Dr Kandeh Yumkella’s Message at The NGC Delegates’ Conference
- By Modu Sesay |
- 4 months ago |
Ahead of the 2023 multi-tier general elections slated on 24th June, National Grand Coalition (NGC) held their National Delegates’ Conference/ convention on 13th and 15th December, 2022.
The all-important meeting was initially slated for 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th December, 2022. As a result of unavoidable reasons, the conference was postponed to 13th and 14th December, this year. The conference was held at the Freetown City Council Auditorium with about 802 delegates from across the country.
At the conference, the flag-bearer of the opposition NGC Dr Kandeh Yumkella addressed the auditorium filled with NGC Delegates on his seven years of a Progressive Centrist Agenda for Compassionate, Inclusive Governance (CIG).
Delivering his speech to the audience he mentioned:
“My wife and I relocated to Sierra Leone in August, 2015 to formally launch my presidential campaign. In 2017 the process of creating a new party was initiated. Almost six years after the National Grand Coalition (NGC) was established, we are hosting our third national delegates conference. We successfully completed nationwide lower-level elections under a new revised party constitution. As a result 10,818 executives have been elected across the country for wards, constituencies, districts and regions. Tomorrow delegates will elect the national officers of the party.
The idea of a grand coalition of progressives made sense 10 years ago, and today in a deeply divided country, we are even more convinced of the relevance of strategic alliances and a new kind of politics that promotes compassion, inclusiveness, social justice and prosperity for all.
We are the National Grand Coalition Party. At the very core of our foundational beliefs and values was the conviction that we need to unite as a nation to chart our way forward and transform our economic developmental prospects.
Our strength is from both our diversity and the core values we share. NGC is now accepted as a critical part of the “body politique” of Salone. We all have to take this opportunity to unify our country around a shared national purpose and the pursuit of a common destiny. We must resist the temptations of the divisive politics of yesterday. Our common enemies are poverty, ignorance and corruption, and not people of other political parties.
Now is the time to come together, to think strategically, and to mobilize all talents and all perspectives for us to make a stand about which pathway we will pursue in 2023 and beyond.
We have introduced Sierra Leoneans to a progressive centrist politics and the idea of a constructive opposition. We don’t oppose for the sake of opposing. We don’t cry down that which needs building up. We have positioned ourselves on the side of the ordinary, long-suffering Sierra Leonean. We stand for what is right. We have also remained a centrist party within the hallowed walls of Parliament for five years. I salute my colleagues, Hon. Foday Mario-Kamara, Hon. Abdul Titus Kamara and Hon. Bai Sama Kamara for being the first NGC members of Parliament.
Our memberships both at home and abroad have put Salone Fos. You all fight for the ordinary Sierra Leonean. All of you in the UK&I, North America, Continental Europe, Australia, all across Africa and in all the five regions of Sierra Leone are united in fighting for what is right in our country. You are making a difference. NGC is making a difference.
United To Face The Hard Times Ahead
For too many Sierra Leoneans, governments change, but life doesn’t. Sierra Leone is a fragile, poor country at the low end of all development indicators. And we’ve been that way for too long.
When the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) first launched its Human Development Index 30 years ago, Sierra Leone was ranked fourth from the bottom out of 130 countries. In 2019, we were ranked 182 out of 189 countries, sixth from the bottom. The impacts of the ebola epidemic and the covid pandemic have exacerbated our low level of human development. No major transformative change in the economy, social capital or well being of our people has occurred in over three decades, for we are still among the poorest of the poor. Are our people forever condemned to live in a poverty trap?
Our current economic, political and development challenges are very serious. The fuel, food and finance crisis will continue to cause mayhem to economies around the world for the next two to three years at least.
Currently in our country, inflation is 29%, food price inflation is 35% and rising. We are in a deep economic crisis of stagflation
We have to come together as one people to plan for the emerging external shocks that might drive commodity, food and energy costs much higher than the world has ever seen?
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These new emerging global challenges require new ideas and collaborative approaches, and not divisive politics. The NGC has to be that honest broker! That champion for the ordinary Sierra Leonean, that entity that can unify opposing political forces, and mobilize our people to pursue a common destiny. That voice urging everyone in government to serve the people. A new collaborative approach and a fresh start.
