-Says ‘majority Nimbaians’ will decide
The creation of 5 new counties in 1964 by President Tubman was intended to address the issue of unequal representation. Prior to 1964 Liberia was divided into five counties, Grand Cape Mount, Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Sinoe and Maryland, 3 provinces, and 4 territories namely Marshall, Bomi Territory, Gibi Territory, Kru Coast Territory and Sasstown Territory.
The provinces were Central Province, which includes present- day Nimba and Bong counties, Western Province which comprises present-day Lofa and Gbarpolu counties, and Eastern Province, made up of present-day, River Gee, Grand Gedeh, and Grand Kru counties.
Until 1964, Nimba was part of Central Province, which included present-day Bong County. Since Nimba gained county status, it has never been divided as has been the case with Grand Gedeh, Maryland and Lofa counties. There has never even been a discussion about a division of Upper and Lower Nimba County, unlike Bong County where a presumed dichotomy exists between what is referred to as Upper Bong and Lower Bong.
Nimba, the most populous, has been making enviable strides in economic development. But since 2011, Nimba County has played hosts to an intense power struggle (bickering, squabbling), with some residents calling for a split which on the one hand would create Lower Nimba and, on the other, Upper Nimba.
Since 2017 the power play has intensified, leading to widespread debates among the County’s lawmakers and beyond.
In the aftermath of claims and counter-clams, Nimba County District #7 Representative, Roger Domah, has told the Daily Observer that though he “seriously stands against the split,” he believes that majority of his kinsmen will decide the fate of the County.
The UP lawmaker frowned on the idea of splitting the County, adding: “I support a united Nimba County instead.”
Domah has advised the leadership of Nimba County Caucus not to meddle in citizens’ politics suggesting the County’s split, but to allow the citizens to make the decision all by themselves. He however said it would be at the disadvantage of the citizens to divide the County.
Rep. Domah replaced Representative Worlea-Saywah Dunah, who did not seek re-election after serving for 12 years at the 52nd and 53rd Legislature respectively.
Reports say the “split” debate in the County is being masterminded by some influential people, especially members of the Legislature from southeastern Liberia, to relegate Senator Prince Y. Johnson’s somehow unchallenged role as the sole “Political Godfather of the County.”
Even though there has not been any law up to press time yesterday to officially divide the County, there are also reports that the County Electoral District #5 Representative, Samuel G. Korgar, and some southern Lawmakers are among those pushing for the implementation of a law that would see Nimba County divided into two.
Besides seeking to oust a single man (Senator Prince Johnson) as the political godfather of the County, they also claim the division would create an avenue (way, path) for additional seats in the upper house of parliament (senate).
However, there has been stiff resistance from majority of the citizens, who believe that the law, if implemented, would break down the unity and the political prowess of the County, increasing ethnic tension.
It may be recalled that on March 10, during a week-long Reconciliation Program of Rep. Domah, Sinoe County District #2 Representative Jay Nagbe Sloh argued that sometimes division is necessary to promote infrastructural developments, though he claims not to support the division of Nimba.
“I am not supporting division of the County, but Montserrado has six senators today because they divided themselves,” Rep. Sloh argued.
He said Bomi and Margibi counties have two senators each, while River Cess and River Gee, which broke away from Bassa and Grand Gedeh counties respectively, also have two senators each.
“You can still be divided and maintain your unity,’ the Sinoe lawmaker indicated.
Since March 10, Rep. Sloh’s statement has left many with the belief that the division of Nimba is being masterminded by lawmakers from the southeast. Some have pointed fingers at Senate Pro-tempore Albert Chie, who is believed to be one of the main protagonists supporting the division of Nimba and what is foreseen by some as the County’s subsequent collapse.
In an interview with Senator Thomas Grupee concerning the threats of a Gbi and Doru incorporation into River Cess County, he (Grupee) pointed fingers at Senator Francis Paye of River Cess for advancing the idea. He said that Paye orchestrated the splitting of Nimba in order to gain political relevance, because of promises made to his constituency.
Nimba County is located in northeastern Liberia and shares borders with La Côte d’Ivoire in the East and the Republic of Guinea in the Northeast. One of 15 counties that comprise the first-level of administrative division, the County has six statutory districts. Sanniquellie serves as the capital with the area of the County measuring 11,551 square kilometres (4,460 sq mi), the largest in the nation. Ganta is the most populous city in Nimba County. As of the 2008 Census, it had a population of 462,026, making it the second most populous county.
Named after Neinbaa Tohn Mountain, the tallest peak in the Nimba mountain range, Nimba County is also bordered by Bong and Grand Bassa counties to the west, River Cess County to the southwest, and Grand Gedeh County to the southeast.