Bio’s Revolution and the PAOPA syndrome

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By Elkass Sannoh

Like the Industrial Revolution which positively impacted the world throughout the early 1900s, the 2018 Bio’s revolution in Sierra Leone is the gate way for the country to attain a middle income status with serious socio-economic surge.

THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
This industrial revolution was one of the most important periods in the history of human society. This revolution was a technological revolution but almost every aspect of society was influenced in some positive way. The way things were made completely changed. New inventions led to other inventions. Items made by hand began to be made in factories. Factories used machines powered by steam engines and later by electrical motors to produce many items. These items were delivered using the new transportation systems of railroads and ships. As the revolution continued, more and more new inventions gave us the things we take for granted today. There was more to this revolution than meets the eye.
It is therefore important to note that Industrial Revolution was the name given to the movement in which machines changed people’s way of life as well as their methods of manufacture. About the time of the American Revolution around 1775, the people of England began to use machines to make cloth and steam engines to run the machines. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, improved efficiency of water power, the increasing use of steam power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the factory system.
The technological changes brought about extreme social changes. Industrialized countries moved away from an agricultural and rural economy to a capitalist and urban economy. These changes required rethinking of social obligations and the structure of the family. The social classes expanded and changed. Living and working conditions also changed during this period.

PAOPA AND TOLONGBO
In Sierra Leone, before the 2018 multitier elections, the widely used dictions were-“Paopa” and “Tolongbo” but the former took prominence over the latter. The then ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) and main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) coined their campaign slogans from Sierra Leone’s leading local ethnic group-Temne. The word ‘Paopa’ connotes force or doing it by force whilst ‘Tolongbo’ means straight or straight line.
Many Sierra Leoneans rejected and voted out the Ernest Bai Koroma led Government because they were not ready to follow the same failed political class led by former President Koroma’s handpicked Presidential candidate-Dr. Samura Kamara. They voted out a reckless and hopeless ‘Tolongbo’ in favour of a prosperous ‘Paopa’ which is the New Direction. In the New Direction manifesto lays the hopes and aspirations of the average Sierra Leoneans. They said, “This is the dawn of a new revolution and the coming of our redeemer sent to free us from a decade political and socio-economic bondage.”
In a bid to overhaul all sectors for sustainable development, the ‘Paopa’ has now become the appropriate acronym for-Prompt Action On Poverty Alleviation (PAOPA). Alarming as the previous situation was, the Global Hunger Index 2017 ranks Sierra Leone as the third hungriest country in the world with percentage of population that is undernourished estimated at 38.5 percent compared to 28.6 percent in Guinea and 16.2 percent in Ghana. According to the 2015 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis study conducted by the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 49.8 percent of households were food insecure in 2015 compared to 45 percent in 2010. That is, they consumed limited or insufficient food to maintain a healthy and active life.

REBIRTH OF A NEW COUNTRY
With a sigh of fervent hope, majority of Sierra Leoneans are of the view that the long widened leadership gap has been filled. Those spoken to are of the view that President Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio’s ascendancy to political power is the rebirth of a new Sierra Leone.
With a decade APC maladministrative rule, Sierra Leone today is ranked as one of the world’s poorest countries. Most of the population either lack or has limited or no guaranteed access to basic services including education, healthcare and social protection. Half of the population cannot afford adequate food to maintain and live a healthy life. Youth (persons 15-35 years) constituting one-third of the population and 70% of these are unemployed, underemployed, unemployable, unskilled and lacking social mobility opportunities. Justice is not accessible to the majority of the poor and dispossessed in Sierra Leone today. These depressing socio-development indicators will not guarantee peace, security and stability in the country. The New Direction people’s manifesto is here to change this ugly dynamics-hence the Bio’s Revolution.
The relevance of the new phenomenon-The Bio’s Revolution-is synonymous to the Industrial Revolution which fostered economic development in Europe and America.

BIO’s REVOLUTION
President-Retired Julius Maada Bio has said, “Initial assessment by the Governance Transition Team reveals that my administration will be faced with the worse economic situation since independence.” He was speaking on Friday, April 13, 2018 at the joint International Monetary Fund and Ministry of Finance and Economic Development High-Level Forum on Economic Policy Priorities. He stated that, “more serious is that today, Sierra Leone’s external debt is at the level of 2.0 billion dollars and domestic debt is 4.9 trillion Leones.”
Before now, Government cannot pay monthly salaries without borrowing or heavy reliance on overdraft facility at the Bank of Sierra Leone which now stands at over 160 billion Leones.
According to President Bio, “coupled with low levels of economic growth, high incidence of poverty, lack of economic diversification, high unemployment and challenging business environment for private sector development have further exacerbated the problems. It is in light of these challenges I pledged to the People of Sierra Leone, which are well articulated in my Manifesto that we must restore economic discipline by substantially reducing leakages in domestic revenue mobilization and controlling expenditures to finance development programmes.”
To revolutionalise the country for the general good of all, the ruling SLPP has “Suspended all duty waivers except those covered under the Vienna Convention.
Directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies that collect and retain Government revenues to transfer all revenues into the Consolidated Revenue Fund with immediate effect consistent with provisions of the Fiscal Management and Control Act 2017
Suspended the export of timber logs with immediate effect For the first time in two years, Government will pay salaries of 150 billion Leones including payment of NASSIT contributions without recourse to domestic borrowing.
Introduced the Treasure Single Account (TSA) for financial probity.

SACRED PROMISES
President Bio promised a change in the New Direction to the people, a change that restores sanity in economic and financial management, a change that provides quality service delivery to the people of Sierra Leone.
The President further vowed to repeal Part 5 of the 1965 Public Order Act which criminalises the work of journalists. He assured that effective September 2018 academic year, his free education will commence and in 2019 he will cease to be the Chancellor of the Universities of Sierra Leone as provided for in the 1995 University Act. Indeed these inherent changes would only be realized when we make progress in transforming the economy, improving governance and human development, and by improving on value for money on infrastructural development.

This is The Pen of The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans.

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Abu Bakarr Tarawally is a Journalist based in Freetown. He works for the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer. He has once served as Editor for a few newspapers in Freetown, including Sierra Express Media, The Exclusive Newspaper and his own newspaper, the Daily Express Publications. He is a teacher trainer, and loves writing and reading a lot. Email: abstarawally@gmail.com. Call +232 88601277 or +2327661303.

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