Africa-Press – Sierra-Leone. The man many believed could have brought another war to Sierra Leone if he had been allowed to stay in his post as lands minister – Dr Dennis Sandi, has today been sacked in a snap ‘covid-19’ cabinet reshuffle by the president.
Calls for Sandi to be sacked had become deafening, after more than two years, causing misery and suffering to many in the capital Freetown – especially the Krio communities where he terrorised local people and grabbed their land and property with impunity.
Quite simply, Sandi had become a law into his own hands, and a liability to the president, his government and the ruling SLPP party who are hoping for a second term re-election in 2023.
Following the constant publication of media reports of the megalomaniac land grabbing behaviour of Dr Sandi, the Speaker of the parliament of Sierra Leone a few weeks ago wrote a stern letter to president Bio asking for Sandi’s wings to be clipped.
That letter was preceded by a damning article published by the ruling party’s sponsored tabloid – Global Times, in which its editor – a patron of the ruling SLPP Sorie Fofanah called on president Bio and the leadership of the SLPP to get rid of Dr Sandi before he brings the government down.
Today, president Bio has listened to the hundreds of individuals and families around Freetown whose lands have been seized by Dr Sandi and his armed militia, then sold to the highest private bidder.
This is what a senior lawyer in Freetown – Yada Hashim Williams said on twitter today:
The man replacing Sandi is another academician – Dr Senesie Turad, who until today was the deputy minister of technical and higher education. He has over 25 years’ experience in teaching, monitoring, evaluation, and public service investigations.
Dr. Senesie’s research interests include peace building, development, and public administration. Academically, he holds a BSc, MSc, MHRS and PhD – with over 11 years of instructional experience. He was Director for the Institute of Social Studies, Administration and Management at Njala University, during the previous APC government.
Many will now be looking up to Dr Senesie to bring sanity, justice and fairness to the ministry of lands, where he is expected to conduct swift investigations into the plethora of land dispossession cases that are sitting on his desk, and to rescind the bad decisions of Dr Sandi.
But already, after this performance on AYV TV last week, many are beginning to lampoon and have doubts over Dr Senesie’s ability to manage the country’s massive lands and housing problems (watch the video). Will he rise to the occasion and prove his critics wrong?:
Another minister losing his job today is the minister of technical and higher education – Mr Gbakima, who many believe has failed to deliver president Bio’s national vocational and technical skills development agenda, as the number of long-term unemployed and unskilled youths continues to grow.
Gbakima has been replaced by Dr Alpha Wurie, who has been removed as minister of health with the current, alarming daily increase in the number of new Covid-19 cases especially in the capital Freetown.
Since Christmas, the average daily number of new Covid cases is over 30, and there are fears the country’s healthcare systems may soon be overwhelmed, if these numbers continue to rise.
The new minister of health is the little-known Dr Austin Demby, who is now expected to stop the rising number of new Covid cases in the country. Sierra Leone is likely to go into another lockdown soon – possibly before the end of the month.
Also leaving the ministry of lands is Rex Bonapha, who was Dr Sandi’s deputy, whom many have argued had failed to stand up to his ignoble boss. Bonapha has been moved to the ministry of transport and aviation as deputy minister.
Jimmy Batillo Songa who is publicly nursing an ambition to become the ruling SLPP party’s chairman, is now the deputy commissioner for the National Commission for Social Action (NACSA). Many are questioning whether today’s appointment is an attempt by president Bio – who also serves as the Chairman and leader of the SLPP party, to derail Songa’s leadership ambition.
Many in the SLPP party believe that Songa lacks the maturity, experience and political finesse to manage and control the SLPP party, especially with just two years to general and presidential elections.
It seems President Bio is not taking chances in changing his 2018 election winning formula and machinery. It is therefore highly likely that the incumbent – Dr Prince Harding will be staying on as SLPP party chairman.
For many in Sierra Leone, today’s cabinet reshuffle is welcome news for the lands ministry and for all those citizens that have suffered in the hands of a tyrant minister.
But has president Bio gone far enough?
Sierra Leone’s economy is in dire straits. The finance minister, along with the economic development minister and governor of the central bank are accused of being clueless. They too should have been booted out, say critics. Will president Bio be replacing this unpopular trio soon – rather than later?