Maada Bio: When a state visit becomes a drain pipe


African leaders must give value for governance to their people

By Richard Mammah

President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone is at the moment engaged in a three-day state visit to the land of ‘the Smiling Coast,’ The Gambia. Coming along with his wife, Fatima and a coterie of officials, the visit began Tuesday and will run through Thursday.

While we appreciate and indeed do encourage basic and increased relations between the different peoples of Africa, a peep into the advertised schedule of activities lined up for the visit shows that not much thought has been given to the corresponding value for governance time and resources imperative which we equally insist should be a corollary factor in the scheduling and execution of such activities.

As advertised in the visit schedule, President Bio was received Tuesday at the Banjul International Airport and then hosted to a State Banquet. That was all for Day One! As the drawn-out visit continues, the leaders of both nations would hold a bilateral session at State House, Banjul, and thereafter the Presidents would address a joint press briefing. Bio will thereafter meet with the Sierra Leone Community in the Gambia.

For First Lady Fatima Bio, she will visit the Edward Francis Teaching Hospital and later be hosted to lunch by Mrs Fatoumatta Bah Barrow, the Gambian First Lady.

One more point: President Julius Maada Bio would also visit the Sierra Leone High Commission in Banjul before departing The Gambia to return to Sierra Leone! Now, what is in this schedule that cannot be accommodated in a single day’s visit?

The retinue of state officials accompanying President Bio is equally a factor. He is accompanied by, among others, the Chief Minister, Professor David J. Francis, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mrs Nimatulai Bah-Chang, Head of Strategic Communications, Dr. Patrick K. Muana and the Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman, Yusuf Keketoma Sandi.

The poor management and deployment of state resources and premium leadership time which this visit represents comes out most starkly when it is considered that Sierra Leone is considered to be ‘one of the least developed low-income countries on earth today. With a GDP per capita of only $254, as much as 73 percent of the West African nation’s rural population lives in poverty.

Well, Mansa Musa visited Mecca, didn’t he?

Condolences, Africa.

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