Dr. Julius Maada Bio President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, has challenged his African counterparts to embrace divergent views to allow growth of health societies.
He made the remarks while presenting his keynote at the African Leadership Magazine Persons of the Year Awards in Balaclava, Mauritius.
“We must not be afraid of dissent or debate, but rather recognize that these are the hallmarks of a healthy society,” he said.
He added, “I am proud that no journalist in our country is jailed for practising journalism.”
According to his argument, allowing criticism, divergent views would enable establishment of Democracy and rule of law.
“We recognize that the freedom to speak one’s mind, criticize the government and hold leaders accountable is not just a right but a vital part of any democracy,” President Bio added.
He said that Democracy and the rule of law are not foreign concepts to Africa.
“These concepts are rooted in the experiences and struggles of our people. Therefore, as Africans, we must embrace these principles not because they are imposed upon us, but because they are part of who we are,” said Dr.Julius Maada Bio.
“This is why, under my leadership, we have worked to create a culture of openness and transparency in Sierra Leone. We have repealed sedition libel laws, removed barriers to freedom of expression, and allowed a free press – essential for good governance and creating an informed citizenry,” He noted.
He also explained, “We have removed the shackles of repression and developed a culture of participation where all voices can be heard, and all people can contribute to nation-building.”
President Bio, is primarily regarded as the father of Democracy in Sierra Leone due to his role in restoring party politics and Democracy in the country after years of military incursion in politics.
The 11th African Leadership Magazine Persons of the Year Awards, was held under the theme Reimagining Opportunities in a turbulent Time.
The event also served as the platform for formally presenting the instruments of honour to Africans who emerged winners in the annual vote-based polls.
The event had in attendance delegates from over 13 countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Mauritius, Liberia, Angola, Kenya, Congo DRC, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and Namibia, among others.
The African Leadership Magazine Persons of the Year Awards is Africa’s premier vote-based endorsement, reserved annually for the leading Africans contributing to promoting the Continent’s progress and positively altering Africa’s perceived negative image.
The annual event has also become a platform for honouring people-centred leadership and Africans pursuing a pan-African agenda in their chosen fields of endeavour.
This year’s event provides a platform to celebrate the Continent’s merchants of hope, ready to lead an army of change agents and reformers, to build an Africa that works for everyone.