Forget Dr Ernest Koroma – where is Dr Yumkella?

Abdulai Mansaray: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 August 2018:

When Chief Kandeh Yumkella launched his National Grand Coalition party in Sierra Leone, it was done with all the fanfare that he could muster. There is no doubt that he was seen by many as the new kid on the block.

But more importantly, he was so vociferous in his opposition to the APC, that many came to see him as the “Second coming”. He was lauded in some quarters as the Sierra Leone Obama, thanks to his message of hope.

Unlike other politicians, and thanks to his vast experience from working with The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), he was adept at diagnosing the common ills that have paralysed our country.

With his vast experience, he promoted the awareness of Sierra Leone’s potential.

As an agricultural economist, later turned politician, the former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, Yumkella was able to identify a lot of untapped resources in our country.

Yumkella who is widely considered by many as one of Africa’s most inspiring speakers and one who never missed an opportunity to address the continent’s problems, received a lot of congratulatory messages from world leaders and from the continent congratulating him on his successful tenure at UNIDO and for the services he put at Africa’s disposal and for making every African proud.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame once told Yumkella, “You make us proud each and every day the name Yumkella is mentioned. Africa is proud of you and we are all Sierra Leoneans”.

With such a powerful dossier and resume behind him, it was not surprising that Yumkella was viewed by many as the answer to Sierra Leone’s economic woes.

Although he spent most of his time with UNIDO outside Sierra Leone, many believe that his finger prints were all over some of the development projects like the Gbankasoka and Bumbuna hydro projects.

It was therefore not surprising that his audacity of hope was well received by many who believed that if he were to become president of the nation, tangible changes would be realised; thanks to the notion that “a chick that would grow into a cock is spotted the very day it is hatched”.

Such was the confidence in him that he soon became a household name; so much so that he became the “main threat” to the APC’s hegemony. The election results proved otherwise.

In spite of the above, there were those who believed that his rise to prominence was a false dawn.

Many did not believe that he would last the whole nine yards, and that his party will fizzle out immediately after the general elections. The jury is still out.

But we saw how the APC became so jittery about his threat that they were ready to rejig the constitution on dual nationality, allegedly to nullify his candidature.

In their bid to do so, the APC inadvertently cut their nose to spite their face, by disqualifying their very own candidates with dual nationalities from contesting the elections.

In the midst of all this, C4C and the SLPP, who were regarded as less threatening, operated under the radar and were left to garner grassroots support across the country – radar proof.

Fast forward to the campaign season and Yumkella became the “main opposition”; well in the eyes of the APC party. He coined phrases like “Rankanomics”, “Put Salone Fos”, etc.

During his maiden speech to launch his National Grand coalition (NGC) party, he said that “Democracy has been choked, suffocated, stifled and rendered meaningless in the SLPP and to some extent in our nation. Politics has been reduced to corruption and kleptocracy by oligarchs and has now become a zero sum game: it’s either all or nothing. Cabals justify that it is the turn of this group or that ethnic agglomeration to eat or have access to the national treasury. Indeed the motto of the KKY Movement is “Country First” which means we put the interest, welfare and prosperity of our people at the center of our campaign. (Sierra Leone Telegraph 03/07/2017).

With the first round of the elections ending in a run off, he was vilified by many for not forming a coalition with any of the two major parties, APC or SLPP. That would have been a coalition of coalition anyway.

Many described him as selfish, egoistical and powered drunk.  Some saw him as an all or nothing guy. But on the other hand, he gained more respect from those who saw him as a man of principles and who stood by his principles.

In an excerpt from the speech that he delivered at a Town Hall Meeting in London, on September 23, 2016, Yumkella talked about institutionalized leakages, a bankrupt economy, economic growth, fiscal indiscipline, our debt, exchange rate, and the nation’s current account balance etc.

As a way forward, Yumkella called for a “grand coalition of progressives”, and that “It is time for us to come together to discuss ways of salvaging the economy and alleviating the suffering of our people.” (Thesierraleonetelegraph.com/05/10/2016).

To all intents and purposes, is this not what the Governance Transition Team (GTT) report is about?

If you look at the issues raised in Yumkella’s speech that he delivered in 2016, two years before SLPP came to power, you’ll be forgiven to conclude that both parties were classmates. But why is Yumkella silent on the same issues that he professed to fight against?

