Bong Division Bill Sparks Controversy

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(Left to right) David S. Kansuah, Kusee Lepolu Armstrong, James Dorbor Na-Kulah Sao, Executive members of the ‘One Bong County Campaign’ addressing citizens in Gbarnga, Bong County

By Franklin N. Kwenah

A group of citizens under the banner “One Bong County Campaign” has called on citizens of the county not to support efforts to divide the county, promising to resist the bill proposed by the county Senator Henry Willie Yallah, to give Lower Bong a county status.

Sen. Yallah recently said he has proffered a bill that might give a county status to Lower Bong County. According to Senator Yallah, when passed into law, Bong County will be divided into two segments of Lower Bong County and Upper Bong County (the original Bong County).

Explaining the importance of the bill in Sanoyea Town in District 7 recently, Senator Yallah indicated that the bill is intended to bring rapid development in Lower Bong County.

The group, speaking in a press conference in Gbarnga, said the intent of Senator Yallah and his followers to divide the County is selfish, diabolical and has the proclivity of perpetually dividing their people.

The group’s national chairman David S. Kansuah said the problems in Bong are not about dividing their beloved County but the lack of adequate and united leadership that will see Bong County as a whole in decision making. This will ensure the equitable distribution of their limited resources for the sole purpose of improving the lives of their people.

“Our issues have never been about size or number but a responsible leadership that is creative and innovative in finding solutions that would seek to provide the best alternative source of funding to positively impact the lives of our people,’’ Mr. Kansuah said.

The group alleged that the senator said the landscape and population of the County are too huge and unmanageable. Because of this, he has lost the ability to provide quality leadership for the County.

Mr. Kansuah said Sen. Yallah cited Cuttington University, Phebe Hospital, the Central Agriculture Research Institute and the unfinished Bong County Technical College as the key development projects in Upper Bong; while Lower Bong County can only boast of Bong Mines Hospital and Tumutu Vocational Institute.

“The question is, as senator, what legislation and representation did Senator Yallah make since 2011 to have development projects in Lower Bong County?” he asked.

The One Bong County Campaign group said it is aware that the County received in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 US$4.6 million as Social Development Fund and an additional US$400,000 as County Development Fund, and as chairman of the Bong Legislative Caucus, what did Sen. Yallah propose as development package for Lower Bong County?

The advocacy group alleged that Senator Yallah has acquired a huge farmland from the people of Lower Bong where he is expected to produce rubber and cocoa; and while the land is yet to be surveyed, the road leading to the farm is in terrible condition and citizens working on Sen. Yallah’s farm have not been paid for three months.

“We are informed that Senator Henry W. Yallah is against the passage of the Land Rights and the Local Government bill because he doesn’t want local leaders to be elected so as to make decisions about their development projects. We are urging Senator Yallah to put a halt to his selfish political interest and focus on delivering the promises he made to citizens in 2011 instead of dividing them.”

It may be recalled that in recent weeks, Nobel Peace Laureate Madam Leymah Gbowee has promised to resist a bill proposed by Senator Yallah to give Lower Bong a county status.

Senator Yallah recently proffered a bill that could give a county status to Lower Bong County.

“We have a foot-mark called the County Development Fund, and it is cut across the country with two hundred thousand dollars. Do you see any fairness between River Cess and Bong County having two hundred thousand each? The bulk of Liberia’s budget is based on a financial plan that doesn’t regard the population and the demography of a county in terms of the distribution of the national cake,” he said.

Madam Gbowee has attributed the lack of development in Lower Bong to the inability of leaders in the region to adequately seek the wellbeing of the citizens and has accused Senator Yallah as one of the alleged masterminds responsible for the underdevelopment of Lower Bong.

Madam Gbowee promised to use all her resources to galvanize support in battling the controversial bill and has challenged those supporting the bill to show any self-initiated project towards the development of Lower Bong.

Authors

7 COMMENTS

  1. I want to thank these brothers from Bong County who are trying to keep the county and her people together why their representative in the legislator is trying to divide them. We stand with One Bong County forever.

