By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
There is a looming tribal division among key political actors in Nimba County since the climax of the jut ended senatorial elections that announced Jeremiah Koung as the presumptive winner.The messages being preached through the war of words between the contending candidate in the just ended senatorial elections, Edith Gongloe-Weh and the county’s perceived godfather Prince Y. Johnson might not only create deeper cuts in the tribal lines but is also dragging families’ integrity into the mud and something needs to be done by stakeholders of the county in order to mend the hurts.
Already, there signals are that Tiawan Gongloe, Rep. Larry Younquoi, Rep. Samuel Kogar, Adolphus Dolo, senator-elect Jeremiah Koung and Garrison Yealue, among others are beginning to weigh in on the issues that border on their respective characters.
Sen. Johnson who stands at the helm of all the accusations and is claiming to be condemning tribal politics said Nimbaians are one blood and clarfied that when it comes to elections, it is not by time; that is because a Gio was elected for two terms then it is time now for a Mano to be elected rather it is a competition.
Speaking to allegations made against him by Madam Gongloe-Weh on the Truth FM Breakfast Show on yesterday, PYJ insisted that he has never in history preached tribal politics but he was surprised to have heard Madam Gongloe-Weh campaign vocally only in the Mano sector in her Mano vernacular calling on her tribal kinsmen instead of districts where the Gios are dominant to seek votes when Nimba got nine electoral districts.
“If you want to be senator go to every district just as Jeremiah Koung did which give him all the votes. The composition of my staff will tell you which way I am. I am liberal; beyond tribe and I represent the county. Even my elections during those days, I got votes from everywhere including Madam Gongloe-Weh’s strongholds,” Sen. Johnson boasted.
He further claimed that the Gio tribe makes up 65 percent of the population in the county while the Mano tribe, their counterpart follow by 20 percent therefore it is not by tribe but a competitive process when one is to get elected.
On the issue of Adolphus Dolo’s election, Sen. Johnson, the proclaimed reconciler said former Sen. Dolo was booted out of the Legislature because of his incompetence or whatever the reason was by the people who voted him out pointing out, “I really would like to see that another Mano is elected again.”
“I trained Adolphus Dolo militarily, he is my son, I love him and that is why I supported him in 2005. He was my junior senator but later he became very rude; he became very very rude not only to me but even the pro-tempore, Cletus Wotorson, who always complained him to me and he was very disrespectful to his own people who elected him and that is why they voted him out.” Sen. Johnson explained.
He said if any Mano candidate would want to be in the race after this time, he will support him/her but expressed that Madam Gongloe-Weh carries a very divisive heart which is not supported even by the comment on the internet and on facebook and all over on the radio stations.
Johnson who maintained that he will not support a divisive character like Madam Gongloe-Weh complained that besides, her brother who is the president of the LNBA, Tiawan Gongloe, invited all lawyers to converge in Margibi County so that they could sign a resolution for war crimes court against him and all great men and women who fought the war in defense of their own liberation.
“So if her own brother calling for a war crimes court for all those great men and women who fought war in the country in their own defense and you are there preaching division, why should I support for you? Sen. Johnson exclaimed.
“These are just a group of bad guys; Tiawan is one, his sister is one and Larry Younquoi is one; he does not hide his feelings; he says it openly on radio and does not hide his feelings but the Gio and Mano divide will never work and like me, I do what I do and say what I say but the people of Nimba who were then targeted as enemy of the state should not be calling for war crimes,” the senator reiterated.
As for the case before NEC that has provoked all the claims and counterclaims, Sen. Johnson stated, “We cannot go into because it is before the hearing officer but she claimed that there was fraud in Ganta where Jeremiah Koung has lived all his life and where he got million dollars investments; her complain got no legal basis because where she is contending is where she got the huge chunk of votes. I don’t like people who lie. She premeditated all this; using stock piling and the seal broken on the ballot box as her reliance that is not true; it’s all fabrication because even the Magistrate in Sanniquellie is her first cousin so when they beat us in other areas, we did not complain. There is no legal grounds.”
