APC Does Not Want International Community to Determine its Democracy!
By Sheka Tarawalie (11/03/18)
The author, an official of the APC government, said they do not want the global community to be sole determiners of Sierra Leone democracy.
Mr. Tarawalie writes: If I say I don't like or respect or even somehow admire Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, then I would be doing a great disservice to my conscience. My undying passion - irrespective of my personal circumstances - to see Sierra Leone develop has gotten me to the point that I am colour-blind with reference to any son or daughter of Sierra Leone that has excelled either locally or internationally.
I was colour-blind in my university days when choosing my friends: at FBC, some of my closest buddies were south-easterners who have eventually turned out to be strong SLPP apparatchiks – and we still remain friends! They adored education just as I did. We had – still have - frank, open, heart-to-heart discussions. Politics, after all, is not – should not be - a life-or-death affair, as President Ernest Bai Koroma most times says.
Kandeh Yumkella, every rational and reasonable person can admit, could be used as a sing-song of showcasing Sierra Leone's talented products. I will never fall for the unpalatable bait of decrying everything concerning KKY just to score political points. We should be honest enough (hahaha 'Ar want baby wae honest lek Samura' comes to my mind), yes we should be honest enough to agree that KKY's stint at UNIDO and as UN Under-Secretary-General/Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All is worth commending - albeit there were shortcomings at UNIDO as an organization during his tenure.
But that Yumkella once renounced his Sierra Leonean citizenship - as it turned out to be known subsequently - was a huge (in my Maada Bio voice) huge mistake, whether now revoked or not. And that the UNIDO man did not light a single bulb at his home village of Kychom – to paraphrase the APC's Dr Samura Kamara at the presidential debate – was a most unbelievable anathema. That Kandeh could not repair his father's house but went into a fight over property rights with other family members was a terrible miscalculation. And for KKY to have ultimately concluded that his 'international experience' was enough qualification for him to become President of Sierra Leone in 2018 was a grave miss-reading of the situation and perhaps a politically-suicidal misinterpretation (if 'international experience' were a yardstick, the people of Ghana would have long ago handed over the presidency to Kofi Annan who actually became UN Secretary General and won the Nobel Peace Prize!).
That Kandeh has a few supporters - largely drawn from the SLPP - that keep saying he has taken the right step is just mischievous and dangerous flattery. He'll soon know!
Now, Yumkella and I have met one-on-one and discussed this matter. It was in Vienna in 2015 when I was on official engagement as Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs. I met him through Anthony N'Karimu Kamara, a Makeni/St Francis brother of mine who, after God and his parents, adores Yumkella. For very good reasons, I must state. Anthony has himself got international exposure and opportunities through Yumkella and was/is in fact staying with the renewable energy man in Vienna (Anthony is currently in Sierra Leone acting as KKY's Personal Assistant/PR man - just like my good friend Yusuf Keketoma Sandi has flown from the UK to do for Julius Maada Bio). Anthony and I met at a St Francis function in London and he got to know that I was going to Vienna. He became thrilled and told me how Yumkella had longed to meet me, and this would be a great opportunity. I acquiesced. However, I was only going to do a couple of days in Vienna with a very tight schedule. Yumkella also had several engagements and would have to fly out to the US. Anyway, Anthony and Yumkella were so desirous to have the meeting happen that we ended up having it at the airport on my way out in the afternoon of 30th July 2015. Even though he was to fly out from a different terminal, Yumkella came all the way to my departure gate.
Our discussion was short, frank, and intellectual. He told me he respected and somehow admired me for being 'one of the stars' that had helped President Koroma in delivering his agenda - I felt flattered. He said indeed President Koroma had done a good job, but now it's his turn. I smiled. Kandeh was very sure he would be the flag-bearer of the main opposition SLPP because it's his 'father's party' and the majority of SLPP supporters would choose him over Maada Bio - he kept on chanting the 'tokpoi' mantra of 'SLPP is the only way out'. I listened. And then he did not leave behind the international back-up rap: that the international community would want democracy to mature in Sierra Leone, that this same international community wanted such maturity to take the shape of political parties ruling for two terms after another (the SLPP did two terms and was voted out; now the APC would do two terms and go out - so it's the SLPP's turn again; and that he's the anointed heir of the international community). Still I continued to listen. He ended up by saying he loved President Koroma because he 'has taken Sierra Leone to another level' (he may not say this now - because of politics). And then he concluded that because I was a blue-eyed boy of Pa Koroma, he had deemed it appropriate to tell me to 'advice the Pa' on the matter.
What advice? Yumkella made me laugh. My answer or answers were short and sharp. I thanked him for admiring President Koroma and seeing me as a hard-working government official. I told him it would be virtually impossible for the SLPP to win the next elections, vis-a-vis the current socio-political demographics, that the international community should not be the sole determiners of how our democracy should mature, that the two-term scenario was faecal matter. I told KKY that he should come on the ground and read the situation well before making a decision as to which political bandwagon to jump on. He immediately interrupted me (just as he interrupted Dr Samura Kamara during the presidential debate!) by saying he had already studied the situation, that he had men all over the country, and that he was sure he would be both the flag-bearer of the SLPP and the next President of Sierra Leone. I could read desperation in his eyes and in his voice. Desperate for Sierra Leone's development or desperate for power, I was reading between the lines!
