The 2012 Presidential Candidate and Flag bearer aspirant for the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) Rtd. Brig. Maada Bio has told Awoko that the ‘PA-O-PA’ tag is being used to put him and his supporters in a bad light.

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He however maintained that they have changed it from a negative connotation to a positive one. Bio explained that his detractors coined the PA-O-PA tag to mean “my group or I are saying that (whether) anybody (is) willing or not, I am going to be the leader. It’s far from that, we have tried to shed that off, but we have been able to coin it in such a way that it has a positive theme on it. That is why we are saying PA-O-PA Salone for betteh, PA-O-PA this contri for go befoe.”

The Soldier turned politician was answering questions as to the why the use of the word “Pa-O-Pa” by his supporters, which normally suggests arrogance, violence and the use of force and what is the philosophy behind Pa-O-Pa?

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Bio said “I cannot impose myself on an old party like the SLPP. They have procedures. I cannot impose myself on this nation. In democracy, you cannot do that, but they have couched that to make us look as if we want to impose (ourselves) on the nation.”

Questioned as to why he thinks detractors are seeing him in that light Maada Bio maintained “maybe because of my background, people have an erroneous idea that Military means violence. The military is an organised violence directed by the State in order to protect the State and its sovereignty but it is not the anarchy or personal violence against individuals or group of people. But since they prefer to call us PA-O-PA. I am saying whenever they say PA-O-PA our people should respond by saying that ‘salone for go befoe.’ When I had the opportunity of doing the social mobilisation for ending ebola, I said PA-O-PA Ebola for done. It is really not our philosophy but that label was forced on us, especially me, and so we have to find a way to make it positive.”

Explaining about his relationship with the Party Executive the SLPP flag bearer aspirant said he spoke to them just after he “came back after being out of the country for a long time. The Executive is responsible for the running of the party, I paid them a visit as I wanted to know what had transpired in my absence. I maintain a very cordial relationship with them”

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Questioned on reports that the executive was hand picked by him and therefore skew decisions on his behalf, Bio said “I did not put them there and I did not hand pick them. They were voted for in an election where I was not present … at a National Delegates Congress conducted and presided over by no less a person than John Oponjo Benjamin and that process was observed by the International Community and the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) and all of them attested to the fact that the process was free and fair.”

He stated, “they were to make a choice as to whom they were ready to support, that does not mean they have to skew the system in my favour, but they are going to vote, so they have to make a choice. But that is totally different from the activities of the Party, they are party members; they have to make a decision that is why they were elected. They don’t have any right to skew the process but they have to make a decision. “