Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 July 2017
After last week’s tirade of abuse and violence from extremist sections of the opposition SLPP, pressure is growing for the former UN executive – Dr. Kandeh Yumekella to leave the party and join the national coalition of progressive politicians that is now emerging in Sierra Leone to defeat the failed APC government of president Koroma in 2018.
Speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph yesterday, a source close to Dr. Yumkella (Photo), said that the former UN international development expert has reached his tether with extremist supporters of Maada Bio, who are determined to seize power by all means at their disposal.
Since his decision two years ago to actively participate in helping to uplift the SLPP from the path of decay and self-destruction, Yumkella has faced constant barrage of abuse and intimidation from those who regard Maada Bio as their ordained leader and candidate for the country’s presidency.
Maada Bio is a retired Brigadier in the country’s military and a former junta leader, who along with a group of junior soldiers toppled an elected government in 1992, in a coup that led to the execution of dozens of people, a decision majority of voters in Sierra Leone today regard as a serious abuse of human rights and a political baggage for Maada Bio who should never be trusted with power.
Bio later joined the SLPP and became the party’s leader, and went on to contest the 2012 presidential election, which he lost massively with just over 30% share of the votes – mostly from his tribal southern region of the country. He failed to win a single sit in the northern half of the country and in the capital – Freetown.
Although Bio (Photo) was soundly rejected by the people of Sierra Leone in his bid to become president through the ballot box rather than the barrel of the gun – because of what many regard as his poor human rights record, he is refusing to step back and allow progressives within the SLPP to lead them to victory in 2018.
Last week’s violence at the SLPP party office, which saw competing factions within the Maada Bio camp fighting each other for power and control of the SLPP, marked another awfully new low for the retired Brigadier.
This continuing thuggery and lawlessness, coupled with the constant abuse of the party’s constitution, have pushed progressives within the party – who are now saying that ‘enough is enough’ to begin to question their place in the party as well as their conscience. “It is time to leave” – they say.
Sierra Leone, more than ever, desperately needs a government of national unity that encompasses the best brains and politically committed individuals the country can offer, from across the political divide.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph believes that by bringing together progressives from the ruling APC, the opposition SLPP, PMDC, PDP and other political parties, it is possible to establish a national coalition that will take Sierra Leone out of abject poverty.
Neither the APC nor the SLPP has so far proven that as an institution, they have the capacity or capability to take on this massive task.
Sierra Leone ‘needs strong institutions – not strong men’, if it is to rise up and take its deserving and rightful place among the growing but small number of African countries that are now on the path of national renaissance and development, such as Rwanda.
Sierra Leone’s problems are bigger than any one single political party. It is time that the people of Sierra Leone are given the opportunity to try something new and different from the way politics and national development have so far been conducted and pursued – with painful results – poverty and early deaths.
Sierra Leone needs a government of National Unity that can come up with a sustainable and workable National Development Plan that prioritises the provision of electricity, water supply, job creation, housing, education and healthcare – a national development plan that musters the support of everyone in the country and ALL political parties, with the support of the World Bank, IMF, DFID and the rest of the international community.
It can be done and must be done. Sierra Leoneans can no longer afford the painful luxury of single track party politics. No single party has what it takes to lead and drive the change needed in the country.
The power of real change, which requires expertise, skills and experience, lies in the hands of the many – not the few and powerful in either APC or SLPP, but across all of the political parties.
The people of Sierra Leone are now expecting the likes of Kandeh Yumkella, Jonathan Tengbe, Andrew Keili, Alie Kabba – for the SLPP; Joseph Franklyn Kamara (Attorney General), Sylvia Blyden and Kelfala Marah of the ruling APC; Francis Charles Margai – PMDC; Mohamed Kamaraimba – PDP; and all other patriotic and progressive thinking political leaders to search their individual conscience for God and country, and make up their minds about what is important for Sierra Leone.
There can never be the continuation of ‘business as usual’ in Sierra Leone politics. There is too much at stake. Too many Sierra Leoneans are dying unnecessarily because of poor governance, poor leadership, and poor decision-making at the highest levels of government. Only a government of national unity can put this to right in 2018.
After 56 years of independence, it is time for change. Sierra Leoneans want something NEW for the sake of the present and next generation of impoverished children, the majority of whom will die before their 50th birthday.
And this weekend’s Bye-election which saw victory for an independent candidate and a rejection of the old, is a clear sign of how much people’s attitudes towards the established political parties – APC and SLPP are changing.
