Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 February 2018
“You are not one of us – you are not from here” – extremists within the ruling APC party of Sierra Leone are now telling Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, who is contesting to become the next president of Sierra Leone, but now referred to as a foreigner in his country of birth – Sierra Leone.
Yumkella’s crime? Ruling party extremists including president Koroma, say that “Dr Yumkella holds dual citizenship – both American and Sierra Leonean, and according to the country’s constitution, cannot contest an election in Sierra Leone”.
But Dr Yumkella has already paid the ultimately price for love of country. He had renounced his American citizenship.
Yet this is not enough for the ruling APC. They have taken the matter to the Supreme Court, as they continue their witch-hunt against Yumkella to exclude him from the presidential race taking place on March 7, 2018.
Constitution experts are divided on the matter, which is now before the country’s Supreme Court. Soon, the people of Sierra Leone, including Dr Yumkella and millions of Sierra Leoneans living abroad will learn, whether – by holding dual citizenship they have forgone their birth right to refer to themselves as Sierra Leoneans or not.
Addressing a large audience at the CVL African Leadership Symposium two days ago in Lagos, Nigeria, former president of Nigeria – Olusegun Obasanjo, spoke about his confidence in the ability of Dr Yumkella to lead Sierra Leone.
Obasanjo said that he fully endorsed Yumkella’s application to lead the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), and that he was also responsible for encouraging Yumkella to leave the UN to return to Sierra Leone to provide much needed governance to the country.
This is what Obasanjo said: “Yumkella I want to thank you. You have never disappointed me. I know you will not. And you know my own borders in terms of bringing up what is good in Africa and Africans, goes beyond the boundaries of Nigeria and you are a typical example.
“When Yumkella was here as the country representative and was interested in becoming the Head of UNIDO, he said “well look I come from a small country – nobody will support me. And I said: “Nigeria will support you, and Nigeria supported you, and you got there.
“And you were doing so well in UNIDO. I said to you: “You need to come home, to be part of the game. I am still keeping my fingers crossed and pray that you will get there, because you have something to offer your country, to offer Nigeria and offer Africa”. (You can watch Obasanjo speaking below – see video).
Sierra Leoneans living abroad are the life-blood of millions of their brothers and sisters in the country, who are benefitting from the more than $200 million that they send to the country every year to rescue them from abject poverty, created by the ruling APC.
During the difficult days of the ten-year rebel war, it was Sierra Leoneans living abroad who kept their fellow citizens alive in Sierra Leone – including the president and senior officials of the ruling APC, by providing them with much needed humanitarian assistance and in many cases refuge overseas.
But today, ruling APC party politicians and their extremist leaders are turning their backs on Sierra Leoneans living and working in the diaspora, referring to them as aliens and foreigners, simply because Dr. Kandeh Yumkella who has long harboured the diasporan dream of leading and governing Sierra Leone to prosperity, now wants to fulfil that dream.
Will the Supreme Court allow itself to be finally brought down by ruling APC party extremists, whose warped interpretation of the laws of Sierra Leone and the country’s constitution is simply aimed at punishing and divesting their fellow citizens of their birth-right?
Not satisfied with their extremist attack on Dr Yumkella, the ruling APC has now turned to negative publicity and disinformation to confuse the electorate and undermine the credibility of Dr Yumkella, by publishing false statement purporting to have come from Yumkella’s NGC party – stating that the NGC is taking steps to replace Dr Yumkella as its 2018 presidential candidate.
Never before have politicians in Sierra Leone stoop so low in order to stay in office. This is what the NGC says in reply to the malicious lies being peddled by the ruling APC:
“The attention of the leadership of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) has been drawn to a press release purported to have been signed by Dr. Julius Spencer which is being circulated on social media claiming that the party is considering the withdrawal of Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella’s candidacy for the presidency because of the matter filed in the Supreme Court.
“The party wishes to assure all Sierra Leoneans, particularly our members and numerous supporters, that this cannot be farther from the truth. The so-called press release is a total fabrication and should be ignored.
“It is quite clear that some people are trying to find all means to get Dr. Yumkella off the ballot and because they do not believe they can succeed through the courts are now trying to discourage NGC supporters and members, thereby reducing the support Dr. Yumkella currently enjoys from Sierra Leoneans.
“We wish to reiterate that the party is confident Dr. Yumkella will be on the ballot as a Presidential candidate on March 7 and we refuse to allow the antics of those who have no confidence in their ability to defeat him in the polls to distract us from continuing our task of increasing the support Dr. Yumkella and the NGC currently enjoys.
“We would like to advice those involved in this kind of dishonest activity that they will be better served by focusing on convincing voters about the viability of their unattractive presidential candidate rather than wasting efforts on a fruitless exercise.”
In 2012, Obasanjo endorsed president Ernest Bai Koroma’s bid to hang on to power for his second term, after his popularity had slumped to an all time low. The Koroma government as it has today, had lost the trust of the majority of Sierra Leoneans. But Obasanjo thought Koroma deserved a second chance to make things right for the people of Sierra Leone.
Obasanjo arrived in Sierra Leone ahead of the 2012 elections to help boost the ruling APC campaign to stay in office. He drove in an open car along with president Koroma to campaign across the country. And with the endorsement of Obasanjo and his financial support – Koroma won the 2012 elections.
But today, Obasanjo is answering the call of the majority of Sierra Leoneans who say they have had enough of APC corruption and poor governance, that has brought immense suffering and poverty to a nation that is already poverty-stricken.
Obasanjo has now endorsed Dr Yumkella’s bid for the presidency of Sierra leone. But the ruling APC are determined to keep Yumkella out of the race. Will the country’s Supreme Court that many believe is highly controlled by the ruling APC, discharge justice without fear or favour?