Alan Luke – KKY (UK and Ireland) Communications Team
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 December 2015
As the night of the long knives descended on State House with the dismissal of several senior cabinet ministers, and fire raged at Electricity House, one would be forgiven to think that dark clouds perpetually hang over our beloved Mama Salone.
Ernest Koroma in a desperate attempt to bring an end to a gloomy year for the people of Sierra Leone has made changes to his ministerial line up.
Out go a bunch of incompetents, replaced with a new crop of questionable appointees and Johnnies come lately.
If this is an attempt to sure up the More Time agenda, it is destined to fail, because new appointees are more likely to be preoccupied with raiding their departmental budget allocations in the closing days of a moribund government, before GAME OVER is declared in 2017.
Thankfully, for the people of Sierra Leone, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it was shining brightly at the Family Kingdom entertainment centre in Aberdeen, Freetown, where a dinner and dance was organised to mark the culmination of a grueling but successful tour of the Western Area and Southern districts of Sierra Leone by the president in waiting – Kandeh Yumkella.
Yumkella’s tour has been a success, because the public reception for Yumkella in the Western Area – APC’s stronghold, and in Bo and Pujehun – Bio’s backyard, has been overwhelming.
Across the country, Yumkella’s homily of Hope, Opportunity and Transformation and securing economic growth and other developmental gains – post-Ebola, has resonated with the country’s youth, men and women who are desperate for genuine change.
The public response, which has not gone unnoticed by SLPP stakeholders, is shifting the balance of support of key players within the party towards Yumkella’s campaign.
These developments are causing seismic shocks within PAOPAville and in the corridors of power in State House.
Bio’s plans for a coronation as the 2017 flagbearer, by the use of threats of violence and intimidation and through his proxies in the short-lived and clandestine “Membership Verification Committee” has failed miserably; and so too has his botched attempt to use public funds to campaign under the guise of Ebola sensitisation.
Similarly, the APC through its politicisation of the country’s police force, sought to prevent Yumkella from campaigning, using emergency prohibition measures in force during the Ebola epidemic and their unwillingness to guarantee Yumkella’s safety, in their attempts to thwart his campaign and frustrate the desire and will of the people.
It is worth noting that both Bio and Koroma have profited from Ebola funds – the former through the Le350 million he allegedly received for the Ebola sensitisation campaign over the eve of the WHO declaration that Sierra Leone was Ebola free; and the latter, who is yet to explain how $14 million of Ebola funds that the government received remains unaccounted for.
It is not surprising that with so much in common, that Bio wasted no time in heaping praises on Koroma for his effective leadership of the country. (Photo: Koroma and Bio at State House).
Yumkella’s warmth, sincerity, common touch and deep personal interest in the welfare of the poor and vulnerable sections of our society, matched with his energy, evidenced in early morning runs with the youths of Sierra Leone, football matches, okada rides and well as visits to slum communities, villages and towns in the provinces and his understanding and acknowledgement of local customs, has resulted in chants of Yumkella Karr Kay (Yumkella Now Now!).
Key SLPP stakeholders supporting Yumkella during the tour and at the dinner, included the House of Representative Minority Leader, Honourable Bernadette Lahai; Honourable Rado Yokie; Honourable Konowa; Honorourable Kai-Samba; Honourable Momodu Koroma; Franklin Rogers; Ma Sandy; Pujehun District Chairman Sadique Sillah, and Madame Rita Savage – the Chairman of Bonthe District Council.
Yumkella’s campaign continues in the New Year with a tour of the North of Sierra Leone, considered to be APC heartlands.
Maada Bio’s entire strategy has been to hoodwink South Easterners into believing that he is the best placed person to address their aspirations and that doing so necessitates acts of violence underpinned by a South Eastern hegemonic polity.
Bio has no positive message for the youths, men and women in the north of the country, who share the same concerns as their marginalised fellow citizens, brothers and sisters in other parts of Sierra Leone.
Therefore, expect a huge response from our northern villages, towns and chiefdoms to the message of Hope, Opportunity and Transformation.
Kandeh’s mission is to secure economic and developmental gains for the people of Sierra Leone – post-Ebola, as well as to ensure that these gains are not monopolised by political elites, but are dispersed to poor and vulnerable communities across all Sierra Leone.
