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Yumkella/Keili Ticket is a Match Made in Heaven! Period!!

By Dr. Barba M. Koroma (10/01/18)

The National Grand Coalition NGC party is already tickling the uneasy APC party thanks to the Yumkella/Keili ticket.

Development expert Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella's choice of engineer Andrew K. Keili as his running mate for the 2018 elections is making waves in the Sierra Leone community at home, in the diaspora, and in social media circles. This choice is considered by many to be a divinely orchestrated union that will produce a successful and happy outcome for the National Grand Coalition party. It is a move that is seen by many as electric, prudent, judicious, and calculated. But adjectives alone cannot do justice to this summation, let’s peel the layers.


To run through the corridors of academia and be awarded certificates, diplomas, or degrees, at the end of a curriculum, is not the best definition of an educated or lettered person. An educated, learned, or lettered individual in the true sense, is one who matriculates into an academic institution, successfully completes the requirements of a specified curriculum, and then goes out to live the life of one who has been enlightened. In other words, he or she moves from darkness to light, and from ignorance to an awakening. A 19th century educator defined education as a process of conversion of brutes into fine specimens of cultured human beings. As we all know, this definition does not fit everyone out there.

This election cycle in Sierra Leone for example, has among its aspiring candidates, individuals with earned nicknames that spell trouble, others with clouds of character flaws that remind us of fifties-era gangster movies. Such errant behaviors clearly do not fall within the scope expected of fine cultured people. Now, here comes Dr. Yumkella and running mate Engineer Keili, who, interestingly, attended the same secondary school, Christ the King College in the southern city of Bo. Both are fine gentlemen with no ignominious nicknames or palpable defects in character. Sierra Leone has been waiting for men like these who bring to the table excellence that would allow Sierra Leoneans to thrive freely in a morally-sanitized atmosphere free of fear, violence, or intimidation.


We live in a world that is ruled by technology, in which developing countries like Sierra Leone are especially disadvantaged, because of lack of informed and capable leadership. It is important to have leaders with initiative and ingenuity at the very top, where critical decisions are made. To make this possible, we need technocrats, these are individuals who combine technical know-how with political power in making sound decisions that capitalize on technology. Sierra Leone has never had a president or his immediate surrogate who is a technocrat. Cabinet members who are, have never had the gravitas to make inroads for implementing a technology-focused agenda.

This is why leaders who combine political power with technical savvy are needed to make smart technology-driven policies. We have seen how the Ernest Bai Koroma administration failed to capitalize on Chinese involvement in Sierra Leone; all they have to show for their presence are a few third-rate roadways and an unnecessary and burdensome toll road. At a time when a handpicked, tried and tested politician who did not deliver even though he served in key positions over many succeeding governments, is being pushed on the people, the Yumkella-Keili ticket is the antidote and alternative to this ploy to continue business-as-usual. Between them, technocrats Dr. Yumkella and his running mate Engr Keili, have a formidable portfolio of expertise and training with years of experience and technical savvy. In addition, both men have the knowledge to speak independently on technology, economics, and development. And unlike their rivals, both men can point to positive and tangible accomplishments in their impressive resumes.

Dr. Yumkella is a world-renowned development expert who for decades at the United Nations, has contributed to formulating and enacting policies on technology and economic development. Engr Keili, a former flagbearer aspirant in his own right, is very familiar with issues affecting Sierra Leone, and has for decades contributed to various efforts directed at policies affecting the mining and other technology sectors in Sierra Leone. Taken together, the technical competencies vested in the Yumkella-Keili ticket would eclipse that of their rivals by a very wide margin.


If there is one attribute that is in short supply among politicians in Africa today, it is character, integrity, and honesty. Just ask outspoken critic of African politics and economics, the pre-eminent pundit, Professor PLO Lumumba. There is hardly any African country that is not suffering from corruption on an epic scale. Sierra Leone is no exception. Dr. Yumkella’s blotless professional track record is a far cry from the pattern in Sierra Leone. The same could be said of Engr Keili who has been in the public domain in Sierra Leone for decades. Thus, if a man’s history is a window to his future, we can look forward to a President and Vice President who have abundance of worthy character and integrity, that would allow them to surely deliver the goods in 2018 and beyond.


A key ingredient in leadership is effective communication. Here, we have a duo, Dr. Yumkella and Engr Keili, both with outstanding written and oral skills. Dr. Yumkella is an especially avid speechmaker, and Engr Keili, a consummate writer. Together, they make a dream leadership team for Sierra Leone. In fact, this is a team that would benefit immensely from showcasing their communications skills in a forum such as a debate. Perhaps it is time for all Sierra Leoneans to call for the incorporation of national debates into the system of electing a president in the country, because it provides added scrutiny of candidates, and gives the electorate an opportunity to judge candidates’ ability to sell themselves, and their ideological positions on issues affecting the country. Just in case anyone is wondering, there is plenty of time for radio and television media, in consultation with the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to organize a series of debates in this election cycle.


