Nimba County - The mammoth crowd that welcomed Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine last week at the start of his five day tour of Nimba County, according to pundits, has further demonstrated that the Liberty Party (LP) is indeed determined to win the 2017 presidential election, with party stalwarts in the county insisting for a landslide victory.
Thousands of Liberty Party supporters waited on the main streets of Ganta, Saclepia, Kanplay, Sanniquellie and the route to towns and villages, a development that led to a serious traffic gridlock, particularly in populated cities like Ganta, Sanniquellie and Saclepia as motorists battled for hours before they could move freely.
The LP supporters who defied the scorching sun waited for hours just to have a glimpse of the party’s political leader and his entourage and to also show their support, amidst the blaring of assorted types of music as they were variously entertained before the arrival of Cllr. Brumskine and his team.
Pundits were of the view that kudos must however be given to the party in the county who appeared to have done its homework well by mobilizing such huge crowd, youths, men and women from across the county to greet the party’s political leader on arrival to these cities.
The Ganta rally which was billed for 12 PM was however delayed till around 14 :00 mainly because the Liberty Party team had to pay courtesy visit to Behla, the boundary between Bong and Nimba counties, to seek Cllr. Brumskine blessings, according to Behla chief, Joseph Yormie.
Thereafter, Cllr. Brumskine and his team proceeded to the women center and were received by the warm, thunderous supporters of the party, who chanted “Our future president!, in an atmosphere that was electrifying even as Brumskine and other dignitaries that attended the event at the women center took turns to make their speeches.
Former Nimba County Senatorial candidate Edith Gongloe-Weh, on her part, said the time for a genuine change has come to Liberia and thanked the Ganta people for coming out in large numbers to welcome Cllr. Brumskine and his team.
“I thank you for coming out to welcome the agents of change, to welcome the face of change, to welcome the captain of the boat of change, to welcome that man of courage, to welcome that man of honesty that will bring us the desired change.”
When it was finally the time for Cllr. Brumskine to address the crowd, there a uproar erupted from the supporters shouting ‘Our papay, our oldman and our only hope’, and when the crowd finally calmed down, Cllr. Brumskine began his address by apologizing to his supporters for coming late and charged them to become a member of the Liberty Party if they truly want change in Liberia.
“The problems of this country, to be honest, you know it better than us because you have suffered physically and materially more than all of us standing here. So LP’s intensions which have been very well articulated in its manifestos and which will be modified from time to time is to tackle the problems we have that we recognized throughout”.
He outlined reconciliation, reconstruction and employment as his top priority if elected into office. “Our priority first, is to secure the country. Second is unemployment, the youth of this country are more than 60 percent of the population and whether they are in school or not, they are not employed, this is extremely dangerous for the country.
“There is also the problem of corruption which is responsible for so much wastage of the resources which can be properly utilized especially for education. There is nothing you can give people better than qualitative education” Cllr. Brumskine told the crowd of supporters.
On the issue of job creation, Cllr. Brumskine said “the quickest way we can give jobs whether there is education or not is to make sure we empower farmers and also open the African Development Bank, which is very important, is to try and get the financial houses to give soft loans to traders and small manufacturers so that they can fortify their businesses and employ more people to produce goods and services.
“What our government will also do is to reposition education and to improve our schools, equip the schools, get qualified teachers and make sure that our children get qualitative education which we believe they will utilize to look after themselves.
Cllr. Brumskine, lastly sent the crowd into rapture when he announced that the Liberty Party-led government would make sure that old people in the country monthly receive a bag of rice to feed themselves. Continuing, he added:
“It sometimes sickens me to know that our old people are suffering because they don’t have food to eat. But let me assure you Liberians, under the Liberty Party regime, I will make sure that I provide one bag of rice to old people who have been pensioned or who can’t afford.’
The Gongloe-Weh factor
Since Edith Gongloe-Weh was lured to the Liberty Party in 2013, the party has made tremendous inroads in hard-to-reach communities in the county and established cells.
To some citizens in Ganta who spoke to FrontPage Africa last Saturday, images of large crowds that greeted the party's political leader, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, to Ganta must come as worrying evidence of Gongloe-Weh's rising profile and popularity in the county.
According to them, while these large crowds could only be counted in certain part of the county during the December 2014 Special Senatorial election campaigns, today they are a recurring spectacle across the county - areas where the support for Senator Prince Johnson, who is seen as the 'face' of Nimba County politics, was initially thought to be absolute and unwavering.
Whether the popularity of the Liberty Party and Gongloe-Weh in the county is the result of growing confidence among party officials or an indication of growing disenchantment with Senator Johnson for the level of claims of failure that had trailed his re-election, is hard to ascertain, but it does present a real threat to the Senator's popularity in the county.
For many years, it is the first time a plausible alternative to Senator Johnson's political leadership has emerged in Nimba's history. For a person that has enjoyed unchallenged political control in the county since the 2005 election in which he won with huge showing, political observers say it is a strong opposition is hard to stomach.
Gongloe-Weh also appears to have become more receptive to the divergent opinions that characterize Nimba politics and many political analysts believed time seems to have worked magic on her persona.
The transformation from a stern and uncompromising figure, who, many believed, represented ethnic and provincial interests, to a character whose avuncular gait has become one of her most endearing qualities, is impressive.
Throughout the 2014 Senatorial campaign Gongloe-Weh managed to steer clear of controversial statements that could be interpreted as either inciting or derisive.
Since losing her second electoral contest to Senator Johnson in which she finished second, Gongloe-Weh has been gracing public events and interacting with the public in the county all in the name of the party's 2017 agenda.
These changes may have been the reason for her growing popularity in the county, but that is beside the point; the prevalent opinion is that Gongloe-Weh's popularity poses a real threat to Senator Johnson strength in the county for some key reasons; the most significant is her insistence on uniting Nimba County, which was the mantra of her campaign in 2014.
It is believed that Gongloe-Weh's stern on unity stands as one of her most admired assets as well as one of her most dreaded. Another reason, which seems to have been buried under the heap of social demands in the county, is the issue of trust.
Real Asset to the party, Brumskine on Gongloe-Weh
Acknowledging the role Gongloe-Weh has played since joining the party in 2014; Brumskine told journalists in Ganta that the veteran Liberian journalist has offered optimism to the party ahead of the 2017 Presidential elections. His words: "Gongloe-Weh has done exceptionally well for the party since joining us.
The 2014 special Senatorial election in which she finished second to eventual winner Senator Prince Johnson shows how the party has doubled its support base in Nimba County."
Highlighting how crucial Nimba is if the party must win the Presidential election in 2017, Brumskine urged partisans of the party to galvanize more members and ensure that the party presence is felt in every nook and crannies of the county.