Like every other newly elected Member of Parliament, Hon. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella arrived at the Tower Hill House of Parliament on Tuesday, April 17 2018 to attend an orientation hosted by the out-going Clerk of the House, Hon. Ibrahim Sesay to familiarize themselves with their new public service career and the rules surrounding deliberations at the legislative house.
However, there was one thing that stood out: almost every new representative was eager to meet with him to exchange greetings. It was not only a moment of humility for the Samu Chiefdom Representative but one of rock-star status as he acknowledged and shook his new colleagues hands and bowed down as a sign of respect to both young and old who took time to come his way.
As he paced up and down the imposing building after a series of pleasantries trying to locate his new office as leader of the National Grand Coalition caucus – the whispers were audible. “This parliament will never be the same this time with guys like KKY as he is fondly called. Staff members as well as his new colleagues who had seen him during the last five months of campaign for the presidency were just happy to see him and to take photos with him. And photos, they took aplenty.
But whispers on the margins of the orientation were not just about the former NGC presidential candidate. They were also about two other newly elected Members of Parliament, one from the All Peoples Congress, Hon. Osman Timbo and another from the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party – name unknown. And so the argument began amongst themselves as I pretended not to hear; ”ah den nor dae near am sef,” one lady said. A middle- aged man of about five feet four inches with a coarse voice said, “ nar dis man we for don get as president but den tiff e vote den.” “Ah Sam nar tin you tok so bra. Me ah lek this man – nar ein be be the only honest presidential candidate. E deal tok but how den don tiff we money nar dis kontri ya en di debt but nobody nor bi listen,” underscored Saidu Mansaray, a man with a deep seated voice with a roundly built physique. As they spoke about Hon. Yumkella, he was seated – paying close attention to speaker after speaker until he raised his hand to ask a question about the Constituency Development Fund. The deafening silence would allow for a pin drop to be heard.
In between short breaks afforded them, he was seen shuffling from group-to-group to take photos. There was immense laughter and joy as he traded jokes with his new colleague until the seven-man delegation under the Coalition for Change (C4C) came saying – “we nor dae lef oh doc, said one Kono MP. “ Hon. Terminator,” said Yumkella as he recognized former Koidu Mayor, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina and warmly embraced each other before taking a group photo of both C4C and NGC parliamentarians.
The Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic has the distinction of welcoming a total of 124 MPs out of the 132 Constituencies. In fact, a staff member informed me the actual number is 126 newly elected MPs with only eight returning plus fourteen Paramount Chiefs.
“ I will not serve at the pleasure of anyone or as a minister as I have repeatedly said,” he responded to journalists as they insisted on questioning him and suggesting that the Foreign Minister position is reportedly vacant because it is reserved for him. Rumours had it that Hon. Yumkella rejected the offer from both parties when offered to him as they sought his support for the presidential run-off elections.
Clearly, Hon. Yumkella relishes his new role and looks forward to working on behalf of his Samu Constituents and on behalf of a nation that is indeed of true public servants who put Sierra Leone’s interest first. Having campaigned on his message of “Change” in order to provide hope, opportunity and transformation, the people of Samu Chiefdom are poised to benefit from the developmental projects already been developed even before his swearing-in or before parliament gets to work. No doubt, the business of parliament will not be the same again.