Nimba for Dr. Cassell?

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Dr. Cassell (middle), flanked by Chairman Paye and Vice Chairman Doe, cuts the ribbon to leading to the PLP headquarters.

Professed members of the People’s Liberation Party (PLP) hailing from the vote-rich county of Nimba have declared their county as a place that Dr. Daniel E. Cassell can rely on for a substantial number of votes and support in pursuit of the presidency come 2023.

February 20, 2021 saw a huge convergence of partisans at the dedicatory ceremony of the PLP Headquarters and installation of the party’s interim leadership, and one catchy scene was the wide billboard bearing the inscription, “Nimba-LEH-EE-LEH,” a phrase pronounced similarly and understood the same way as “Nimba is for you.”

The Nimba chapter of the PLP is especially delighted because a son of the county, Wilmot J.M. Paye, is the interim chairperson of the party, a position that Paye’s kinsmen see as placing them at the highest height of the newly established party.

Nimba County according to the 2008 Population and Housing Census has 468, 088, making it the most populous county after Montserrado that has 1, 144, 806.  Such expression of loyalty by the people of Nimba gives any politician the high impression that he or she can withstand the political competition among the many parties that are now forming coalition or collaboration to reduce the number of parties in the country.

Wilmot Paye is well knowledgeable in the politics of Liberia being the cast-away chairperson of the former ruling Unity Party who served for over five years after serving first as the party’s Secretary-General.  His woes began in 2014 when he publicly declared at a press conference that the Unity Party that was in power with former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as its standard-bearer was not supporting President Sirlear’s son, Robert Sirleaf, who joined the mid-term senatorial race for Montserrado County.

Mr. Paye’s problem exacerbated when he came out early last year to withdraw the UP’s support to the Council of Patriots’ organized protest on January 6, which some members of the party refused to heed to.  The rift resulted to suspending his membership in the party and subsequently removing him as Chairman.

Meanwhile, as he ascends to a new chairmanship position in the PLP, it may give some certainties to the party that he can carry along with him a large number of members from his vote rich county to solidify the vote base of PLP.  However, can the Paye factor substantiate the hope of PLP and Dr. Cassell to feel more certain that Nimba is theirs as inscribed on a flyer during the dedication of the party’s headquarters?

The Prince Johnson Factor

Although Nimba is rich in votes, the county’s Senator and former warlord, Prince Johnson, controls a large segment of the voting population.  Sine Senator Johnson won the senatorial seat in 2005 and then 2014, he remains an indisputable influential politician directing people of the county whom to support in presidential and legislative elections.

In the 2011 presidential runoff election, Senator Johnson sided with former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and she won over 90% of the vote that year.  In the 2017 election, Senator Johnson, after politically denigrating the CDC candidate George Weah and pledging support to former Vice President Joseph Boakai, made a U-turn and pledged his support to Weah thus leading him to victory.  In the just ended mid-term election in December last year, the Senator supported Nimba District #1 Representative Jeremiah Koung and he has been declared by the National Elections Commission (NEC) as the victor, though the case is still challenged by the Edith Gongloe-Weh legal team that filed complaints of fraud and irregularities.

The Boakai Episode (Incident)

Former Vice President Joseph Boakai was one political figure who received the highest endorsement in the 2017 presidential election, and one area expected to have gotten some of the highest votes from was Nimba from where Mr. Paye hails and served as Chairperson of the Unity Party.

However, in the runoff election between Boakai and CDC’s George Weah, Mr. Weah received the highest votes from the county being supported by Prince Johnson.  Gbehlay-Geh, the district in Nimba from where Mr. Paye hails, let down the Unity Party that he chaired.

Approach to the Political Battle

Mr. Paye, easy going but vocal talker, has however promised to use ethical approaches in selling PLP to people of his county and the country at large to see reasons to join hands with the.

In his politically motivating speech delivered on February 20, Mr. Paye dwelling on ‘Liberation’ as one of the branding words in the party’s acronym noted politicians have long deceived Liberians, professing to be what “They are really not.”

Cataloguing vices he claims have derailed the image of the country and left its people in an impoverished condition, Mr. Paye said:  “My dear fellow Liberians, the elections in 2023 must never be about replacing one failing Government with another led by corrupt elements from the past. The People’s Liberation Party, as our name suggests, is here to emancipate Liberia from the politics of deception—of corruption, nepotism, sectionalism and tribalism. Our Party cannot and will not promote these vices. Patriotism, integrity, accountability and transparency are virtues that are the minimum standards that those in leadership at national, county, district, chiefdom, township, town, village and community levels must meet at all times and under all circumstances. We cannot compromise these.”

Emphasizing further, Mr. Paye indicated that liberating Liberia requires fresh, new ideas, practical and predictable approaches to tackling the problems of corruption, nepotism, sectionalism and tribalism.

“When we liberate Liberia from the conspiring thieves that control and dominate our politics, then we can change, then we can qualify to become a viable alternative to the political bacteria and virus that continue to infect governance. When we stop greed and greedy politicians, then we can generate enough revenue to support farmers, schools, hospitals and clinics, connect our Country with good road networks, attract investors, create more jobs, insulate our courts and judges against political interference, strengthen our army and security agencies,” Paye added.

Liberia in 2020 took 137th place on the World Corruption Index, and impunity has been a hallmark in the governance system.  Tribalism, sectionalism, and nepotism are at a higher peak.  Even in Chairman Paye’s own Nimba County, the two largest tribes, Gio and Mano, are now in serious tribal feud with a large segment of the Gio contending that “No Mano man will ascend to the Senate seat of Nimba.”

Even though Chairman Paye whom the PLP may rely on for Nimba vote has no blemish public record, the certainty that his people can listen to and reason with him on the vices he mentioned to give support to his new party for a change of the status quo remains the miracle to witness in the few years ahead to the election.  

3 COMMENTS

  1. Tribalism, sectionalism, even nowadays, religion, have been used as channels through which the energy intended to mobilize the national agenda has been drained away, drip by drip. Politically appointed and high civil servant positions in the national government are used as trading commodities, through quid pro quo, by politicians. It is in this light that positions in the Liberian Government are used as payments to individuals for their tribal loyalty, partisan loyalty, family relationship, and also for sycophancy (“loyal friendship to the leader”). Interestingly, some politicians also use these positions as enticing baits to attract young people of the opposite gender (the boyfriend/girlfriend business). Various politicians use these various tactics inter-changeably, and they have been used in past administrations and continue to be used also interchangeably by the present administration.

    One would wonder why it will take a brilliant astrophysicist to figure out why Liberia, our country, cannot see the day of light towards national development! We are told that donations (in whatever form) were poured into the country by billions of United States dollars from the international community for the Reconciliation, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction process of war torn Liberia. This amount was poured into the nation because the international community had a lot of trust and confidence in the “Iron Lady” to turn Liberia around from the abyss. But with no definite guidelines and measuring yardsticks for accountability and oversight in the national government, the Liberian people will never know how that money was spent. The only tip of the iceberg upon which Liberians may make any deductive opinions on the issue is based on the creation of huge salary structures for the nation’s legislative branch of government, and heads of public corporations! Ironically, the Legislative branch of government is the only constituted branch charged with oversight responsibilities of how the nation’s business is carryout!

    One may bring into play, that these government positions are likened to the proverbial town cow where those with the upper hand take the fattest chunks of the meat, and after them, the rest of the cow meat is free for all in the town.

    Paradoxically, Liberians who are not at the helm of government, and are highly politically inclined, cry “crocodile tears”, pointing to corruption in government, even when these politicians are the most recent ones formerly in power. This group of Liberians become the new pied pipers in town blowing the horn of corruption and ineptitude in government, and everyone else follows their lead in the parade. And, the cycle of deception in national politics continues.

  2. My take on the newly formed People’s Liberation Party:

    1. The Unity Party is on drip and may likely go into coma come 2023, eventually dying out in 2026;

    2. Most Liberians, at least 40% of us, have resolved to becoming part of the community of decent people to fight impunity and corruption, uplift the livelihoods of other Liberians, effectively use our natural resources to benefit the children of Liberia, and not foreigners;

    3. Impunity is getting nervous in Liberia. It has entered its quirking face and may soon be buried along with its (key) actors. Remember darkness does not withstand the daylight. As soon as the latter becomes visible, darkness definitely surrenders and gives way.

    To those who took the initiative to form the new political party, congratulations on your vision and missions. I am of the strong conviction that you will make headways and impact the Liberian political arena.

    To those who think there are many political parties in Liberia, for which some have decided to fuse in one political block called the CPP, let me be blunt to you for once:
    The CPP sole mission is to eject Weah from our leadership, period.
    “You like it, jacko, you not like like it, jacko landa!”

    In the CPP, there are snakes, scorpions and other venomous reptiles with whom we (ANC) are tactfully cohabiting. We will ensure this political clientelism will not be at the detriment of the country.

    To the newly elected officials of the PLP, especially Chairman Paye, your speech is arousing, inspirational and enticing. But be reminded that we need to establish at least one solid political establishment in Liberia. As much as I acquiesce to all you have said within your manifesto, I can still not fathom what differentiates the PLP from the ANC.

    Let’s come together as a people with the same vision and missions under one umbrella to establish a solid pollical party that will NOT depend on an individual to win but the political machine and apparatuses.
    Such political grouping should be represented in all the 15 counties and must train and produce leadership from within. Such political party should be able to solidly remain operational in the absence of Alexander B. Cummings and Dr. Cassell. Let’s stop modeling political parties on an individual, let’s establish an institution that can withstand all winds, storms, fires and earthquakes.

    I will love to see a merger of the PLP and the ANC, with a primary in all the 15 counties of Liberia in 2023 between Alexander B. Cummings and Dr. Cassell to choose the best candidate to lead a Liberia we all aspire to live in.

    Long live Liberia!

  3. Hummmmmmmmm, interesting read! I thought the ANC’s major financier who eventually became the political leader by default without primary or contest is Mr. Cummings.
    However, I like your idea of a political merger for a competitive political force in the Nation, and I would encourage most major political parties and brief-case political establishments to form collaboration and eventually, competitive merger to reduce the proliferation of political parties in Liberia.

    Political deceptions largely exercised by most young people in Liberia are due to two major factors: the proliferation of political entities and extreme poverty. Given the small population of the Liberian Nation, estimated at about five million, we do not need more than 2 or 3 major political parties for a serious competitive political race to win the minds of the Liberian people.

    In any case, thanks so much for those sound suggestions to enhance Liberia’s political future. However, the saddest thing about Liberia’s political landscape is that almost all political parties in Liberia are owned and financed by wealthy individuals, who eventually serves as political leaders without question or competition.

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