And this cloudy environment is acutely apparent even within the ranks of the SLPP family. Well, it does seem we are beginning to see a big swing in people’s opinion in favour of one of the two gentlemen.
The simple question people are answering is: Who do you think is the best bet to defeat the APC in 2018 for president of Sierra Leone. Of the 275 votes cast so far, Mr Kandeh Yumkella, a former UN diplomat for renewable energy, is taking a commanding lead over Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, a former military junta leader during the turbulent 1990s.
Yumkella has gotten so far a sweeping 86% of the votes and Maada is trailing at 14%. While this is not enough to draw a conclusion, it does give an indication that many consider Dr. Yumkella a better choice for the Sierra Leone People’s Party if it is to win the presidency from the All People’s Congress party in 2 years time.
The argument in favour of Yumkella so far is that he is better placed to attract votes beyond the traditional SLPP strongholds of the South and East. Since he is a northerner and an acclaimed international diplomat, he is considered well-placed to dent APC dominance in the north while he is assured of the votes from the south and to some extent the east.
Practically, the Western Area which is much more cosmopolitan and elitist, is outside of Maada Bio’s grip. The recent in-house SLPP delegates election seems to support this as Yumkella’s people are claiming over 80% of the delegates from this region.
Popular polls are giving the Maada Bio camp a snippet indication about how their candidate relates to the wider constituency if he is to stand any chance winning hearts and minds outside of the party.
What is without doubt is that Maada is solidly popular in the SLPP strongholds of the south and this should be the envy of Yumkella. But overall, Yumkella is proving to be nationally popular.