Ganta Presidential Debate: Dual Currency and Citizenship, Others High on Agenda

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Only five presidential candidates showed up for the debate

The first day of the presidential debates began yesterday in Ganta, Nimba County with presidential candidates promising to improve education, carry out land reforms, find a solution to the country’s dual currencies and encourage patriotism among the citizenry, among other reforms. The “Ducor Debates” is being held under the authority of the Liberia Media Development Initiative (LMDI) and the Public Trust Media Group (PTMG), and is focused on several crucial national issues, including the expected National Referendum on dual citizenship, the land reform acts, dual currency, constitution demarcation on post-2017 election for a possible return of a constitutional threshold and the issue of moving the capital from Monrovia to Zekepa. Others include the uphill task of fighting corruption, an effective method for reconciling Liberians, transitional justice, and the implementation of recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report.

Two candidates, MacDonald Wento and Simeon Freeman, face-off in the debate

Five of the presidential candidates, including Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr. (Liberia People’s Party), Mr. MacDonald Wento (United People’s Party), Mr. Simeon Freeman (Movement for Progressive Change), Ms. MacDella Cooper (Liberia Restoration Party) and Rev. William Kpadeh (Independent), made strong cases with impressive arguments about what they would do if elected. In their arguments, Wento, Cooper and Fahnbulleh promised to support dual citizenship as well as dual currency, with Freeman and Kpadeh arguing that dual citizenship brews corruption and a high level of unpatriotic behavior, because such individuals do not have love for the country due to their double allegiance. Wento said: “Liberia will have to be able to export goods to other countries to be able to have a single currency and if that is not done and we still decide to have a single currency, the inflation rate will be high.” On dual citizenship, he said it will stabilize the country economically, allowing those living in the Diaspora to come back home and contribute to the building of the nation. He also outlined peace building, reconciliation, infrastructure, education, agriculture (food production) and healthcare, with an emphasis on safe drinking water, adding, “Our focus point will be the youth, women, and children when we take office.”

Dr. H. Bioma Fahnbulleh, standard bearer, Liberia People’s Party

Dr. Fahnbulleh in his argument said “You do not have to reside here (in Liberia) [in order to be] patriotic. A person can come from abroad and become patriotic and also become a criminal, like those that are living here.” He vowed to reform the legislature, where every sector will have equal rights, pointing out that civil society will have 37 seats in parliament and the government will reduce the number of senators from each county to one, with the position occupied by traditional leaders. “Liberians are not totally represented in the House, my government will allow teachers and rubber tappers to have their own representatives to talk on their behalf,” he said.

Macdella Cooper, standard bearer, Liberia Restoration Party
MacDonald Wento, standard bearer, United People’s Party
Rev. William Kpadeh, independent candidate
Simeon Freeman, standard bearer, Movement for Progressive Change

Another supporter of dual citizenship and dual currency, Ms. MacDella Cooper, outlined education, healthcare, electricity, decentralization of the government and land reforms, saying that she will put more emphasis on education. Rev. William Kpadeh said Liberians have moved away from God and therefore the country needs spiritual healing. He outlined reconciliation, security for all Liberians, where every citizen will have a social security number, and build up science and technology to give students access to the global world. Mr. Freeman spoke against dual currency and dual citizenship and vowed to create 55,000 jobs every year, cut down government spending by reducing the size of ministries, reduce the salary of senators, cut down the number of embassies to five, and privatize all government hospitals to ensure better healthcare services to Liberians.

A new schedule for the debate is yet to be announced by the organizers, but the turnout yesterday was very good, participants said. This is the first time for a presidential debate to be held outside Monrovia and many people in Ganta described the hosting of the debate here as a milestone.

While the debate was well-attended, the audience was rather disappointed by the failure of ‘higher profile’ candidates to appear

Meanwhile, among those candidates who failed to show up for the debate were VP Joseph Boakai, George Weah and Charles Walker Brumskine, Prince Y. Johnson, Alexander Cummings and Benoni Urey.

