Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 August 2015
SLPP Presidential hopeful will this weekend arrive in Freetown, after spending almost two decades living and working abroad for the United Nations.
Yumkella has spent the last two months traversing the different continents, meeting supporters and well-wishers and listening to their worries, hopes and dreams for a better Sierra Leone, after resigning from his UN job to return home to help rebuild the country.
But Yumkella’s return to Sierra Leone is no ordinary homecoming. He is a man with a mission to build what he calls his ‘grand coalition’ for change.
And that mission starts with the SLPP party, whose internal politics and ability to provide a strong opposition to the woefully failing APC party, has been hijacked by party squabbles and self-interests.
Since 2011, when the party held its controversial presidential candidacy election, which resulted in the resignation and defection of some of its key players to the ruling APC, especially after losing the 2012 elections, it became riddled with dangerous obstacles that could go on to cost the party the 2018 elections.
The cracks that were opened up by the resignation of Charles Margai in 2006 to form an alliance with APC that took Ernest Koroma to State House in 2007 are still wide open.
When Charles left the SLPP, he took hundreds of thousands of SLPP members and supporters with him, and they have still not returned, despite the disintegration of Charles’s PMDC.
As party grandees of the SLPP bitterly discovered in 2012, their inability to cajole the return of the disaffected 200,000 supporters, suggests that the party can only poll 37% of popular votes in the country.
And the harsh reality it seems, is that without the return of the missing 200,000, and the party’s inability to take 20% of the votes in the north and 51% in Freetown and Kono, will keep SLPP out of office for several elections to come.
Although many in the party believe that the SLPP has a very good chance of winning the 2018 elections, analysts are doubtful. They say that nothing has changed within the SLPP since its awful defeat at the polls in 2012, to improve its chances of winning in 2018.
Financially, the SLPP is cash -strapped. It needs over $ 8 million to prepare for the 2018 elections. But, it is believed that the party has less than $200,000 in its coffers. If true, this is certain to cripple the party’s chances of regaining power at the polls.
Yumkella has told SLPP supporters worldwide, that he is the man who is capable of not only steadying the embattled ship and bringing order to the party, but also has what it takes to build the grand coalition that the party needs, if it is to win the 2018 elections.
Yumkella will take his message of optimism and hope to the executive officers of the SLPP next Monday.
Writing to Chairman Somano Kapen (Photo) this week on behalf of Yumkella, Foday Dabor, a senior executive of the KKY Movement, said: “Dr Kandeh Yumkella will be arriving in Freetown this week and will like to pay a courtesy call on the national executive of the SLPP at the party headquarters on Monday 24th August 2015 at 11.30am.
“As a member of the Sierra Leone People’s Party, he deems it fit to visit the SLPP headquarters and meet with his SLPP family. He would also want to replicate similar courtesy visits to all regional party offices. We hope this request will fit into your schedule.”
Chief Kapen replied: “We acknowledge with thanks the receipt of your letter dated 17th August 2015 and to confirm that the national officers have accepted to meet with Dr Kandeh Yumkella on Monday 24th August 2015 at 11.30am. We would also like to intimate you that the respective regional Chairmen have been informed with the proposed regional visit but advise that the itinerary of the visit be sent to them early.”
Yumkella’s mission of building his grand coalition starts next week. But if he is to succeed, he must speak with each of the leaders of the diverse factions within the party, and find the magical glue that will bind them together.
Will he succeed?
If people are willing to listen and analyse what Kandeh has to say, I think he will succeed. SLPP needs to turn a new page for the betterment of the party. They should not always stay in the past, but try to move to the future with new ideas.