By Alhaji Haruna Sani
President Bio’s call on Hon. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkellah to return back to the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP) was one that has sparked debate by Sierra Leoneans, both at home and abroad. Most debaters have been suggesting different interpretations of the president’s action.
Last week President Julius Maada Bio visited the Northern district town of Kambia. It was his first visit since he became president in 2018.His purpose there was to coronate paramount chiefs who were elected from different chiefdoms across the country. But his visit was twisted to what many described as mere political campaign ahead of the 2023 elections.
President Bio’s action in Saamu was an awesome display of strategic politics which has the potential to win the hearts and minds of the vast majority of the numbers the NGC relies on.
It could be very hard for anyone to convince those masses in Saamu Chiefdom that what President’s Bio did was not genuine, but a mere appeal to pity, in other words, it was nothing order than a logical way of winning their hearts.
Many of the locals, especially the Susu ethnic group who showed their overwhelming support for KKY, will in 2018 elections consider President Bio’s extension of olive branch to their son and brother as enough reason for him to return to his party, the SLPP, which they have been supporting since 1996- the era of late President Kabba.
Perhaps they could even turn against KKY and his NGC party if he fails to positively consider President Bio’s call. President Bio may be very deliberate to do what he did and it is very obvious that the SLPP tactics could easily win the heart and souls of the people of Kitchom and beyond.
The president spent three days in the district and almost visited every chiefdom and constituency there. During his visit in the Saamu chiefdom, the home town of Hon. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkellah, he pleaded to the leader of the National Grand Coalition Party (NGC) Hon. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkellah to return to his party of origin- the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
President Bio presented a green cup containing some water and a white envelope to Hon. KKY as a sign of respect, calling on him to come back home.
Kandeh Kolleh Yumkellah was one of the front runners of the presidential candidacy of the SLPP in 2017 after his return from the United Nations where he served as undersecretary. But President Bio and his supporters were blamed for humiliating and ostracizing KKY to an extent of denying his membership status in the SLPP. Hence, KKY resigned from the SLPP and form his own party, the National Grand Coalition (NGC) in November 2017.
During the 2018 elections, the NGC led by Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkellah amassed nearly 200,000 votes and won the Kambia district council chairmanship, 4 parliamentary seat and a significant amount of the councilors in the district.
Since President Bio won the 2018 elections and became the president four years ago, he had never reached out to KKY until last week. Many have seen President Bio’s action as a mere political gimmick and an affront to the personality of Hon. KKY. Some claimed that after going through four years of maltreatment by SLPP in the house of parliament, it was a surprise to see the SLPP calling KKY to join them just because elections are close and that they wanted his numbers.
KKY has always accused the SLPP government led by President Bio of practising a ‘Jonta’ Democracy. He has always been complaining of being deprived of his privileges as leader of his political party in parliament, just because of his impartial attitude in the house.
Some purported that President Bio and his party only wanted to use KKY as a means to end instead of the political inclusion his supporters claim.
If KKY’s could convince his voters who are largely from the Kambia district to vote for the SLPP, President Bio’s re-election could be assured without much doubt.
Following President Bio’s logical move at the Saamu Chiefdom over the weekend, many Sierra Leoneans, especially supporters of the SLPP considered KKY returning to the SLPP a done deal. Some even claimed that what happened at Kitchom was stage managed. In other words, they claimed that KKY had had a prior arrangement and agreement with the SLPP leadership.
Chairman and Leader of the NGC, Dr. Dennis Bright issued a statement via social media denying the claim that NGC Parliamentary leader and former flag bearer, Hon. Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella has crossed or is on the verge of crossing over to join the ruling SLPP party.
He said as Chairman of NGC party, he would like the world to know that the rumour about KKY going back to the SLPP is not only far from the truth but is impossible.
He maintained that NGC have high values and principles that guide its actions and that they do not succumb to either baits or threats.
Chairman of the NGC thanked President Bio for thinking that KKY has some value and that his party wants him, stating that KKY is not available for cross-over transactions.
“Let us enjoy our democracy. KKY is not going to SLPP. He will maintain the excellent relationship he has nurtured over the years with good people in the SLPP, APC, NGC and all the other political parties. But he remains committed to his party, and will follow the direction that his party decides”
According to Hon. KKY, he joined Samu Elders to welcome His Excellency the President to Kychom, his first visit in 4 years. He added that as an elder of the Chiefdom and respecter of the institution of the Presidency, he has no option but to graced the occasion despite they belong to different political parties, the Peace & Development of Salone comes first.