Although there was a lot of interest in the debate, which was well-attended, many were unhappy because their candidates of choice did not show up, and did so without notice. A lady identified as Jestina Moore said she was disappointed that many of the presidential candidates did not show up for the debate, but praised those who did. James M. Kollie, who attended the debate from Gbarnga, Bong County, said, “I came purposely to see what the UP, LP and the CDC will say, but to my utmost surprise, their standard bearers did not show up. We were hoping to hear them defend their big promises they made on radio, and I wanted to ask them how they were going to get the money to do what they have promised to do for the people if elected,” he said.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Please promote via social media or radio, the debates, clearly stating the venue, time and names of participants.

  2. Will presidential debate messages get to the ordinary electorates in towns and villages throughout Liberia? I think it is impossible because the National Radio station doesn’t cover the entire country so the people in those towns and villages will not benefit anything from the debate. what is important for this election is to allow the various presidential candidates to engage the people in a face to face campaigning in those towns and villages to share their campaign promises with them. Instead of packing in one hall in the name of debate when 95% of the electorates can not get access to the so-called debate.

    • How will you say when 95% don’t have access to the state broadcaster. Numbers are not just for being played with. The state broadcaster is not the only station in Liberia. There are many local stations that do relay them. And for a point of correction, ELBC can even be received as far as parts of Sierra Leone and Guinea. Let us stop depending on government for everything and step up also to the cause. I commend the organizers for moving the debate to Ganta.

  3. The proponents of futile talk talk and their followers have joined forces with few rascally elites to deceive the masses again with “debates”. We want to know, why after our country”s “most -schooled president”, best issues – communicator, and finest debater failed miserably and disgracefully, the intelligentsia would like to pretend that showboating speechifying is a criterion for the presidency?

    The British, whom one would without embarrassment say know better, had their general elections in June 2016 – absent debates. Conservative Party leader Prime Minister Theresa May, a former Minister of Education, even rejected the repeated requests of her main rival, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for debates. In France, Marcon, didn’t win the presidential race, because of his debating prowess, and neither was articulation the deciding factor in the 2016 American election for the White house between Trump and Hillary.

    We thought that the neglected suffering masses will be presented with the costed political platform of each party and would – be president. So that, for instance, when a candidate promises a plank of building “cape to Cape paved roads”, as EJS reportedly did in 2011, the source of the revenue to fund such a project would identified. It doesn’t only assure voters that that policy goal is achievable, but a document exits to hold the successful party or candidate accountable for failure to deliver.

    And God knows accountability is the most resisted democratic essential in Liberia, hence the continuous pervading poverty.

    It is about time the powers – that – be stop fooling themselves and the Liberian people. The lack of reliable, honest, responsive, and accountable political leadership has been the driver of backwardness and wickedness in our country, not the shortage of politicians familiar or knowledgeable of the burning issues confronting our people and nation.

    Not to mention that “talk talk” about “peace” is the latest in the political lexicon of the diabolical deceivers of the downtrodden. Whereas what the latter would want to see on the grounds are peace – building initiatives starting with reducing the bonanza payroll which swallows a third of annual budget, thus making opportunities and essential services difficult to fund. It is a delusional leap of faith to bleat peace while dividing the people though reconciling them would have done it.

    Anyway, If Liberians want to endlessly worry about stability, which guns or uniformed thugs won’t provide, they should elect more brilliant lying crooks instead of trustworthy, ethical and responsive citizens.

  4. Great things start small, thank you for organizing these debates and I am looking forward to more on bigger set and live streaming countrywide.

  5. Thanks to debate organizers and looking forward to participation of all candidates. The NO CALL, NO SHOW CANDIDATES MUST NOT BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY by voters and press. These debates are necessary for candidates to articulate their policies and programs, especially HOW those polices and programs are going to be paid for when elected.

  6. I sincerely do agree with Dr. Fahnbulleh concerning the reduction to one, the number of senators from each county. It really makes sense.

