Liberia: Matthew Fomgbeh Vies for UMU’s Junior Class Presidency

.... Wants to bring dynamism to student leadership

Aspiring student leader, Matthew Fomgbeh, says the most burning issue that is pushing his quest for a leadership position at the United Methodist University (UMU) is to serve equality for all students of the institution and address some of the many challenges they are faced with.

As a student who gets along with others well, Fomgbeh states that student leaders must ensure that students are able to form meaningful relationships, transition seamlessly into life on campus and find venues through which they can share their ideas and express themselves. He calls for better leadership at all strata of the university.

The call comes at a time when Methodist University students go to the polls on December 2, to elect the leadership of the student council government as well as the leaders of the various tiers of the student body (freshman, sophomore, Junior).

The victors of the senior or graduating class elections would head the Student Council. Fomgbeh is one of several students seeking to be preferred by their colleagues for various positions across the various tiers.

His target, the Junior Class presidency, is one of the most hotly contested seats in the ensuing elections. Though a popular student and a clear frontrunner for the seat, Matthew Fomgbeh thought it prudent to form a ticket (TEAM FOMGBEH) that also includes colleagues, Emmanuel Gorque and Sampat JMB Kpakimah, who are running for vice president and secretary general, respectively. Fomgbeh’s closest opponent, Charles Saye Queeglay, is contesting as a solo candidate.

“I might be popular among my colleagues but there is no room for complacency,” Fomgbeh says. “I have to reach every stakeholder in this process and sell my platform to them. I have to convince them to see reasons to support us,” he says.

A Leader That Can Be for Everybody

Fomgbeh is contesting the highest office of the third-year students with an intent to do what he can to benefit the common good of his constituents. “My team and I want to push for the welfare of our colleagues. We want to be that representation and advocate for the common good of the students,” he adds. “We want to be there for everybody and be that voice for all.”

He has never served on Student Council before, but Fomgbeh said he believes that any University student is qualified to run regardless of direct experience with student leadership. 

“I believe every student is qualified to run for leadership; it is just a matter of who’s willing to come out of their comfort zone with the intention of bringing about change and create change for the benefit of all UMU students,” he says.

Fomgbeh made it explicit that if given the opportunity to serve, he would work diligently not to serve particular interests, instead listening to any student that comes to him. 

Fomgbeh thinks that students at the University are very creative, but that they don’t see enough creativity and innovation amidst classes and academic pressures — a situation he believes stifles the passions of students.  

“I believe that every student is very creative — we are innovators,” he states. “We just need a challenge to be able to come out and just be ourselves.”

Fomgbeh, Gorque, and Kpakimah’s platform focuses on three central tenets — advocate, organizing and fostering mutual working relationships with the administrators of the university.

 “We want to make advocacy the central nerve of our administration,” VP candidate Emmanuel Gorque says. “We see a lot of gaps in that direction.”

He believes students have been shortchanged for years now at the university. “It is unfortunate that students will pay for some services every semester but those hardly come. This is wrong and it has to change,” he stresses. “We need a vibrant leadership to put an end to that.  And that is what TEAM FOMGBEH represents.”

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TeamFomgbeh’s members: (L-R) Matthew Fomgbeh, Emmanuel Gorque, and Sampat Kpakimah

“We have been paying ICT and Insurance fees every semester but we don’t know where these monies go. We want to sit with the administration and understand what is happening,” he says.

As a student of the sciences and also someone who considers himself a socialite, Gorque believes he adds a valuable perspective to the position of vice president for the Junior Class. 

“I'm kind of uniquely situated for this role,” Gorque said. “I have seen how others have  handled their student organizations. I want to bring those experiences to this position.”

All of their plans cannot work in isolation of the UMU administration, the team therefore stresses the need to establish a cordial working relationship with the administration of Dr. Yar Gonway-Gono, president of UMU. 

“We want to build a cordial working relationship with the administration in order to achieve our plan,” Torque says. 

Meanwhile, a series of debates being organized by the University Elections Board will take place on December 1. The elections, which are set to commence early morning hours of Friday, December 2, 2022, will see the ushering in of new student body leaders to power at different levels, which include freshman, sophomore, Junior, and Student Council (graduating class).