If he was so passionate about the country and at a time when the country is at such cross roads, why has Yumkella been conspicuous by his silence? Or is it because the fight against corruption has been spear headed by the SLPP and not him? Does that give credence to the allegations by his detractors, that he is egoistical?

This is no attempt to question his patriotic credentials but there is a lot to be desired by his deafening silence. With all that has gone before, and considering that our country is on an economic life support machine, there are many who would expect Yumkella to add his voice to the clarion call to drain the swamp of corruption.

There are even some APC members who would want to help in the recovery process. I know, you are thinking that I am asking foxes to vote for the welfare of chickens, or turkeys to celebrate Christmas. Don’t underestimate the power of politics to make Peter deny Christ

Dr. Yumkella should know that it is not criminal or treasonable to side with opposition parties; especially when the interest of the country is at stake. It will not in any way diminish the relevance of his party.

In the interest of the country, all political parties, including the much maligned, rightly or wrongly APC party should come together in the interest of the country.

For the first time in the country, many people were looking forward to a vibrant parliament, thanks to the number of opposition parties.

Irrespective of our political persuasions, we should all support good people who want to do something for our society. When deeds speak, words are nothing.

In the interest of the country, many would like to see opposition as true friendship.

Considering that the GTT report appears to entail most of what Yumkella had been saying during his campaign, his silence on the matter may be construed as him not wanting to set sail on SLPP’s star; and that could be unhelpful for our democracy.

Dr. Yumkella, don’t be a Sierra Leonean because you were born in Sierra Leone, but because Sierra Leone was born in you. It’s time to prove it.

There are those who may think that Dr. Yumkella does not know where he is going with his politics, but any road will take him there. Our country is at crossroads at the moment. The Bio government should invite all well-meaning Sierra Leoneans, irrespective of their political persuasions or loyalties to participate in this recovery process.

This should be a government of inclusion for all well-meaning citizens.  If we can’t turn the wind, we should turn the sail. By the way, we know that the recent price increase in fuel is beyond the control of the government.

The rippling effects have been felt in every sphere of life, as prices have taken astronomical hikes. Is there any chance of the Bio government keeping an eye on price control?

There are a lot of unscrupulous people who are taking advantage of this situation, hiking prices and blaming it on the New Direction. The New Direction is blaming it on the APC. But can we continue to blame the mirror because our face is ugly?

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter (M. L. King).

10 Comments

  1. KKY is unlikely to comment on efforts by the SLPP government to address the issue of corruption. Losing the election or shall I say coming third was a huge shock to him and his supporters. Intelligence suggests that he privately wished APC to win the re-run election.

    That would have given his NGC Party sufficient time to strengthen its infrastructure and with APC heaping more hardship on the population, and the SLPP continuing to be an ineffective and corrupt opposition, his party would win the 2023 election.

    KKY and some of his executives may have voted for Dr Samura at the re-run. His reference to the SLPP Government as a junta government summarised his continuing discontent for a party he believed he should have been the right heir to the throne.

    His attempts to impose himself through very carefully sophisticated methods failed. Maada and other SLPP executives saw through him. Is KKY a true patriot of his country? His rhetoric of put salone fos was never genuine

  2. This piece is somewhat unjustifiably nagging at Hon Yumkellah for adopting what I may say is a position of observation, like quite a number of citizens, as cases of corruption filed against the previous government unfold.

    The piece tends to be biased as the author’s analysis falls short of objective view, and rather inaccurate. The disposition of Dr Yumkellah in fighting against corruption in our governance system cannot be underestimated.

    Honourable Yumkella has repeatedly offered himself in the well of parliament and had reiterated his willingness to partner with this government if they are to tackle corruption seriously, in our governance system. He clearly asserted that he would be the first to join the government in the fight. Therefore, Honourable Yumkellah is not inhibited in this fight.

    • Sound observation. Unfortunately, when Yumkella came on the scene, many related to him as one of the few that will put his head above the parapet. What some of us are saying is that, he appears to be inconspicuous in this fight; especially against his initial stand against corruption; his political hallmark.

      If you check his speech in 2016, you would be forgiven to conclude that his speech is almost a replica of the GTT report. Some of us just want to hear more from him. Nothing else. Thanks Nthorma for the enlightenment. keep the spirit alight bro.

  3. Thanks Mr Jalloh for some clarification. KKY used to occupy a bigger scene than 98.1 fm. If you read my previous articles on kky, you may get a gist of why I feel slightly frustrated. He doesn’t need to be in either camp. He needs to take a higher moral ground, and seize the moment.

