• February 6, 2023


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The people of Sierra Leone are still reeling from the sad news of the catastrophe that took place last Thursday, 2 February 2023, at the Bo Municipal Stadium where a metal railing from one of the stands fell with throngs of school children, leaving many fatally injured and are presently hospitalised.

The dark Thursday tragedy occurred during the early and veiled presidential campaign under the dishonourable guise of the southern region launching and distribution of sanitary pads to schoolgirls drawn from across the city and beyond.

The political outreach event, which keeps raising suspicions of an ulterior motive, continues to expose the Bio-SLPP regime’s tactics of trying to engage in catch-up and beat-gun campaigns far ahead of the June polls.

What a shame for a ruling party using sanitary pads to win votes, having failed in meeting the needs of girls via the Hands off Our Girls scheme. What could have just been handed over to school authorities, for pupils of their respective schools, crookedly transformed into a rush presidential campaign hosted at the Bo stadium, as if there was no better way of relating with children in the highly conscious sub-urban community.

The poorly branded sanitary pads with the portraits of Mr and Mrs Bio on the packs, took the president and his wife on a campaigning afresh on the pretext of doling out their products to girls in Bo, having got nothing, really, to deliver to the people in the last five years as promised in 2018. And don’t even ask if Sierra Leone has landed in the hands of hustlers in the last five years.

But girls, especially first-time voters in their desperate efforts to see Bio and his wife, stormed the ultramodern Bo Municipal Stadium to get glimpses of Mr and Mrs Bio, both of whom danced for the children at separate times, as if they were on a popstar tour. Sadly, for the school children amidst the show, they mistakenly leaned on a metal railing in front of one of the stands at the municipal stadium which gave way and caused dire injuries to dozens of them. Our hearts go out to the families of those who sustained injuries at the event, as we wish every one of them speedy recovery by the grace of Allah, the God almighty.

It is unimaginable for a president of a nation that continues to struggle for transformative development, to be always dancing at public functions as if all is well with his people and the country. Disgracefully for the country and the presidency specifically, President Bio graced the distribution of his wife’s sanitary pads to girls with a ‘skankay’ dance at the stage in front of thousands of pupils like any reggae star from Jamaica. Mrs Bio did a similar thing before delivering her statement and gave the much talked-about sanitary pads to the girls. Sanitary pads are as cheap as tissue papers and are something that all low-income earners in the country can easily afford to buy. Thus, why the president and his wife are dishonourably busy using sanitary pads to woo votes from probable first-time voters. Is it because the free education gimmicks have failed them? Sierra Leoneans must beware of lies and deceptions from political leaders, especially so, as elections are fast approaching. The failures of the Bio administration in all sectors of governance rings a loud bell that should caution voters to stay alert and do the needful on Saturday 24 June 2023.

Moreover, governance failures under the SLPP rule also beg the question of what exactly Bio’s campaign message to the electorate will be when the elections are here for good. Would the message be to tell the nation about distribution of sanitary pads almost to the death of thousands of schoolgirls as if it were a cast for the gods to respond positively to the prayers of winning again? The situation around them is confusing as they are worried about re-election, which is why Mr Bio and his wife, Madam Co-president, are playing all sorts of cheap political pranks to get another five-year term.

Observers say tricks by government in rushed campaigns ahead of the June polls, under the watch of the PPRC, form part of calculated and unfair ploys aimed at covering up for the SLPP far ahead of other political parties in the race. That is unacceptable as it grossly violates elections campaign rules and regulations. Therefore, the PPRC must stop the SLPP party and president Bio from engaging in beat-gum campaigns under the guise of a poorly designed sanitary pads distribution to Bo city schoolgirls and other parts of the country. A very hardworking and successful government that has delivered its set goals would have no business of jumping into a rushed presidential campaign to win elections for a second term. The SLPP and Bio must focus on state governance work and wait for elections campaign timetable. As a ruling political party and a government, had the president delivered his set goals to the people, there should be no need to be roguishly dashing into early campaigns, to a point of virtually causing the deaths of hundreds of schoolgirls for sanitary pads, which their parents can easily afford to buy for them.

The accident, according to Mrs Bio in a video shared on social media, didn’t cause damage, nobody died from it but thirty schoolgirls who sustained injuries are reportedly responding to medical treatments at the Bo Government Hospital. Another video shared on WhatsApp showed three schoolgirls on oxygen in an ambulance rushing with them to a place only God knows. Why the condolence message from Bio?

However, victims of whichever number that might be receiving medical treatments does not mean there were no major incidents, especially when some pupils were placed on oxygen and others were being rushed elsewhere. Yet we read, listened and received the condolence message to families from the government and the presidency in particular.

To school administrators across the country, your professional jobs as service providers should be completely divorced from partisan politics. The roles and responsibilities of the schools should be apolitically intact so as not to be hijacked by politicians, wanting to secure votes. The reasons being is that should in case any death and severe injuries emerge from the Bo stadium accident, school administrators whose pupils turned out in their Chinese numbers would be held accountable and responsible for their collective failure to professionally advise the presidency who went on a campaign trail to hand over the so-called pads to the schools to distribute them to pupils. That could have as well saved the situation from reaching that peak, had it not been for a campaign purpose.

The facts that sanitary pads matters are privately handled by and for women, it wasn’t necessary for Mr President and his wife to have been there in the first place. Hence his presence at that even made the whole affair more like a campaign trail rather than a mere distribution of sanitary pads whole coming again after five years of misrule. The whole affair was almost a replica of how Mr Bio and the SLPP deceitfully did during the 2018 presidential campaign when they criticized the high school graduation level Senior Secondary School (SSS 4), which was equivalent to formerly Upper Sixth Form. This time around no deceit would work with using sanitary pads. Bio and his wife campaigned against the SSS 4 policy as if it wasn’t good enough, only to give the nation a system that is today producing poor quality of high school graduates. So, if the president really means well for the children of Sierra Leone he should not just be supplying them with substandard pads. He should also try as much as possible to depoliticize the distribution of the pads by handing it over to the school administrators and stay off the whole show.

But the way the distribution is being done has already raised high level of suspicions that it is not just giving out unethical, uncivilized, and unprofessional sanitary pads. Rather, it is more of deceitful political campaign rantings. The people are fed-up and tired with that.

FORUM however wants to know if actually there was no fatality at the Bo Municipality Stadium accident, and if no, then why the extension of condolence by President Bio on his official twitter wall and even via SLBC news to the families of those affected during the distribution of the pads by his wife. Condolence, as defined by the Oxford Advance Learners’ Dictionary, is an expression of sympathy, especially on the death of a person’s relative or close friend.

The truth shall be known soonest. There is nothing hidden that cannot be revealed.

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