As the National Elections Commission (NEC) on Monday, September 21, concluded its certification of the 118 candidates nominated to contest for the 15 available Senate seats across the country in the upcoming December 8 polls, the Lofa senatorial seat appears to be the most hotly contested in the race.
One would have thought it would be Montserrado or Nimba — known for their vote-rich populations and their political strongmen or godfathers, so to speak. But no, it is none other than the county once known as the “nation’s breadbasket”, a title that is more or less beclouded by lack of infrastructure to market the county’s agricultural prowess to the nation and the world. Located in northwestern Liberia, Lofa, has 11 candidates — more than nine percent of of the total number of candidates across the country.
Of the eleven aspirants of Lofa, five of them, including Tambah Agailas Dabah, Joseph Jallah Kpator, Deddeh Norh Jones, Mohammed O. Kamara and Julie Wiah Fatormah, are running as independent candidates. Abraham M. Dukuly, Marianmu Beyan Fofana and Gordon Nyumah Mowulo are respectively contesting on the tickets of the Rainbow Alliance (RA), All Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP) and the Liberia Restoration Party (LRP).
Others are, Johnny Koigbelie Ndebe Moniba of Liberia National Union (LNU), former Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) and the county’s senatorial incumbent, Senator George T. Tengbeh of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
Julie Wiah Fatormah and Mariamu Beyan Fofana are incumbent Representatives for Lofa Electoral Districts #2 and #4, respectively. As colleagues in the House of Representatives and on the County Legislative Caucus, the women appear unwilling to support each other against their male counterparts. On the other hand, the two women running have effectively doubled the county’s chances of having a female senator.
While it is the right of anyone meeting the requirements of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to apply to contest an elective post, the rise in the number with mainly the involvement of Representatives Mariamu Fofana and Jluie Wiah Fatormah is said to have exposed the disunity within the Legislative caucus of Lofa.
As it is in some other counties now, Lofa is said to be breeding sectional, tribal and religious politics which has led to the increase in the number of aspirants for the ensuing Senate election.
In a recent interview with Senator George Tamba Tengbeh, he told the Daily Observer that Lofa has its own political challenges but he is certain that his fellow Legislators and all others vying for the seat he hopes to retain can maturely and responsibly ensure that their messages resonate in line with their contributions to the County.
Sen. Tengbeh boasted that he has done enough and is optimistic that he will retain the seat. He further boasted that he has gained the right connections and understood Legislative politics to the point that he will do a lot more other than what he has achieved in the past eight years; and now the ninth year, in conclusion.
The National Elections Commission (NEC)’s provisional list has shown that Montserrado and Nimba, the first and second most populous and vote rich Counties, feature 9 and 7 aspirants, fewer than Lofa whose population, according the 2017 Voter Roll has 164,203 registered voters as compared to the 649,484 and 241,903 registered voters.
Nimba’s seven aspirants are said to be in their pre-campaign form. Top names for that county are Jeremiah Koung, Edth Gongloe-Weh, Taa Wongbe, Garrison Yealue and incumbent Senator Thomas Grupee.
Former warlord and proprietor of Nimba United Football Club, Adolphus Dolo, and former Superintendent Cooper Dorr are also in the race each, hoping to ascend to the Senate seat.
Jeremiah Koung, the incumbent Representative for Nimba District #1 is contesting on the ticket of the Movement for Democracy and Reconciliation in Liberia (MDR) but was endorsed unopposed by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
In Montserrado, Liberia’s most vote-rich County, incumbent Senator and aspirant on the ticket of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), Abraham Darius Dillon and the choice of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), District #5 Representative Thomas P. Fallah, are the most talked about names in the political space but there are other names, too.
Former Deputy Minister of Labor and CDC stalwart, Phil Tarpeh Dixon and Isaac Vah Tukpah, formerly of the ruling CDC as well as former and expelled CDC Jamima Wolokollie, are also in the race for the Senate seat currently occupied by CPP’s Darius Dillon. Interestingly, young Dixon of the CDC is going out on a limb against the odds stacked up against him in the in the person of aspirant Fallah. Yet, it was the same Dixon who surrendered his senatorial ambition to the ruling party’s choice in the previous election that brought Dillon to the seat. This time, apparently, the young attorney-at-law is bravely taking his chances to let the chips fall where they may.
Given the intense nature of the ensuing Senate election, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Bong, Bomi and Montserrado counties might bring lots of surprises, particularly so due to the violence packed atmosphere prevalent in those counties.
While there are 118 aspirants, NEC’s calendar of events has it that on October 10, there will be the publication of the final listing of candidates who will be officially qualified to participate in the December 8 Special Senate election. Those who did not meet all the requirements for nomination will be omitted from the ballot.
VRU ends today, NEC says No extension
Today September 25, the National Elections will be concluding the voter roll update and there will be no extension.
NEC chairperson, Davidetta Browne Lansanah, at the Commission’s recent press conference, said extending the time for the VRU will lead to the change of December 8 as the date for the conduct of both the Senatorial election and the referendum.
Madam Lansanah said places like Maryland, where there were challenges in getting the VRU started as planned due to the bad road network, will have a few extra days (number unknown) in order to reach out to all the communities where eligible voters who lost their voter cards or who recently reached age 18, can register to vote.