  2. Division of the county is not a panacea for the underdevelopment plague affecting Bong. If partition could bring rapid development, River Gee and Gbarpolu would be far more developed than what they are today. The call for partitioning Bong County is laden with selfish political motives and will only increase the government wage bill. New legislative seats and local government offices so created as a consequence of the partitioning of Bong County will mean that government will have to spend more money for salary payments. Let Senator Yallah and co forget their political survivability and focus on working for the people. Bong County is stronger together and can be developed if we all pull together in the same direction. #OnceBongCountyCampaign.

  3. Bong County will NOT BE divided. Resource distribution Must be done on the number of people in a county or region. Liberia is poor becuase we are NOT exporting ( not able to do anything that is world competitive).

  4. I am concern about the extra burden such split will have on the national government budget, but it is a great idea to be debated and studied. The question that practically need to be asked is, what resources are there in lower Bong to sustain developments in terms of industries that will generate tax incentives to support the county development agenda? It shouldn’t just be about getting up and thinking that by splitting the county, suddenly, developments will flow because money allocated in the national budget also referred to as county development funds are insufficient to carry out meaningful rapid developments. Lower Bong if separated has Bong Mines to provide the tax incentives for developments, but does the mine has the resources/capacity like before the war mining activities that sustain Bong Mines and surrounding communities?

    Creating a new county will mean that elections will have to be conducted for representatives depending on the new districts that will be re-drawn, two senators and this will cost money. Besides, there will have to be a superintendent and a host of other county officials to be elected/appointed creating additional burden on the already stranded national government budget that’s below $6 million US dollars. I’ll strongly advise that the citizens of Bong appoint a committee to study this carefully and factor in all the consequences to the national government and truly understand what a monumental move it will be to split the Kpelle people of Bong County into two different counties. In our national history and geography, Bong is the only county that has one tribe predominantly occupying the county, the Kpelle People.

    What’s politically happening here is a power struggle between law makers and they’re using the citizens of Bong as scapegoats. If the reasons outlined as lack of developments and marginalization are the main reasons the county should be split, Phebe & Cuttington University are private institutions and though they’re located in upper Bong, the reason they’re located here wasn’t a political decision by any government, but rather the choice of Christian organizations that are the owners of these institutions.

    The argument about amending the constitution to allow foreign nationals to become citizens and own land is dumb proposal and there’s no investment theory or science to support such thinking. Now, how can lower Bong get develop without splitting the county? It is unfortunate that past governments before the war squandered opportunities when Bong Mines operated in this part of the county without government taking advantage to ask the company as part of its social responsibility to develop the county. Any company mining Bong Range going forward should undertake some developments to improve the living standard of citizens in that part of the county. A larger percentage of tax dollars government collects from any company operating the mines should be used to develop this part of the county besides what the company will do as part of its corporate social responsibility. However, for years Bong Mines operated a lucrative concession and the road from Kakata, Margibi was never pave. Government was given the money by the company and these opportunities were squandered to pave the stretch of the road leading into Bong Mines and extending it beyond Bong Mines. I live in Bong Mines for few months and I noticed that electricity and pipe borne water produced by the company didn’t benefit those living outside the company operating areas, but only in areas that had housing occupied by staffs and employees of the company; the company areas of operations including their peer at the Freeport of Monrovia. These are some of the things our honorable law makers ignore once they received brown envelopes from these companies.

    Our law makers should focus along with the president to develop institutions that create an enabling environment for people to move in any part of the country to invest without the fear of corruption over taking the rights of investors by unscrupulous government officials who will go at length to demand down from Lebanese merchants to grant them some weekly or monthly incentives/allowance in the form of merchandise to avoid paying taxes to the national government. The country should be opened with pave and feeder roads to help farmers take their produce to the markets and for merchants and other investors to be able to invest in other parts of the country. Decentralizing Liberia is key to its national development. I have said it many times and let me reiterate. The area around Heindi in Lower Bong County should be explored by the national government for a new Monrovia. There’s an abundant of land here that could be negotiated with people who live here and government can acquire the land to begin the construction of Monrovia where the new city will be layout and it will be inexpensive to build as compare to the Wetland President Weah proposed as the new Monrovia. Heindi has a dam and that can be transformed to a pristine tourist attraction with hotels and new buildings. Today’s Monrovia can be maintained as a commercial city and many of the embassies who preferred to remained by the Atlantic Ocean can remain in Monrovia because Heindi is only about 2 to 3 hours drive from Monrovia. If the county is split as is being proposed, these law makers are only interested in how much power that will be abrogated to them and not really to benefit the people of lower Bong or Bong Range County as is being suggested.

