Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 March 2018:
Today, Alhaji Dr Kandeh Yumkella – the Presidential Candidate for the National Grand Coalition (NGC) party, addressed the people of Sierra Leone, especially the 174,031 people who voted for him and his party last Wednesday.
Yumkella polled 6.9% of all the votes counted to come third, notwithstanding the fact that his NGC party has only been in existence for less than six months, and amid reports of serious electoral malpractice by both the APC and opposition SLPP.
And now, the Sierra Leone Telegraph can report that he is poised to become the king-maker in a run-off election battle, between the ruling APC party’s Samura Kamara and the SLPP’s – Julius Maada Bio. Both will go head to head on the 27th of March 2018.
It is not yet clear which of the two parties Yumkella will be supporting at the run-off. But today, he assured his supporters and the country that his party will play a part at the run-off.
This is what he said today in a video broadcast:
“I feel honoured to address all Sierra Leoneans for participating in the elections that we just concluded. I want to thank my supporters and the supporters of the NGC, for their gallant participation in these elections.
I want to take this opportunity as well to thank all our colleagues from the diaspora, for their continued support to our party, and also for a number of them who took the time to come home to participate; not only in terms of voting, but also served as agents in some of the locations and also in the communities, continuing to canvas support for the party.
The elections results have been announced. We as the National Grand Coalition, have taken note of the results. In the interest of peace and security of the country, we have taken note and we are still reviewing the results, in the light of the significant number of irregularities observed from the RRF forms, and also from our own investigations across the country, about the various voting malpractices.
We in the NGC believe in peace and stability of our country, our beloved Sierra Leone, want to implore all our supporters that they should remain calm. They should believe in democracy and democratic processes; and remain calm until we in the leadership review these results and give our own pronouncement as to what we believe about the credibility of our electoral system.
We must address that issue, because it is not only the NGC that pointed out significant numbers of irregularities. It is good for the country, because these are the first set of elections we have tried to conduct 100% by Sierra Leoneans.
It will be a good lesson for us to learn what we did well, but also what we did not do well, otherwise, we will institutionalise these irregularities which will always affect the outcomes of our elections.
Going forward, concerning the run-off, the National Grand Coalition has sent out teams across the country to consult with our key stakeholders. They will complete that exercise in the next few days, and we will make a formal statement on our position with regards to the run-off.
I take this opportunity again to reaffirm what we in the NGC stand for. We participated in these elections with a clear message; one of which was to end corruption and the leakages in our system; two, we advocated for the basic needs of the common man – better education, clean water, good health care and yes, jobs for the youth and our support to women and the physically challenged persons in our society.
We also advocated for an inclusive, free and just society. Justice matters, and if people’s votes were denied, if people are forced to be in penury and poverty, that is injustice. And so yes, we will continue that quest.
In fact, we have received the opportunity to really continue the struggle for the voiceless and that struggle will never stop. The NGC, whatever our position, will be in the run-off.
The NGC is here to stay. We will reorganise ourselves; we will expand our support base; and ensure that yes, we are ready for whatever elections will be coming in the next few years.
We have won some parliamentary seats. We will use that as a platform for the voiceless, to ensure that those value systems that we advocated for, that we campaigned on, will continue to be the fundamental pillars of our democracy in Sierra Leone.
So, I want to thank all of you again, for supporting the National Grand Coalition, ‘Alluta Continua’. We will continue to fight for a free, just and inclusive society, where everybody is treated fairly. But also, as we have always said, you cannot have peace without justice, you cannot have development without peace.
We will continue to fight for the voiceless in our country, and we will continue to ensure that at least for the next few years, there will be accountability in governance.
I thank you very much. It was a great personal honour and privilege for me to participate in these elections; and we proved that a third force can make a difference; that we can change the narrative; and that today yes, there will be a constant platform in this country that will speak for the voiceless; that will speak out against corruption; that will hold people accountable; and yes will ensure that our democracy works the way it should.
United we stand – we stand united. You touch one, you touch all. We wey dae suffer, nar we boku. We wey wan bette, we wey wan go school, en wae wan bette for dis contri – nar we boku. Una keep the faith. Thank you very much. God bless Sierra Leone. God bless you.”
Watch the speech here:
I commend Dr. Yumkella for putting up a great political fight for our country. I believe, like many Sierra Leoneans, this formidable fight has just begun and will continue for a long time.
Meanwhile, as a respectable third runner united with SLPP and C4C in removing APC from power, I implore him to unite now with SLPP to do just that. I hope his stakeholders and all supporters will encourage him in this endeavor.
Whatever Dr. Yumkella does in this situation, will make or break Sierra Leone as far as the development momentum goes. This is a time when he should decide under whose leadership his development ideas will best feel at home.
And from his vantage point in Parliament, he will be able have a bird’s-eye view of the implementation of his ‘agenda for change and progress’ by either of the parties, particularly with regards to official corruption.
So, he is sitting pretty. He has also served as minister of Trade and Industry which gives him a clear picture on how to develop and grow small-scale industries that will create employment for a lot of youths. And if he outwardly leans the wrong way, his reputation and judgement, as well as his political party, will suffer.
I know some of his party colleagues will want him to declare with one of the two parties so as to be able to get jobs when that party wins. But this is short-sighted. They may be given jobs initially but they may also lose these jobs on a whim.
And so if I were him, I would stay neutral and be happy to be in parliament to be able to critique and criticize the government and to help shape legislation that will work for everybody, including the average Momodu.
Does that mean he conceded?
Fatmata, he neither conceded nor claimed victory for his presidential bid. He, however, claimed victory for winning parliamentary seats, from which he will continue to advocate and recommend fight against injustice; corruption in the voting system and elsewhere, poor education, joblessness, voicelessness.
Nevertheless, while he did not use the word “concede,” it’s clear by the NEC result that his party will not be contending in the runoff, although he disagrees with the said result citing irregularities. Against this backdrop, we should look forward to seeing more of his political activities beyond 2018 as, according to him, his party reorganizes and expands its support base. I personally look forward to seeing him shake Sierra Leone’s political system into a formidable checks and balance to enhance our democratic practices.