free school meals, among other benefits, will be removed. That is the APC for you. So, we should not allow them to come back to power,” he told his audience who responded with a thunderous shouting and clapping in acceptance of what he has said.
President Bio said he was happy to see the return of Daniel Gaima, who served as Deputy Minister of Lands, Deputy Minister of Youth, under the former APC-led government, to the SLPP which he left in 2007.
“Kailahun district should not vote again for the APC because they have threatened to destroy everything that the SLPP has built. You should not vote for any APC candidate that is vying for parliamentary and Local Council seats in this district. It would be a waste of votes,” he told them and they accepted with a standing ovation and shouting.
He told them that the five-year-term was not enough to develop the entire country, and solicited their votes in the June 24, 2023 general elections for another five year.
Former Deputy Minister of Lands in the APC-led government, Daniel Gaima, said that he was happy to return to the SLPP which is the most democratic and politically tolerant party in Sierra Leone.
“I was a founding member of the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) party. So, when we supported the former APC-led government in the 2007 presidential runoff election and they won, I was appointed deputy minister in three ministries but I have now returned to the party which was the party of my forefathers,” he said happily.