As Liberia entered the second week of campaigning for the presidential and representative elections in October, a well-arranged political debate named “Ducor Debate” by the Liberia Media for Democratic Initiative (LMDI) in Nimba County is heating up with representative candidates questioning each other on the podium.
On Friday, August 4, the process began in the county’s Electoral District #1, where the residents witnessed the much-heralded debate among five of the six candidates vying for the district’s lone seat. The incumbent Representative, Jeremiah Koung, was fiercely challenged by his opponents, who wanted him to explain the impact of the Legislative Support Fund Project (LSFP) in his district over the years under his leadership.
Koung responded with an offer to take his opponents around the district to see for themselves all the development projects he claimed to have implemented from the LSFP, because he feels the projects are numerous, and he could not name them all in the debate.
There are six candidates vying for the representative seat in District #1, which includes the commercial city of Ganta. In addition to incumbent Rep. Koung, other candidates that participated included Lawrence Sua, Mrs. Margaret K. Korkpor (wife of sitting Chief Justice Francis Korkpor), Amos N. G. Suah and Othello Deshield. One of the candidates, Samuel Brown, was conspicuously absent which his opponents attributed to his inability to speak in public, especially before a huge gathering of people from different backgrounds.
The debate made a second stop in Sanniquellie District #2, where 12 contenders, including incumbent Representative Prince O. S. Tokpah, participated, although three of his challengers did not show up. Rep. Tokpah faces formidable challenges from his opponents who are highly educated, according to their respective profiles. Tokpah could not answer most of questions to the expectation of the crowd, which many regarded as a sign of incompetence for the position. The debate put Nyan Flomo and B. K. Gono ahead of the rest of the candidates.
The next stage of the debate was expected to take place yesterday in Karnplay, District #3, where about eight candidates, excluding the incumbent, Samuel Woleh, were to deliberate. Former Nimba Superintendent and a former Minister of Youth and Sport, Mr. Teeko Tozay Yorlay, is among the main contenders in the race for that representative seat.
The District #4 debate will take place in Bealeglay on August 10, 2017, where sitting Representative Garrison Yealue will be facing some talented men and women. Former Charles Taylor General, Roland Duo, is among several businessmen who are the main contenders. This is one of the districts in Nimba that has the highest number of contestants, and many believe the incumbent’s chances of making a come back will be slim.
Information reaching the Daily Observer suggests that the debate will take a break for four days and will resume on August 15 in Saclepea City, Nimba County District # 7, where the incumbent is also not be contesting.
Most of the questions from the debates have focused on the usage of the Legislative Support Fund Project (LSFP) and the County Development Fund . Nearly all the candidates said if they are elected, they will seek their constituents’ views on how their share should be used. Most of the Representatives of the outgoing 53rd Legislature are yet to identify tangible projects from the LSFP over the past years. Individual donations, such as providing bundles of zinc, bags of cements to churches, schools or individuals, however, were some of their chief achievements of the past years.