People have had enough of the painfully tribalistic, inept and corrupt ways of doing politics in the country. Its time to change.
Will Kandeh Yumkella and other progressives within the SLPP and the ruling APC, leave the discomfort of their political armchairs, to form a new National Coalition Movement that has a chance of defeating the Koroma led government at the polls next year?
A few days ago, Alfred Sam Foray (Photo) – a former spokesman of the Sierra Leone Civil Defence Force, which helped the Tejan Kabbah led SLPP government to combat the RUF menace, wrote an open letter to Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, urging him to leave the SLPP party and pursue his political ambition elsewhere. This is what he told Yumkella:
My Dearest Brother
As you well know a letter such as this would have been relayed to you in private with the full assurance of confidentiality, but time and circumstance have a way of dictating matters outside our normal channels.
As the Wise King Solomon well observed in his much recited treatise in the Book of Ecclesiastes; “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
And if I may humbly add to King Solomon’s wisdom, there is time to ponder thoughts – to borrow from our dear Pastor Andrew Keili – and a time to decide. This is the time to refrain, to give up, to throw away, to tear apart and to speak.
The time for embracing imaginary friends is over. The time to search for non-existent unity within the Sierra Leone Peoples Party is over. The time to keep what Milton Margai, Albert Margai, Kandeh Bureh, Ella Koblo Gulama and Bai Shebro Yumkella sought to have and to hold, to love and to cherish until death do us part is over. It is time for a new beginning; the dawn of a new era.
“The night is long that never finds the day”. In short, it is time to move on. To seize the day and the moment – or as you CKC boys would say, Carpe Diem. And if I may be as bold (and cold) as Jesus Christ Himself, “Let the dead bury their dead”.
There is a Mende proverb that says Nimi nimi a lo kalei maloh bi kula. Roughly translated, you must quit sucking on the bone while there is still some sweetness left in it rather than wait for the bitterness that follows. This has been a long journey on what we call in America a cul-de-sac. Literally, the bottom of the sack.
A dead end street with only one way in one way out meant primarily to keep outsiders (those foreign to the area, call them kenyemui sia), those who do not belong there from driving through the neighborhood. It is the city version of the Trump wall.
We are all painfully aware of several instances where you would have crashed face first into this Trump wall, but for the grace of Almighty God. There was the much ado about nothing concerning you not being a registered member of the SLPP. Or not having ever voted in Sierra Leone.
Then there was that dreadful day when an honorable woman, Hadja Bintu Yumkella (your mother), was physically assaulted at the party office in Freetown, spat upon and her hijab rudely removed from her head by thugs later identified as belonging to Brig.-Gen. (Retd) Julius Maada Bio.
And then lately, there were, as we later found out, plans under way to expel you and your supporters from the party had the recent Appeals Court ruling gone against you. And speaking of the court ruling itself, the Sierra Leone Court of Appeals only asked that votes in 39 disputed constituencies be recounted.
The court never said anything about lower level elections. But true to their calling (mis-calling), the illegally constituted National Executive Council comprising of the former Deputy Chairman of the party, Dr. Prince Harding, decided to begin the re-count at sectional, chiefdom and District levels contrary to the court’s instructions.
It is such flagrant and reckless disregard for the judiciary of our country and the blatant violations of the SLPP constitution that has brought the once noble and admirable party of Sir Milton Margai and others to a marginal Opposition party and a laughing stock of our national body-politic.
That’s why so many of us are saying, enough is enough. Quit while you are still ahead of the game. Even Jesus saw fit to warn His disciples:
“I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you…But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and remove even the dust off your feet as a warning to them that treacherous days are ahead..”
It is time to bid fare well Unity House with malice towards no one. It is time to seek peace elsewhere with people of like mind for the betterment of the nation. Much work needs to be done between now and the proposed elections time in March 2018.
In the past few days, we have heard about serious physical confrontations between supporters of the two main contenders for the chairmanship of the SLPP – Mr. Manyeh and Dr. Harding. There is very little precious time left to be wasted on such intra-party squabbles that seem to have no end.
The energy of those who have invested in your “Hope, Opportunity and Transformation” – in your plans to transform Sierra Leone from a beggar nation to a more prosperous one – cannot be squandered on endless battles within the SLPP.
Again, King Solomon and Andrew Keili: “There is a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time build and a time to tear down, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. Please ponder my thoughts.”