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22nd April 2018

SLPP Party 2018 Optimism after APC Bashing in Kambia Elections!

By Yusuf K. Sandi (11/07/17)

SLPP fans rarely smile these days but the recent bashing of the ruling APC by an independent in Kambia has ushered a brief smile.


In the following article entitled ‘Bye Election Results: A Rejoinder to the Battle of the Titans in Kychom,’ an SLPP fan writes optimistically come 2018: For very obvious reasons after the results of the bye elections in Kambia and Tonkolili many genuine SLPP members would have been right to focus on one thing only: an incompetent APC government rejected in its stronghold. (Pictured: SLPP party members showing a semblance of unity after KKY quits).

Such a rejection whether it is precipitated by an Independent candidate, ADP or PDP must only be a good thing for the SLPP, the only alternative party to APC with the chance to form the next Government.

And even in Yoni where there was no outright rejection, the SLPP performance was very encouraging. In the face of all the present challenges of the SLPP, the Party could secure almost 20% of the votes. To appreciate the gains of the SLPP you just need to compare that with what the SLPP secured in 2012. In 2012 the SLPP secured only 7% of the votes in the same Ward 212 and a more focused, organised, energised and resourced SLPP without the present distraction can only do better than the 20% in March 2018.

Unfortunately, in Ward 139 in Kychom, Kambia District, SLPP was deprived of the chance to show how much gains it could have made since 2012 elections where the Party secured almost 23% of the votes with NGada Sumah. And this is one of a plethora of unwise, ill-judged and bad decisions supported or initiated by Dr Kandeh Yumkella that would have raised questions on his judgement. 

Now let us put the Kychom by-election into context. Here was a by-election which gave Dr Kandeh Yumkella the clearest opportunity to prove a single point that he can win election for SLPP at least in the North. Any sensible strategy from a politician who aspires to lead the SLPP would have been to take leadership in mobilising the SLPP members and supporters for that by-election and ensure the SLPP wins emphatically with a very big margin. Yes, I mean a big margin and nothing epileptic struggling to cross over the line.  

Rightly or wrongly, many have said Dr Kandeh Yumkella was timid and feared the embarrassment of SLPP losing so he went for a less humiliating option for an independent candidate. By so doing if the APC had won it would have been easier to shift blame and responsibility or at best disassociate himself. Whatever could have been imputed in that strategic misjudgement by him or his supporters, Dr Kandeh Yumkella blew away an opportunity he needed to have converted to a political advantage in SLPP.  

But maybe Dr Kandeh Yumkella was sending a clear message that "I will be leaving the Party so why bother to give them a councillor seat in my home". If that was the message then many SLPP members will be relieved after Monday that the Party can now focus on the issues of governance and preparations for national elections.

And my friend Columba Blango, a Yumkella die-hard who seems to have developed the knack of always been against conventional wisdom in SLPP as a former PMDC defector, has romanticised Dr Kandeh Yumkella for the Kychom by-election results. In his haste, Columba Blango even gave Robin Falley a new title in the APC as Deputy Secretary General. I am sure like many things in this life Columba Blango has always got his facts wrong. But with the APC loss in Kychom, Robin Falley would at least compensate himself with the new Columba Blango designate position.

In his piece, "The Battle of the Titans in Kychom", Blango was almost acting like that overexcited servant to a King who narrowly escaped defeat by saying to him "yes, your highness, yes". Blango was even effervescent in his praise saying that the results show Dr Kandeh Yumkella has a base in the North and his chiefdom. How on earth can any Presidential Candidate don't have a base in his Chiefdom? Sadly for Blango, the fact that the only yardstick to measure Yumkella's popularity is his Chiefdom for a man who wants to be President tells us about the poverty of ambition in his campaign. If he really wanted to show a real base in the North why not show that in by-elections in Makeni, Port Loko and Tonkolili? 

The attack by Blango on Foday Yumkella was even premature, baseless and opportunistic. Because in the 2012 elections when Foday Yumkella contested for SLPP as Member of Parliament eventhough SLPP lost in that Ward yet Foday Yumkella helped the Party to win in two other wards nearby and with bigger margins than the 10 votes or 0.5% scraped through in Kychom. 

For instance, in the 2012 elections in Ward 131, SLPP's Mohamed M. Kamara won with 57.57% and votes of 2,118 while APC secured 42.43% and votes of 1561. Also in Ward 132, SLPP's Abdul S. Sillah won with 58.33% and votes of 2300 while APC secured 39.01% and votes of 1538. In fact, in many other wards where SLPP lost the candidates performed very well in high 30s and 40s percentage points. So even before Dr Kandeh Yumkella entered politics Kambia District has always been receptive to SLPP. In the absence of all these distractions, an SLPP candidate would have equally stood a chance to perform even better in a straight contest with APC. 

It is also interesting to see that Blango used his piece to throw mud at Alpha Timbo and calling JJ Saffa and Dr Prince Harding "nymphs". For Blango, the Alliance marriage appears to be at the divorce stage now but irrespective of our views we must recognise that Alpha Timbo continues to be one of the most committed SLPP Northern Stakeholders. We can all agree Timbo and others have to do more to make SLPP more attractive in the North but at least Timbo deserves our respect for his loyalty, commitment and service to the SLPP over many years when Yumkella was only an "imaginary member" through paternal inheritance.

Understandably both JJ Saffa and Dr Prince Harding could not be spared from the Blango venom as he would have seen them as part of those responsible for Yumkella's political nemesis in SLPP. But how can you call Dr Prince Harding a "nymph", a man who has a track record of winning two national elections for SLPP and a fearless critique of APC? Or how can u call JJ Saffa a "nymph", a man who has devoted his life to the cause of SLPP for decades and presently suffering so much victimisation from the APC.

Even when many critics say SLPP is presently in political coma it is someone JJ Saffa who gave the Party grace during voter registration exercise and most times in the media attacking APC's economic record. But this has always been the fundamental flaw in the approach by Dr Kandeh Yumkella and his supporters that they can just throw insults at everyone to get at the front. I can still remember how Dr Kandeh Yumkella heartlessly mocked Dr Abass Bundu during his medical check-up in London. It is a tasteless approach.

So, my good friend Blango stated in his piece that this “KKY win” is about “superior intellect” and “strategic planning”. Of course, it was a strategic and deliberate plan by KKY to deprive SLPP from contesting but there is nothing "superior" to understand that if SLPP had contested then the votes for the independent candidate would have crumbled and the 10 votes lead disappeared. And one can only have a "lower intellect" to rejoice for a "KKY win" in the home of a Presidential Candidate where almost 50% of his own people rejected his candidate at the ballot boxes. 

The election was not "a battle of the Titans" but the epileptic win of a near embarrassment and the rejection of a failed APC Government. 

Courtesy: Yusuf Keketoma Sandi. (This piece was penned before the resignation of KKY from the SLPP).


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