Good Leadership is about humility, self-consciousness, character, openness, and vision. It is about focus and the desire to cherish new ideas and count on individuals who can contribute to one’s vision and priorities.
Sierra Leone’s new president retired general Julius Maada Bio gets it. Since taking office, President Bio has won the hearts and minds of Sierra Leoneans. He has forged connection and made national unity and honest reconciliation a bedrock. He has relied on the talent, professionalism, and experiences of Sierra Leoneans with meaningful contributions to make in changing their country’s trajectory.
Although he respects and honors the work and integrity of his predecessor, ex-president Ernest Bai Koroma, President Bio has made it clear that he is his own man and leader ready to chart a new path, and former president Koroma respects that. President Bio is concerned about creating a new country. Corruption––whether organized or petit––and scandals, small or large, are no more as government officials in his administration have all realized that a new dawn has come and spread in Sierra Leone. President Bio has and continues to reach out for wisdom and the best advice from all Sierra Leoneans in-country and abroad, including from the opposition as well as from people who once criticized him.
Today, dozens of Sierra Leoneans are returning home from several developed as well as developing countries because they are assured of security, an open and transparent government, and a leadership that puts the interest of all Sierra Leoneans first. Most importantly, they see opportunities for business, jobs and improved living conditions.
President Bio values professionalism and the knowledge acquired by Sierra Leoneans both in-country and especially those who have studied and worked and lived abroad. Though he won the presidency as a candidate of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), he has established himself as a statesman and the president of Sierra Leone, and not a president of the SLPP. Although he values the work and respects all those who served in political appointments in the previous government of Sierra Leone, he has made it clear that it is time for new ideas at the political level. President Bio also understands what civil service is and so he has assured all civil servants in the country that their jobs are secured because civil service is not based on politics and political support that some people may have given to him or what party they belong to but rather it is based on seasoned career––education/training, qualification, experience etc.
President Bio has friends, but he has drawn clear lines between friendship and being president of Sierra Leone. His number one priority is to lead a scandal-free Sierra Leonean government and a fulfilling nation––a Sierra Leone where putting people to work, creating wealth for all, establishing a middle class, and ensuring that skills gap imbalances in the country labor force are addressed through workforce development and training, and innovation so that Sierra Leonean citizens can compete in the global labor market.
In less than 60 days in office, President BIO has championed one of the cores universal public policy: Education for all. Today in Sierra Leone, it does not matter where a child lives, who his or her parents are, what religion he or she belongs to, or what skin color or tribe he/she is, there is a free opportunity for education. Besides, the prices of commodities are reducing because businesses and business people see an administration that is not just serious but credible, visionary, scandal-free, non-corrupt and mean business.
Internationally, President Bio has garnered unmatched credibility, trust, and respect. The United States White House and some in Congress regard him as a serious guy. The European Union referred to him as someone who knows what he is doing. The Israelites believe he is a leader they can trust and work with, prompting a high-level visit from a top Israelite diplomat in the West African sub-region.
When President Bio says Sierra Leone is open for business he knows what he is talking about and it is real. Since Bio took over as president of Sierra Leone, registering a business or anything in Sierra Leone today is like eating ice cream. That is how easy it is. Government officials and civil servants under his administration are more inclined to provide the best customer service anyone can ever dream of. In fact, Marriott international hotel chain is in hurry to open several hotels in Sierra Leone. The prospects for tourism in Sierra Leone remain sky high. Soon, Sierra Leone will be a nation of all kinds of tourism including medical tourism, regular leisure, and hospitality as well as entertainment tourism etc.
One key thing I have encouraged and will continue support and assist President Bio on is the need to put Sierra Leoneans to work by creating jobs, prioritizing innovation, workforce development and training. This is a president and the guy that Africa needs to be proud of. This is a leader that has renewed the pride of all Sierra Leoneans including those in the opposition. Under President Bio, Sierra Leone is not perfect but it is far and far better. The citizens have hope and they are determined. They see a new future rooted in the right direction. They see a leader who is in control and knows what he is doing. They know his political, social and economic thinking, values and vision for their nation. And so they have confidence and trust.
President Bio has shown that to lead means people have to know your stance and what you believe in––they have to predict you as their leader. This is why retired brigadier general Julius Maada Bio is a distinguished African leader and Sierra Leone’s most people-centered president.
By Jones Nhinson Williams
Main Pic: Sierra Leone Net Work