A Dr. Kandeh Yumkella insider, speaking to COCORIOKO on strict anonymity , has told this newspaper that the former UN diplomat may have to quit the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party to form his own political party ahead of the forthcoming 2018 elections in Sierra Leone. The man , who strongly advised that his real name be not used, ruled out any possibility of Dr.Yumkella playing second fiddle to the SLPP “Pa-O-Pa” 2012 Presidential candidate, former dictator, Brig. Julius Maada Bio “or any of the jokers aspiring to lead the party “.
KANDEH YUMKELLA : IS HE UNWANTED IN THE SLPP ?
The informant stated that Dr. Yumkella is goaded by no other ambition beyond serving his motherland, but he confessed that his man was very disappointed with the shennenigans within the opposition SLPP, bordering on tribalism, hero worship and the politics of exclusion. The insider predicted a political cataclysm within the SLPP over the issue of a flagbearer for 2018 and warned that the opposition outfit was just about to hand victory on a silver platter to the ruling All People’s Congress ( APC ) in 2018, because, according to him, neither Mr. Bio nor Mr. John Benjamin or other contestants are capable of winning enough votes to unseat the APC.
The anonymous insider told Cocorioko that Dr. Yumkella was seriously displeased with the efforts by the SLPP to cast him as an interloper when , according to him, the prospective presidential candidate was born and bred in the SLPP, his father, the late Paramount Chief Bai Shebora Yumkella II of Samu Chiefdom , Kambia District, was one of the founding fathers of the SLPP. Seeming very agitated, the man asked : “What is this big deal about Dr. Yumkella having to show a genuine registration card ? What is so important about the registration card ? A card is just an ordinary paper. It shows nothing ! ! ! Dr. Yumkella is SLPP by birth .It is like asking a child of the late President Siaka Stevens to produce a card to show that he is APC. Total nonsense. ”
The angry insider also disclosed that some arch-tribalists within the SLPP are kicking against Dr. Yumkella’s candidacy because they are arguing that no ethnic Mende citizen had ever been President of Sierra Leone and therefore they will not allow another Northerner to be an SLPP President.
He believes that the registration is being used as an alibi by pro-Maada Bio partisans and those wielding the tribal card to disqualify Yumkella from being the SLPP flagbearer in 2018. If what this man told Cocorioko is true, the SLPP are about to commit a serious violation of the tenets of democracy. According to him, Yumkella will be told that he is a newly registered member and thus unqualified to be a flagbearer . The informant asked rhetorically where that condition is enshrined in the SLPP constitution.
But hardliners within the SLPP differ from this position held by supporters of Kandeh Yumkella. One Mohamed Bangura, writing in the social media, made the position of the party clear : “To join the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, (SLPP) all one must do is to register at the constituency level, the district level, the provincial level, or the national level. Nothing is said about heritage or inheritance of positions in the constitution, because everyone must work within the party to earn his or her record. While a family name will earn one the recognitom in a party, it takes your own personal hard work in a party to achieve a leadership position. The exception is sometimes relevant only in communist political perties. The (SLPP) is not a comunist party, therefore cannot meet your ( Kandeh Yumkella’s ) requirement”.
Dr. John Karimu, a leading member of the SLPP , also disagrees with the Yumkella stance and has in fact injected his own condition—Past sacrifice and contribution to the party. “My view on Dr Yumkella’s tribute to our late President Kabbah: While there is some merit in paying tribute to past heroes, I am more interested in Dr Yumkella and outlining in detail his own personal contributions and work for the party which his late dad contributed to establishing and building up. Making SLPP members aware of what he personally has contributed to the party may go a long way to helping him realize his ambition to be the fb of the party we are so proud of. It is bcos some of us so strongly believe in the SLPP that is why we have in the past and even NOW contributed so much of our hard earned money and valuable time to its survival. Anybody who requires an independent proof of my resource and other contributions to the SLPP can cross check with our former National Secretary General, J J Saffa…… Let our aspirants now focus on educating us about what they have done to demonstrate loyalty and commitment to the good old SLPP.”
The conflict between Dr. Kandeh Yumkella and the SLPP was exacerbated during a sensitization rally he organized in the United Kingdom last weekend .The rally has further divided cadres of the party and created more intra-party schisms with social media commentators claiming that SLPP UK /Ireland supporters shunned Dr. Yumkella, while others disputed the story. In fact, according to reports from independent witnesses, the rally was jampacked by SLPP faithfuls .
During that rally, Dr. Yumkella made the following cryptic statement :
“SLPP is not a party of exclusion. It is a party of inclusion. It gave you your national motto and it gave you independence. They built the unity house. They gave you the slogan ‘One country, one people’. So as I enter the political arena now, I say: Country first. But we live in an era where each party is becoming a party of exclusion. People like to exclude others. People are determined to intimidate others. People are determined to humiliate and abuse others. But we must say NO. And we must say …..HELL NO. We will resist – we will go back to the core values of inclusion, unity and justice. And that is what you – the SLPP Manchester Chapter have demonstrated today. ”
If Dr. Kandeh Yumkella leaves the SLPP , some supporters fear a repeat of the 2007 scenerio when Lawyer Charles Margai resigned to form the People’s Movement For Democratic Change ( PMDC ) ,which split the votes in the traditional SLPP strongholds and was one of the reasons for the defeat of the SLPP at the polls.
MEANWHILE, A SIERRA LEONE NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE TODAY :
A group, which styles itself as Kandeh Yumkela Core Supporters has condemned “the systematic marginalisation” of their”aresto”, candidate Kandeh Yumkela, in the affairs of the Sierra Leone’s Peoples party(SLPP).
In a statement signed by its Coordinator, Mr Gabrila Sesay, the group warned that any further ill-treatment of its leader, (Yumkela), might force its members to reconsider their place in the SLPP party.
The statement reads: “We, the entire membership and supporters of the KKY Movement have watched with great interest and disappointment, the unfolding events in our great party, the Sierra Leone’s Peoples party(SLPP), in recent times, and wish to condemn the systematic marginalisation of our Leader, Dr.Kandeh Yumkela, in the affairs of SLPP.
“The most recent in the long list of injustice and humiliation meted out to Dr Yumkela, a man who has given everything, be it funding, courage and visibility to our party, SLPP, even at the risk of making himself unpopular amongst his own kith and kin.
“It is quite obvious that Dr. Yumkela would be a better choice with promises of bringing in votes from the North plus other logistics support ever so needed in executing what promises to be a very herculean campaign to unseat the APC in 2018.
“But those intent on destroying our party and all the hard work already put in by selling out as usual to the APC, have closed their eyes to the reality on the ground and the huge advantages that Dr. Yumkela brings to the table.
“We are therefore calling on Madda Bio and the leadership of SLPP to stop this serial attack and insults on our Leader, Dr. Yumkela. We warn that those seeing SLPP as their personal property are gradually pushing us to the wall and we hope they understand the implications of the continuous shabby treatment of Dr. Yumkela and his numerous supporters.
“Let it be known that any further ill-treatment of our Leader, Dr. Yumkela, may force us to reconsider our place in the SLPP. We know where we came from to join SLPP and those who think we do not matter may just be in for a surprise. Enough is enough!”