  5. The senator claim is faulty, selfish, politically driven; it also demonstrates his incompetence. All of the development he talked about were never initiated because of the county development funds; in fact, how much is the development fund that will rejuvenate the revival a county and sustain it?

    This guy is a joke; and if it is true that he cannot pay his farm workers, he should be voted out of office.

    I strongly believe because of his selfish request he will not be reelected. If I had my way, he will be immediately recall from the senate and replaced.

  6. How could this senator in his wisest of wisdom come up with this kind of suggestion by himself without consulting the people who this decision will affect? A decision to divide any county in Liberia should be discussed at all levels including villages, towns and various “cities” in the county, to ensure everybody has input into the decision as way of gaining consensus on the issue. Since senator Yallah believes he is bigger or powerful than the citizens of Bong County and so is taking them for granted, my suggestion would be that the citizens behind this “One Bong County” campaign should go one step further by launching a petition drive to recall senator Yallah as their senator. All it requires is certain number of signatures (research how many needed) and have registered voters in the county sign the petition and present it to the NEC for action. We have to start teaching our legislators their civic responsibilities the hard way. We should not wait for 6-9 years always in order to shake the hell out of them for this level of disrespect and stupidity. Senator Yallah has demonstrated he’s a separatist; one who believes in disunity and confusion. He has therefore lost the respect of the people of Bong County usually reserved for someone of his caliber.

  7. “My good people of lower Bong County,our issues have never been about size or number but a responsible leadership that is creative and innovative in finding solutions that would seek to provide the best alternative source of funding to positively impact the lives of our people.
    Senator Yallah issue he claims as saying that the landscape and population of the County are too huge and unmanageable, is not true but his own selfish idea. Because of this, he has lost the ability to provide quality leadership for the County.
    Senator Yallah in his so-called bill cited Cuttington University, Phebe Hospital, the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) and the Bong County Technical College as the key development projects in Upper Bong; while Lower Bong County can only boast of Bong Mines Hospital and Tumutu Vocational Institute.
    “But the question is, since Senator Yallah got elected as Senator in 2011 thinking that he could be a better representation of the people of Bong County, what legislation and representation has he made in the best interest of the people of Lower Bong County interns of Development? This is another political “tricks” and our people are not in the know-how of his tricks. As a selfish or mean guy, he has a mindset just to enrich himself whilst our people suffer continuously. Besides this so-called “conflict-ridden bill”, let him point at any development he can boast of in Bong County initiated or undertaken by him. We know him and let us not allow him to achieve his goal with this evil plan trust me.
    We are aware that the County received US$4.6 million as Social Development Fund and an additional US$400,000 as County Development Fund in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016. The question is, as chairman of the Bong Legislative Caucus, what did Senator Yallah propose as development package for Lower Bong County which he claims to love so much than anybody? This egoistic behavior of this young man shall never survive my good people of Bong County. This County is a center of “PEACE” in the Republic of Liberia and not “DIVISION” which he’s trying to initiate.
    If you don’t know, Senator Henry W. Yallah is against the passage of the Land Rights and the Local Government bill because he doesn’t want local leaders to be elected so as to make decisions about their development projects. We are urging Senator Yallah to put a halt to his selfish political interest and focus on delivering the promises he made to citizens in 2011 instead of dividing them.”
    It may be recalled that in recent weeks, Nobel Peace Laureate Madam Leymah Gbowee has promised to resist a bill proposed by Senator Yallah to give Lower Bong a county status, which is truth.
    My good people of Bong County, we have the County Development Fund, and it is cut across the country with two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000.00USD) each. The bulk of Liberia’s budget is based on a financial plan that doesn’t regard the population and the demography of a county in terms of the distribution of amount appropriated, which members of the Bong County Legislative Caucus which he serves as Chairman may even lobby for more funding support. But he is always busy with what he gets for himself and not the Citizens of Bong County. This idea is a wicked idea and let us not support it. Senator Yallah, we did not elect you to work hard to divide us please retrieve your “selfish bill”.

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