For all the political heavyweights that have recently ditched the ruling Unity Party to hopefully better position themselves for the 2017 elections, every so often there comes a respite suggesting that the incumbent party may be down but certainly not out.
In an uncanny pledge of allegiance, Nimba County District #9 Representative, R. Matenokay Tingban — who left the UP after he lost the primaries in 2011 and won the same seat as an independent — has declared his commitment to the Unity Party.
“I will be calling a major press conference,” he told the Daily Observer, “that will bring together a huge number of UP partisans, not less than five thousand, at the party headquarters to reaffirm my commitment to the Unity Party. I have remained committed to the party, and on many occasions I have met with President Sirleaf and Secretary General Wilmot Paye, and we have a perfect relationship,” he said.
“I will continue to constructively engage and make sure that, as my obligation to mobilize support for Vice President Joe Boakai in 2017 under the banner of the JNB Movement, we will be in close consultation with the Unity Party.”
The Nimba lawmaker, who currently serves as Chairman for recruitment and mobilization campaign for the election of the Vice President Boakai, made the assertion this week to journalists in Monrovia.
Asked whether he has the capability to deliver the vote-rich Nimba County to the Vice President amidst reports that the political godfather of the county, Senator Prince Johnson, will run again for the presidency in 2017, Rep. Tingban agreed that Senator Johnson is an undisputable force to reckon with, “and a good man that Nimbaians respect,” but emphasized that the JNB Movement, too, respects his political strength and he cannot be left out of the ongoing discussion.
Rep. Tingban, however, maintained that lots of reputable and eminent citizens of the county are on board with Amb. Boakai.
Tingban denied ever asking the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) political leader George Weah to be his vice presidential running mate, or that he was behind Vice President Boakai for similar reasons. He, however, wondered whether it would be a political crime if he decides to do so. “George Weah and I never sat to discuss anything about vice presidential mate; those are just speculations which I don’t want to give credence to.
“My decision to support Joe Boakai comes from a patriotic and nationalistic background and not contingent on what I get,” he said.
Reacting to his kinsman’s statement, Nimba County Senior Senator Prince Johnson, among many things, condemned as biased and divisive the team put together to help the Vice President win Nimba, noting that the county has five tribes, but the membership of the team is Mano.
In his reaction via mobile phone, Senator Johnson told the Daily Observer that he will soon be forming a new political party to be called the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction.
“We want to reconstruct the government, because the current government is too corrupt and has become a vampire as admitted by President Sirleaf,” Senator Johnson declared, and further asserted that under the regime of President Samuel Doe, VP Boakai was asked to resign as Minister of Agriculture for corruption.
Senator Johnson said Vice President Boakai should do the same thing now, saying that will be the only good thing for the people of Liberia. He warned that no one can guarantee Vice President Boakai the Nimba majority vote.
It may be recalled that during the 2005 Presidential and Legislative Elections, Senator Johnson, who was then a member of the Unity Party, reportedly failed to win the party’s nomination for the Senate, but went ahead as an independent candidate and won with one of the highest margins in that election. In 2011, he formed the National Union for Democratic Progress under which he contested the presidency and came third.
Like Senator Johnson, Rep Tingban, as a UP partisanm failed to win his party’s nomination in the 2011 elections, but decided to go independent, and defeated the UP candidate.