The Liberian Gov’t and CDC Take on Dillon for Senatorial Seat

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By Moses D. Sandy

The most eagerly anticipated midterm senatorial election in Montserrado County is finally here!  The election is this Tuesday, December 8, 2020. In Liberia and abroad, many Liberians and friends of the country have already dubbed December 8th as the “Do or die” date. The Montserrado County senatorial race forms part of this year’s midterm parliamentary elections in Liberia. Over 100 candidates including incumbent senator Abraham Darius Dillon and Rep. Thomas P. Fallah are participating in the elections.

Many political pundits believe the midterm elections, especially in Montserrado County, would be a referendum on the performance, future, and governance of Liberia’s President George Manneh Weah and his ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). A win for the President and the CDC in the County would prove to Liberians at home and abroad that all is well in the tiny and oldest independent West African country. Liberia has a population of more than 5 million people. The country is 173 years old; and it gained independence on July 26, 1847.

However, if the CDC and President Weah fail to secure the much-needed win, such outcome would equate to a political suicide for him and the Party. A failure would indicate that the CDC and the President’s days in government are now numbered comes the 2023 general and presidential elections.

That is why the Party and Mr. Weah are leaving no stone unturned in doing what they called “Reclaim their seat”. To do so, they are taking advantage of all available resources in government including money and human to get at their main contender in the senatorial race, Abraham Darius Dillon.

On December 8th, electorates in Montserrado will go to the poll and they will put the President and the CDC’s excesses: gross incompetence, insensitive to the plight of the people, unbridled corruption, misrule, failed political promises, the unexplained deaths of four government auditors, President Weah and his cronies’ overnight accumulated wealth, broken medical and educational systems, among other societal ills under the political microscope for analysis and informed decision making.

The people will choose to either vote yes for the CDC and its supported candidate, Rep. Thomas P. Fallah, or reject him. Rep. Fallah, simply referred to as “T-Five”, is going against Montserrado County incumbent senator Abraham Darius Dillon alias, “The Light”, of the opposition Liberty Party (LP). In the race, Senator Dillon also, represents the four Collaborating Political Parties (CPP). The CPP brings together the opposition All Liberian Party (ALP), Liberty Party (LP), Alternative National Congress (ANC), and Unity Party (UP). Additionally, he is heavily financed by ordinary Liberians at home and abroad, who strongly believe that he is the way forward for good governance and a better Liberia.

He and Rep. Fallah are among several hopefuls that are eyeing the coveted senatorial seat in Montserrado County, but they are the two foremost contenders. As Liberians prepare to go to the poll on Tuesday, the battle line between Senator Dillon, and the CDC and Liberian government backed Rep. Fallah has already been drawn. The Senator is running to retain his seat in the Liberian Senate. He has vowed publicly to “Decimate the CDC by more than 300 thousand votes” in achieving his desire. However, Rep. Fallah, the CDC, and President Weah are determined to politically dethrone the Montserrado County Junior Senator.

Senator Dillon and Representative Fallah

Senator Dillon, 50, entered the Liberian Senate in 2019. He clinched the Montserrado County senatorial seat from the CDC on July 29, 2019 after the National Election Commission (NEC) declared him winner of the County’s senatorial by-election. Then he politically crushed the CDC and its candidate Paulita C. Wie with an overwhelming margin in votes. He secured102, 549 votes representing more than 55 percent of the 166,520 votes cast while Ms. Wie earned 63,971 votes, which accounted for more 34 percent.

He replaced the late Montserrado County Junior Senator Geraldine Doe Sheriff formerly of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). His term will expire in 2021. The late Senator Doe Sheriff was Chairman emeritus of the CDC. She won the seat on the CDC’s ticket in 2009 before severing ties with the Party to join the former ruling Unity Party (UP).  In February 2019, she died in Accra, Ghana after months of nursing a cancer illness.

Since 2019 when Honorable Dillon made his debut in the Liberian Senate as a lawmaker, he has won the admirations of many Liberians for selflessness and social justice advocacy.

He took a massive pay cut. He willingly sliced his monthly salary from US 15 thousand dollars to US 5 thousand dollars; and donated the remainder to a select committee for the undertaking of developmental projects in Montserrado County. Since then, he has reportedly donated more than US 36 thousand dollars to the County.

