Why open a new row about Kandeh Yumkella’s membership of SLPP?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 January 2016

Yumkella in Bo 1(Photo Above: Dr. Yumkella speaking to the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Abdul Rashid Thomas).

Just when the rank and file members of the Sierra Leone opposition SLPP party are breathing a sigh of relief that the party is now on the road to rebuilding cracks and heal the wounds, opened up by a vicious attack on the credibility of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella by Julius Maada Bio and his supporters, comes another divisive media briefing, casting doubt on Yumkella’s honesty regarding his membership of the party.

Buried deep within the subtle nuances of a press statement released today, 8th January 2016, by the Julius Maada Bio Media and Communications Team, titled: “Welcoming Dr. Kandeh Yumkella to the SLPP family”, is the continuing provocative narrative that speaks of Yumkella’s ‘un-bona fide’ membership of the SLPP party.

Maada Bio is today alleging that throughout the past seven months, since Yumkella declared his intention to stand for the SLPP 2017 presidential candidacy, Yumkella has been a bogus member of the party, until his registration at the party offices in Freetown yesterday, 7th January 2016 to regularise his membership.

This new row in the SLPP comes as the ruling APC and its Koroma government, continues to ineptly bungle their way through the morass of lawlessness and abject poverty, created in the country after eight years in power.

The people of Sierra Leone are crying out for a strong and united opposition that will steadfastly hold the ruling APC party accountable for its misrule, corruption, misuse of judicial and police powers, and poor governance.

So why is the SLPP continuing to tear itself apart, instead of making itself relevant and attractive as a credible government in waiting to the country’s electorate?

Why has Maada Bio and his team chosen to doggedly focus on a divisive issue that has recently been cleared up by the party executive, especially Chairman Kapen and Secretary General Banja Tejan-Sie?

This is what the statement by Maada Bio’s communication team says:   

Bio meets president Koroma at state House - 12 October 2015“In October 2015, Rtd Brig. Bio stated in an interview on Radio Democracy, FM 98.1, that the day Dr. Kandeh Yumkella becomes a legally registered member of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) he will be the first to congratulate and welcome him to the SLPP family. (Photo: Bio and Koroma at State House three months ago). 

“On Thursday 7th January 2016, the Rtd. Brig. Bio was formally informed by the National Treasurer of the Sierra Leone People’s Party that Dr. Kandeh Yumkella on the said date had gone through the correct procedures at the national party headquarters and attained a membership status of the party.

“In his response to the membership of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Rtd Brig. Bio stated “I want to wholeheartedly congratulate and welcome Dr. Yumkella to the SLPP family.

“As members of the party, we must always respect the rules and procedures of the party because they are the foundation upon which a vibrant political party is built.

“Dr Yumkella’s membership will be an additional value to the party. We must all now concentrate on the greater task of uniting the party and preparing the party for governance in 2018.

“The SLPP believes in One Country, One People and the registration of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella is a further testament that the SLPP embraces every Sierra Leonean irrespective of tribe or regional background. I look forward to seeing Dr. Kandeh Yumkella in our SLPP meetings and party functions.”

“The Media and Communication Team would also like to join Rtd. Brig. Bio in welcoming Dr. Kandeh Yumkella to the SLPP Family. We believe the decision by Dr. Kandeh Yumkella to follow the correct procedures on his registration will bring to an end the unnecessary bickering and restore the credibility of the SLPP as a party ready for governance.

“We wish Dr. Kandeh Yumkella a wonderful stay in the SLPP Family. Collectively, we must all work together to return the SLPP to governance in 2018.” (End of statement).

The Sierra Leone Telegraph this morning contacted Dr. Kandeh Yumkella in Freetown for a response to this statement, but without success.

However, the Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (KKY) Communication Team in the UK and Ireland, said this to the Sierra Leone Telegraph:

chief kapen confirms yumkella membership of slpp“The registration of Kandeh Yumkella as a member of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party is a settled issue and has been verified by the National Secretary General, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie during an interview with Sierra Leone Telegraph, on the 4th September 2015.

This has been further confirmed by the Chair, Somano Kapen.