Intelligence quotience (IQ) is a measure of a person’s ability to solve mental problems. A high IQ is desirable for solving earthly problems, but as human beings we also need to relate to the spiritual authority of our lives, i.e. God. The ability to do so is called spiritual intelligence. Intelligence is earthly good, but spiritual intelligence is divine and eternal. If we are to measure spiritual intelligence by what people do, Dr. Yumkella and Engr Keili complement each other by showing great commitment to their walk with God. Dr. Yumkella is a Muslim, the son of a Paramount Chief, who has performed pilgrimage (Hajj and Umrah) more than once, and Andrew Keili is a lay preacher-proclaimer, the son of an Anglican Archbishop. The pedigrees and acts of both men go over and beyond average commitment as believers. A man who is not anchored by faith is riding on the high seas of life without a compass. Dr. Yumkella, a Muslim, and Engr Keili, a Christian, have demonstrated humility, submission, and commitment to spirituality, thereby providing a balance between the two major religious sects of the country. In testament of their God-fearing nature, therefore, Alhaji Yumkella and Lay Preacher Keili have shown that they are ready for the job of shepherding a nation.


A leader cannot give what he or she does not have. A person who has not held a job or provided a means for self-sustenance for the better part of two decades is not considered leadership material. An excellent work ethic is the foundation for good leadership. Since a leader is a role model for the citizenry, he or she must model excellence. In a country like Sierra Leone where productivity has taken a nose dive because of high unemployment and poor governance, the country needs leaders who know how to lead by example. People who aspire to national leadership but do not know what waking up in the morning and reporting for work (day in day and day out) looks like, have questionable work ethic. That anyone would consider casting their future into the hands of individuals with little or no work ethic to speak of, is dumbfounding. The Yumkella-Keili ticket has several decades of solid track record as employees or employers. This is the foundation upon which good leadership is built. For once, Sierra Leoneans can expect dynamic creativity and ingenuity emanating from the top, in the presidency of Yumkella and Keili in 2018 and beyond.


To say that one has a heart for his country is to show it in deed, and not in words only. To relinquish power when you have no options is not how you show love for country. Dr. Yumkella could have easily stayed on at the UN to continue an illustrious career. But he chose to return home to Sierra Leone to serve. This is a patriotic act. Listening to him expound with passion his plans for the homeland, will leave you with no doubt that he says what he means, and means what he says. In addition, during his tenure at the UN, Dr. Yumkella brought many vital development projects to Sierra Leone that could have been taken elsewhere. This is how you demonstrate love for country.
Now, consider Andrew Keili, a well-trained mining engineer who for decades stayed on in Sierra Leone through the worst moments of a civil war and raging disease epidemic. This is a man who has the education, connections, and even wherewithal to travel and stay out of the country, but chose to stay within and to weather the storm. There is no better definition of patriotism than that. As a flagbearer aspirant, Andrew has been passionately making his case for turning things around in Sierra Leone. For both men, this is the chance of a lifetime to make good on their dreams of showing more love to the homeland!


Anyone can talk about going to the moon, but a person who has actually landed on the moon is more believable. Other flagbearers merely read prepared speeches about what they might do if elected. Dr. Yumkella, on the other hand, has been in the trenches doing development business around the world for decades. He traveled the world practicing his craft of technocracy and diplomacy, selling big ideas such as the nexus between energy poverty and underdevelopment to world leaders. Dr. Yumkella has a longstanding passion for the chance to make his country the great nation she could be. Engr Keili’s ideas for nitty gritty development initiatives have been put to work over many years as a mining engineer, who also served on many corporate boards.

Now, both men get a chance in 2018 to synergize their amiable interpersonal chemistry (which is better than that of Obama and Biden), generate a fine-oiled development machine in Sierra Leone, and enact lofty ideas, while leveraging Yumkella’s world-class connections.

In conclusion, the Yumkella-Keili ticket is a tour de force as both men have what it takes to deliver. In the Yumkella-Keili ticket, Sierra Leone is getting two for the price of one, a bonanza indeed.

Finally, if Dr. Yumkella’s wisdom in choosing Engr Keili as running mate for the 2018 presidential elections is a glimpse of what’s to come, Sierra Leone is in for a treat; Indonesia, South Korea, and Singapore, here we come! Kandeh and Andrew are birds of a feather; no wonder they flock together.

Courtesy: Dr. Barba M. Koroma, is a scientist with NIH, DHHS. He is also a licensed and ordained Minister of the gospel.


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