Senator Prince Y. Johnson (PYJ), standard bearer of the opposition Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), on Wednesday, August 30, abruptly abandoned his political speech and cut short his planned politically rally in Gbarma Town, Gbarma Statutory District in Gbarpolu County, when youth in the area reportedly disrupted his speech. Sen. Johnson’s action became volatile when a youth group, a conglomeration of representatives of various political parties, pretending to be sympathizers of the MDR reportedly disrupted his speech by rowdily chanting a barrage of political slogans. Johnson arrived in Gbarma Town via Tubmanburg, Bomi County in a long convoy under drizzling rain, as the residents including children of Gbarma Town emerged from all directions to catch a glimpse of him and listen to his campaign message.
The program, which was planned to be hosted in the town’s administrative hall, brought together elders, market women, youth and members of the Nimba County community under the banner of the Nimba Kwado Organization (NKO). The NKO leadership is reportedly disappointed with the youth’s violent action. As protocol demanded, the MDR standard bearer was called to deliver his message to the people. At the event, Johnson decided to deliver his speech near the front door, close to where his four-wheel Toyota Hillux was parked. No sooner had Senator Johnson disembarked onto the floor, the youth started chanting slogans unfamiliar to the gathering. “Since majority of you are standing outside under the rain, I will join you, instead of you alone being in the rain,” Johnson told the teeming crowd.
But Senator Johnson’s speech standing by the door of his car was inaudible as some of the youth were crying ‘PYJ! PYJ!! PYJ!!!’ Johnson, however, managed to quiet them down and continued his speech for a short while, which was centered on food security for the nation, equal justice and peace for all Liberians, if elected President at the October polls. The situation did not last long when the youth again burst into another slogan, this time violently disrupting the occasion to the extent that Sen. Johnson asked to meet with the group’s leader, but to no avail. He tried to continue his massage, but was unable to the extent that he ordered his bodyguards and entourage to vacate the scene for Bopolu City, where they reportedly spent the night, and departed for Monrovia the next day.
Accordingly, Senator Johnson and his party’s abrupt departure was the talk of the town. “This was a test for him as a person who wants to lead the nation,” said some, while others argued that the youth’s action was totally unbecoming and wrong; and as such, the senator was right to cut short his rally. Some elders argued that Senator Johnson should have controlled his temper and meet with his kinsmen (Nimba citizens), who wholeheartedly welcomed him to the district.
They, meanwhile, referred to Sen. Johnson’s action as a “slap in the face,” something which they said brought shame and disgrace to Nimba citizens residing in the district.