SIERRA LEONE: Echo Of The Pen!!
By Lansana Fofanah
President Bio Did Not Sell NP But Saved It For Today
Like the 1992 military takeover by the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) that Sierra Leoneans continue to hail as the hallmark of Freedom and democracy, every major decision that has been taken by President Julius Maada Bio in the past could be rightly justified.
The late President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s legacy as ‘The Father Of Peace & Democracy” would not have happened had President Bio not push for that as it was crystal clear at the time that some members of the NPRC had wanted to maintain a grip on power. Immediately after he took over from Captain Valentine Strasser in January 1996, Maada Bio promised to conduct a peaceful and democratic multi-party election in three months; a promise he delivered that made Sierra Leone to be remembered as the only country in West Africa where the military took power and peacefully returned it to an elected civilian government.
During his short spell, critical decisions he took included the awarding of the Sierra Leone National Petroleum Company to indigenous Sierra Leoneans when it was imminent that the Company had been badly managed under the leadership of the All People’s Congress from 1984 until they were ousted by the military in April 1992.
A press release from the National Petroleum SL Ltd dated 29th March 2022 reads “Management would like the public to know that NP (SL) Limited is a wholly owned Sierra Leonean company that was privatized in 1996 pursuant to the recommendations of the World Bank”. This clearly shows that the said Company was privatized based on recommendations from the World Bank since the company had collapsed and not his sole decision. That critical decision to privatize the Sierra Leone National Petroleum Company to indigenous owners by President Bio, was not also taken based on profit, but to save critical assets from falling into the hands of foreign businesses with the hope that it will one day serve Sierra Leoneans.
This is what is happening today as the company’s presence could be felt across the country.
Another point worth noting is that President Bio believes in Local Content empowerment even before the enactment of the Sierra Leone Local Content Policy in 2016 by selecting a local company at a time when there were better offers.
Today, the National Petroleum Sierra Leone Ltd, has 55.76% market shares as of 2021 according to statistics from the Petroleum Regulatory Agency. This shows how the company continues to grow from strength to strength thereby living the dreams of President Bio.
Such an opportunity could not have happened, had the company been offered to a foreign company which was imminent at the time.
Therefore, President Bio should be praised for boldly taking such a step that has seen the participation of Sierra Leoneans in the downstream petroleum value chain rather than vilifying him.
Source: NEWS24 NEWSPAPER