Tension is said to be awaiting the pending Nimba County Sitting, which is expected to begin next week, August 13, 2020, in the provincial capital, Sanniquellie, over the conduct of the election of a new corps of officers to steer the affairs of the Project Management Committee (PMC) for another three years.
In a press conference held by Rep. Larry Younquoi in Flumpa, alongside the endorsement ceremony of Jeremiah Koung by Senator Prince Johnson and his officials of the Movement of Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), he warned that the conduct of the PMC election should be done through secret ballot and all the candidates must have the opportunity to campaign in any form to win the minds of the voters.
Rep. Younquoi said he observed some form of cheating, where some influential personalities within the County Legislative Caucus are using their influence to push some of their office staff to contest for a seat on the PMC, something he said will not be tolerated.
He said the election of a chairman, treasurer and comptroller should be done democratically, without any interference.
“What we are experiencing is that some influential members of the Caucus are putting their staffers to contest for the strategic positions,” he said. “District #8 does not agree to that; we’re going to resist it to the letter.”
As an example, Rep. Younquoi said, “The Caucus is like a board of directors and Nimba County is a business entity. You know what it means for a member of the board of directors to put his staff into managing the resources. Then what are you going to monitor?
“If we go to Sanniquellie and cannot vote by picking a point, we will rather go to the law for redress,” he warned. “No staff from the legislative office should run for the coming PMC election,” he said.
Recently, Rep. Prince Tokpa accused Supt. Nelson Korquoi of campaigning to some of the stakeholders of Nimba for three of the prospective candidates in the pending PMC election where, Rep. Tokpa said, about L$25,000 was given to to the chiefs.
He said those candidates, who were involved in a secret campaign ahead of the election, will not be allowed to contest anymore as their action is dubious and undermines the legitimacy of the election.
The PMC election is part of Section 9.9 and 10 of the Budget Law, which calls for the election of three officers of the Project Management Committee, including the chairman, treasurer and the comptroller, to serve for a term of three years and no member is allowed to serve for more than two terms.
These officers managed all finances, raging from County Development Funds given by the government and the Social Development Fund from concession companies.
The committee is paid by the county, with a salary of US$2,000 for the PMC Chair, US$1,500 for Treasurer, and US$1,000 or more for the comptroller, along with other benefits, including scratch cards, traveling allowances, gas coupon, among others.
Since the introduction of the PMC in 2012, there has been no election where council members cast their ballots paper secretly. Rather, the election was done on a white ballot, after several consultations among members of the Caucus and the council.
With this, Representative Larry P. Younquoi alluded that this time around, the actual democratic process should be followed. Candidates should be allowed to campaign however they wish and spend any money they can spend to win the voters; but there should be no handpicking as done in the past.
The actual names of candidates are yet to be published. But the few prospective names that emerged include former acting PMC Chair Gompa Osundu Dahn, vying for chairman; former treasurer, Marcus Nuahn, running for treasurer; Sam T. Kruah, special assistant to Rep. Gonpue Kargon, vying for the treasury; Armstrong Gobac Selekopr of Nimba Education Guide, vying for chairman; former Nimba Inspector Thomas Suah, vying for chairman; and one Yenamie of Karnplay, also vying for chairman.
Yenamie is said to be one of Senator Prince Y. Johnson’s loyalists or office staff and is said to be one of the sources of the emerging conflict.