Elections Leave Divisive Scars on Nimba

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A facilitator making a presentation.

Youth dialogue reveals

The 2017 presidential and legislative elections are said to have far reaching impacts leaving scars of hatred and division among the people of the vote rich county of Nimba, local youths at a high level youth dialogue revealed last Friday.

The dialogue held at the conference hall of the Concerned Women’s Center in Ganta was organized by NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development with support from UNMIL.

Participants said a number of factors affected the voting process in the county, including the “Prince Johnson” factor, tribal factor, poor campaign strategy, unwillingness to see one political party going for a third term, and two candidates from the same political party running against each other in the same district.

Some views suggested that because Prince Johnson liberated the people of Nimba during Liberia’s bad old days, he is seen as the political godfather who has always directed the people of the county to vote his way.

In the 2011 election, the participants said Senator Johnson’s decision to support Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the runoff inspired them all to follow him.

In 2017, Senator Johnson could not gain that overwhelming support from all Nimbaians, except for a section of his tribe that overwhelmingly supported his endorsement of George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) thus abandoning  Unity Party’s candidate, Joseph Boakai, who from the initial stage was very popular in that county.

Since he could not draw all of Nimba to the CDC this time around, participants indicated that the votes in Nimba were heavily divided along tribal lines with the majority of votes for Boakai coming from the Mano belt, while Weah’s votes came mostly from the Gio belt.

This tribal influence on political decision-making in the county has in recent days sparked a call from some quarters for the division of Nimba into two counties.

Although discussions on this issue have in the past been rather muted, the call for the division of Nimba has intensified on social media in recent days and is being championed by D.K. Wonsehleah Mentee, Medricks Gontee and others.

Some are suggesting that the demarcation be structured in such a way that the Gios and Manos would live separate from each other thereby creating two counties.  However, there are deep seated fears that such a development will fuel and intensify tribal hatred in the county if it is accomplished.

The participants also pointed out the irregularities and fraud that marred the 2017 elections as factors currently fueling animosity among people in the county.

They cited the ongoing legal battle between incumbent Representative of District #8, Larry P. Younquoi, and his main rival Saye Miannah; the one between Evans Koah and Roger Domah of District #7; and between incumbent Garretson Yealue and Gonpue Kargon of District #4.

According to the youth, people of District #8 have turned against one another despite their tribal and cultural homogeneity, thereby conveying the impression that whoever wins, the people of the other parties would not be willing to work with him or her.

The NAYMOTE High Level Youth Dialogue, therefore, seeks to identify such post-electoral problems in order to work with districts and counties to resolve them.

Giving a detailed background of the dialogue, Eddie D. Jarwolo, Executive Director of NAYMOTE, said they are engaged in the discussions to identify lessons learned from the elections and to work with lawmakers to ensure that they fulfill their promises to the people.

He said the dialogue in Ganta was the fourth in a series, noting that “There is no law to hold any lawmaker for not fulfilling their promises to the people, but the only thing we can do is to work with the people in their respective communities so they can hold their lawmakers to fulfilling campaign promises made.

Jarwolo said some promised loans and other deliverables to their constituents, therefore the dialogue is cataloging the promises in order to work with communities to hold members of the 54th Legislature accountable when they take over.

The NAYMOTE Executive Director also said they will serve as stakeholders to push the agendas  of communities to their lawmakers. He said they will ensure that all lawmakers will have offices in their districts apart from their Capitol offices.

He said the project will go as far as providing funds to support the coming of lawmakers to their constituents having realized that when lawmakers make the attempt to reach their districts, they face financial problems from beggars.

“Lawmakers are not there for distributing money to facilitate weddings, bereavement or festivals, but for oversight, representation and law making. We will work with our people to dispel the high expectations they have of their lawmakers and to instead hold them accountable for what they need to do in the general interest of the citizens,” Jarwolo said.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The essence of unity is peaceful coexistence, and mutual respect, for the views of others. When these factors cease to exist, peaceful disengagement is the preferable route to pursue. The creation of two counties in Nimba, should be considered as a possible solution for our prevailing disagreements in Nimba. No amount of cosmetic attempts, to maintain the unity of Nimba, will derive a lasting solution to our problems. The unavoidable solution is, the peaceful creation of two counties.

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