As CPP decides between Gongloe-Weh and Wongbe this weekend, other candidates fight for strategic positioning in hearts and minds of county’s electorate, all for one coveted senatorial seat.
Nimba has in recent days witnessed four endorsements in preparation to clinch the one available senatorial seat in the mid-term election in December this year. Two of the aspirants, including Edith Gongloe-Weh and Atty. Garrison D. Yealue, were endorsed in separate locations in the county during the past week.
On August 24, 2020, the Liberty Party endorsed former Nimba Superintendent, Mrs. Edith Gongloe Weh in a well-attended ceremony held in the Ganta United Methodist Gymnasium.
Mrs. Weh’s endorsement brings to two, the number of aspirants awaiting the Collaborating Political Parties primary, which is expected to take place on September 6, 2020, in Sanniquellie.
Last month the Alternative National Congress endorsed Mr. Taa Wongbe as its aspirant. Between him and Mrs. Weh, one of the two will be elected to represent the CPP in the impending senatorial election.
During PUP National Convention on Saturday, August 29, 2020, Atty. Garrison D. Yealue was endorsed to contest the senatorial seat, with Representative Jeremiah Koung being endorsed by Senator Prince Y. Johnson earlier.
So far, there are about seven persons who have declared their intentions to contest the pending election in December. Four are associated with political parties while the statuses of the other three aspirants including Mr. Dorr Cooper, former Senator Adolphus Dolo, and incumbent Senator Grupee, are yet to be defined in terms of party connection.
The heat of the CPP’s pending primary on September 6 is building and it is expected to be very intense as the two candidates exude confidence and optimism of victory on the ticket of the collaborating parties. Madam Gongloe-Weh who has been in the contest in two previous elections is popular by virtue of the fact that she has the experience and the crowd of supporters. Wongbe had spent much of his time outside of Liberia and has surfaced in recent times with an agriculture program as a major platform to convince the electorate.
Interestingly, the Collaborating Political Parties have signed a memorandum of understanding by which any candidate that loses the primary must abide, not to run as an independent; something Mr. Wongbe criticized.
Despite Wongbe’s concern raised on his Facebook page, his supporters told our reporter that they are optimistic about winning the primary on Sunday.
Madam Weh has already prepared an office space around the “Make it Way” Parking in Ganta, as Taa Wongbe uses the sub-office of the ANC in Ganta.
At her endorsement ceremony, Madam Gongloe-Weh was praised by her supporters of being developmental oriented, expressing the belief that she will carry on massive development across the county. The political ground appears to be favorable for Madam Gongloe-Weh from the gender perspective as many women are expressing interest in carrying a woman to the Senate. The women believe that since the war ended and successive elections conducted, no woman has ascended to the Senate on behalf of Nimba County. Since Madam Nohn Kidau was flushed out in the 2011 election, no woman has been elected as a lawmaker in the county. In Nimba’s political history, only Margaret Kemah had served as Senator. She served during the regime of jailed former President Charles Taylor from 1997 to 2003.
Supporters classify Madam Gongloe-Weh as “Corruption free;” nevertheless, the issue of US$800,000 used from the county’s account for the celebration of the 2010 Independence Day celebration in Nimba during her tenure as Superintendent, remains a point for critics to implicate the only female aspirant. However, the issue has not been challenged in a court to find her guilty of any foul play.
At the recent County Council Sitting, some advocacy groups called for a forensic audit of the usage of Social Development Funds and the publishing of the GAC audits covering activities of past leaders.
With this call, Madam Gongloe-Weh’s Facebook page “Edith Gongloe Weh Movement for United Nimba Progress” described the GAC audit report defeated, displaying several documents including some LBDI Bank slips showing transactions she carried out while serving as Superintendent.
As crowded as the political field has become, it is unpredictable who will claim the senatorial seat.
Nimba politics most often takes a tribal approach. It has been reported and alleged that the Gios always vote for their kin; something that sparked up tension in the county after the 2011 legislative election leading some members of the Mano tribe to call for the division of the county.
Currently, Garrison Yealue, Taa Wongbe, and Thomas Grupee are the three aspirants of the Gio tribe expressing their desires to contest the Senate seat, while Edith Gongloe-Weh and Dorr Cooper of the same Mano tribe and from the same village in Glehyee Zorpea in Yarwin Mensonnoh Electoral District #9 are contesting. Adolphus Saye Taryor Dolo though of the Mano tribe, has a mother from the Gio settlement, while Representative Jeremiah Koung, on the other hand, is paternally from the south-east but with a Gio mother.
Dolo, besides recent donations he has been making to hospitals and schools in Nimba, has always boasted of being one of the “emancipators” of Nimbaians for his role played in the 2003 war, when Ganta was captured by the LURD rebels on March 29 that year. The city was recaptured on June 30 and Dolo was the main frontline commander in that part of the county after the departure of former President Charles Taylor.
The war record of Senator Prince Johnson has positioned him at the level of influence where he is able to sway an election in favor of the candidate of his choice. As he has now endorsed Jeremiah Koung, many, including supporters of Koung are confident that he has won the seat already.
Yet, it remains to be seen whether Senator PYJ’s influence is enough to get Koung elected. There appears to be a growing “silent opposition” to the Political Godfather of Nimba, Sen. Johnson, especially after he, as chairman of the recent County Sitting, strong-armed the election of the Project Management Committee. The senator is also known for his erratic behavior and utterances. He is on record for insultingly lambasting his hand-picked candidate Jeremiah Koung, describing the man as greedy. Sen. Johnson is also on record as having said recently that he endorsed the presidential candidacy of George Manneh Weah in the 2017 elections to be a punishment to Nimba, because they (Nimbaians) do not now who to vote for.