Anthony Kamara: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 02 February 2018
Kandeh Yumkella is fighting against the disenfranchisement of the Diaspora and future generations. He received provisional nomination certificate as National Grand Coalition (NGC) candidate for Member of Parliament representing Constituency 62 on January 20, 2018, and then Abu Bakarr Sankoh – ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) candidate filed an objection against Dr. Yumkella’s nomination on the same day.
But the National Elections Office (Kambia District) Returning Officer upheld Dr. Kandeh Yumkella’s provisional nomination on grounds of insufficient evidence on January 24, 2018. The District Returning Officer informed Mr. Sankoh of his right to appeal the decision at the National Electoral Commission Headquarter Office in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) office in Kambia District, rejected the objection filed against Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella by Mr. Abu Bakarr Sankoh and upheld his provisional nomination as a candidate for constituency 62 parliamentary elections under the National Grand Coalition (NGC) party.
Mr. Sankoh, the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) candidate for the same Constituency 62 had filed an objection on January 20, 2018 immediately following Dr. Yumkella’s nomination noting that:
“Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella with voter identification card number 2282101 is a dual citizen of the Republic of Sierra Leone and the United States of America in violation of section 76(1a) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No 6 of 1991 and the Public Elections (Act No 4) of 2012.
“Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella with voter identification card number 2282101 said openly on the 18th Day of January 2018 in a Press Conference that he holds a dual citizenship and that he has renounced same.”
In his decision following a hearing, District Returning Officer, Umaru Fomba, noted that “Having looked at the objection before me and with reference to both sections 76 (1a) and 63 (Act No.4) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone and the Public Elections Act of 2012 respectively, I have considered the explanations submitted in support of the objection and I have concluded that the evidence is insufficient to reverse the provisional nomination of Yumkella Kandeh Kolleh.”
According to Yumkella, “NEC deserves enough credit for recognizing the deadly Machiavellian and discriminatory tactics of the Koroma APC and his caboodle.”
What is very clear to all is that if the objection was upheld it would have disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Diasporans who registered to vote now and in the future. As a result, Yumkella and the NGC are bravely standing up to the APC to ensure the rights of so many are protected including the Diaspora.
For Yumkella, “the NGC is fighting a bigger battle of protecting the rights of Sierra Leoneans abroad and their descendants as well as fighting for a better life for home-based Sierra Leoneans – a life full of Hope, Opportunity and Transformation.” The question on the lips of many, particularly in the Diaspora, is how can President Koroma and the APC be so ungrateful to the Diaspora when they benefited from the support of the Diaspora?
“The objection itself was politically motivated by the ruling APC government, who out of desperation and outright trepidation want to disenfranchise our flag bearer despite the threat that may have both to our young democracy and the stability of the state,” said Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie, NGC National Campaign Manager.
Sierra Leoneans across the political spectrum, in and outside the country, have noted overwhelmingly that since Yumkella’s return home to join national politics, the ruling APC government has consistently worked to ensure he does not emerge as flag-bearer for any party.
It was an open secret that prior to resigning from the moribund opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), the same ruling APC supported efforts by Yumkella’s opponent in the SLPP to deny him of the flag-bearer position.
As presidential nominee for the NGC, their gimmicks continue only that this time their new tactics is to try and deny Yumkella the nomination with frivolous accusations that he holds dual citizenship while wilfully and intentionally spreading false rumours that he will be disqualified from running as a candidate for parliament and for the Presidency of Sierra Leone.
“The Ernest Koroma led APC government has clearly shown how impulsive they have become at the great prospect of the NGC winning the 2018 elections,” Yumkella said in a recent press conference.
Speaking from abroad where he is meeting with Heads of States, Yumkella, further noted that “with God continually on our side, we will beat the APC at all times. We will fear no one and nothing as we seek to change Sierra Leone from a cabal that is deeply corrupt and is convinced that they must hold on to power by any means.”
At the Kambia Lorry Park where some SLPP and APC stalwarts watched as jubilant NGC supporters gathered after a loud ride through the city, Abdulai Kanu, a member of the APC said, “it is sad that my party is playing all these gimmicks to stop this guy. It is so foolish of them to say the man who we all know is a Kambia native is not a citizen of Sierra Leone.”
Martha Kargbo, who confirms her affiliation with the SLPP at the same park said, “I feel so sorry for him now that he is going through all these struggles. In fact, I am happy he did not come here today to waste his time. NEC has shown that they are poised to be free, fair and transparent in the process of doing their job of conducting these elections.”
The views expressed by Martha and Abdulai are consistent with what many Sierra Leoneans openly say about Kandeh Yumkella’s presence in Sierra Leone politics and his widespread support in the country across the board.
Sierra Leoneans abroad are also very active in alerting the international community about Sierra Leone’s fragile democracy that they invested in and how the ruling APC government will stop at nothing to derail it. The Diaspora contribute through their remittances, over USD 250 million a year to Sierra Leone’s economy as much as all the donor money put together.
Following the loss, the APC party plans to appeal the NEC decision at their headquarters office in Freetown. “The APC can file anywhere they want and continue to embarrass themselves. As a party, not only will we not be distracted from our main goal, we have the resources to match the APC and beat them at their games. They have never seen anything like the NGC and are simply afraid that their days are numbered,” stated Dr. Julius Spencer, NGC Spokesman.
Since his arrival back home, Yumkella promised to change the political narrative. Persistent efforts by the APC government to get him excluded from the 2018 electoral process confirms he is already achieving what he set out to do and Sierra Leoneans agree “ Time For Change” has indeed come.