By S. A. Grass-Sessay (Ph.D. Fellow)
Apolitical Sierra Leonean
As the ‘dust’ of successive incidents of Saturday (28th January 2023) and Wednesday (1st February 2023) within the National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party continues to settle, we are better placed to weigh-in on the purported leaked audio of Hon. Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella (KKY). Dr. Yumkella was the 2018 Presidential Flagbearer of the NGC Party. He is currently serving as the Parliamentary Leader of the said Party in the House of Parliament (HoP) of Sierra Leone.
With a supposed mandate from the National Delegate Conference of the NGC to pursue a strategic alliance with either of the two big political parties (i.e., SLPP and APC) of Sierra Leone, on Saturday 28th January what was supposedly meant to be a family meeting between Hon. Dr. Yumkella and the National Executive Committee (NCE) with the aim to discuss as like-minded individuals within the NGC seeking to forge a national unity government through strategic political alliance and partnership had an unfortunate fallout. As the adage in Sierra Leone says “tit en tong kin jam”, yet, no one expected the sudden disintegration of the harmony and goodwill that seemingly existed within the NGC. Sentiments during the January 28th meeting have since weighed differently as evidenced by the February 1st resignation of reputable Senior Executives from the NGC Party, and the following unjustified incendiary social media comments that were totally unacceptable on the character of Hon. Dr. Yumkella came as a shocking surprise to Sierra Leoneans across the world.
In my humble apolitical contribution and civic duty for a progress Sierra Leone, I hereby offer a preliminary assessment of what led to some parts of the recent events within the NGC Party, and perhaps more importantly, my assessment will help chart a path forward that would guide our beloved and competent brother KKY in his quest to make a difference in Sierra Leone (our country). For maximum clarity, I have itemized the stance from my initial assessment providing insight on the chosen theme for this article “ KKY and the ‘dust’ of January 28th “:
1. It is no secret that the leadership of the NGC Party has been talking to both the leadership of the APC through the Consortium of Progressive Political Parties (COPPP), and talks were also initiated with the SLPP ensuing the direct invitation by H. E. President Maada Bio engaging the leadership of NGC/ KKY directly. It is now apparent that the Executives of the NGC Party were divided on the basis of whether to forge an alliance with one or the other big two parties in Sierra Leone, (i.e., Sierra Leone People’s Party-SLPP, or with the All Peoples Congress-APC). This is understandable, as the very foundation of the NGC could hardly align with either political party given the profound differences in values and vision. Hence, the emergent divide within the NGC Party.
2. As recently as July of 2022, Hon. Dr. Yumkella lost his beloved wife, best friend, and personal confidante. While he has not shown any weakness, it is obvious that he is still in emotional pain. Soon after the burial rites of his late wife, he was back to work. Some would say he didn’t grant himself the space and time to mourn his beloved departed wife properly. In my view, he really needed to have taken a sabbatical leave from politics to mourn her passing. Unfortunately, the pain of losing his wife in my estimation took an emotional toll on him, hence, the outburst of anger during his meeting with the Executive of NGC. We ALL have at some point in our lives reacted to trivial issues with a heavy hand. It is only human for KKY’s emotions to get the better of him after a very tough period following the passing of his dear wife. His sacrifice nonetheless to continue public service is another sign of his patriotism and love for country above ALL.
My Advice to Hon. Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella (KKY)
1. As much as we are not privy to the level of engagement and agreement(s) emanating from discussions with APC through COPPP or President Bio of SLPP through KKY, one cannot give any private or public opinion on a political pathway. While some will argue that KKY should move cautiously with any plans to forge an alliance with the incumbent President Bio and his SLPP Party, others will argue that its the only option open to KKY and the NGC to govern. Others will opine that the incumbent Presidents (Bio’s) overtures toward KKY are genuine. Mindful of the fact that politics is an art of the possible, I would therefore advice KKY not to bank on any political promise, but make a decision with the country at heart and his commitment to continue public service.
2. As there is no monopoly of knowledge, KKY despite his imperative experience in global development work and his signatory contribution to the United Nations as former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and Founder-CEO of the UN Sustainable Energy for ALL (Se4ALL), he would need to have frank discussions with a close team of trusted individuals with impeccable character and leadership track records who will not divulge to the public the content of their discussions. While he will ultimately be a man of his mind at the end, he however needs to have alternative and objective views before making any further political moves or major pronouncements. As politics is not synonymous with leading in the United Nations. Meanwhile, he should conduct himself on the principle of the adage that ” silence is golden ”. He needs to remain silent until the ‘dust’ settles.
3. Financial and other contributions of everyone within any association, organization, and or political movement for that matter, are equally valuable and should be seen as people believing in the cause of the leader and his/her vision even if such contribution is considered meager relative to others. Put into context, KKYs purported outburst about comparative financial contributions to the NGC Party was borne out of total human exhaustion and the sheer frustration of bearing the elephants load of the cost of running the NGC over several years now. What KKY said in the purported leaked audio during his meeting with the Executives of the NGC should not have been uttered. While his statement was frankly unnecessary, it is unfortunate that the social medial reaction distorts and amplifies the intent of his message. The lesson learned is that we ALL should restrain from making controversial utterances at public meetings, as no one can stop recording and leaking of audio/video to the public in our era of social media frenzy when people are looking for opportunities to malign others’ character.
The Way forward after this much ado on KKY’s Political Brouhaha
1. The ‘dust will settle’ as we have seen politicians do worse than make mere statements and survive. We have seen politicians in our country engage in indecent acts/immoral conduct, and corruption/theft of public funds with no damming repercussions. So, the ‘dust’ causing haziness over KKY’s political life will subside over a relatively short time.
2. We can only wish KKY well to have the strength, as most people continue to see him as a man destined for the Presidency in the very near future if ONLY he does not give up. KKY should understand that entering politics requires the artistic mastery of scheming, deceiving, and scabbling with a mantle of thick skin to manage emotions. As much as some of us cannot adhere to these requirements, I remain apolitical on national issues, but very concerned about the well-being of the nation-state of Sierra Leone.
3. Ultimately, may KKY’s genuine intent to serve our country be vindicated, if it is the will of the Almighty. In my measurement of character, KKY is far better than most of our politicians, with the exception of a few from the two main political parties (SLPP and APC) although their pedigree has often been derailed because of partisan politics.
At this time when many are distancing themselves from a man who has the character and proven leadership ability to transform our country by building on the achievement of successive leaders, I stand with Hon. Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella as a person as I belong to no political party in Sierra Leone. Despite my apolitical stance, I have the onus to provide my insight on issues affecting the wellbeing of my country, and it is only humane to fight for a wo/man not only when life is convenient, but when it is difficult and messy as they seemingly are at this critical juncture in the political journey of Hon. Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella (KKY). I am hopeful that our country will unify after the campaign trail for upcoming elections and that our leaders will have the courage to form a government that is not defined in shades of green or red.