“What is the case, is that Kandeh Yumkella was asked by Mr O S Fofanah, Kambia District Chair of the SLPP to upgrade his membership within the district to Distinguished Grand Chief Patron.  He duly did.  We believe that it is this document that is being referred to by Julius Maada Bio as evidence of his membership of the SLPP from 7 January 2016.

“This statement by Maada Bio is a puerile and fraudulent attempt to disenfranchise Kandeh Yumkella from the SLPP Flagbearer elections.

“It is not the responsibility of the National Treasurer to confirm membership of the organisation and in this regard the National Treasurer has acted in breach of the party’s rule in the same way that the clandestine and short lived Membership Verification Committee.

Maada Bio and President Koroma“Both comprise of party members who support the doomed campaign of Julius Maada Bio for the SLPP and this press release along with their use of the violent Benghazi Boys and collusion with the APC Government of Ernest Koroma is part of a series of actions that Julius Maada Bio has planned to ensure that he is coronated as SLPP Flagbearer.

“Those behind the scenes of this maneuvering include Dr Abass Bundu, erstwhile member of the clandestine Membership Verification Committee and architect of the industrial scale sale of Sierra Leone passports to organise crime syndicates.

“Bio who masquerades as a Retired Brigadier has been unemployed since he was forced to hand over power to a civilian administration in 1996. In 2012 he led the SLPP to election defeat. He is unpopular and he is not of the same stature as Kandeh Yumkella, who has been rapturously received throughout the country.

“Bio is a member of the party with no official position, so his release of this press statement only serves to demonstrate his political immaturity.

“Bio’s options to close down debate within the SLPP and to install himself as Flagbearer are fast receding. His silence during the recent arrest and detention by the APC of another aspirant has been clearly visible.

Alie Kabba Dec 2015“While other party members were working to secure Alie Kabba’s (Photo) release, Bio has been trying to install a new executive, full of his cronies and also to influence party delegations.

“All of Bio’s attempts to frustrate the democratic will of the people of Sierra Leone, and to abort their hopes, future opportunities and to secure the transformation of our beloved Sierra Leone, will fail. “ (End).

Will this new row, opened up by Julius Maada Bio and his campaign team, further deepen old wounds and threaten any chance of peace and stability returning to the country’s main opposition SLPP party, before national and presidential elections are held in 2017/2018?

Internal political row is not exclusively peculiar to the opposition SLPP in Sierra Leone. A volcano is slowly heating up, deep within the ruling APC party waiting to explode, once the leadership power vacuum is officially declared in advance of the party’s convention later this year.

There will certainly be blood on the carpet at the forthcoming APC convention, no matter the attempts of president Koroma and a handful of his party grandees, to control and micro-manage the leadership change and transition process.

2016 is set to bring much political turbulence across Sierra Leone, as the two main parties elect their presidential candidates, and agree their running mates for the country’s 2017/2018 national and presidential elections.

You can read what the SLPP party Secretary General said here:

Yumkella is a bona fide member of the SLPP – says party National Secretary General

11 Comments

  1. WHAT IS GOING ON?

    Are they saying that Dr Kandeh Yumkella cannot contest the SLPP presidency at the delegate conference? when will the so-called elders and supporters of the Maada Bio team realized that Maada bio is an opportunist, useless and corrupt person?

    See what he (Bio) did when they overthrew stubborn Strasser. He (Bio) and his cronies emptied the state treasury of the remaining revenues in his three months in power.

    We should look at the right person who will lift the party image in the next presidential election as pa Kabbah did in the 1996 general and presidential election.

    If Maada bio is a genuine and honest person he should respect the SLPP constitution that stipulate a one term leadership as his predecessors like pa Kabba, Solomon Berewah did he should stop this undermining and sabotaging exercises his team is doing. Leadership is from God; and god alone knows the intent and purpose and content of such person and ponders their intent and motive.

    We need leaders like the late pa Kabbah who cares about his people not going to bed on empty stomach. Who knows how to attract investors and assured investors’ confidence as a last leader did. We need progress, development, etc

  2. Now that the dust has settled and KKY has done what exactly many of us were expecting, there is no need to quarrel over this matter. No need to justify whether he updated his registration fees or newly registered. All we know is that he first claimed to have registered in Bo but could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that he indeed registered.

