True love they say cannot be bought or broken because it is always in the hearts. Over the years, the more the smear campaigns and lies – whether it is about passports, the fake business in Ghana or attack on his democratic credentials – the more the people have fallen in love with a man they know represent their hopes and aspirations.
Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio knows at a time when the festive period has been characterised by hardships for many ordinary people and billions spent on APC campaign tour, voters need hope that a New Direction will bring an end to this Agenda for Austerity and misuse of public resources.
As we welcome the new year, there is no better place for Bio to start his message of hope with voters than Western Area through his surprised visits. For far too long APC has taken people in the Western Area for granted and at every time they have entrusted their votes to APC, the people have always been betrayed. The 24 hours uninterrupted light President Koroma promised Freetown, the APC Santa Claus delivered blackout instead. But Like a man on a national duty to remove the suffering people from under the cloak of hardship, Bio has continued his new year’s message of hope and a new direction to people in the villages; a trip he has made so often in the last decade.
Perhaps, one of the reasons the APC is most frightened about the Bio candidacy is not just because he is hugely popular but also Bio has singlehandedly taken away from APC that which they hold precious: grassroots. Less than 70 days to national elections, APC would be very worried with Bio’s charm offensive in Western Area interacting with traders, shoppers, Okada riders, Youths at Ataya Base, drivers and the ordinary man and woman on the streets. He did not take along with him bags of corrupt money to handout to buy popularity but a simple message: I have heard your cries. I have seen the suffering but there is hope with the New Direction. It is the same message he has taken to people in the remote villages who have been neglected and abandoned by a heartless government.
And If you are an APC member or supporter still in delusion that Bio is not popular in Western Area then you may be walking towards a brick wall with your eyes closed. Bio’s surprised visits to various places in western area, his present trip to villages and the overwhelming reception from ordinary people yearning for his Presidency have shown a genuine connection between a man who has always been with the people and the people. In times of war, searching for peace, Ebola, flooding and mudslides, Bio has always been there. It is not love at first sight but love at worst sight.
Bio and the people also have a history. An admirable track record no other Presidential Candidate has: from a man who laid his life to defend the lives of ordinary people as a soldier; to a man who as minister of information had the vision to bring back our treasured national television station for the pleasure of ordinary people; to a man who laid the foundation for peace because he saw the destruction of lives of ordinary people; to a man who had all the power as Head of State and handed over power for the sake of ordinary people; to a man who returned home and created employment for hundreds of young people; to a man who drove his truck to villages and got inspired to enter politics because he saw the suffering of ordinary people; and to a man who had evidence that his 2012 election was rigged by a NEC boss who later declared as APC member and yet for the sake of ordinary people he maintained the peace.
Yes, to our APC friends, for over decades Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio has always “PAID ATTENTION” to the sufferings and aspirations of ordinary people. Bio has done so not behind the scenes or in the dark but always being at the front and in the open taking the tough decisions with great personal sacrifice. And yes, to our NGC friends, for over decades Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio has not only “PUT HIS COUNTRY FIRST” but also at every stage of his life he has put the interest of the people above his personal interest. Bio has done so not because of political opportunism to be President at the age of retirement but since he was a teenager when he took oath to defend the country and people. Bio is the only candidate who truly represents change because he has fought for change from a one party dictatorship to democracy. Real change is NOT how much you have said but how much you have done for your country and people.
Also the ordinary people across the country know that a presidential candidate who was democratically elected in a party conference of over 600 delegates is more progressive than a presidential candidate imposed by the leader of a party or a presidential candidate from a pseudo election by few of his supporters. And the ordinary people know that NO presidential candidate can be more progressive than Bio who has subjected himself to three internal democratic elections for flagbearership, appointed a woman to be his running mate, endorsed fee waiver for women aspirants, advocated for internal democratic Party elections for the award of symbols and now championing reforms in all sectors of governance through his new direction policies.
The ordinary people also know that if Governor Clarkson’s prayer is a curse for people who have occupied high offices and stolen from the ordinary people then Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio who served in six high offices including as Head of State has passed that test of Governor Clarkson’s prayer. There have been many examples of the tragedies of politicians after they leave political offices yet for Bio decades after he left as Head of State he is still in the hearts of people and the most popular politician. It tells you about a man who has always served his country and people with dedication, honesty, patriotism, compassion and love. Therefore, this unending love that started when Bio took an oath to defend ordinary people will never be broken even after Bio takes an oath to serve as our next President.
©Yusuf Keketoma Sandi