Kandeh Yumkella and his wife Philomena Yumkella extend best wishes, prosperity and peace to the people of Sierra Leone throughout 2016.
Dr. Yumkella’s successful campaign tour is bad news for the APC, the faltering incumbent President and his cabal of lieutenants.
This makes whispers of a planned extended tenure by the regime seem not only like a bad joke, but a shameful maneuvering that can bear no good fruits, particularly for a generation of informed and restless Sierra Leoneans bent on realizing economic growth and development for their homeland, buttressed on a platform of democracy and the rule of Law.
Santhkie, I slightly agree with you that the established structures and systems at the UN may have given Yumkella a strong foundation upon which he would have made good policy decisions with little room for failure.
But surely this does not mean that Yumkella cannot be credited for his success in steering not just UNIDO to success, but other UN initiatives that fell under his remit.
Excellent managers and leaders are not just good at working within the established systems, but are also good at using their initiative to innovate. They are also good at clearly laying out their vision and get others to buy into that vision.
I think the fact that Yumkella lasted that long at the UN, should be a testament to his leadership and managerial skills and qualities, which other candidates for the presidency must now demonstrate that they too possess, or even better.
You are quite right Santkie in suggesting that because Sierra Leone is a broken society where there are few structures and systems that work, Yumkella may struggle to perform as a leader in achieving his vision, compared to his leadership of the UN.
Assuming Yumkella is elected by the SLPP as their presidential candidate for 2017, and then by the people of Sierra Leone, I think the greatest challenge for Yumkella is whether he can firstly pull together that grand coalition he spoke about so eloquently, when he launched his presidential ambition in various cities across the world last year.
Secondly, can he get everyone in that coalition to buy into and wholeheartedly embrace his vision, without politically undermining efforts to deliver that vision?
Thirdly, will he be strong willed and committed enough to make the necessary sweeping personnel changes at the top of all government ministries and departments (get rid of the politically appointed dead woods), without making political compromises, especially with those he may have formed his coalition?
Sierra Leone needs sweeping changes across the public sector, if we are to begin to drive and deliver the national transformational change towards economic prosperity and social advancement by the year 2025.
I can easily see Yumkella being elected to the presidency and finds he is impotent to make those necessary structural and institutional changes needed in Sierra Leone, and then at the end of his two terms, we will be back where we started – looking for another messiah.
I do not distrust Yumkella, nor am I being a prophet of doom. But each time I look at the problems in Sierra Leone, I have to ask myself whether any single individual leader of the existing political parties – SLPP / APC can truly rise up to this challenge and succeed in transforming the country, without rocking the boat and upsetting the establishment – whom I regard as the biggest impediment to change and progress in the country.
I strongly believe that Sierra Leone needs a new kind of politics which the current 1991 constitution cannot provide, rather than relying too much on one person – the head of state.
After 54 years of independence, we should be functioning as a civilised and progressing society with or without a good president. Currently, nothing works without the president’s direct personal influence. This cannot be good for any society.
What we need is a constitution that promotes a new form of parliamentary and executive governance, with plenty of power, decision making and budgets devolved down to each of our regions to create jobs, provide healthcare, deliver education, water, electricity, road construction and promote local industries.
We need a shift towards building national coalition government – not necessarily government of national unity, but not too far off.
Can Yumkella or any of the aspiring presidential candidates for the presidency successfully deliver their visions and plans under the present system of governance, with all its antecedent weak structures and systems that Santhkie referred to in his earlier comment?
If not, how would they go about making this massive transformational change that Sierra Leone needs before 2020? Can they walk the talk?
Abdul Rashid Thomas
I somewhat tend to agree with Mohamed Koroma. By all accounts, Dr Yumkellah was a successful international civil servant with the U.N. However, we have to bear in mind that his activities were borne by a well structured system with checks and balances, where any deviation from the norm would be quickly detected and action taken immediately.
But how well structured is the entity called Sierra Leone ?
Casting Sir Milton Margai aside, I would like somebody to name me a single leader that we have had with a clean, disciplined record since independence in 1961.
To be continued.
