Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 June 2016
As the opposition SLPP prepares for its forthcoming 2018 presidential candidacy election, presidential hopeful – Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella has taken his message of ‘hope, opportunity and transformation (HOT)’ to the northern and eastern districts of Sierra Leone.
This marathon tour followed his recent series of town hall meetings across southern Sierra Leone in December 2015, culminating in the homecoming visit of his Kambia district in January 2016.
Throughout all of those town hall meetings, Yumkella engaged with local people to understand their needs. He explained how as president of Sierra Leone he would fulfill their hopes and aspirations.
Yumkella, who many political pundits have marked as a strong favourite to win the SLPP 2018 presidential candidacy election, took to the high road across the north and east of Sierra Leone, immediately after returning from the 2016 African Utility Week Industry Awards in Cape Town, South Africa, where he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Meeting people from all walks of life in various communities, Yumkella is not only seeking to win the trust and confidence of the people of Sierra Leone, but demonstrating and assuring them of his intention to represent the interest of all Sierra Leoneans, irrespective of tribal, regional, religious and political differences.
His marathon tour started on the 25th of May, 2016, in the heartland of the ruling APC party – Koinadugu district, where Yumkella visited local schools and saw first-hand the chronically under-funded and over-crowded conditions in which the nation’s future generations are being forced to learn.
Quality and standards of education in Koinadugu are suffering, and this is borne out by the poor and worsening outcomes for pupils and their development.
“Lack of equal opportunity to good standard of education is seriously affecting the nation’s competitiveness and prosperity. Every child matters,” says Yumkella.
At the Ahmadiyya Muslim Secondary School in Kabala, Yumkella outlined his vision for a better education system and plans to raise standards, as well as extend opportunity to every child.
In Koinadugu, Yumkella also visited the local market, and saw the challenges that ordinary families face every day, coping with rampant hyper-inflation, which has seen the value of the Leone in continuous decline and trading at $1 to Le6,500.
He listened to women describing the hardship they face feeding their families, as the cost of basic essentials continue to rise alarmingly, at a pace that outstrips their income.
Yumkella noted that women’s empowerment was critical to the development of Sierra Leone.
“He was positively received in Koinadugu, demonstrating his strong appeal over Julius Maada Bio and every other aspiring flagbearer; not only mounting a strong electoral fight for the presidency, but to win in the APC heartland in the north of Sierra Leone,” a senior member of the KKY Campaign Team told the Sierra Leone Telegraph.
Yumkella went to Kono District, where he met with all 14 Paramount Chiefs of the district, key stakeholders and members of the SLPP at the party’s office.
What has now become a common feature of Yumkella’s nationwide tour is his active engagement of local youths and participation in early morning runs to promote healthy lifestyle, rather than use those vulnerable youths as political mercenaries to perpetuate violence and commit murder.
In Kono, he met with local school children, and addressed a town hall meeting where he set out his vision for Sierra Leone, and the values that drives his passion for wanting to lead the country to prosperity.
Yumkella spoke about how he will respond to the challenges facing the country, if elected president.
He articulated the need to put strong institutional arrangements in place, that will hold public officials accountable and deal with endemic graft, which the current government has demonstrated, lacking the ability and willingness to address.
Visiting Bombali District, the home of president Ernest Bai Koroma, Yumkella was rapturously received by local people, including youths, who represent a significant segment of the country’s electorate.
Draped in green and white, many of those who came out to meet and greet Yumkella also wore t-shirts with the slogan – “Our Hope, Our Future”.
Yumkella received a grand welcome in Masingbi Chiefdom and Makeni City, where he met with key SLPP stakeholders and Paramount chiefs. He addressed party members and executives at a gathering in the SLPP office in Makeni.
A senior member of the KKY Campaign Team concluded: “The tour was a huge success and now position Yumkella as the pre-eminent flagbearer aspirant. His message of Hope, Opportunity and Transformation continues to resonate with people across the country. His tour continues in Kenema and Kailahun districts.”