In Conakry, Guinea and on the 16th February, 2021 here is what happened:
Starting from the landing of the plane and showing just his face to the public, President Brigadier General (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio’s energy took over the entire airport and spontaneously the Sierra Leonean school children that were awaiting his arrival, sent a screaming cheers which sent a chilling goose bumps on everyone witnessing the occasion. It was indeed spontaneous and filled with positive energy.
He instantaneously became popular in Conakry, Guinea, but was there to negotiate the reopening of the border between his country, Sierra Leone, and the Republic of Guinea.
The Guinean President, Professor Alpha Conde, decided to close the border with Sierra Leone and some other countries (for security reasons), after winning the presidential election to start his (President Alpha Conde) third term. According to Guinean authorities, it is suspected that some persons are planning to use Sierra Leone and two other countries (names withheld) to create chaos in Guinea. It is for that reason the Guinean security advisers decided to encourage President Conde to close the borders. That was how the border was indefinitely closed. That closure brought created a lot of discomfort and sometimes hardship for both countries especially Sierra Leone.
That action of closing the border had the potential to erode the good/fraternal relationship between the two countries. It had started creating tension and seemed to be very serious. President Bio, having a military background himself and therefore knowing the consequences of such bad relationship with a very good neighbor did not waste time but to send a high powered delegation to President Conde and his cabinet. In return President Conde also sent a high powered delegation to President Bio. The visit of the two delegation result of to the invitation of President Bio to Conakry by President Alpha Conde. It was intended to create conditions on which the two countries will agree upon just so the border will be opened.
It is against that backdrop President Julius Maada Bio swallowed his pride for his people and jet down in Conakry, (capital of Guinea), to put the issue to a total rest. On arrival in Conakry, President Bio had two tete-a-tete meetings with the President of Guinea, Professor Alpha Conde. The result of those meetings was to immediately open the border preceding a Communique signed by both countries. That turned to be a reality and relief was brought to the people of both countries.
The relief was overwhelming and President Bio became hero again for the Sierra Leonean people. President Bio in an his interview with Alhassan Sillah, the BBC Guinea reporter, said that the closing strained relationship between the two countries concerns him more than the economic impact that the closure of the border poses.
He arrived in Guinea, secure a deal and with high shoulders returned safely to Freetown. Not many leaders will take such an action just for the sake of opening a border but President Bio being a personality that sacrifice for his people (a former soldier) came to Conakry and put out the tension. It was so simple, calm, respectable and supported by a wonderful lieutenants of his government. Some of the delegates with President Bio had sleepless night to make wish of President Bio possible.
It is calm now and the border is opened. Sierra Leoneans are relieved that they have freedom of movement and do their business without fear. The people of Sierra Leone have won but that winning was spearheaded by their passionate leader, President Brigadier General (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio. It would have gone bad and in fact very bad if President Bio put on his ego and refuse to swallow his pride to achieve this.
President Bio has shown his quality and value. Detractors thought
Umaru Sitta Turay
Sierra Leone Embassy