Kolahun, Lofa County – Inside a jam-packed intellectual center, on the eve of Liberia’s 170th anniversary, the City of Kolba in Kolahun, Lofa County was witnessing what many described as just the beginning of a highly contested political clash.
In 2005, when Liberia successfully had its first postwar Presidential and legislative elections, electoral District #2 ( now District #3), found in the territory of Kolahun, Lukambeh, Wanhasa and parts of Voinjama produced Varforay Kamara as their first postwar lawmaker.
A region which is seen as one of the least developed areas in Lofa especially after the devastating civil crisis, the citizens were hoping that Kamara could turn things around for their good.
That optimism soon short lived after six years.
In 2011, the electorates red-carded representative Kamara and ushered in another young man from the non-governmental sector- representative Clarence K. Massaquoi.
Six years later, the people of District #3 are heading yet to another round of election in October to retain the incumbent or escort a new face to the National Legislature.
"Several questions are lingering on the minds of voters. Has there been a change since 2005? Are we making the wrong choices at the pools, can we keep changing leaders every election year? Etc.
Back at the intellectual discourse center dubbed Kolahun District Intellectual Forum, it’s already 7:15 pm Wednesday night, July 25.
It’s a highly charged political forum that has seen the likes of former Foreign Minister Augustine K. Nguafuan and a host of other prominent sons of Lofa as their gusts.
Young men, women, children and even the elderly are all set, looking attentively to take a glimpse at the discussant of the night.
From being born by the Lofa river, raised under the shadows of the Wologisi mountain and growing up as a child, to struggling for quality education, transitioning into student advocacy at Liberia’s biggest institution of higher learning and landing into politics, Momo Siafa Kpoto took nearly two hours to make his case to the people of Kolba City on why he should be given a chance to represent District #3 at the Capitol.
Reduce Lawmakers vacation
Describing what he referred to as practicing unfair law, Kpoto wonder why should the National Legislature have more than five months constituency break at the expense of taxpayers money?
Said Kpoto: “We should be able to propose a bill that will reduce lawmakers’ vacation."
"We are paying them so they should wait for us. Liberia is an emerging democracy. Our emerging democracy must be sustained. If you don’t work hard, you don’t get anything."
"We pay you all these money and you go for vacation in America, Europe and other parts of the world.”
Proposing District Agenda
Raising alarms on the crippling condition of Kolahun, Kpoto said since his birth, there has been no district agenda for electoral District #3 to give a roadmap towards development.
Said Kpoto: “When you as a family intend to build a home there has to be plan.
But if here is no plan, it is difficult to achieve a home.
As a District (Kolahun District) have you heard of any District agenda that we need to follow in the next five or ten years?
The answer is no. I intend to have an agenda that we can follow in the next five or ten years.
"We must be able to decide as a district whether we can have an emblem.”
Amid mass applause, Kpoto went on to explain that in order to create an enabling environment in terms of growth, one must have the requisite contacts and experience.
Taking a jibe at the incumbent representative, Kpoto attributed the underdevelopment of the district to what he described as a leadership deficit.
“This office, (house of representative) is not a place to come and learn,” he shouted.
“By the way, I studied political science at the University of Liberia. That’s how prepared I am. I am not coming to learn on the job. We are coming to deliver you!”
”If we are educating our kids in schools [outside the district] and [you] say Kolahun District graduates are not competent to stand in front of our kids to compete with them, what are you doing as a leader to empower Kolahun District to come on pile?
I have come ladies and gentlemen to tell you that the blue prints are there.”
Comparing Kolahun to other districts in Lofa County, Kpoto referenced several legislative projects carried out by deceased District #2 representative Eugene Fallah Kpakar and incumbent District #4 representative Mariamu Fofana as examples of good leadership.
“Why are there limited [legislative] projects that we can’t even count,” he wondered.
“There is a difference between government projects to legislative projects."
"What we are saying as candidate is give us the chance to tell you how much is in the national budget for Kolahun District.”