With prices constantly on the rise, is it any surprise that recent surveys indicated that 71% of Sierra Leoneans went without food at least once in 2020. The IMF says 57% of Sierra Leoneans were food insecure in 2020, up by 10% since 2010.
Almost 4% of our compatriots face acute malnutrition. An IMF report states: “With a high risk of debt distress, Sierra Leone requires enhanced revenue mobilization, prudent expenditure management, and continued external grant support”
All these indicators were before COVID and before the Ukrainian-Russia war. So it means that, at this moment in our history, life is hellish for the common man. We need to come together to save our beautiful Salone.
We must continue to call for a new Compact between the people of Sierra Leone and their elected leadership.
On the government side, we should focus on five pillars. First, health and education.
Second, making our democracy work for the people. Third, expanding our economy to provide more jobs, especially for the most marginalized, women, youth, and people with disabilities among them. Fourth, strengthening peace and national cohesion by restoring social justice, the rule of law, and human security. And fifth, by focusing on enablers such as public sector reform, climate change and environment, affordable energy, land reform, and so on.
We must end impunity by holding office-bearers to account for their service and actions; respect the rule of law; end the use of nepotism or tribalism to jump the queue, bypass the rules, or undermine the rule of law.
More importantly, a progressive agenda must include, inter alia: ensuring the diasporas can register and vote in their countries of residence. Thanks to our progressive agenda, the 30% quota for women in governance is now law of the land; our election dates are now fixed and predictable.
Urgency for Political Cohesion
The reality today is that we live in a polarized country that leaves many of us feeling uneasy. Our democracy is under threat because we are deeply divided with hate speeches, do-me-ah-do-you” and mammy cuss fast becoming the new normal. In this milieu, we the NGC must reach out to other political parties to promote strategic alliances for peace and change. As NGC, we have taken a constructive approach to our opposition. I have often been criticized in parliament for supporting government measures. But when the government succeeds, we all succeed. When the government fails, it hurts every one of us. The records will also show that I have fearlessly challenged the government on policies and issues I consider not to be in the public interest, Further, progressive ideas I included in my omnibus bill (which was not gazetted) two years ago have found their way in government bills on gender empowerment and the new electoral act.
DON’T TAKE PEACE FOR GRANTED
Above all, we must learn to forgive each other and eschew violence. In our lifetime, we had President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s example of forgiving the seemingly unforgivable, suing for peace, all in the name of national unity. We’re not at war today, but a progressive agenda requires forgiveness and strategic alliances to transform our nation.
Let us define ourselves not by what we are against but what we are for-a prosperous, happy, united Sierra Leone that stands tall and proud among the family of nations
Through dialogue and collaboration, many more of us politicians have realized that we don’t have to let different party colors make us enemies.
There is more common ground to unite us Sierra Leoneans than to divide us. In Sierra Leone, we’ve had over two decades of peace, but we must continue to want that peace. We must continue to work for it. Let us not be complacent. If you look around the world you will not take peace for granted. For example, Ethiopia went back into civil war after decades of sustained growth and development. In the past two years, three military coups have taken place within the ECOWAS and a fourth one was averted. We have to come together to define the Sierra Leone we want. We don’t have to be trapped by our past. Let us leave our politics of ethnoregional rivalries and hatred behind us. Let us make a break with the politics of “do me-ah-do-you”. An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.
We need a new progressive alliance to take Sierra Leone forward. Let us reach deep for our better selves and forgive each other.
So, in conclusion, you joined NGC for the right reasons. You were right to join the NGC. Again, I say thank you for the support you have provided the party. We are grateful to you.
So I ask all of us NGCians to work together as a team, respect and support each, and be the change we want to see. But ending our 60 years of disappointment starts with every one of us in this convention. We have a shared mission to eliminate hunger, disease, homelessness, insecurity, illiteracy, joblessness, division, and conflict in our beloved Sierra Leone. 13 We share a mission with many others who aren’t NGC members but share the same values, ideals, vision, and principles that we in NGC hold dear. Our task now is to build the strategic alliance to determine our fate as Sierra Leoneans and the future of our children, grandchildren, and unborn generations. United We Stand! We Stand United. You touch wan, you touch we all!
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Thank you all”
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