Gbarnga, Bong County – A statement made last week by Bong County’s Senator Henry Yallah about plans to introduce a bill to separate Lower Bong and Upper Bong has angered some citizens.
Yallah said he wants to separate the areas to bring more development to Lower Bong, an area that has been marginalized.
He cited the major development in Upper Bong such as Cuttington University, Phebe and C.B. Dunbar hospitals, the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) and the Bong County Technical College.
Lower Bong, he said, has Bong Mines Hospital Tumultu Vocational Institute and the Bong Mines hospital.
In addition, Yallah said, the majority of President George Weah’s cabinet and local government appointments are people from Lower Bong.
Lower Bong, which has a population of about 89,000 people should be developed. The area, he said, has the same population as RiverGee and other counties in the southeast.
Yallah said Lower Bong will be named “Bong Range.”
“My bill is in the interest of everyone,’’ he said. ‘’I know that there will be descending views on this but I strongly believe when the bill is passed everyone will see the rationale,” he said.
Rep. Moima Briggs-Mensah, of District Six (Lower Bong), disagrees with Yallah.
Efforts should be made to improve the lives of people through the provision of basic services instead of trying to create a new county, she said.
“I think such thinking is divisive rather than reconciliatory,” Briggs-Mensah said. (When was this person elected?)
Adam Bill Corneh, who Briggs-Mensah succeeded, supports Yallah’s plan.
An autonomous Lower Bong will be beneficial because it will attract more development, he said.
“The decision by Senator Yallah is a great one,’’ he said. ‘’No one citizen is more citizen of Bong more than his friend.’’
Emmanuel Flomo, a resident of Panta District, warned Bong citizens not to listen to Yallah’s plan.
“The most terrible thing I have heard in my life time as a citizen of Bong County is the proposed division of Bong County by Senator Yallah,” he said.
Flomo wondered why Yallah, who has been in the Senate since 2011, is now proposing dividing the county.
Yallah’s plan, Flomo said, is an indication of his failure to unite the county as he promised when he campaigned for the job in 2011.
Gerald Dolo, a citizen from Upper Bong, said citizens should think about the issue before opposing it.
‘’Let’s remember that we elected our leaders to speak for us,” he said.
Lyold Gawayah, a resident from Upper Bong said, Upper Bong has more people than Lower Bong that’s why a lot of resources are concentrated in the area. Upper Bong is home to 122,000 people.
If Lower Bong becomes a county, it will narrow the space for competition and enable the area to achieve its development vision, he said.
“I don't see this as division, but rather a sensible geopolitical stratification where we get two equal shares from the national cake for the same people, instead of one share,” Gawayah said “We definitely deserve better.
“We have the tendency to not always support our own on the national stage because it may "give political relevance" to someone whom we don't personally like.”
Albert Teage, a resident of Lower Bong, said Yallah’s idea is a step in the right direction.
David Flomo, a resident of Upper Bong, said the creation of two Bong counties will bring competition and do away with "ugly political upper and lower bong county line created by politicians to divide and exploit the county."
“The two-county debate is healthy for the county,’’ he said. ‘’It's about time to openly discuss this issue because the county is already divided with so-called Upper and Lower Bong County politics.”
Yallah, who will be seeking re-election in 2020, said his call for dividing the county is not politically motivated. He is confident of his re-election, regardless of the whether his proposal is successful or not.
“This has nothing to do with whether I want to buy sympathy from citizens of Lower Bong or not,” he said.