An Open Letter to Senator Henry Yallah
By Jimmy Nyanwapolu, Concerned Bong Citizen-USA
According to the April 11, 2018 edition of the New Dawn Newspaper, it is reported that you as the only current Bong County Senator, have proffered a bill to the Liberian Senate for passage to create a new county out of Bong County to be called Bong Range County.
I personally did not believe the many Facebook comments about this action to divide the County until confirmed in the aforementioned Newspaper. I stand to be corrected that the vast majority of citizenry of Bong County are just as surprised and shocked by your submission of this bill as I am.
My public position on this issue is no way meant to undermine your legislative functions, as this is my very first encounter with you on matter of the County since your ascendancy to the Senate. Besides, you are one of the young progressives I had admired since from the Bong county student community.
While I truly respect your office and your statutory responsibilities of enacting laws for the betterment of Bong County, yea Liberia, I am constrained to strongly disagree like every peace-loving citizen of the County with the justifications given in your bill. I guess you are quite aware that these justifications could not hold in any county-wide consultative meetings, and that is why the process is being so clandestine and hasty before going to the people for their support. Among your justifications, you indicated:
- That the people of lower Bong have long being deprived of development equity in the County, and having their own county will afford their own LEADERSHIP and county development FUNDS.
- That because county development funding allocations are not made in the Liberian budget according to population, rather by county (ie, named smaller counties like River Gee get the same funding as Bong and other counties) a new county would give the people of lower Bong their own development FUNDS.
These justifications among others for a Bong Range County to be clandestinely created out of Bong County are not only driven by the greed for power and money, but crafted on faulty premises that are very distant from promoting developments as promised the people of lower Bong.
To say the bill will give them their own leadership is misleading and deceptive. As a County Senator with origin from upper Bong, you cannot and should not be the one injecting secession in the minds of people from lower Bong. To do so speaks volumes of wicked intents to excommunicate this region of the County.
To justify these intents with claims that lower Bong has not been getting fair share of the county development funds when these funds have been controlled by the county legislative caucus of which you once chaired, adds further to the faulty premises embedded in the bill. It is also sad Senator Yallah to insinuate that lower Bong has long been marginalized in the political leadership of the County as one of the reasons to convert it to a county.
This tells that though you are the Senator, you seem to be far from the political history of the county. From 1964 up to 1980, the records show that lower Bong dominated the County leadership, yet that did not give a cause for breakup. Perhaps it is the trends of politics in Liberia that have changed the leadership landscape, and this cannot be the basis for letting bad blood among the people.
Additionally, it is very unthinkable to create a county only for the sole purpose of only receiving its own Government budgetary appropriations as you made the people to believe. If you think as member of the Liberian Senate, it is wrong for River Gee County as a small county with 2 political constituencies and Bong county with 7 constituencies to get the same appropriations in development funds as indicated as a premise, then advance a separate legislative approach in the Senate to correct such wrong.
Do not escape such challenge if it exists by creating another county of 2 constituencies. This is a cowardly approach, and it must not be encouraged by any county, or members of the Liberian Senate. Most of the counties created in the past were done through annexation of proximal regions from two or three counties with consensus as a mean of resolving geographical and tribal land disputes. Where do you get your annexations from for the Bong Range County?
Margibi and Lofa counties are sealed, and your bill dare not venture with any nearby clans or districts in those counties. If you may not know Senator, the opportunity to create lower Bong into a county existed when the entire Kakata region was yet Gibi Territory. The geographical proximity then existed. The commonality of people and cultures were there to annex. The annexation of Gibi Territory and Marshall Territory to create Margibi County in the ’80s sealed that avenue.
However, with the by and mid-term elections looming, your bill to divide the county into two leaves everyone thinking if this is not a hidden intent to create for yourself a protective shield by improvising for two more vacant seats as political buffer. It is likely that your chances of being re-elected is in limbo given the competitive nature of Bong county senatorial seat. So by creating a new county, you would be seen as its godfather and an easy ride to its representation. Unfortunately, creation of more counties is no more Liberia’s mode of promoting national development, rather accountable and prudent leadership.
Senator, if you truly care for the people of lower Bong county, and like to see political equity in the county, you should now begin the consultation and consensus building process to ensure that someone from lower Bong is elected in the upcoming bad elections to represent that region in the senate. My call is not in opposition to those candidates being petitioned from upper Bong, but I consider this by-election as an opportunity for anyone who loves and care for political equity in Bong County to muster political forces for a landslide election of a citizen from lower Bong.
That is an obligation that squarely lies on your shoulders as the only incumbent senator, and not running around lower Bong with news that will not work for the people. They now need a senator to represent their region, and the time is here. Not a county that is not their intention. Therefore, it is advisable in the interest of unity you withdraw the bill, and then ask the people for a son/daughter that you rally political support for from upper Bong to join you in the senate. This is the most prudent favor you can do for lower Bong selflessly, and you have the political will to do so. And I urge the people of lower Bong to demand this from you, as that seat out of fair play belongs to them especially, after Senator Taylor
Finally, if selfish budgetary allocations and rewards for senatorial seats are the basis on which new counties are to be created, then I urge the Liberian Legislature to begin adopting tougher rules on the creation of new counties. The decomposition of existing counties by selfish leaders for political and financial accommodations should not be the formula for national development.