Also, he is on records for continuously chastising President Weah and the CDC for issues of bad governance including unbridled corruption in the public sector, and President Weah and his cronies’ nonadherence to the rule of law in Liberia. Additionally, he with the support of Liberians at home and abroad, is currently constructing a rehabilitation center in Monrovia for Liberians struggling with alcohol and drug addictions. As a result of his persistent stance against malfeasance in government, he has earned for himself names such as “The Light” and “The People’s Senator”.

For Rep. Fallah, he is an insider of the ruling CDC. His relationship with the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) reportedly goes back several years. He joined the CDC before the Party merger with the National Patriotic Party (NPP) and other political parties for the formation of the now Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC) in 2017.

He is a well-grounded businessman turned politician. He reportedly has significant investment in the educational sector. He currently represents District No. 5 in Montserrado County in the House of Representatives.

District No. 5 comprises the Paynesville communities of 72nd, Police Academy, Bassa Town, Red Light, A.B. Tolbert Road and Town Hall, as well as the Congo Town communities of Swankamore and and Pagos Island. He is one of the longest serving member of the House of Representatives.

He was initially elected in 2005 and he has won re-election twice, 2011 and 2017. He currently chairs the House of Representatives’ Standing Committee on Ways, Means and Finance. Also, he is chairman of the Montserrado County legislative caucus. Despite the influential positions he holds in the legislature, Rep. Fallah rarely speaks about national matters that negatively affect the lives of Liberians. He is not knowing for condemning social ills as practice by the CDC.

Why Montserrado?

A win or defeat for either Senator Dillon or Rep. Fallah in Tuesday’s senatorial race in Montserrado County would mean a lot politically because the County is regarded as the microcosm of Liberia and it has always been dominated by the opposition. It is a strong hold of the CDC.

In 2014, President Weah won the senatorial by-elections in the County. He won 78 percent of the votes. He beat Mr. Robert Sirleaf, the son of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Mr. Sirleaf obtained nearly 11 percent of the votes cast.

It is one of Liberia’s 15 counties and it is strategically situated. The County, especially Monrovia, Liberia’s capitol is very important politically. Monrovia is the seat of the national administration and most of the foreign embassies accredited to Liberia. Also, the City is the most populated. Currently, Monrovia has a population of over 1. 5 million people.

A CDC victory in Montserrado would prove to the Party’s many critics that irrespective of the many criticisms, the Weah administration is meeting the expectations of Liberians at home and away. However, if Senator Dillon wins, his victory would be portrayed as a triumphant over evil and bad governance in Weah’s Liberia.

The Author

Mr. Moses D. Sandy, is a retired Liberian journalist. He currently resides in the US. He is the immediate past National President of the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA). Also, he is former Editor-in-Chief of the News and Public Affairs Department of the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS). He can be reached at [email protected].

3 COMMENTS

  1. The Montserrado Senatorial elections, howbeit, mid-term run-off elections, are always seen as a referendum on the incumbent administration of the Liberian national government, if not the person of the sitting president. A case in point is the senatorial run-off election of Montserrado County between the late Geraldine Doe-Sheriff of the CDC Party and Clemenceau Blayon Urey of the UP Party. The seat was rendered vacant upon the abrupt and untimely demise of Senator Hanna Brent who was the incumbent of the CDC Party.

    The ruling Unity Party had vowed to wrestle the seat from the Congress for Democratic Change, at the time, to assert its dominance of the national polity. It saw this particular occasion as a referendum on the popularity and acceptance of the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s administration and its political agenda by the people of Liberia. It was a bold and calculated political gamble by the then ruling party. Ellen did not take into consideration what is considered, in political science, as the ire of public openion which almost always goes against the political party in power. She lost!

    Why should every sitting political administration be aware of the ire of public opinion? Because it is in the political driving seat. It has the onus of the burden of proof, while the opposition has nothing to offer but to attack by pointing out the loopholes of the government in power. This little trick in political science is compounded when the government in power is having problems (popularly called “facing challenges” in Liberia) in delivering needed services to the people, and proving itself worthy of the people’s trust.

