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Sierra Leone: The WRONG Way To Campaign For Kandeh Yumkella

January 27, 2015 By Sankara Kamara

EYES ON THE PRESIDENCY ... Dr. Kandeh Yumkella

EYES ON THE PRESIDENCY … Dr. Kandeh Yumke

In almost every politically conscious country, presidential contests are marked by the crafting of campaign messages and the advocacy of political values. Ebola-plagued and listless, Sierra Leone can be likened to an abused patient in an emergency room, gasping for life while her politicians compete for supremacy. As a result of that oddity, the 2017 presidential contest has already generated more enthusiasm than the remorselessly efficient Ebola virus in the country. As an entrant in that mournful drama, Kandeh Yumkella has made enough informal moves, to at least signal his intention to become the next president of Sierra Leone. Buoyed on the Internet by an army of campaigners, Kandeh Yumkella has unofficially begun the campaign, hence his tacit approval of the media blitzkrieg commenced in his name.

There is, however, something noticeably lacking in Kandeh Yumkella’s campaign. While Kandeh Yumkella may be fit for the presidency, his campaigners have, so far, failed to tell Sierra Leoneans why the man should be entrusted with the presidency of our country. The ONLY thing Kandeh Yumkella’s campaign has done so far, is saturate the Internet with pictorial images advertising the man as a senior, United Nations employee. Apart from their readiness to be pictorially extravagant on the Internet, Yumkella’s supporters have not told us HOW a UN career would make their man, a better president.

At its core, the presidency—especially in a newborn democracy like Sierra Leone—requires a candidate with applaudable qualities and virtues. When it comes to democratic principles like   accountability, the United Nations cannot pass muster. If Kandeh Yumkella is as politically conscious as he is supposed to be, he would know that a UN career is too questionable to be used as a main talking point, in a presidential contest. Over the years, the UN’s image has been sullied by so many embarrassing allegations of corruption and inefficiency, that the organization needs to rehabilitate its international image. As a public relations move, Yumkella should rely more on his professed values and political vision, and less, on his UN career.

In a democratic and politically conscious society, a presidential candidate who invokes his previous status as a UN bureaucrat, could inflict a public relations disaster, on himself.  Beset by allegations of corruption, child sexual abuse in its peacekeeping missions, and a perceptible lack of accountability, the UN should NOT be used as a synonym for responsible leadership. In politics, perception is reality. When the UN was enmeshed in the Iraqi “oil for food” scandal several years ago, the organization emerged with a disquietingly stained image. Energized by charges of bribery and villainous cover-ups, the “oil for food” scandal solidified the perception that the UN bureaucracy is deceitful and incompetent. I am not arguing that all UN bureaucrats are venal and inept. The point I am making is that the UN’s image has been tarnished by so many administrative improprieties, that a presidential candidate from that organization is better advised to arm himself with messages based on personal values.

Established after the bloodiest conflict in human history, the UN was designed to promote human rights and facilitate the peaceful settlement of international disputes. Rendered ineffective by a bloated bureaucracy, the UN has informally forsaken the democratic ideals of accountability and diplomatic suavity, which prompted the organization’s birth in 1945.  Since its creation, almost seventy years ago, the UN has absorbed a series of scandals, likening the organization—in the eyes of its critics—to a horribly-governed “Banana republic.” Wastefulness, a sterile bureaucracy, lack of accountability and the use of cronyism to employ its upper-echelon workers, are some of the vices associated with the United Nations. Needless to say, these malpractices are the same vices responsible for the destruction of Sierra Leone. Kandeh Yumkella cannot look at any politically conscious Sierra Leonean in the face and argue that his status as a senior United Nations employee is what will make him a better president of Sierra Leone. Such a stillborn argument can be dismissed by any enlightened Sierra Leonean.

