Liberia: Political Tension Brews in Nimba's District #7



The date for the presidential and legislative polls might still be months away, but the election fever is gradually increasing in Nimba County's Electoral District 7 where political maneuverings that could put certain potential contestants ahead of their opponents are already being hatched. Stakeholders in that district, which is anticipated to be one of the hotly contested come October, have begun locking horns. 

Reports say tension is brewing between the district representative, Roger S.W.Y. Domah, on one hand and Mayors Rueben Tuazama, and Jeremiah Nyangean, of Bahn and Saclepea Cities, respectively.

The two mayors, who preside over the two most populous cities in the district, have accused the incumbent candidate of threatening their lives.

They alleged that Rep. Domah, during a recent tour, incited the citizenry against them, calling on residents to humiliate them in public. “He told the people to boo us wherever we appear,” Mayor Nyegean told a local station. 

The two men also alleged that the lawmaker referred to them as “billy goats that can be controlled with cassava leaves.”

It is also alleged that Rep. Domah also said that the Mayors are “belly driven.”

The Mayors have taken exception to these labelings and inciting comments of the lawmaker, noting that such messages could potentially endanger their movement and also undermine their functions in their municipalities as the political season approaches.

"Rep. Domah told members of a crowd in Zoeloapa they should treat us like politicians, and that they should boo us whenever they see us," Mayor Nyegean said. 

Rep. Domah is the Chairman of Lower House’ Human rights committee, and the Mayors find it unthinkable that “those threats”  against their lives could be coming from him. “We have rights to social activities and his threats undermine our security,” Mayor Tuazama said. 

What prompted the feud between the lawmaker and his kinsmen remains unclear, but many are of the opinion that it is because of the closeness of the municipal heads to Liberty Party Chairman, Musa Bility, who has expressed his desire to contest for the district seat.

As part of what some termed as his political maneuvering, Bility, through his foundation, known as 'Bility Development Foundation, gave a Toyota pickup each to Tuazama and Nyegean. 

The foundation has also been rehabilitating feeder roads across the district, and opening alleyways across both cities.

Mayor Nyagean has defended his proximity, noting that the foundation has been carrying out projects that benefit the city and the entire district. “This is something that needs to be embraced,” he said. 

The two mayors, who are both members of the ruling Coalition for Democracy Change (CDC), argued that, in their positions, they are like twin mothers who worked with everybody, especially in a case of a citizen who is development oriented and inclined to help the citizens.

"Representative Domah and I have cordial relationship and in one of Mr. Bility's ground-breaking ceremonies (before Mr. Bility was petitioned to contest), Mr. Domah was present and contributed toward the project.

Mayor Nyagean alleged recently that  Rep. Domah had been sidelining him or his office from any development he (Rep. Domah) is undertaking in the city, by not inviting him or the Mayor's office.

The seat for District #7 is poised to be hotly contested; people in every nook and cranny of the district are expressing their interest for the seat — a situation that many think will dent Rep. Domah's chances of reelection.

But, among the new incomers, Mr. Musa Bility is the most formidable aspirant, pulling crowds over his development agenda, which involve the road rehabilitation, opening alleys across the municipalities, women empowerment, support to farmers and now embarking on the Bahn Market project.

In an exclusive interview in August last year, Rep. Domah claimed that, though he may be more popular with his people, the coming of Musa Bility will deter him because he (Bility) has his hand marks in every corner (towns/villages).

In another development, Rep. Larry Younquoi began the rehabilitation of CNC Road, which is also an asset road for ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML). The stretch of road connects the main Seclapea Road to Bong County, passing several towns and villages, including the home of former Chief Justice, Francis Korkpor.

But the road was very deplorable for movement of goods and services. The citizens along the road have repeatedly cried on AML for rehabilitation, but to no avail.

Rep. Younquoi is using the rehabilitation as a bid to reconvene the voters for his third-term bid, something that is likely to be challenging because, in the chiefdom where the rehabilitation is headed, several prominent citizens are expressing their desire to contest for the lone District 8 seat, among them, BBC Journalist Jonathan Paye-Layleh.