... Gongloe says as he takes the helm at LPP, " “I dream of a Liberia in which Liberia will be free and so sweet for every and all Liberians, such that no Liberian will be reluctant to depart from and [will] hurry to return to. "
Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe has accepted the Liberia People’s Party (LPP) nomination, casting him as a man on a mission to rescue Liberia from the high rate of poverty under the administration of President George Weah.
Poverty in Liberia remains widespread, with more than half of the population’s 50.9 percent below the national poverty line, and roughly 2.3 million Liberians were unable to meet their basic needs, according to a report by the World Bank in its Poverty & Equity Brief, which is updated as of April 2022.
So Gongloe, while accepting his party’s nomination, used the opportunity to offer a message of hope — drawing on the potential of Liberians and their experience overcoming tragedy, as key to a bright future which he believes he can offer if elected.
He then projected respect for his party’s emphasis on transparent and accountable government as a quality that he believes assures Liberians that he has both the grit and the vision — first to unseat Weah and then to deliver on a governing agenda that would materially improve the lives of citizens.
His message was more hopeful than ominous — as he called on Liberians to join him to meet its challenges and do great things for the country.
“You have directed me to go forward to tell the Liberian people that a better Liberia is possible, if we collectively fight the high level of corruption that exists in the governance of Liberia, in order to save enough money to improve our health system, educational system, reduce food insecurity, improve our infrastructure, increase our use of technology and tap on our green energy potential in order to move from being an energy dependent country to a productive partner in improving the electricity capacity of West Africa,” Gongloe said.
“The number one task of the Liberian People’s Party today is to lead the Liberian people in the battle against corruption. We must collectively form a movement against this notorious enemy of Liberia,” he added. “We will tell the people that LPP believes in operating an open, transparent, and accountable government with the assets, salaries, and benefits of the president, the vice president, the Speaker, President Pro Tempore, the lawmakers, the Chief Justice, justices, and judges as well as all public service employees made known to the people of Liberia.”
The LPP standard bearer’s speech in Gbarnga, Bong County, where his party convention took place, was an emphatic closing argument in a month-long lobby for the party’s highest position since he announced his campaign for the presidency in March.
Founded in 1983, the LPP was an electoral wing of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA), a leftist pan-African group founded by some of the historic figures that launched the campaign for multiparty democracy in Liberia; amongst them, Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh and the late Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer.
Dr. Sawyer served as President of the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) from 1990–94 and a young Gongloe served as his protégé and special assistant. Dr. Tipoteh ran on the ticket of the LPP in the elections held on 19 July 1997, accumulating just 1.61% of the vote.
Since the 1997 election, the LPP has been on the periphery of the Liberian political landscape, joining ranks with the United People’s Party (UPP) in the 2005 general elections and participating as part of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD), supporting Togba-Nah Tipoteh for president.
It resurfaced in 2011, this time as part of the National Democratic Coalition, NDC) backing Dew Mayson for president. In the same elections, its former presidential candidate and political leader Tipoteh left and ran for the Freedom Alliance Party of Liberia (FAPL).
And now, the party has offered Gongloe, who is not a traditional politician but more of a human rights activist — championing respect for the rule of law, while selling his narrative as a comforting national healer, capable of restoring a government that respects people's rights and the rule of law.
Before taking the realm of the LPP, Gongloe had focused his 2023 presidential campaign as an apostle of personal decency and as a transitional figure who would take on some of the worst Liberia crises — not just the issues of poverty, but corruption, which he had long argued is the root cause for the country’s failure and its people’s poor state.
“Liberia has experienced the worst forms of hardship from the effects of one party rule, military dictatorship, armed civil conflict, brutal civilian dictatorship, all due to bad governance stimulated by greed and selfishness. Bad governance has made corruption an acceptable culture of governance, unfortunately,” Gongloe said. “As a result of the high-level of corruption in most government offices in Liberia, a majority of the people of Liberia are getting poorer and poorer every day.”
“The challenge of transforming Liberia into a better country for all is indeed a very difficult one. However, with our party’s principle of putting the interest of the people above all other considerations, we will overcome the challenge of transforming Liberia for all Liberians to equally enjoy Liberia.”
In time past, Gongloe has laid out an ambitious future for the county, saying he is not the leader who would seek personal gains for benefits of the country and his track record of integrity and commitment to the rule of law, should serve as testimony.
His vision for the future, which he called the ‘Better Liberia Agenda’, includes a twelve-count prescription for combating corruption, the menace that has kept Liberia poor; non-interference with the functions of the judiciary and the police; big investment in health; agriculture; and respect for human rights. It also includes a plan to create an equitable, fair, sustainable, transparent, accountable, and merit-based society.
But as he always does, he issued a caveat in his acceptance speech that a better Liberia cannot be possible if people continue to choose, the consequence of which includes corruption and corruption brings hopelessness, despair and untold hardship in any country.
“I dream of a Liberia in which Liberia will be free and so sweet for every and all Liberians, such that no Liberian will be reluctant to depart from and [will] hurry to return to. This is only possible if we sweep corruption away from every government office in Liberia. Government is a place to serve, not to steal. Without corruption, a better Liberia is possible. We can and will succeed. A Better Liberia is Possible.
“You have clearly instructed me to go forth and tell the Liberian people that we can create Liberian millionaires outside government offices by giving Liberian business entities more government contracts than is being currently done,” the LPP Presidential candidate said.
“Your mandate, dear partisans, is for me to convince the Liberian people that we must insist on adding value to our mineral resources such as producing polished diamonds, processed gold, add value to our iron ore and stopping the exportation of round logs and, instead, produce made-in-Liberia furniture for local use and export.”
Gongloe’s vision, which appears as a solution for Liberia’s many problems, is nothing new. Politicians before him have expressed similar views and, when they get there, plans often change.
However, the main thrust of this vision is that, despite decades of terrible governance and backwardness in Liberia, a better Liberia is still possible — provided that the electorate can elect a leader who respects the rule of law and is unwavering against corruption.
And if Liberian voters plan to choose their next president on the basis of who presents the most compelling vision for the future, Gongloe would be a force to reckon with.