Playing host to Presidents is not an everyday event, and not a challenge taken up by Lilliputians. When it is not a state visit, hosting a president is a feat pulled by truly influential giants. This came into play when Chairman of Heyden Group, Dr. Dapo Abiodun hosted President Julius Bio of Sierra-Leone to a dinner last Sunday inside his beautiful apartment in Banana Island, Ikoyi .
It was one Presidential hosting decorated with royal colours and aristocratic adornments. Not only was the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) in attendance to grace the occasion, Dapo’s friends and business associates cancelled other engagements to be at his Banana Island palatial home to make the night a memorable one for the President.
By 9.00pm that day, the spacious penthouse of Dr. Abiodun was filled to capacity and Dapo promptly set the ball rolling for yet, another momentous occasion. The champagne cocktail proceeded smoothly and very calmly as it was proficiently convened with commendable civility and grace.
Not a few people see the Sierra-Leone President’s visit to Prince Dapo as one strategic move meant to engender productive business relationship between the two countries. It is perceived in some quarters that the attraction between the host and his guest could not be divorced from the transformative feats Dapo Abiodun is recording at the Corporate Affairs Commission, on which board he sits as Chairman.
Since Dapo assumed that enviable position, he has brought his private sector leadership experience to bear on the operations of the Commission. It is become increasingly easier and faster to get businesses registered and operate in Nigeria due to cutting-edge technology now in operation. The Commission is on the verge of delivering a software that would help link individuals to their registered businesses, an initiative meant to boost Nigeria’s Business Competitiveness (Ease of Business) on Global Ranking, which has been leapfrogging for since last year.
On a personal note, the Ogun State-born business magnate has never hidden his desire to extend his tentacles beyond the shores of Nigeria where he has made indelible marks in downstream and midstream sectors of Nigerian petroleum industry.
However, President Bio was more than happy to be in Nigeria as he praised Dr. Dapo Abiodun to the high heavens. According to Bio, “Dapo is one of the few Nigerians I respect so much for his remarkable contribution to the development of the Sierra Loane-Nigerian relations and also for the advancement and betterment of humanity”. He was the centre of attraction that night; he bowled everyone over with his infectious candor and charisma. People who know him well never got tired of purring odes about him on his account of his powerful speech. His oratorical prowess and his well groomed intelligence was overwhelming enough to elicit never-ending admiration from everyone.
Julius is the 5th and current president of Sierra Leone since April 4, 2018. He is a retired Brigadier General in the Sierra Leone Army and he was the military Head of State of Sierra Leone from January 16, 1996 to March 29, 1996 under the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) military Junta government.
Bio was the presidential candidate of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party. He defeated Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress in the runoff vote of the 2018 Sierra Leone presidential election with 51.8% of the votes to Kamara”s 48.2%. International and local observers declared the election free, fair and credible. Bio succeeded Ernest Bai Koroma as president, who was constitutionally ineligible to run for the presidency having served the maximum two five year terms.
In his first month in office as president, Bio has become the first Sierra Leonean president to introduced free education through executive action for primary and secondary school students in public schools throughout Sierra Leone starting the next school year in the fall of 2018.
As the deputy military Head of State, Bio lead a military coup in 1996 that ousted his boss, the Military Head of State, Captain Valentine Strasser of the National Provisional Ruling Council military government. Bio promised to return Sierra Leone back to a democratically elected civilian government; and he indeed kept his promise when he handed power to Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the Sierra Leone People’s Party, following Kabbah”s victory in the 1996 Sierra Leone presidential election.
Upon retiring from the military in 1996, Bio moved to the United States where he was granted political asylum by the United States Government, and he did not return to Sierra Leone until 2005 when then Sierra Leone”s president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah guaranteed his safety and security.
Bio is the first democratically elected Sierra Leonean president born in the post colonial independent nation of Sierra Leone. Bio is also the second Sierra Leonean president to have previously served in the Sierra Leone military, after Joseph Saidu Momoh.