The airport announcer's voice came through calling passengers on my flight to be prepared for boarding. We took photos. I posted one on Facebook (before I suspended my active participation from that wing of the social media), with the message “Bits and pieces of political tolerance... With the SLPP's Kandeh Yumkella in Vienna... SaLone nar we all yone...” (The message and picture are still on my Facebook page posting of 30th July 2015. You can check it out. And certainly I did not know that Yumkella was at the time an American citizen!)
And now... That KKY who was so confident of being the next flag-bearer of the SLPP, who was so sure that the 'SLPP is the only way out', is today parading the nooks and crannies of Sierra Leone denigrating this same 'party of my father' as a failed 'Alhassan' is a lesson I have learnt about the whimsical nature of human behaviour (mortal man nar weather!). That Yumkella could proclaim from rooftops today that there is nothing good in the SLPP strengthens my faith - to trust more in God than in man!
Yumkella's situation brings to mind the well-known Greek Aesopica story of the fox which had seen very ripe grapes hanging on a vine and desired to have them, tried all it could by leaping to get them but could not reach them; dejected, downcast and frustrated at its failure to get what it coveted most (remember how Yumkella's mother was spat at during his first attempt to go to their party office, remember how he and other SLPP alagbas were locked out, how he fought tooth and nail over his membership registration for the SLPP, how he upgraded his membership to grand chief patron etc etc, and still insisted that he was a member of the SLPP until 5th September 2017 when he realised that the flag-bearer position of the party was unattainable and resigned), this fox then found a scapegoatising consolation by saying that the grapes were sour and not ripe after-all.
The man who was so desperate to become Alhassan now thinks calling himself a Gbassay qualifies him to be regarded as a twin (Gbassay nor to twin bra!). He now says he is a Macron. How good is this man in translating scenarios all to his own - or for his own - interest. Tell KKY that he is not a Macron, and cannot be a Macron. Current French President Emmanuel Macron has never worked for UNIDO. He worked as a civil servant in France and then became a government minister before resigning to form his party En Marche. How den connect?
Kandeh's experience in government unfortunately is not worth writing about: he was Minister of Trade for just a few months, and it was under a military junta of which the sale of Sierra Leone's only oil refinery to Nigeria still hangs over his head. In essence, Kandeh does not know anything about democratic statecraft! He needed - he needs - apprenticeship!
Of course the SLPP under Julius Maada Bio is a clattered and tattered entity, but Yumkella should have stayed the course and reform it eventually: you don't burn down your father's house because you found a snake in it; or else the elders will not only question your intentions but go on to doubt your legitimacy!
The Spectator newspaper, once acting as the propaganda medium of KKY, was the first to reveal his political intentions. It's 25th October 2014 edition was unequivocal with the headline 'I AM SLPP AND RETURNING HOME – SAYS DR KANDEH KOLLEH YUMKELLA' (http://www.thespectatornewspaper.sl/articles/i-m-slpp-and-i-m-coming-home-says-dr-kandeh-kolleh-yumkella).
The other day, just before I went out with my wife to watch the award-winning patriotism-laden and race-unifying movie 'The Black Panther' in down-town London (taking time off my current 'assignment'), I decided to listen to some Sierra Leonean music (I do that when not listening to gospel music), and one that made me laugh and got reminded of Yumkella was K-Kwan's 'borku talk borku talk'. To me, that music summaries Yumkella's present political configuration: 'wae e see limousine, e say nar e uncle'; because for Kandeh, even the EU observers are his supporters - not to talk about former Nigerian President Obasanjo (whom he was reportedly referring to as his uncle-in-law) having to be forced to do a clarification of a statement he made recently, thereby denying that he ever endorsed Yumkella's candidature. Another part of the 'borku talk' lyrics says, 'wae u go lent, u say u buy am dear'; and this ignites the question, 'KKY, where's that plane that your boys were splashing on social media as yours?' Yeah... 'from wae u small,u dae pan borku talk... U hair dae white, u dae pan borku talk...' The 419 game has apparently entered into our politics!
Two weeks to elections, Yumkella is losing his voice - it's having a fading strain right now as he jumps from one place to another saying 'the white people' are behind him. Is he not misinterpreting Mrs Philomena Yumkella to be white?
Yumkella was so naïve, politically-speaking, that he told some Sierra Leonean youths that he opened an assembly plant for 'okadas' in Nigeria - and he would be able to do the same in Sierra Leone if elected. So was he elected in Nigeria before he opened the so-called plant? Come on my man, you can do better than that!
Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, an illustrious son of Sierra Leone, could end up being like the fabled antelope that danced itself lame before the main dance - and might end up licking his wounds from the sidelines, watching others enjoying the show.
Or like the third-force parties before him (Karefa-Smart's UNPP, Thaimu Bangura's PDP, Charles Margai's PMDC), Yumkella's NGC would pale into road-side oblivion after March 2018.
What 'Rankanomics'! Shine your eyes everybody! KKY and his NGC 'den go lef u pan wondri'!!!
Courtesy: By Sheka Tarawalie (Shekito), currently in London, UK