Kandeh Yumkella has enough time to remould and advertise himself as an embodiment of the qualities Sierra Leoneans need to see in a president. Integrity, a deep but judicious amount of nationalism, intelligence, practicality, prescience, and commitment to social justice as a norm, are some of the virtues we need at State House, in Freetown. Despite the noble intentions behind its creation, the United Nations, or the careers of its functionaries, cannot be realistically used to justify a man’s claim to the presidency, of a country in distress. A successful career at the UN means Kandeh Yumkella may have influential friends within the international system. While that component could be helpful, the essentials of leadership, especially in a broken-down country like Sierra Leone, require more useful hallmarks. The UN is so perceptibly wasteful and unaccountable, that no conscious Sierra Leonean would vote for Kandeh Yumkella based purely on his tenure at that organization. If I ever decide to support Kandeh Yumkella, my support will not be based on the man’s “dazzling” career at the UN. I am too politically conscious to fall for such a facile stunt.

Displaying pictures of Kandeh Yumkella and the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, will NOT impress politically conscious Sierra Leoneans. If it happens, my support for Kandeh Yumkella will be based on his political values, the extent of his political consciousness and, of course, his perceived ability to govern that mindlessly molested country, Sierra Leone. If he really means business, Kandeh Yumkella needs to take off that United Nations apparel, and tell us why he should be given the highest office in our weeping country.

Sankara Kamara is a Sierra Leonean academic, writer and political analyst.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The views expressed here are purely those of the author, and do not represent the position of Concord Times.

  • Haroun Boima

    I really like the piece. I hope we all take it to heart, see it as an objective piece, and digest the fact that leadership is not shrouded on accolades. May God give us the best man for Salone.

  • Farook Abdul – karim sesay

    Erudition and lucidly cogent points stick out when one glean Sankara Kamara ‘s argument. However, the academic failed to realise that what he so aptly paints as “politically conscious Sierra Leoneans “, are in a negligible, fractional minority. And, that the thrust of the crux here is that Sierra Leonean electorates are susceptibility bamboozled by faux pas and faux internationalism from whose suspect premise , their craters and apologists, can get and way with political jiggerish- Scotland free. The sticky point here – is not the talking points that Yumkella campaigners should be accenting- but the usual suspect: “the ignorant and illiterate, poorly informed and easily dazzled disproportionate voting majority!” Once Yumkella’s band of merry men can circumspect that fractional intelligentsia and wand savvy, political savant posse- they will be home and dry! However, Sankara Kamara, I wholesomely applaud ur Insight and incisive thrust at what SHOULD – instead of what Is – when addressing and searching for the loincloth from which a president should be cut out of. Alas, we are eaons away from such perspectival notions and emotional intelligence esprit de corps when choosing the man/woman who should land the top slot! God bless you, sir!

  • Winston Forde

    I entirely agree with the thrust of this well expressed piece. However, it only touches on one part of the problem. If Dr. Kandeh Yumkell can show he was a misfit in that rotten organisation, and demonstrate those personal and leadership qualities we require in our next President, the fact that he has worked within such an International organisation, especially if he held such portfolios with responsibilities that would hold him in good stead as the leader of a country then that will be a bonus.
    My sadness is that we do not seem to have a politician with seasoned practical experience of our local national politics and the many trying circumstances of our people whom he would have to govern, who is preferably in active service at present that would graduate into this most important job of the State. Governance should not be packaged in from elsewhere, and it smirks of a sense of a lack of self respect that our people should automatically think that an individual who has been an employee of an International organisation with no mandate to govern any country who could not be bothered to enter politics in any other capacity except arrogantly for the top job is the best if only man for the job. However, we are where we are, and Yumkella must tell the people about his leadership qualities and skills and his assessment of the needs of the country and his programme for taking us forwards. We run a party system and cabinet form of government so he needs to tell us about his team. Yes, the level of illiteracy is worryingly high in the country, but people are not as uninformed and stupid as one may be led to believe

  • Lansana Bampaleo Koroma

    Why Yumkella should be entrusted the presidency of our beloved
    country Mama Salone.

    Answer. THIS IS WHY:

    Alhaji Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (born July 5, 1959) is a Sierra Leonean Agricultural
    economist, and the former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and
    the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for
    All. He is also the chief executive
    officer of the
    Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. He is a former Chairman of UN-Energy and
    a two-term former Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

    Born in Kambia District in Northern Sierra leone, Yumkella has
    a B.Sc. from Njala University; a B.Sc. from the Cornell University;
    and a Ph.D. in Agricultural
    economics from the University of
    Illinois.