So what is the point of your comments. Are we to accept this state of affairs; and is the suggestion therefore that Bio is more suitable a candidate because he has lorries loaded with skeletons?
Is this the perverse effect of our under development? Should we as a nation set our aspirations so low? Are you suggesting that we lack and are incapable of producing noble men and women who can lead our country, or is yours an excuse for the status quo?
Why keep us in suspense – please spell out your views in full.
Does Yumkella care for the poor and the needy in the past years.
Kandeh Yumkella’s track record over the past 30 years has been about ensuring that poor and vulnerable communities are empowered to improve their life chances. I would suggest you seek references from the UN.
Yumkella has championed many initiatives to alleviate poverty including in Sierra Leone. The reason Yumkella was unopposed during his second stint as Director General of UNIDO was because he made the organisation more focused, action oriented and dynamic in addressing development issues.
Furthermore, unlike Ernest Koroma who is trying to orchestrate ‘more time in office’ with little to show for it, and Julius Maada Bio who during his tenure in government and as Head of State, have and did nothing for the poor, but systematically embezzled state funds and also destroyed the very institutions which should protect the poor, Yumkella has an unblemished record.
Thank you Mr Luke for this detailed and interesting response to the allegations made about KKY by Mr Koroma.
Mr Koroma can you please post the evidence you have to support your allegations against KKY?
You are the only person that has made these serious allegations against KKY, and we the people of salone would like to know everything that needs to be known about our presidential candidates.
So please post your evidence in support of your allegations or otherwise you should consider apologising to KKY for your wrongful allegations about his past? What do you think?
Thank you sir
Mr. James Coker, while I do not intend to argue or rather discuss you on your assertion that ‘Kandeh Yumkella is the leader Sierra Leone has been waiting for..’ I would like you to tell us further, on what grounds your assertion is based.
I would like you to also explain further why you think Kandeh Yumkella is a good leader. Is it because he was working for the UN that makes him a good leader capable to rule a country?
Is it because of his awful record during his student days at the Njala University College where it is alleged he squandered a healthy sum of money from the then Student Union Account?
Is it because of his ugly record as trade and industry minister in the then NPRC government? Or Maybe the alarming controversy over his membership with the opposition SLPP demonstrates his good leadership qualities. I and the people of Sierra Leone are waiting to hear from you Sir.
Mr Mohamed Koroma
Happy New Year and hope you have a prosperous 2016. And as the author of this article, I will respond to your comments.
Kandeh Yumkella is the right person to lead Sierra Leone in 2016. He has the leadership skills, experience and qualifications to lead Sierra Leone at this critical time. He would bring to the Presidency of Sierra Leone, over 30 years experience including two terms as the Director General of UNIDO and as Special Representative of the UN Secretary General of Sustainable Energy for All.
In addition to his role at the UN, Dr Yumkella has an unblemished record as Minister of State for Trade and Industry in Sierra Leone between 1994 and 1995. You state that his record as Minister of Trade and Industry was “ugly”. But you have not offered any factual evidence to support your assertion. So perhaps you can point to the specific failure in your response.
During his time at UNIDO he had budgetary oversight in excess of $500m, and the disbursements of the UN funds to support projects across developed countries which were designed to empower and help poor and vulnerable communities address global economic challenges.
Furthermore, as a Special Representative on Sustainable Energy, he has been instrumental in providing global leadership and commitment to securing energy access for all. Lack of energy access is a critical issue affecting Sierra Leone’s development. For years, since I was a little boy growing up in Sierra Leone, successive governments have been working on the Bumbuna Hydroelectric project in Sierra Leone.
To date, the people of Sierra Leone are yet to realise any economic or social outcome from Bumbuna, and Sierra Leone remains one of the darkest countries on the face of the earth, and I am certain would be hard to identify from the International Space station.
In addition to the experience gained over 30 years dealing with the issues that affect poor countries like Sierra Leone, Yumkella poses the right qualifications and hence knowledge of the issues. He has a degree in Agriculture from Njala, University of Sierra Leone and an MSc Agriculture Economics degree from the prestigious Cornell University, as well as a PhD in Agriculture Economics from the University of Illinois.
