Race for Kandeh Yumkella’s running mate – who will it be?

Anthony Kamara Jnr

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 December 2017

Many of us have witnessed the meteoric rise of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) over the past three months. To clinch victory, Kandeh Yumkella must campaign in every nook and cranny of the country.

His “Familiarization Tour” during the last week across six districts and fourteen chiefdoms was without a doubt, a success at all levels.

At all stops, he was mobbed by young and old, men and women, youths who welcomed him as Sierra Leone’s only hope for a better life for all. His message of “CHANGE” and “COUNTRY FOS” has caught fire in every part of the nation.

In fact, no party, even the ruling APC and the opposition SLPP can claim to have strongholds as they traditionally are known to be.  None, whatsoever! I saw it in Koinadugu, Falaba, Bo, Tonkolili and Bombali districts, and as recent as yesterday in Kono.

One hot question whispered by supporters in side meetings or sidelines of rallies is, who will be Kandeh Yumkella’s running mate?

In addition to his campaigning countrywide, his selection of a credible running mate is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT. If I were to suggest criteria for a running mate to him, I would propose three for the time being.

The key principle upon which this big decision rests is that the running mate MUST add significant value to the ticket. That value will be demonstrated by responses to the following questions.

Will the running mate (he or she) help KKY win? This is crucial because without winning, other considerations will NOT be relevant. Thus, the running mate MUST:

Firstly, show clear evidence that he or she has demonstrable potential to garner votes from key segments of the voter population. Such support can be based on region, demographics – such as youth, women or religion.

Secondly, they must be able to mobilize significant financial resources to support the elections.

I have heard many names floated around, and I have taken the liberty to list some of them below. Using the above criteria, who would the NGC supporters choose?

Female Category:

  1.  Yasmine Jusu-Sheriff-A prominent lawyer, human rights activist and gender advocate. She is Mende from Kenema.
  2. Zainab Hawa-Bangura-Former UN-Under-Secretary-General, two times minister and governance advocate. She is Temne and hails from Tonkolili District.
  3. Valnora Dove-Edwin- CEO of Campaign for Good Governance with strong support from the NGO community, women’s groups and international agencies. She is Krio from the Western Area.
  4. Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai- current Minority Leader who has been elected three times to parliament. She is also Vice President of the African Union Parliament and a Mende from Kenema.
  5. Hon. Helen Kuyembeh-current member of Parliament, former civil servant and a Mende From Bo.

Male Category:

  1.  Engineer Andrew Karmoh Keilie – Mining engineer, business man, and two-time presidential aspirant. He is Mende from Kailahun.
  2. Charles Francis Margai – outstanding lawyer, three times presidential candidate and leader of the PMDC party. He is Mende from Moyamba/Bonthe districts.
  3. Sam Sumana – former Vice President and business man. He is from Sandoh in the Kono district.
  4. Honourable Suahilo Koroma – a very popular young and dynamic member of parliament from Bo Town who some believe can match the APC choice of running mate.  He is a former staff at London Mining, He is from Bo/Pujehun districts.
  5. Honourable Francis Konowa – Business man and two-time elected member of parliament and section chief form Tongo – Field, in the Kenema District. He was also a one-term council member.
  6. Emerson Bockarie – popular Sierra Leone artist, a Mende and hails from Kenema.

Kandeh Yumkella –  a consummate strategist, must be weighing his options very carefully, including doing his SWOT analysis and quietly consulting stakeholders.

I wish him well and pray for him to receive the wisdom of Solomon. Alas, we have only 92 days to elections. So, as we wait in anticipation, who is your choice?

About the author

Anthony Kamara, Jnr writes for the Sierra Leone Telegraph from Freetown, Sierra Leone


  1. Yes am very confident that the above will leave SLPP for NGC. I believe the most qualified running mate for kandeh Yumkellah is Mr Andrew karmoh Keili. He is well experienced with policies ranging from Mining , Infrastructure and Energy. He has passion for development. I know him personally because I have worked for him. He is a true nationalist and not tribalist and will support a nationalistic agenda.

  2. Does this writer really believe that folks are ready to abandon their parties to become Kandeh Yumkella’s running mate? Why would Bernadette Lahai, Helen Kuyembeh, and Charles Margai, for example, want to quit their parties to be Yumkella’s running mate. Throughout Charles Margai’s political career, he has never hidden his ambition to become president of Sierra Leone.

    Why would he all of a sudden want to become someone else’s running mate? The NGC may be attractive to some but there are many Sierra Leoneans that are quite satisfied with where they are. My elder brother called me a month ago to inform me that he was joining the NGC. I wished him the best of luck. But I am not following him. I am happy with my present party.

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