The Interim Trustee National Council (INTC) of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) officially nominated Kandeh Yumkella as their standard-bearer for the 2018 presidential elections in Sierra Leone at their first convention in Bo City.
The jam-packed hall erupted in cheers and songs as Yumkella was announced the winner with fifty-five votes and the other two candidates, Michael Jalloh and Daisy Saquee picking up five and six votes respectively. Waving multi-coloured flags – representing party colours, attendees, delegates from other regions including trustees jumped up and down in excitement while others fell into hugs expressing a sigh of relief for the former UN Under-Secretary-General.
Dennis Bright, chairman and leader said Yumkella’s election was a historic moment, given what the party had gone through to get to today’s convention; a sentiment widely expressed by participants as each sought to get a hug from the NGC flag-bearer.
“They tried to stop us and used all kind of tricks to ensure this day did not happen, but with God’s blessings and guidance, here we are today.
“We are not red, we are not green, and our country is neither red nor green,” said Kandeh Yumkella as he addressed delegates, friends and well-wishers.
“We are simply Sierra Leoneans united and bonded together here today by one desire – CHANGE through our brave and angry determination to shatter the shackles of rampant corruption, incompetence and mismanagement of our commonwealth by the Ernest Koroma-led All People’s Congress Party solidly aided and abetted by a moribund opposition – the Sierra Leone Peoples Party,” he further underscored.
Acknowledging the nomination as a great honour and responsibility, Yumkella reminded all that the journey to the culmination of the convention began almost five years ago when the Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella Movement was born. He therefore urged all Sierra Leoneans, at home and abroad, of the historic occasion. “Under the auspices of our new party, our country has the opportunity to take the unprecedented step and march towards a new era of Hope, opportunity and Transformation (HOT),” added Dr. Kandeh.
There is considerable excitement in Sierra Leone from a vast majority of the populace including young and old, men and women, in almost every region or corner about a Yumkella presidency; one that most believe will set the country on a much-needed socio-economic development trajectory and ensure every citizen benefit and not just the few. Currently, Sierra Leone is rated as the third hungriest nation in the world by the FAO, one of the worst places to be a youth, ranked as among the most corrupt and with lowest life expectancies.
Yumkella promises to change Sierra Leone from business as usual to a country that innovates and competes with other emerging economies. However, he noted that to do so, Sierra Leone must go back to what it did best during the 60’s. “We must educate our people to world standards; we must invest in integrated and sustainable Infrastructure; we must provide access to clean Water and Health Care systems for our people; we must invest in creating the conditions and environment that will encourage industry and business to grow and create Jobs and Wealth for our people; and, above all, we must seriously tackle endemic and rampant corruption and bring executive thieves to account for their unexplained wealth, lawlessness and the culture of Impunity.”
Ditching his prepared remarks, Yumkella promised that should his party be elected to the presidency, he will form a Social Compact with Sierra Leoneans; one that is firmly grounded in and guided by his agenda, a constant theme of putting “Country and People first.” The Social Compact will be based on creating jobs and national prosperity, governance, corruption and accountability, human capital development, social justice and civil liberties and security and law and order. These he said, are clearly manifested in his party’s manifesto – “Compact for Jobs Creation and National Prosperity. YES, WE CAN.
His message of Hope, he said calls for “a new awakening to the need for change from the current pessimism of our existence to an optimism for better things to come; Opportunity, because the new Leadership of the National Grand Coalition Party brings the deep knowledge and understanding of a globalized economic trading system and the partnerships needed and commitment to effect the Transformation of our country by creating decent and productive jobs for our people, particularly the 70% unemployed young people, and to lift majority of our suffering masses out of their present poverty as they continue to live as they are on less than two dollars a day.”