  7. POLITICAL PARTIES MUST ARTICULATE POLICIES AND HOW THEY WILL BE PAID FOR ON PAPER. Don’t promise the moon with verbal bombast – our people have heard it all before. VOTERS want to have the manifestos as evidence with which to hold them accountable. TALK IS CHEAP! THAT’S HOW WE GOT INTO THE DOZEN YEARS POVERTY, WIDENING DIVIDE, AND ANXIETY ABOUT THE FUTURE. GOOD FOR THOSE CANDIDATES WHO REFUSED TO WASTE THEIR TIME AT THE GANTA COMEDY SHOW.

  8. Thank you Mr. Moses for your honest assessment of the truth. Debates mean nothing to our current situation and it does not guaranteed or show a flicker of the best or somehow better candidate. This is all bull S**t.

    This is all about those who God blessed with good speech and education – We are not looking for such a leader.
    We need a leader that has passion for the Liberian people. We need a leader that has moral intelligence and will be ashamed when the right thing is not been done. We need a leader that will have a “hands off” approach when officials of government are accused of corruption. We do not want a leader that will take responsibility vainlessly when there’s corruption.

    Therefore, we don’t need a leader that will win a debate because he is eloquent and can skillfully numerate our problems and spew out solutions that sound musical to our ears. Do you remember Amos Sawyer, at the end of his Interim gov’t tenure, who divided the Interim Gov’t properties including cars to his gov’t officials and justified it by saying “they made sacrifices” at the same time a massacre was ongoing in Bomi county led by “Gba Red”. This is the same Amos Sawyer who never protected public assets. This is the same Amos Sawyer who printed money and in the process enrich themselves and their colleagues. Can Amos Sawyer win a debate, for sure I’ll bet.
    Now we have Ellen, with her professorial outlook, that have won the international community while locally enabling and endorsing all that is wrong with this Govt. She said corruption is everybody’s fight, but it doesn’t begin with her. She has politicized the fight against corruption – it is now meaningless to even talk about it.

    We just need a God fearing good leader. If that leader happens to be educated, praise be to God. A good leader does not have to be ‘well educated’ as some proponents want us to believe. The Liberian Presidency, I would argue, is so powerful that you have don’t have to be well educated to effect positive change; you must have the mind-set and the will to see change happens.

    Everybody knows we need clean drinking water, we need equipped hospital, we need trained hospitalist and nurses, we have to pay gov’t employees wages that reflect some level of equity, and not the outrageous bonanza paid this president has encouraged and continue to nurture. But in the President’s mind it was equity to tax water and phone calls to burden the populace and paid her surrogates and collaborators.

    We need a person who has a sense of patriotism.

  9. I don’t understand why some folks have a problem with the hosting of presidential debates. No candidate is compel to attend. If someone feels that the debate is “bullshit” or a “comedy show,” that person is free to stay home. The Liberian people will judge that. Most people are interested in the debates and want to hear the candidates articulate their plans and policies. I don’t see the harm in it unless, of course, you fear that your candidate of choice lacks the ability to articulate his plan.

  10. Paul S, I am sorry you have missed the point. I hold loyalty to no one. We behave like copy-cats all of the time. The style and manner of the debate is strictly western. There is a history here of debates just been debates; for the likes of you it’s great entertainment, and that’s fine with me.

    We as a people need to find a better way of assessing our candidates in a way that reflects who we are (within our cultural context). The fact is debates mean nothing given its current context vis a vis the type of leadership character that is needed to transform our dear country. Besides many of our people will know nothing of what was said. It is a forum for PLATITUDES (this is the real truth).

    Personally, when people make the point that our president must be educated, common sense is usually thrown out of the window in terms of qualification. Just like when you said “your candidate of choice lacks the ability to articulate his plan”. DISCIPLINE encompasses many things other than going to the UNIVERSITY and being articulate.

    We need a God fearing, discipline, and patriotic personality.

    If you think lazily I wouldn’t respond to you – think critically!!

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