By Samuel Wise Bangura
As always I will like to first speak to my short and short-sighted friends who think politics is about belonging to a political party than a choice. I want to make something pellucidly clear to my ill-considered and imprudent friends who feel that giving opinion on issues means being in bed with the personalities.
Samuel Wise Bangura is not a politician. He carries no party card. He belongs to no political party. He is a journalist and remains so.
But I keep in mind that irrespective of the facts, I have friends whose thoughts-processes are being confined politically that will most certainly interpret this piece to fit their purposes. Feel free to do so, but the aim of this piece is to express my opinion about the First Lady Fatima Jabbe Bio and her endeavours to contribute in rebuilding Sierra Leone.
There is no second-guessing that the soul of the nation is gone, but we must restore the soul of our beloved Sierra Leone.
Truth be told, since the election ended in 2018, I never had the opportunity to congratulate the President Julius Maada Bio on his victory. Let me seize this opportunity to wish the President and Vice President and their families congratulations. Also, congratulations to the millions of Sierra Leoneans who voted during the elections. Our first ladies – late Patricia Kabbah, Sia Koroma and Fatima Bio showed up in breaking ways to make their voices heard in their individual modes. But give it to her, for the first time, Sierra Leoneans elected a President whose wife is fierce, purposeful, articulating, and supportive and most importantly, a gap-filler for the husband.
I believe, thousands of our young women and girls who see themselves in Fatima feel inspired everyday and continue to dream bigger, especially during the hit of the campaigns when she delivered Kono in the absence of her husband.
This is for those who are yet to liberate themselves from parochial political thinking; say what you want to say, Fatima has brought decency and set standards for those women who will want to push their husbands for the presidency or those who want the presidency themselves.
She understands what’s at stake and what should be done to move forward with purpose. We need that kind of leadership in a first lady because our beloved Sierra Leone is in serious trouble. I know her enthusiasm, vigour, vim and presence intimidate many, but that should be viewed as inspiration and not intimidation.
Decency –she is decent enough to respond to ordinary Sierra Leoneans who think they are provoking a reaction from her. I see and understand that she sees those ordinary Sierra Leoneans as people who truly need enlightenment that can only be achieved through constant engagement and information flow. The social media provides that unique opportunity and she knows the power of it and she grabs every opportunity. I have seen arguments being advanced by her critics that she should not respond to things from people. But if she does not respond, I’ll be the first to castigate her that she stays at the top of the ladder and not addressing the pillars of the very ladder.
Now, I see people on social media demanding that the first lady addresses issues of poverty and youth unemployment. Like her predecessor Sia Koroma, First Lady Fatima Bio does not receive budgetary allocation from the government and she is not paid by anyone. That is so, because her office is not amongst the cabinets’ or MDAs.
She is a volunteer, a renowned one at that. She is not a member of the government. She is the wife of the President. Fatima was not elected. Her mandate as first lady is no different from that of any wife to her husband. She is conspicuous because she is married to the President. We voted President Julius Maada Bio to fix our economic crisis not Fatima. We voted President Bio to get Corona under control not Fatima. We voted President Bio to protect workers, teachers and kids and not Fatima. But yes, Fatima supports her husband to fix Sierra Leone. She champions a critical fight for the protection of our women and girls. If our women and girls who constitute the bulk of our country’s opulation are not safe and efforts are not made to protect them, what development are we talking about?
She is full of empathy as the mother of the state. She has made interventions in the health sector in diverse ways, fed the less fortunate ones, advocated for better laws to protect our kids, advocated for a special court to expedite trials and personally contributed to saving lives of kids who needed special surgery out of the country. I know we need more as a people, but can we be lobbyists to Fatima? Can we stop the disrespect? Can we just support her initiatives?
Yes we can and that we must do!