“Nimba will never be divided. It is just a handful of people and these issues surface only during elections. Nobody is interested in the nonsensical position or talks of Mr. Younquoi and our own daughter Edith Gongloe, it hurts me because I want to see Mano people, our own blood become senator one day but when you are preaching division and you know you are 20 percent over 65 percent, it means you are forfeiting your God-given right of what you want to be,” PYJ stressed.
Senator Johnson clearly pointed out, “I condemn it and debunk what she say. Politically, we will be divided but I think it is time that we reunite. If you lose, concede defeat.”
A forth night ago, Madam Gongloe-Weh who spoke on similar breakfast show said it is sad that people have tribalized politics in the county so much to the extent that it has made it more or less a Gio or Mano fight; which is not good for the people or for any society.
She said it is only people who do not read history will want to ignite tribal divide because it can be deadly and costly adding that history is replete with deadly conflicts caused by tribal divide noting, “We do not need these kinds of sentiments being expressed.”
Blaming it all on Senator Johnson, the contending candidate said this divide does not work but some people thrive in division while others thrive in chaos and conflicts and maintained that Sen. Johnson is one of those persons who continues to thrive in division.
“We should be thinking about what to do in the dire economic environment where things are getting terrible around the world. the decaying social order, even in Liberia, things are getting worst therefore, we need to plan for the future. How do we guide against this; how do we prepare our young children; how do we protect our children who are now on motorbikes due to the lack of opportunities; what do we do to protect the future. That is what leaders do,” Gongloe-Weh advised.
she stated, “The people are already fragile; we cannot fragment them and expect to have a civil society. We need to have gender equity in the Liberian Senate and we are for females’ participation in our country but Sen. Johnson and others who thrive on division will go in the public and tap on the sentiments of the tribes.”
the senatorial candidate who lamented that Liberia is hurting clarified that some of her strongest supporters are Gios yet Sen. Johnson continues to trumpet this tribal divide though his advantage to the disadvantage of the very Gio people.
“He is doing this tribal thing for his own benefits and I want the Gios and Manos to understand that this man’s self-centered divisive politics is not helping our county. He is the only beneficiary of his divide; how many Gios he has supported in this country or outside or how many Manos he has helped? yet, he continues to drive a wedge among our people,” she expressed.
“Nimba is not just Gios and Manos therefore his statistics is so divisive. Mr. Senator please rise up and lead; stop dividing our people on tribal lines. I campaigned throughout; so Senator Johnson should stop pushing our people against the war. He talks about my brother who the whole world knows is a tribeless man and like I said, he does not love Gio people,” she said yesterday in her efforts to counter what the senator had earlier propounded.
But following the discussions amidst the claims and counterclaims, Rep. Kogar made a public plead to his colleague Rep Younquoi not to give credence to the allegations levied against him by the senator in the public glare and assured that stakeholders are working behind the scenes to mend whatever confusion is brewing among his kinsmen.
While former Representative Garrison Yealue admitted that indeed that is an issue that has brought tension in the county and could degenerate into something else that might not help the county.
referring to Gongloe-Weh as a respected person among Nimbaians as well as Senator Johnson who is a leader having been elected twice, Mr. Yealue said it is best that they stay off the public spaces while the issues are handled.
But Rep. Younquoi who was a bit moody said Rep. Kogar does not control his political life though they are comrades on several issues therefore he has to address issues that put his character at stake.
He explained that since Madam Weh has delved into the substantial issues, he thinks Sen. Johnson has no statistics about the military men and women from Nimba and should not go into something he knows nothing about.
Younquoi said the Gios are 8 percent while the Manos are 7.8 percent of the Liberian population and the reason that the Manos are low in Nimba is because portion of them are also resident in Bong County unlike the Gios who are found nowhere else.
“Using 20 out of 65 is just another fraud intended to subjugate the Mano people because of that blood on his hand that has made people to fear him but it him try it again. He will not continue to suppress the Nimba people and commercialize them,” Younquoi stated,
Nimba Leaders At Logger-heads –As PYJ, Edith Clash Over Election Issue
By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy