Residents of Beo Chiefdom, a component of Twah River Electoral District #4 in Nimba County, have rejected the candidacy of a former rebel general for a non-combatant civil servant. Former commando John L. Teah, who portrayed himself as a ‘war hero’, was rejected by the residents of the chiefdom when the electorate took the hands of Rufus M. Zerlee, who the voters think will represent the district at the National Legislature come 2017.
Chiefs and elders of the chiefdom at a mass citizens’ meeting intended to narrow the number of aspirants from the chiefdom, rejected John L. Teah, a general in the defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), and five others who had declared their intention to contest the district legislative seat in 2017.
Beo Chiefdom, one of the biggest chiefdoms in the district, comprises 17 towns with an estimated population of over 25,000 inhabitants.
James Bumie, a spokesperson for the elders at a recent meeting in Gborplay Town, said the gathering was intended for the region to decide on a single aspirant, who they will ‘sell’ to the entire district. That is to canvass on that candidate’s behalf.
Other candidates who the citizens rejected at the mass gathering included John Karmon Porzah, Luonupeay S. Mentee, Daynah A. Zoe and Yeanner Karnwea, Jr.
Elders of the chiefdom endorsed the candidacy of Rufus M. Zerlee, a civilian staff at the Ministry of National Defense in Monrovia. They unanimously agreed to canvass for him during the 2017 presidential and legislative elections.
Prior to the elders’ endorsement of Mr. Zerlee, the six rejected aspirants provided information on why they should be elected by the council of elders.
In his platform statement to convince the elders, ex-general Teah described himself as a “war hero” who, during the civil crisis, claimed he prevented mayhem from taking place in the chiefdom.
He told the gathering that on several occasions, he engaged combatants who attempted looting and harassing innocent citizens of the chiefdom.
‘Gen. Teah’, as he is often called, made specific reference to clashes he and his troops had with a group of combatants who forcefully took away several heads of cattle from the chiefdom and disclosed that he returned the animals to the owners after he subdued the looters.
Aspirant Daynah A. Zoe, a US-based Nimbaian disclosed that his interest in the representative job is based on his desire to assist residents of District #4.
Zoe, who described himself as a wealthy man, said he has shipped an ambulance for the chiefdom.
He also disclosed plan to construct a hospital in Nimba County Electoral District #4.
For his part, Luonupeay S. Mentee, a high school-self trained agriculturist, said when elected he would champion the cause of local farmers in the district.
He said he would draft laws that would enable cocoa farmers benefit significantly from their labor.
Also speaking, aspirant John Karmon Porzah, an accountant by profession, said he would provide educational and other opportunities for young people in the district.
Aspirant Yeanner Karnwea, who is also a commercial motorcyclist, called on the elders to elect him over the others, because according to him, he represents the youth.
Following the aspirants’ presentations, the elders went to a closed-door meeting and emerged with Zerlee’s name as the person they want to represent the district at the National Legislature.
The elders said Zerlee, a native of Beo-Bongaplay, is best suited to represent the district at the legislature.
They believe Zerlee has contributed greatly to the manpower development of the district and has provided employment opportunities for jobless youth across the chiefdom.
Zerlee was also credited for establishing the first post-war school in the chiefdom.
“The re-opening of the school in the district curtailed the recruitment of children into fighting forces,” one of the elders said.
The elders promised to work with ‘Friends of Zerlee’, a political movement for the aspirant to ensure that he is elected as the next representative of Nimba County Electoral District # 4.
The district is currently represented at the Legislature by Garrison Yealue.