    Because of his lukewarm presence, and against the backdrop of a seemingly power vacuum in the APC, there are already Chinese whispers about a vacancy, he might be interested in. I don’t trade in gossip but sometimes, these can take a life of their own.

    But thanks again. Sadly, I don’t belong to any political party. I am a democrat and support Sierra Leone – like you do. Keep it up. I will download the 98.1 app soon.

    • Mr sandy, if only you remove the twig from your eyes, and read the piece once again thoroughly, you will see clearly why you should not feel sad about the sentence that talks about tribalism and tribal war in my “opinion piece”.

      Actually, I was painting a picture of how vengeance will ruin our country through tribal sentiment if the government fails to get everything straight in the fight against corruption.

      Remember that APC has already started calling it a witch-hunt due to the misguided/or failure to follow parliamentary procedures in the setup of the ACC Commissioner. We all want to see corruption curbed out of our country but we want it to be done in an accurate, transparent way.

      The previous APC administration tackled corruption only 40% in my opinion. We sure need someone to champion it to 99.9.9% if not 100%.

      Doing so requires transparent and robust procedures, fair for all (Salone people) to see. What do you think is going to happen if such a thing does not happen, and APC assumes power?

      Well, Brother Sandy, the answer to that question is really what got KKY concerned, and decided to come out criticizing the process.

      Because, he does not want a tit-for-tat situation in Sierra Leone’s fragile democracy where the North would be pitching against the South and East.

      And the majority of Sierra Leoneans do not want that either. Would you please join us in condemning such a process, and call for a reset of the whole process with fair and transparent act in place, for the betterment of the “LAND THAT WE LOVE?”

  4. I’m pretty sure, KKY is little bit jittery over the current administration’s will to fighting corruption, especially with regards to the GTT report.

    In my opinion, I believe Yumkella’s ideology of “put salone fos” runs in parallel to the GTT report. But unlike the GTT report, KKY sees the other way round in fighting corruption in Sierra Leone.

    The current administration of the anti corruption commission was in the first place marred by flaws, chaos, improper procedures and was questionable from the onset.

    KKY doesn’t see himself and his ideology well fitted into that theory or narrative. As a result, his silence is no surprise.
    So,the author’s piece highlighting questions of Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella’s silence and, not supporting the current administration in fighting corruption in Sierra Leone in general, and help uplift the country’s economy in particular, is actually well misunderstood.

    Until a real new direction etiquette is put in Place, KKY will continue to remain silent and pursue his real ideology of ‘put salone fos’ to avoid vengeance that will cause tribal chaos in the country’s future administrative policies/governance…

    • Did you know that “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter” Mr Jalloh?. What we are asking is for KKY to be part of the discussion. Sometimes, staying neutral can be seen as indecisve, just like staying silent when it matters to be vocal.

      Evil triumphs because good people refuse to do anything. No one is asking KKY to support SLPP. This is a national interest issue and KKY can serve as referee to see that justice is done and seen to be done. He can also help to minimize any excesses of the ruling government should that happen.

      Please refer to the last sentence in this article by Martin Luther King. Love the alternative opinion. That’s what we need for our country to progress. keep it coming.

    • I’m pretty sure you are unaware of KKY’s interview on 98.1 some months ago, where he vehemently condemned the process of the ACC set up.

      My view here is not to pinpoint or highlight or even throw support for a candidate, neither show a candidate choice of support, nor asking for one.

      All I am doing is showing reasons why KKY goes quiet…that does not mean he is just sitting there like an idiot who does not know what to do. Nope! He sure knows exactly what is at stake. And as a responsible member of parliament, he has made himself clear about the current situation.

      Those who heard him at the time know exactly what he said and what his stance is, in the country’s current fight against corruption. This has nothing to do with Martin Luther king Jr’s quotation.

      Trust me brother, the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone is actually welcome by us all, except for those sycophants who want to see Mama Salone go to the drains. As a patriot, I just want the process to be fair and transparent…period!

  5. The problem in Sierra Leone politics is that since independence, its citizens by ancestors not by birth. If anyone wants to rule Sierra Leone, believe me you have to belong to either APC or SLPP. To become a candidate of the APC party you must come from the north, likewise SLPP from the south.

    This is our democracy in a civilised world. Tribalism, religion, and also racism. So the problem is not only with APC, but Sierra Leone as a whole. So lets be aware and respect our democracy. God bless Sierra Leone.

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