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Special Commentary: 
Kandeh Yumkella - The Fourth Defector

By Abdul Hassan Fackie 
Freetown, Sierra Leone.

On the morning of Tuesday September 5th, 2017, Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella jolted Sierra Leoneans both at home and in the diaspora with his unexpected announcement that he has resigned his membership from the SLPP and was now joining the newly registered National Grand Coalition (NGC). 

From the reactions of majority of Sierra Leoneans I quizzed on the matter, they maintained that it is the right decision he had taken, given that it appears that the key stakeholders of the SLPP do not seem to be willing to address their many differences and ensure that they give a level playing field to all those intending to vie for the flag bearer position of the party and even for other executive, zonal, constituency, district, regional and national positions. 

Naturally, many well meaning and liberal party members as well as other citizens have expressed the fear that the resignation of Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella will seriously undermine the chances the SLPP in winning the next general elections on March 7th, 2018. 

They opined that the resignation of Dr. Yumkella will open wide the floodgates of massive resignations and defections from the party. They say they hold this view because, within the short time that Dr. Yumkella had joined the party and announced his intention to be its Presidential candidate in the March 7th, 2018 elections, they see him as the man who will bring back sanity to a party gone astray and give them victory in the next elections. 

As far as they are concerned, he is the only man who can attract the national support to win a formidable ruling All Peoples Congress (APC). 

Well, all those sentiments are now wishful thinking as Dr. Yumkella has left the SLPP together with tens of thousands of former members/supporters who believe that wherever he goes, Dr. Yumkella is bound to win the next Presidential election. 

When I talked to Dr. Yumkella he told me that he had to leave the SLPP because the party had been hijacked by a small group of mean, callous, violent, corrupt and unreasonable men and women who will not encourage fair play and are not ready for change. 

He explained that continuing to stay with the SLPP will rob the people of this country of the change, transformation and hope he wants to offer to them. 

He described the so called Paopa group of flag bearer aspirant, Retired Brigadier General Julius Maada as dream killers who are so primitively loyal to their virtual cult figure that they would never agree to play politics. He said he believes that the best way for him to have any opportunity to serve his people and remove them from the strangle hold of the equally corrupt, inept and blundering APC is to leave and pitch tent with progressive democrats who have this country at heart and are ready to work to reverse the backwardness that the so called two traditional parties, the APC and SLPP have brought upon this country for the over fifty six years that they have been governing this country. 

Expectedly, the Publicity Secretary of the SLPP, Retired Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Lahai Leema, has been quick to wave away Dr. Yumkella as not being important to their party. He stated that those who have left the party previously as well as those who have left with Dr. Yumkella including former Vice President, Dr. Albert Joe Demby are not loyal to the party and as such they do not need them. He boasted that they were now stronger than ever before. 

Notwithstanding the bravado of Leema, the effects of Dr. Yumkella's resignation from the SLPP are already taking a very heavy toll on the party as since Tuesday, hundreds of resignations from members all over the world continue to flood into the party's headquarters office in central Freetown while tens of thousands of grassroots members, supporters and sympathisers, and mostly from especially the young men and women who have absolute trust in him, continue to leave the party and declare for the NGC. 

Political analysts have been quick to draw parallels of the four notable - three notable defections that have caused the party (SLPP) to lose elections at various times in the party's history, namely, that of late L.A.M. Brewa of Tiama and Kutubu Kaisamba in 1967 whose defections deprived Sir Albert Margai of becoming Prime Minister and rather made Siaka Probyn Stevens Prime Minister; The defection of Charles Francis Margai in 2005 which led to Solomon Ekuma Berewa losing to President Ernest Bai Koroma, and the defection of Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara to the APC in 2012 which ensured Julius Maada Bio to lose to President Koroma and now a fourth defection, that of Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella leaving the party at a crucial moment to also contend for the Presidency. 

They note that they see more defections from other parties, especially the APC and SLPP, as like him or hate him, majority of Sierra Leoneans see Yumkella as the best choice who has the resolve, credibility, discipline and heart to bring the change, transformation and hope that this country direly needs now.