Can Nimba County Produce a President Or a Vice President In Future Elections?
.... In my view, Nimba unity or reconciliation is a key issue that would determine whether Nimba County will be able to produce a president or a vice president in the future Presidential and General Elections. A precondition to achieving relative unity and reconciliation — nobody expects 100% unity but 50 to 70% — is that the County must put aside personal interest and selfishness and transcend clan, tribe, and political party politics, which have been dominating Nimba politics.
By Professor Aloys Uwimana
Since it was legally founded in 1964, Nimba County has never produced an elected President of the Republic of Liberia. However, during the Regime of Charles Taylor (1997-2003), it has produced two Vice Presidents: Enock Dogolea (1997-2000) and Moses Blah (2000-2003).
The latter succeeded Enock Dogolea after his death in 2000. When Charles Taylor was sent into exile to Nigeria, Moses Blah became President of the Republic of Liberia for two months, until 14 October 2003, when a United Nations-backed transitional government, headed by Gyude Bryant, was established and Bryant was sworn in as Chairman of the Transitional Government of Liberia.
This article intends to lay down some strategies and actions Nimba County and all other stakeholders may consider and implement in order for Nimba to play a bigger and better role in Liberian politics commensurate with its potential power. It goes without saying that one of the first steps in that direction is to capture the highest level of the nation’s leadership.
In a previous article titled “DIVISION OF NIMBA COUNTY: A TABOO OR A CASE FOR REFLECTION”, which was published by INSIGHT in its January 29, 2018 issue, I advised those in favor and against the division to develop a scientific approach or strategy to make their cases. I also outlined some possible contents of such an approach or strategy that would help the Liberian Legislature exercise its prerogative, as provided in Article 34 (a) of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia. This article confers the responsibility of creating new counties and other political subdivisions upon the Legislature.
The main argument of those who vehemently refuted the idea of division, without convincing evidence, seemed to be the preservation of the county unity, dignity, and power conferred to Nimba County by the size of its territory and population, and endowments (natural resources). So, my questions were: “Is Nimba County united and reconciled?” “Is it playing a major role in the national political arena, the three attributes of power — size, population, and natural resources — confer to it?”
In my view, Nimba unity or reconciliation is a key issue that would determine whether Nimba County will be able to produce a president or a vice president in the future Presidential and General Elections. A precondition to achieving relative unity and reconciliation — nobody expects 100% unity but 50 to 70% — is that the County must put aside personal interest and selfishness and transcend clan, tribe, and political party politics, which have been dominating Nimba politics.
During the last three elections- 2005, 2011, and 2017 — Nimba seemed to have opted for a strategy of selling votes at the second round in exchange for positions in the incoming new administration. The strategy per se was noble, but the purpose was not wise. While it might have benefited a few individuals, has it advanced the cause of Nimba or improved the lives of Nimbaians? It is up to you readers to answer this fair question.
If Nimba is dedicated to producing a president or a vice president, it must endorse a complete paradigm change. Unity or reconciliation will require a political will and lots of sacrifices. Economics teaches us that, in order to obtain some item or carry out a decision, something else must be given up. It is the concept of opportunity cost. Setting aside personal interest along with clan, tribe, and political party competitions is the opportunity cost of unity and reconciliation.
Some would object that this is too theoretical. I will agree. So, how could this play out in practice? To answer this question, Nimba may imagine several scenarios and steps depending on what it wants to achieve. Nevertheless, Nimba has to keep in mind that no single county or political party can win elections and that coalitions or alliances will be needed.
The emergence of a charismatic leader, who can rally behind him or her the majority of Nimbaians inside Nimba, in the other 14 counties, and in the Diaspora, would constitute the first scenario. However, this scenario may be unlikely in the near future. If Nimba envisages directly electing a president, it should engage in a 2nd scenario, which would consist of a process of forging ahead with unity or reconciliation aimed at creating a consensus around a personality, the majority of Nimbaens can agree upon.
In this regard, several observers of Nimba politics, including Sam S. Suah and Anderson Paye, all members of the Council of Professional Elders of Sanniquellie COPES), have suggested that a Committee of Elders from the six original regions of Nimba — Sanniquellie-Mah, Gbehlay-Geh, Zoe-Geh, Tappita, Saclepea, and Yarwein-Mehnsonoh — be constituted to carry out such a process. An alternative to this Committee may be a Special Committee representing all cross sections of the population of Nimba.
The two scenarios require a consensus around a single leader agreeable to the majority of Nimbaians. While it may not be easy to achieve such a consensus in a reasonable time, Nimba may resort to a 3rd scenario, an intermediary between the two described above.
This scenario will mainly target the election of a vice president by supporting any political party which will have a Nimbaen vice president candidate on the ticket with a high chance to win the presidential election. This 3rd scenario may also require a consensus on the candidate, but to a lesser extent than the two. The game would be primarily between or among the political parties involved. In other words, the applicability of any of the three scenarios will depend on the prevailing political circumstances.
The purpose of the 3rd scenario is to have a vice president while planning to elect a president in the mid- or long run. During the 2017 Presidential and General Elections, if the majority of Nimbaians had supported “the Ticket Charles Broumskine-Harrison S. Karnwea, Sr.”, it would have been groundbreaking for the 3rd scenario. In any case, especially in the case of the two first scenarios, Nimba will need to form coalitions or alliances with some key counties or political parties as necessary.
In conclusion, I proposed three scenarios if Nimba envisages having a president or vice president in future elections. Any of the three scenarios may take time and may not be applicable to the October 2023 Presidential and General Elections. I would also like to clarify that I am a Resident of Liberia and I am not affiliated with any clan, tribe, or political party. I am only exercising my right as a scholar and a political and economic analyst.
About the author &Contributor
Aloys Uwimana is a former Civil Affairs Expert/United Nations Volunteer at the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and a Retired Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the USA and Japan. He is currently a Professor of French Studies and Economics at Nimba University in Sanniquellie City. He can be reached at +231-777 778 034 / +231-888 644 125 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peter N. Ben, Sr. immensely contributed to this article by editing its final version. He is Vice President for Administration at Nimba University and Chairman of the Council of Professional Elders of Sanniquellie (COPES). His contact information is as follows: +231-777 523 274 / +231-886 523 274 or at email@example.com.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily Observer.)