    In
    December 2005, Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella was appointed Director-General of the
    United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), having previously
    worked in various high-level policy positions in UNIDO. He was re-appointed for
    a second four-year term in office in December 2009.

    Prior
    to working for UNIDO, Yumkella was the Minister for Trade, Industry of Sierra
    Leone from 1994-1995. From 1987-1996, he held various academic positions at Michigan State
    University and the University of Illinois in the United States. In recognition of his
    leadership and his passion for energy and environment-related causes, Yumkella
    was appointed as Chair of UN-Energy in 2008 by the UN Secretary-General.

    Yumkella
    is a prominent public speaker, who addresses global issues,
    including poverty reduction, climate change[2], the Millennium
    Development Goals, [3] and [4] green
    industry and renewable energy [5]. Dr. Yumkella’s opinion pieces have
    appeared in major international newspapers, including The New York Times,
    the International
    Herald Tribune [6], and The Guardian.
    He has also appeared on several international broadcast networks, includingCNN’s Amanpour programme, BBC, Sky News, Aljazeera and CNBC.

    Career[edit]

    In December 2005, Dr. Kandeh K.
    Yumkella was appointed Director-General of the United Nations Industrial
    Development Organization (UNIDO), having previously worked in various
    high-level policy positions in UNIDO. He was re-appointed for a second
    four-year term in office in December 2009.

    Prior to working for UNIDO, Yumkella
    was the Minister for Trade, Industry of Sierra Leone from 1994-1995. From
    1987-1996, he held various academic positions at Michigan State University and
    the University of Illinois.

    In recognition of his leadership and
    his passion for energy and environment-related causes, Yumkella was appointed
    as Chair of UN-Energy in 2008 by the UN Secretary-General. UN-Energy brings
    together all the UN organizations dealing with energy issues. As its Chairman,
    Yumkella brought a renewed and vital focus to global energy issues and he
    helped to coordinate the UN response to energy issues.

    In September 2011, Yumkella was
    appointed by the UN Secretary-General as Co-Chair of the High-level Group on
    Sustainable Energy for All. This followed a decision by the UN General Assembly
    to designate 2012 as the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All. As
    Co-Chair of this High-level Group, Yumkella helps to guide the initiative aimed
    at highlighting the need for universal access to energy, as well as increased
    energy efficiency and enhanced deployment of renewable sources of energy.

    Yumkella was a Member of the Rio+20
    Principals Group, which played a crucial role in the preparations for the 2012
    UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Since 2008, he has also been an
    active member of the UN Development Group, which helps to set and coordinate
    the global development priorities of the United Nations. Under his leadership
    as Director-General, UNIDO has maintained a role as the largest provider of
    trade-related technical assistance to developing countries in the UN system.

    In September 2012, Secretary-General
    Ban Ki-moon appointed Yumkella as Special Representative for the Sustainable
    Energy for All Initiative.

    Minister
    for Trade, Industry and State Enterprises of Sierra Leone[edit]

    As
    Minister for Trade, Industry and State Enterprises, he successfully promoted
    market reforms and signed Sierra Leone’s accession to the African Regional
    Standards Organization(ARSO)and launched initiatives to promote private sector
    development, establishment of public-private sector partnership and dialogue
    mechanisms.

    He
    organized consultative processes between the government and the private sector
    for discussing constraints and obstacles to private sector growth with support
    from UNIDO, International Trade Center(ITC), African Project Development
    Facility (APDF) and UNDP Regional Bureau For Africa (UNDP/RBA).

    As
    co-chair of the Public Enterprise Reform and Divestiture Commission(the
    privatization commission), supervised an internal review of the privatization
    council), supervised an internal review of the privatization program and
    promoted local awareness-building and domestic private sector participation in
    the program.

    He also
    served as a member of the ministerial-level structural adjustment monitoring committee
    which provided oversight on policy reforms dealing with rationalization of the
    civil service workforce, judicial reform, petroleum product pricing and
    monetization of the rice subsidy.