    Here are my own views, wishes and suggestions for the way forward for our sinking ship – the SLPP:

    1. I wish to see JM Bio elected as the flag bearer for the last time during the SLLP convention in 2016. Let us try him for the last time. Remember the number of times President Koroma was elected as flag bearer for the APC – three times before he finally got the mantle of power. Remember also the votes JMB was 38% in the last presidential election. He is indeed handsome and popular. I want to emphasize – admired and loved by the majority. Any attempt to deny him his last attempt will plunge the party into total split which we do not want.

    2. I also wish to let KKY be the running mate of JM Bio so that he can under study the deeper politics of the SLPP and the nation at large. He will then be the next flag bearer after JM Bio’s two terms in office.

    3. I also wish to let other aspirants know that they are really not popular and cannot challenge the APC by any means. JOB is not even popular in his home town Segbwema. I want all of you to watch the crowd that follow them when they go on tour. None can be compared to JMB’s. It is only JMB that the APC is afraid of. He will change the destiny of this nation and improve lives for all – rural and urban. he will not be regionalistic or tribalistic, but will rule justly, fairly and impartially. He will not focus on making the streets of one regional headquarter town leaving the others unattended.

    LET US GIVE HIM THE LAST CHANCE.

  3. Mr. Mohamed Koroma:

    Thank you very much for your response. “But WHY?” Because I see you committing an informal fallacy of argumentum ergo decedo- where your affiliation with Juana Koroma, if ever, is seen as the underlying reason for the criticism.

    I ask that you hold your peace and stay away from this argument. Amen.

  4. Now that the aspirations of Yumkella have been shattered by virtue of the rules and regulations of the SLPP, who is the next person that you are going to champion for the SLPP leadership?

  5. Mustache,

    To answer your question, it is the two gentlemen you have mentioned. But WHY? Does it really matter if I am related to Juana Koroma?

    • Yes, it does matter very much Mr Koroma. There is just the simple matter called “declaring your interest” in dealings with the public.

      When you make a long rambling statement, readers must also be aware of your potential personal interest. Us, Joe public, definitely need to be aware that your arguments and stance are either free from bias and are being made at arms length of the players involved or a declaration to the opposite.

      Joe public is then in a position to assess your arguments and analysis accordingly

      That aside I have some simple questions for yourself and Juana (the Koromas). Truth indeed be told, but why should Maada be the one welcoming Kandeh into SLPP?

      Is that not a subtle provocation intended to time-line an action (or series of actions even) that is nothing to do with him? Do you honestly believe there was goodwill in that welcome?

      I would imagine Maada should be getting on with his campaigning and not meddle into the affairs of his adversaries be it KYK, AKK, AK or indeed the rest of the alphabet.

  6. Mr. Editor notwithstanding your decision not to further engage in this piece of my response but its worth noting to remind you again that I still, like many other readers of your write-up totally disagree with your claim that Maada Bio’s comment was provocative and a vicious attack on Yumkellah’s credibility.

    Of course it was an attack on his credibility like many other statements from well meaning people in the last 8 months had posted on the media.

    I certainly agree with you that the Chairman/Leader and the Secretary General are the official spoke persons of our party but not with standing if I may repeat myself again ‘Remember, the Chairman and Leader including the National Secretary General of the SLPP have no right to confirm just like that the membership of anyone (new or old) without cross checking with the National Treasurer’s record’.

    So also it should interest you that before any official statement is put into the public domain by any of these officials, it has to be vetted by other responsible members of that office before it is published.

  7. Mr. Mohamed Koroma:

    Quick questions! Who is the Spokesman of the SLPP? Is it Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie or Juana Koroma? And are you in anyway related to Juana Koroma? Please be honest with me. Thank you.

  8. Mr Koroma, please note that the Sierra Leone Telegraph is not and does not take part in popularity contest, nor are we in the pockets of any political party or individual. Hence we say it like we see it – like it or not.

    As you quite rightly state in your comment, its called freedom of speech. And by choosing to publish your rants, we have respected and protected your right to free speech, which several other Newspapers would not have tolerated.

