The Special Senatorial Elections and the story of Montserrado and Bong Counties
Written by Joe Abban
The 2014 Special Senatorial Elections held on December 20 across in Liberia may now be history, but factors attributed to the defeat of many of the candidates continue to be at the center of public discussions in Monrovia and elsewhere in the country.
“crowded field (too many contestants in a county)” and political manipulations, especially during party primaries, contributed immensely to the inability of some of the candidates to overcome some of those announced recently as winners by the Chairman of the National Elections Commission or NEC.
If one considers the situations of Mr. Robert Alvin Sirleaf , he or she would wonder why, in fact, did he even attempt contesting in Montserrado County when it was absolutely certain that the footballer-turned politician, Mr. George Oppong Weah was overwhelmingly popular. Many had thought that since Gbarpolu County was his initial target, where he began working towards his political goal, it was only expedient that he kept his focus. But to have had a change of mind for the very impossible, no matter whatever assurance(s) he may have had, was the saddest political error ever made by Mr. Sirleaf.
Whoever advised Rob to change his mind against Gbarpolu did him complete injustice- knowing fully well that the political mentality of the majority Montserrado voters, based on mere fame, would have only favored his political rival, Mr. Weah. Mr. Sirleaf did not have to be a ‘rocket scientist’ to understand the ‘George Weah sentiments’, which are not based on substance, but mere popularity. He should have stayed right in Gbarpolu County, and by now, he would have been referred to as “Senator-Elect Robert Alvin Sirleaf” because, in our own political judgment, he would have convincingly won his competitors, including Mr. Daniel Nantein, who became the eventual victor in the senatorial race. Unless Rob and people who wrongly advise him, had thought that there was a difference between ‘being Senator of Gbarpolu and Senator of Montserrado’.
Had Rob Sirleaf stayed in the land of his nativity (Gbarpolu County), he would have spent far less than half of what he actually spent in Montserrado County to be able to expend the rest of the cash on other meaningful projects in the county immediately following his induction as Senator-Elect for his fatherland.
Another unfortunate situation is the election in Bong County, which occasioned victory for the incumbent, Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, despite her 9-year dismal performance. Senator Taylor’s re-election in Bong County can be attributed, firstly, to the ‘crowded political field’. 13-candidates were too many for such race against a politically desperate incumbent. Unfortunately, nine of the 13 candidates were from the so-called ‘Upper Bong’, and so, the votes may have been divided, except those of Senator Taylor’s main changer, the veteran educator, favorite and President of Cuttington University, Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa, who were all over the county. Despite efforts by eminent Bong County citizens and religious to convince non-impact-making candidates (as reflected in the results announced by the National Elections Commission), most of the individuals insisted on participating when they knew they could pull less than a thousand, five hundred votes or far less than that (see 2014 election results).
The decision by the Political Leader of the Unity Party to favored former Bong County Superintendent Rannie B. Jackson over Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa after winning the primaries also contributed to Jewel’s victory. Had the President not single-handedly decided the party’s representation, the huge split which characterized the party’s participation, would not have favored the woman who more than a year ago, ‘ politically indicted herself’ on Radio Gbarnga, just before her induction into the Bong Bar Association.
But again, a few so-called Bong County politicians, including Representative George S. Mulbah will pay the price for what they have created again against the interest of their own people, being very knowledgeable about the political characteristics of Senator Taylor.
Had the Dr. Tokpa’s victory in the UP primaries in Bong not been manipulated to result to the huge split in the party’s participation in the election, the county’s interest at the Legislature and Senate would have had a true face. Be that as it may, the woman has already won again, and rational Bong County citizens will only defend her publicly if her past 9 year term is repeated because she has already paid cash money to the majority who re-elected her, and that she owes them nothing. To be continued.