Pres. Bio Engages Tribal Heads, Paramount Chiefs, Inter-Religious Council & CSOs  

To Discuss Healing Process…

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Pres. Bio Engages Tribal Heads, Paramount Chiefs, Inter-Religious Council & CSOs  
Pres. Bio Engages Tribal Heads, Paramount Chiefs, Inter-Religious Council & CSOs  

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

In the aftermath of the August 10, 2022, violent protest, President Julius Maada Bio met with Tribal Heads in the Western Area, the Council of Paramount Chiefs, the Inter-Religious Council, and Civil Society Organizations to discuss the healing process,to inform them about the development strides his Government has so far taken and to also discuss their roles in Government’s efforts at consolidating peace, democracy and seeking justice.

Chief Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa, who called the meeting to order, said local authorities were invited as one of the many such sector-specific meetings scheduled with different stakeholders to engage and discuss a wide range of development issues.

He said his boss was a listening President, who had always been willing to listen to and talk with his people on issues of development, noting that he had, therefore, always travelled across the country to engage his people on a regular basis.

In his address President Julius Maada Bio said he was pleased to meet the Tribal Heads at State House to engage them on various issues, especially that of the unfortunate happening of 10 August 2022.

He described the insurrection as an unfortunate event, in which a group of people had organized young people to cause mayhem in some parts of the country and in the Western Area. He added that notwithstanding the difficulties around the world, his Government had been making great efforts to cushion the pressure on citizens, noting that he is also working on a long-lasting solution as evident in the implementation of the Human Capital Development.

“In the last four years, my Government has succeeded in cleaning the image of this country. That is why we are being invited severally to chair and co-chair many meetings of development that will benefit the country,” he said.

The President also said that his Government had changed and reviewed so many laws to ensure that society is safe, progressive, and freer for all citizens irrespective of where they were.

He, however, assured that his Government would investigate all those who were involved in the August 10 insurrection.

He thanked them for coming and for educating their people while encouraging them to continue doing their good work as leaders.

Speaking on behalf of the Tribal Heads, Chief S.O Gbekie, thanked the President for the invite, adding that one of their roles was to help the police to maintain law and order in their various localities.

He said they totally condemned the violent acts and urged the Government to launch an investigation into the matter and bring all those involved to face the law, citing the various gains so far made by the President and his Government to help bring development to the country.

On the same day the President engaged members of the Council of Paramount Chiefs who were visiting the Presidency to register their solidarity with the Government and commiserate the deaths on 10 August resulting from violent insurrections that also destroyed properties.

Chairman Paramount Chief Members of Parliament, PC Alie B. Marrah, said their hearts were heavy because of that bloody insurgency, and told the President that he had set the standards of democracy very high and, therefore, a shame that a few people were trying to undermine that hard-won achievement.

He said all those responsible for the violent attacks on that day were shameless individuals, especially so, when they failed to make positive use of their education. He said the essence of education was to transform society and called it shameful for any educated individual who failed to transform their society.

While he reiterated the call for an investigation, he also announced that they were prepared to meet political parties on the possibility of a national dialogue and were also ready to form auxiliary bodies to protect their chiefdoms and mount awareness around Government’s development messages at chiefdom levels.

On behalf of the Council of Paramount Chiefs, PC Fasuluku Sonsiama III, said they had nothing like regionalism, noting that they were a united force that would always seek the interest of the Government and the country in particular.

He assured President Julius Maada Bio and the nation that they would do anything required of them by the State for as long as it was in the interest of the country and within the laws of Sierra Leone. He called for the empowerment of the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, established in 2021 to take measures to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts and to build, promote and maintain sustainable peace in the country.

In his remarks, President Bio thanked the revered leaders for being knowledgeable about the 10 August 2022 insurgency in the country that attempted to undermine democracy, peace and stability and peaceful cohesion.

He reminded them of how, as a nation,  all agreed that violence would be a thing of the past, but that the actions of some individuals on that day were not in good faith. He called on the Council of Chiefs to be part of national cohesion, despite the fact that there might not be a permanent solution to all the issues.

The President said the country was experiencing violence lately as a result of politics that saw the use of abusive languages on social media and the use of children to perpetrate violence all in the name of cheap political gains.

“My programmes for the country are meant to lay the solid foundation that we need as a nation to move forward and not a mere vote-taking programme. These actions like human capital development, women’s empowerment, electricity, healthcare, national cohesion, among others, are the only way to the country’s future,” he said.

“Under my watch as President, anyone that breaks the law, going forward, I will follow you even in the grave and it is my duty to protect the lives and properties of this country and to ensure national cohesion is consolidated,” he concluded.

Following the August 16 engagement, President Bio also engaged the leadership of the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone.

He said he was surprised at the acts of civilians brutally mutilating Police Officers, especially after the nation had agreed to say no to all forms of violence because of the terrible experience of the civil war, adding that he was aware that life has become difficult for all individuals as a result of the global crisis.

The President informed the Council about his Government’s financial assistance to importers during COVID-19 to ensure the availability of essential goods as well as the implementation of remedial measures to alleviate the suffering of civilians, particularly the poor, saying such was very huge.

“The fact that I have announced election dates a year before is an indicator that I am not in governance to buy political time. The protesters were aiming at getting me out of office, but the responsible way to do that will be through an election, which is less than a year from now,” he said, adding: “The August 10, 2022 insurrection merely reminded us that few people do not believe in the democratic process, peace, and national cohesion”.

President described the Inter-Religious Council as one of his biggest partners in the development of the country, especially in the consolidation of peace and called on them to continue to serve as influencers of national peace and cohesion, given the respect they commanded in society.

Archbishop of the Freetown Diocese, Bishop Dr Tamba Charles, who doubles as President of the Council, said they were proud and pleased that they had been engaged and consulted by the President on all national issues.

He said he was reminded that they were the first group to strongly condemn the events of August 10, 2022, and that they had just concluded a fervent prayer and fasting exercise for the return of lasting peace through dialogue on national peace and cohesion.

The clergy also stated that the Government should improve on its communication so that public officials could be more easily accessible to key stakeholders in mapping out effective ways to break the flow of misinformation. He added that it was also important that opinion leaders did not disseminate misleading information.

Secretary General of the Inter-Religious Council, Sheik Alhaji Ibrahim Barrie, said they were grieving with the President, but revealed that the event was also a demonstration of how they as religious leaders had failed to tailor their messages on the importance of peace and the reward of sinful acts.

“Religious leaders must go back to the drawing board and improve on their sermons to instill the fair of Allah and the day of judgment in their congregations,” he said, adding that clerics would also need to remind their followers of God, that all sinful acts committed against God were forgivable, but that which were committed against man could not be pardoned except on judgment day.

The President also engaged the Civil Society Organizations on the 18th August, 2022 during which he informed members of the strides made to foster development. He also underscored that democratic tenets should be observed and uphold by all.

Chief Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa, said the President’s engagement with stakeholders and sector heads would continue as part of what the government had been doing in the last four years. He added that the process would be robust and constant in such a way that it would have no limit to the extent of engaging in discussions on peace, national cohesion and development.

Pres. Bio Engages Tribal Heads, Paramount Chiefs, Inter-Religious Council & CSOs  
Pres. Bio Engages Tribal Heads, Paramount Chiefs, Inter-Religious Council & CSOs
Pres. Bio Engages Tribal Heads, Paramount Chiefs, Inter-Religious Council & CSOs  
Pres. Bio Engages Tribal Heads, Paramount Chiefs, Inter-Religious Council & CSOs

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