Yumkella’s character is one of honesty, integrity and a sincere concern for the welfare of Sierra Leoneans. He intends to put in place institutional arrangements which would secure the required improvements in our polity and democracy, as well as ensuring that we can secure and sustain economic, social, political and technological gains, which we can pass on to future generations.
I note your allegation that during his time at Njala University College, it is alleged that he squandered a healthy sum of money from the then Student Union Account. You have not offered any evidence to support your allegations, nor have you quantified the sum of money involved, nor provided us with precise dates of the incident or his role within the student union at the time and whether or not he had access to the alleged account or if he was an authorised signatory to the account.
It would be useful, when making such malicious accusations that you provide the facts and corroboration of the facts.
Yumkella is also inclusive and what the article to which you have provided comment shows, is that he is capable of breaking down tribal, regional, religious and gender barriers. This is why thousands flocked to him in the Southern province and in the Western area, as they are doing in Kambia and as they will do in Port Loko, Koinadugu, Bombali and Tonkolili.
The poor and vulnerable are tired of the many false dawns, the corruption and industrial scale theft of public funds, the continuous erosion of our civil liberties through the sustained assault on the constitution of Sierra Leone (i.e. sacking of VP, More Time / Constitutional Review as cases in point), the absence of the rule of law and the collusion of the judiciary in Sierra Leone and sycophantic journalism, allowing the Executive to continue to wield the coercive power of the state, without any checks and balances, given also the irrelevance of the legislature.
I hope I have set out to you some of Yumkella’s credentials and why he is the right person for the Presidency of the Republic of Sierra Leone in 2018.
Now, let me turn to your allegations again, especially your reference to “the alarming controversy over his membership of the SLPP”.
I suspect that if you hold this view – you may be from within the PAOPA faction within the SLPP. So it would be useful for you to clarify in a further response the following:
1) In the light of the firm assertion by the Secretary General of the SLPP, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie and the National Chairman, Chief Somano Kapen, that Yumkella’s membership of the party is “bona fide” – why is his membership of the SLPP an “alarming controversy”?
Please explain, in the light of all the crises that Sierra Leone continues to lurch to and from (i.e. civil war, Ebola, environmental disaster, fire, poverty, poor educational outcomes, stratospherically high unemployment and joblessness, continued economic decline, degradation of women and young girls, among a litany of other ills and sins) – why is his confirmed membership an issue of such importance?
I would suggest to you, that you may either be few screws short for a functioning and alert mind or you are a direct beneficiary of the present state of affairs which benefits a few.
2) If you are a supporter of Julius Maada Bio – how does his record of unemployment since 1996 (when he has not been engaged in any meaningful endeavour – either in private enterprise or public service), equip him to lead Sierra Leone?
3) Why you are not concerned that a person who has not had a verifiable income stream in the same 30 year period, lodged in a UK social housing subsidised by UK tax payers and cuddles up with a corrupt APC government in exchange for cash, is better placed to lead Sierra Leone?
4) In response to your use of the term “ugly”, I have a few for you which aptly describes Julius Maada Bio – these include “sinister” and “macabre” to describe his complicity in the extra-judicial killing of 29 innocent people without trial, including a pregnant woman and a palm wine tapper.
I look forward to your response, when we would further discuss President Kabba’s statement that Bio prevailed upon his government in 1996, to handover $250,000 to a company – P Banga Holdings which he controlled, as well as the wholesale sale of Sierra Leone passports to organised crime, which incidentally, was one of the members of that clandestine “Membership Verification Committee” was a key player.
Happy New Year.
Sierra Leone urgently needs a new generation of patriotic leaders with enough enthusiasm, willingness and readiness to haul the nation on to world class economic growth.
Kandeh Yumkella is the leader Sierra Leone has been waiting for, for that forward march.
We need a mentality transformation. No qualms with generational change, but if the new generation has been brainwashed, no real change can be expected. Reference recent APC YOUTHS support for ‘more time’ for the president.
Do you think the youth, if given the opportunity will not prefer better education? An opportunity to have a stake in society? Determination for future and better leadership? Oh yes.
But they have been denied these rights in exchange for ‘cookery money’. Is this really the best we can provide for our YOUTHS? The future of our nation? Pathetic.