    Please go back and read our article again and note this: ” Buried deep within the subtle nuances of a press statement released today, 8th January 2016, by the Julius Maada Bio Media and Communications Team, titled: “Welcoming Dr. Kandeh Yumkella to the SLPP family”, is the continuing provocative narrative that speaks of Yumkella’s ‘un-bona fide’ membership of the SLPP party,” which you yourself have confirmed.

    By repeating what Bio’s statement was implying – that Yumkella was a bogus member of the SLPP, contrary to the official statement made by the party secretary general and chairman, you should appreciate why the Sierra Leone Telegraph and many readers would conclude that Bio’s statement not only calls Yumkella’s credibility into question, but is a vicious campaign to keep Yumkella out of the flagbearer race.

    The Sierra Leone Telegraph is committed to ensuring fair play by all political parties in Sierra Leone, in electing their presidential candidates without chicanery, intimidation or otherwise. We want to see a level playing field for all candidates irrespective of tribe, religion or regional origin.

    I hope this clarifies our position. Please note that we will not be replying to any further comments on this issue, so please remain civil in your comments. Thank you.

  9. Having read through your post Mr. Editor, I find myself in a totally confused state of mind as to what you really want us (the readers – of this fine Newspaper) to understand and perhaps share with you in belief that the alleged statement/comments by Maada Bio and his communication team before and after the registration of Kandeh Yumkellah (as posted by yourself) to all account amounts to a ‘vicious attack on Kandeh Yumkella’.

    I am confused for the simple reason that I frankly could not find any word or sentence in the alleged statement by either Maada Bio or his communication team that is an attack on Kandeh Yumkellah. I stand to be corrected by other readers of this your post.

    In the first place, all that I read from the statements by Maada Bio referred above are true of Kandeh Yumkellah. Indeed Kandeh Yumkellah was a bogus member of the SLPP until he regularised his registration at the party offices in Freetown yesterday, 7th January 2016.

    The exercise in the North on the day in question was a formal registration of Kandeh Yumkellah in his district of his birth. It was not an upgrade. Let us get this clear. One can only upgrade his/her membership with an organisation if he/she had had one. This is not the case in this matter.

    For you as the Editor of this Newspaper to misguidedly make such a sweeping statement blindly accusing Maada Bio and his communication team to have viciously attacked Kandeh Yumkellah by the statements you had posted here as your argument to substantiate you comment is unfortunate.

    This brought me to a very disappointing tasteless stage of my reading of your paper. But as we all know, freedom of speech is on the move. It is your own right but remember like I said before, there are many other readers to this newspaper who have the right to enter into their own individual judgement of your comments vis-a-vis the comments/statements of Maada Bio and his communication team as posted by you.

    With respect to the statement by the Kandeh Yumkellah Communication team in response to Maada’s statement, I honestly find so many issues in that statement that I cannot waste my time to discuss its details.

    The National Executive Council will deal with it as they meet tomorrow. But what struck my eye most strange is that of the National Treasurer’s responsibility as prescribed in the SLPP constitution that the Yumkellah communication team seems to challenge. Well, I should expect that from this team. The lady is just doing her job. Whether anyone likes it or not she was voted or elected to carry out the task.

    Her position with respect to registration of members of this party is sacrosanct. She is the custodian of the party’s finances and records. She is also the keeper of the party’s membership database. I need not further into this. She once said she had never received money representing membership in respect of Kandeh Yumkellah as far as her record was concerned. This was crossed checked and confirmed. So the Yumkellah’s communication team needs to read and understand the SLPP constitution.

    Remember, the Chairman and Leader including the National Secretary General of the SLPP have no right to confirm just like that the membership of anyone (new or old) without cross checking with the National Treasurer’s record. Issuing of the SLPP membership card of any level goes thru many hands before the membership card is finally issued to the potential member. From the application to the Director of Admin to the treasurer for payment to the clerk to prepare the Card to the National Treasurer to verify to the Admin for various signatories etc. Just a hint.

  10. Truth be told, the reply laced with insinuation and insults from the KKY communication team is not expected.

    If Bio had said he will congratulate Dr. Yumkella the day his registration as a party member is recognized by all and sundry, and he has indeed kept to his words, I cannot fathom why the KKY communication team will go besmirch to insult Bio, Dr. Abass Bundu and other party members they view as not buying their candidate?

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