SLPP: Beware of KKY Innuendos

Hon. Kandeh Yumkella

REBUTTAL To: “KKY Exposes SLPP & APC Cycle of Revenge and Retributions” Published in The Calabash Newspaper of 27 January 2020

By Farla Barbu                                                                                       

There is power and evil in the tongue. The Book of James 3: 5-6 says: “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a word of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, set the whole course of his life, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

The above biblical quotation about the tongue readily unsettled my nerves as I read an address delivered during a debate by Honourable Kandeh Yumkella to students of the University of Makeni (UNIMAK), on 24 January 2020 as to take my pen once again. The theme of the debate was: “Enhancing Citizens’ Participation in Accountable and Inclusive Politics in Sierra Leone” published in the Monday January 27, 2020 edition of the Calabash Newspaper.

As expected the Honourable’s remarks were as remarkable as his prided intellect. Nevertheless, it is my fear that the sense of opposition politics is fast consuming the very fabrics of that prided intellect and which has all the potential to cause students and people’s uprising in the country.

With his great gift of the gab and as someone with eyes on the throne of the country, understandably one could rarely expect KKY to deliver good choice words about government in power. The honourable man in his blistering remarks got the UNIMAK students spellbound over issues of what he referred to as “circle of revenge and retributions” under both the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All People’s Congress Party (APC). In another breadth of remarks, he rendered a blatant innuendo capable of giving rise to students’ uprising in the country.

His first reference point happened to be the recalling of diplomats within few months into coming to power by both the SLPP and APC governments. “The devastating impact of these actions on our governance and institutions results in weak and incompetent institutions often staffed by political cronies who do not know their right from their left,” fired KKY; strong words, eh?

But the question is: who will continue to be the sacrificial lamb in Sierra Leone politics? Not SLPP. Honourable Yumkella in his candid apolitical conscience could vouch with certainty that from its formative years SLPP, (KKY’s late father’s party), has always taken the path to democratic values.  From the Father of the nation – Sir Milton Margai – to Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, on to present day President Julius Maada Bio, the pursuit of national peace, unity, love for one another, development and security of Sierra Leone under past and present SLPP Governments have remained far more demonstrative than the other’s.

In his idle thoughts about SLPP politics of national drive, Sir Albert Margai – the younger brother of Milton Margai who succeeded him – attempted to introduce tribalism into the politics of the country. No sooner than later the SLPP leadership kicked the bulky man out of power and let him go wallow in political wilderness.

Truth to be said, Siaka Stevens- founder of APC party – fired by the earlier democratic initiatives of the SLPP government – introduced a government of national unity. As a symbol of unity he claimed to be Mende, Temne and Limba in one (the three major tribes). Although he was a dictator, a leader whose personal bank account was synonymous with the national treasury, corrupted beyond human understanding as to have caused eleven years of civil war in the country in the end, he was a unifier.

United Nations ex-diplomat, the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah upon being declared winner of the 2002 elections under the SLPP flag, could not wait to tell the nation that his own government was not SLPP government but that of government of national unity. He went on to appoint his officials of government that was made up of more opposition APC party members from the north his home, to the chagrin of the SLPP stakeholders and supporters.  The late man in the aftermath of eleven years of civil war ensured that democratic structures were put in place for national development and cohesion among the people. Tribalism, regionalism and ethnicity found no place under the Kabbah watch.

That however could not be the case under his successor, ex-president Ernest Bai Koroma. Ex-president Koroma in his cooked-up election victory address to the nation in 2007 promised to unite the country on the path to national development. As a matter of fact, he in the end left the country in ferment, in a state of repressed fear, restless silence, forced tolerance and hidden hatred among the people.

Ex-president Koroma for eleven years presided over north-west and south-east divide. Never in the history of this country had any government and leadership before him divided Sierra Leone into such tribal, ethnic and regional proportion. He was the worst leader Sierra Leone has ever had.

To have come or live in Sierra Leone under ex-president Koroma rule was to witness a scene of polarised nation between the south-east (Mende) and north-west (Temne, Limba and Creole). His policy decisions singled out the south-easterners for neglect, discrimination, exclusion and persecution. Tribalism, regionalism and ethnicity remained factors that determined who got job in his government with south-easterners consigned to the raw edge of the bargain. They were sacked from their jobs en masse with impunity and replaced by their north-west compatriots.

Where was Honourable Yumkella who today wants to portray the SLPP government with his ivory tower rhetoric about “circle of revenge and retribution” under the government of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, and now wants to incite students to an uprising in the country?

Addressing the students of UNIMAK on students’ participation in national politics, he accused the students of behaving as though they were helpless. “In the last 15 years,” he charged, “change has come through connective action, through people who were discontent with the political systems in their countries and the adverse economic and social consequences they suffered.”

He gave as an example the Arab Spring which he said was led by youth and students using social media applications like whatsApp and Facebook who rallied their nations to remove their dictators (leaders).

Such rhetoric by KKY was blatantly inciting as to cause trouble in this country. Students are known all over the world to be restive, and given our present economic, social and political malaise caused by eleven years of misrule by the APC government, the people are impatient and need instant solution to their welfare.  The country was rampaged by the locusts of the APC Government for a period of nearly eleven years leaving the people in a strait-jacket austerity. Does KKY expect   President Bio’s Government to have solution to such devastated economic, social and political foundation of the country in just 18 months of governance?

President Bio in his eighteen months in office has painstakingly endeavoured to bring the divided nation once again together. He called for national dialogue through Bintumani III which the opposition APC party ignored. Unlike ex-president Koroma who sacked most south-easterners from their jobs, President Bio against the background of an outcry of dissatisfaction, regret and chagrin among his party stakeholders, members and supporters decided to leave most former APC Government officials in post, some in very sensitive areas. Where is the “circle of revenge and retribution” that the Bio Government is practising as to warrant KKY to call   on students and the people to reinvent the wheel of Arab Spring in this country?

As one with an eye on the leadership of this country, is this the kind of rhetoric that KKY would like others to ascribe to his future leadership, if at all – restive and explosive? Little wonder the woes of Africa had been blamed on our so-called intellectuals whose greed and selfishness can go to any length to divide their people if only to gain political power.

KKY is a highly respected gentleman in the society from whose lips much juicy morsels of wisdom are expected to drop and not to betray national decorum, peace, love and unity among the people as he demonstrated at Makeni. It was below the belt.

The tongue is evil and given its use by the opposition, the SLPP Government of His Excellency President Bio must beware. A Government in power that is roundly bullied by the opposition with impunity, threatened with chaos and war by the opposition and now the incitement of the people to Arab Spring experience by Honourable Yumkella, there is cause for concern.

When security gives way to conspiracy, trouble reigns. SLPP GOVERNMENT, BEWARE!



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