    Tenure at
    UNIDO[edit]

    Yumkella
    has worked in different high-level policy positions in UNIDO, including as
    Special Adviser to two previous Directors-General and as Representative and
    Director of the first UNIDO Regional Office in Nigeria [7]. He is the first from Sub-Saharan Africa
    to have been appointed to the position. In December 2005, Yumkella was
    appointed as Director-General of UNIDO, and in December 2009 he was reconfirmed
    for a second term in office.

    Under
    his leadership, UNIDO was at the forefront in providing solutions to many of
    the challenges the global community faces today: poverty,jobs, wealth creation
    and climate change. at UNIDO he gained a reputation for being an effective
    organizer who implemented policies and projects with impressive drive and
    focus, thus producing results of great and resplendent caliber. Under his
    administration UNIDO experienced an unprecedented level of growth in its programmes
    and has maintained a role as the largest trade-related technical assistance to
    developing countries in the United Nations System. this assistance has enabled
    many developing countries to produce and export goods meeting international
    standards.

    Dr
    Yumkella has extensive specialized executive and advisory experience in program
    formulation, management and implementation of funds mobilization in fields such
    as private sector development, public-private sector dialogue and partnerships,
    small and medium enterprises(SMEs), support systems, capacity-building in
    industry and business associations, trade capacity-building, agro-industry and
    rural development.

    He also
    facilitated high-level policy dialogue, consensus-building. advocacy and
    diplomatic negotiations at conferences of Heads of State, including the African
    Union, the Conference of African Ministers of Industry (CAMI) and United
    Nations global conferences.

    Dr
    Yumkella is a strong believer that the most effective way to fight poverty is
    to strengthen the productive capacities of countries and peoples. he has
    advocated for pro-poor sustainable industrial and agribusiness development as a
    means of wealth and job creation and the economic empowerment of the poor. Dr
    Yumkella is a firm believer in the linkage between “energy poverty”
    and “income poverty” in developing countries, and promotes the use of
    renewable energy to improve the productive capacities and welfare of rural
    communities.

    UN-Energy[edit]

    In June
    2009, Yumkella was appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to
    chair a new Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change. The members of the
    Group, comprising international experts, industry leaders and United Nations
    system representatives, advise on energy issues critical to the new global
    climate change deal and beyond.

    Yumkella
    is the Chairman of UN-Energy, a United Nations system
    coordination body dealing with energy-related issues.

    He is
    also a member of the China Council of International Cooperation on Environment
    and Development (CCICED) which Kandeh Yumkella is a prominent public speaker, who addresses global issues,
    including poverty reduction, climate change [8], the Millennium
    Development Goals, as well those related to Africa [9]and the developing world [10] in
    general, green industry and renewable energy [11].

    Dr.
    Yumkella’s opinion pieces have appeared in major international newspapers, including The New York Times,
    the International
    Herald Tribune [12], and The Guardian.

    He has
    also appeared on several international broadcast networks, including CNN’s Amanpour programme, BBC, Sky News, Aljazeera and CNBC.consists
    of senior Chinese officials and international experts and advises top Chinese
    Government officials on environment and development.

  • dcritical

    It is very disappointing to read some of these comments. We still have a long way to go in terms of constructing simple sentences.

  • OLATUNJI OLANIYI NELSON

    I am a Nigerian, walking the history lane Sierra Leone and Nigeria, has got a lot in common, from our heritage, to our ways of life, our names, the bond that we share as Africans. Now is the time we need a bridge builder, the scourge,that almost raveged all this aforementioned, the test of our will to stay alive and afloat, rather than allowing our troubles and worries to deprive us of being that choice destination worthy of emulation. Before we start castigating ourselves have we tought of restoring our national image and pride.. what happened to the Forabay College, the birth place of elitist movement in Africa. None of the comments said earlier by other contributors seems bad, we just had to identify what we want, first as African, afterwards, as Leonians. Nigeria was at the brink of collapse, the people decided, and they voted for the change we needed, now is here and we are at peace. be proud of yourself as S/Leonian and vote for the change you need.

  • AbdulHamid Adiamoh

    I hope Sierra Leone does not miss the amazing opportunity of electing Kandeh Yumkella as its next president. He is an intelligent man with proven leadership capabilities. A president like KKY will raise SL’s international profile several notches higher and especially help attract significant investment interest in SL.