What many have expected to be a historic moment in Gbarnga, Bong County, where the standard bearer of the ruling Unity Party would turn over the mantle of authority to a newly elected standard bearer, turned out to be rather caustic as the party commenced its 2016 National Convention yesterday.
The Gbarnga Administration Building was a scene of bitter exchanges after the party Chairman, Senator Varney Sherman, presented a report about his stewardship for the tenure he served. Delivering his report, Sen. Sherman could not hide his frustration with what he termed as a stressed relationship between the government and the party, least to say partisans, especially those in the leeward counties.
He claimed the government has done little to satisfy the aspirations of the partisans and the Liberian populace. “There is gross dissatisfaction among partisans of the party,” he said.
The ruling party is already suffering from a mass exodus of key party members, the outgoing Chairman noted, [and] the UP government has failed the aspiration of the partisans, as a result of its failure to adhere to the policies and agreements reached by party executives.
As a result of this, many partisans have become frustrated, he said. “Our partisans have not been empowered enough to be able to contribute to the wellbeing of our party.”
Retiring with a “heavy heart,” Chairman Sherman said all that were agreed upon at the May 2010 National Convention in Nimba County are yet to be fully implemented.
“In May 2010, I was elected Chairman of the new Unity Party. That election was done with much satisfaction, aspiration and ambition of our partisans and the Liberian people,” he said. “But if all that we agreed upon, both written and oral, at that convention, had been implemented to the letter, I would have been resigning happily.”
The Party Chairman, meanwhile pledged his support and loyalty to the presidential quest of VP Boakai, who he said is the ideal candidate to lead the country in the right direction, noting that he will join the campaign come 2017, to go to every nook and corner of the country and canvass for the election of Boakai.
He described VP Boakai as one with a humble beginning and also level headed; has the characteristics to revive the hope and aspiration of the UP faithful, who see Boakai as their only hope for redemption – both for the party and the country.
Sherman therefore called on the delegates be very mindful in how they go about electing party officials, a process that takes place today. He said if the partisans want Boakai to be a successful standard bearer of the party, they should elect the right people.
“Boakai needs a leadership that will work with him to ensure that he becomes successful, and not one that will be suspicious of his presence,” he said, stressing, “He needs a leadership that he trusts and that also trusts him.
He therefore proposed the names of some of the contestants, who he said should be elected to help the VP come 2017. Some of those he named are: Wilmot Paye for Chairman, Labour Minister Neto Lighe for Senior Vice President, as well as Miller Catakaw for the Secretary General post, among others.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who immediately took the podium after the Chairman’s presentation, termed the presentation as a mere campaign speech that is very undemocratic. She therefore called for a motion from the delegates to decide as to whether the report should be accepted.
The report was eventually rejected after some bitter arguments amongst partisans because of what some of the partisans termed as “being very undemocratic,” and sent back the Chairman’s report for correction before acceptance.