The March 7 elections have been hotly contested, with the two traditional political parties - the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) and main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) - maintaining their dominance in the political landscape of Sierra Leone. While people were crying for change, the concept itself was largely misunderstood by a majority of them, due largely to a fixed concept of tribalism and regionalism. The language of change they clearly understood and comprehended was a trend in which either the APC gives way to the SLPP or vice visa. This was clearly manifested in the voting pattern, in which only the two political parties stood out and would subsequently go into a run-off. Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio of the SLPP is in pole position with 43.3 percent, while Dr. Samura Kamara of the ruling APC secured 42.7 percent of the total valid votes cast, trailing the opposition.
For the National Grand Coalition (NGC) and its leadership, the outcome of the elections, even though they secured third position with 6.9 percent, was far below their expectations. The concept of change they had preached was aimed at getting rid of the two old political parties and they had used the slogan 'Alusine and Alhassan for go,' to conscientise the voting population, but unfortunately though, that was not achieved. The voting pattern clearly showed a sharp ethnic and regional divide in the country. A worrisome sign though!
The March 7 elections is the fourth election conducted after the eleven years rebel war that ravaged the entire country, leaving its economy in shambles. Overall, the entire process has been described by both local and international observers as peaceful. While any of the sixteen political parties could not secure the fifty-five percent threshold to clinch the presidency, chairperson of the National Electoral Commission has declared March 27 as the date for the run-off between Dr. Samura Kamara of the APC and Julius Maada Bio of the SLPP. The only hope for the remaining two candidates - Dr.Samura Kamara and Julius Maada Bio - is to form a coalition with one of the two minor parties - Dr. Yumkella's National Grand Coalition and Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana's Coalition for Change party - that secured significant percentages in the first ballot. Despite the fact that Dr.Yumkella and Samuel Sam-Sumana have bones to pick with their traditional parties, everything humanly possible would be done to win them over by the two traditional parties, so as to ascertain their confidence in winning the run-off.
For Samuel Sam-Sumana, it would be unthinkable for him to pitch tent with the ruling APC - the party under which he served as Vice President for one and a half term, but was controversially sacked by President Ernest Bai Koroma. It is my strong view that even if he alone agrees to join the APC for the run-off, he would totally be deserted by his Kono People, who overwhelmingly voted him in an utmost protest against the intimidation meted against him by the party. Already, his C4C party has debunked claim in the Standard Times Newspaper that he had decided to support Dr. Samura Kamara of the APC. While speaking on Radio Democracy's 'Gud Mornin Salone' Programme, Chief Sumana noted that he was yet to decide as to who he would support in the run-off, but noted that he would surely support a candidate of a lesser evil and one that would move the country forward. His response speaks volume and many are of the view that he would join the SLPP through the influence of his Kono people, who are aggrieved about what was meted against him by the APC party.
Before now, Dr.Yumkella and his NGC have been deemed kingmakers - that their support for any party in the run-off would determine the winner. The outcome of the March 7 presidential election has proven that fact. As a party that was formed and registered a few months before the March 7 elections, the NGC was able to galvanise significant support, securing 174,014 votes. Unimaginable. With his personality, Dr.Yumkella was quick to add value to the party, attracting some political big wigs from the southeast and Western Area, albeit he might be disappointed with the votes his NGC party secured from those areas. Like many other kingmakers in Sierra Leone's political history, the NGC would possibly be used as a conduit for one of the traditional parties to win the run-off. While the party remains undecided as to whether they should support either of the two grand parties or remain neutral, the question that comes to mind is that, has Dr.Yumkella read the history of past political kingmakers in the likes Thaimu Bangura of the now defunct Peoples Democratic Party and Charles Francis Margai of the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change?
In my humble view, if the NGC is here to stay and effect the change it is craving for, then Dr.Yumkella should thoroughly read the story of Charles Margai and Thaimu Bangura. The latter's party crumbled after they joined the SLPP-led government in 1996.
When Charles Margai was denied the right to contest as flagbearer under the ticket of the SLPP in 2005, he formed PMDC party and contested the 2007 elections. His party secured 13.89 percent in the said election, securing nine seats in the House of Parliament. His political popularity then flied like bush fire in the dry season. As a way of revenge, Charles Margai decided to pitch tent with the opposition APC in the run-off, helping Ernest Koroma to win the election. After the elections, few of his men were awarded cabinet positions, with most of them paying allegiance to the APC instead of PMDC. That was the start of his political death sentence. Fast forward to the 2012 elections, his popularity considerably dwindled and the PMDC only secured 1.3 percent. Charles Francis Margai was finally taken to the political gallows in the just concluded 2018 elections, in which he secured only 0.4 percent. His past decision has haunted and would continue to haunt him throughout his entire life on earth unto eternity. The PMDC would have been a formidable force that would have kicked out the two traditional political parties, but alas 'how has the mighty fallen.'
In my humble opinion, I believe there is light at the end of the tunnel for Dr.Yumkella, should he remain neutral and allow his supporters to decide their own fate in the March 27 run-off between Julius Maada Bio and Dr. Samura Kamara. The people, including yours truly, are yearning for change and that is achievable with absolute consistency and emphasis on the message of the real concept -not from APC to SLPP or SLPP to APC, but change that would get rid of the two traditional parties, who are guilty of placing the country in its current state of quagmire. Therefore, KKY should not follow the bandwagon of politicians who have aided and conspired with these two grand old political parties to exploit the country at the expense of the masses.