    I feel the anxiety of George Weah and the newly styled Coalation for Democratic Change ( the succesor of Congress for Democratic Change) in this run-off senatorial elections. The congress was used to being in the opposition, and they were politically comfortable in that position. They had been used to having the ire of public opinion in their favor as the opposition, but things have changed.

    Upon preparing to take the helm of the national government between the end of the national election of 2017 and President Weah’s innauguration on January 22, 2018, little or no capital was placed on the unforeseen ire of public opinion. The rude awakening came, just as history would repeat itself, sadly Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff passed, and the senatorial seat she won on the congress ticket had become vacant once more. This time, the tables had turned. The congress had turned into the coalition. This turn was accompanied by some missteps and poor decisions by the new Weah adminisgtration. The grassroots began to see their hero turning into an arogant, stronghanded leader. The result was a crushing and embarassing defeat at the polls in a Montserrado run-off senatorial election, the purported political stronghold of the CDC.

    No matter in which way the December 2020 run-off senatorial election turns, win or lose, it will be another opportunity for the Weah Administration to recalibrate, rethink its political strategy and put its political capital where it needs to be, before it is too late.

  2. Charlse Anders, you are dead wrong!

    If your view that another political party won the senatorial seat following the death of Senator Geraldine Doe Sherriff because of ””missteps of the new Weah administration. and the grassroots began to see their hero turning into an arrogant, stronghanded leader”, had any logic, factuality, or truism, then the very CDC would have not won the other legislative seat of the very Montserrado County with such wide margins against the very CPP in that very week or month!!

    When it comes to the attainment of achievements viz political governance (as is the case of the CDC having made such unprecedented achievements throughout the country from infrastructural developments (roads, freed education, and other social capitals, etc.) to the good governance of improvements in the rule of law and massive reduction or curtailment of corruption, as compared to the past, and on the entire continent, there will always be a price to pay!

    And that price paid or sacrifice made by the CDC (viz the inherited deteriorated economy leaving the bulk of the nations employees left unpaid for months .. a factor which served as fuel for the protests staged by the losers of the elections to oust the government) was an opportunity for any opposition candidate in a major locale as Montserrado County!

    So, Dillon was only a lucky guy in such unstoppable natural political phenomenon just as was the case with Thesus, Cyrus, Romulus, etc. who were lucky to have been the beneficiaries of such opportunities.

    For example, just as

    (1) Athens, Persia, and Rome payment of such price and making of such sacrifice for the national common good (as has been the case of the Weah Government) were opportunities which chanced Thesus, Cyrus,and Romulus, to have been the beneficiaries of the discontentment of Persians, or the scattering Athenians and Romans respectively, so too,

    (2) THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS dictates that given the aforementioned price and sacrifice made by the CDC for the nation,, a winner of that seat at the time other than the CDC was never and could never be the illogical and unscientific reason given by you. And this was

    (3) made evident by the very CDCS tsunamic victory over the very opposition in that very week or month for similar legislative seat!

    Accordingly, with the CDC A PARTY AND COALITION OF INDOMITABLE WINNING RECORD AND HISTORY, NOT TO TALK ABOUT THE ELECTORAL ENTHUSIASM IN THE CDC AND THEIR ELECTORATES ACROSS MONTSERRADO AND THE OTHER ELECTORAL DISTRICTS, DILLONS VACATION JOB HAS COME TO AN END!

    AND THE CPP KNOWS THIS MORE THAN THEY KNOW THEIR OWN MANIFESTO! AND THIS IS WHY YOU HEAR THEM MAKING PRE DEFEATIST WHINES AS ”WE DO NOT AND CAN NOT TRUST THE NEC”!

  3. Charlse Anders

    This is a very thought provoking, and undeniably objective, and educative piece on the latest senatorial elections.
    Lessons I have learned: incumbent politicians should always beware that challenges from the opposition will arise. Sometimes they maybe predictable and yet at other times, they might be extremely unpredictable. And from the accurate assessment you’ve made, the situation appears like the CDC has been caught off guard.

    You remind me of my boyhood days Boy Scouts’ motto: “Be Prepared!” Great piece, thanks.

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