Cinta Clan, Margibi County - There is a raging political battle in District #5, Margibi County for the successor to Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay, who accepted the nomination as running mate to the standard bearer of Unity Party, Vice President Joseph Boakai.
Speaker Nuquay’s acceptance to contest on the ruling party ticket brings to an end his twelve years reign as representative of the district, which started far back in 2005.
The Speaker has exerted political relevance in Margibi County throughout his 12 years as lawmaker.
From forming his own political party in the People’s Unification Party (PUP) to bringing people of unknown relevance to the limelight of politics in the county, Nuquay has built for himself a political fame over the years.
Tested and proven strong
Nuquay is now dubbed the ‘God Father’ of Margibi politics based on his stance to campaign and ensure the election of legislative candidates in the county.
In 2011 while seeking re-election, Nuquay campaigned throughout District #3 in Margibi County to ensure that his friend, Stephen Kafi, who worked for the National Achieves and Records Margibi County chapter prior to the election, emerged the winner of a contest of over seven candidates.
Through the efforts of Nuquay, Kafi successfully won the representative seat of District #3.
Three years later, Speaker Nuquay led the campaign three months to the 2014 senatorial elections that led to the election of Jim Tornolah as senator of the county.
Before his election, Tornolah was not well known in the county politics like other contenders for the position but the influence of Nuquay led to his election.
Speaker Nuquay’s success in getting Tornolah elected as senator was at the expense of other past political heavyweights in the county including the likes of former Senators Clarice A. Jah and Roland Kaine.
Brumskine, Weah once Beaten
During the 2014 special senatorial election, Cllr. Charles Brumskine, standard bearer of Liberty Party, vigorously campaigned for incumbent Senator Jah of the Liberty party, but she was still defeated.
Also, George Weah campaigned for the CDC candidate and University of Liberia Professor, Ansu Dao Sonii, who many believed was the forerunner after he earlier contested the 2011 elections and performed well but felt short of victory with Oscar Cooper, who Nuquay supported, emerging as winner.
Sonii contested the 2011 senatorial election and managed second spot to Copper. Sonii won 18,715 votes representing 23.5% falling behind Cooper’s 36,138 votes or 45.3%.
All eyes were on Sonii to take the seat but out of a total of 25,869 votes cast for the special senatorial election, newcomer Tornonlah won 7,893 votes representing 30.5% followed by Sonii of the CDC who obtained 6,640 votes accounting for 25.7%.
Nuquay’s influence led to political newcomer, Tornonlah from a newly found PUP defeating Jah of the Liberty Party, Sonii of the CDC and other contenders.
Such political feat, according to Nuquay, distinguished him as the “face” of Margibi County politics and ensured that the PUP on whose ticket Tornolah contested had a grip on Margibi.
Nuquay vs Weah again
Another test is once again at the feet of Nuquay and it remains to be seen if he can repeat such feat with Alexander B. Charlie, in district five.
It is from Nuquay’s successes recorded with Kafi and Tornolah that is giving supporters of Charlie some early hope in the district, dreaming of Capitol Building even with about 55 days to election.
Nuquay has chosen Charlie to succeed him in the district while presidential candidate Weah is heavily supporting the CDC candidate Clarence Gahr.
Like Nuquay did to Brumskine and Weah during the 2014 special senatorial election, the dice is once again cast for the District# 5 race.
Cyrus Nyanquan, a supporter of Charlie, told FrontPageAfrica that Nuquay’s influence in the district and with his kinsmen would be a catalyst for Charlie’s victory.
“Nuquay has a growing influence not just in district five but the entire county.
He has built a bloc and it is because of that bloc that will make Charlie to win,” he said.
‘Humble’ Charlie can deliver –Nuquay says
Nuquay believes Charlie has a heart and passion to serve the district.
“Charlie is humble, hardworking and a young man who has the charisma to deliver when elected as representative of the district,” Nuquay said.
The Speaker has been rallying for Charlie and has called on the people of the district not to be carried away by what he is terming as the propaganda gimmick of the opposition party in the district.
“Don’t be carried by all the sweet talks they will bring to you. If you believe in me and believe in my capabilities, vote for Charlie,” he added.
Continuing, Nuquay added: “I am praying when I bow out, a man after the heart of God will take over in the district.
A man that will have the heart for the people, because if you are brilliant and you don’t have the heart for the people you cannot succeed and that person should be Alexander B. Charlie” he said.
“Charlie will be sensitive to the needs of the people of the district."
"When election comes in October, you must lay your bed very well. Don’t be carried away with the propaganda, stay with the real stuff and the good lord will help all of you.”
Nuquay also noted that his twelve years had been able to turn the district into a centre of attraction in terms of development, saying developmental projects commissioned by him have become the reference point for good governance across the district.
Weah vows to end Nuquay’s political dominance
The battle for who replaces Nuquay seems to be a two-horse race between the Nuquay’s PUP candidate Charlie and Coalition for Democratic Change’s Clarence Gahr.
Gahr, who is an Accountant, succeeded Nuquay as Accountant of the Salala Rubber Corporation. Nuquay stands accused of plotting the removal of Gahr from the employ of the company since Gahr declared 2010 to contest against him (Nuquay).
Though Nuquay refuted the claims as “lie”, Gahr’s departure from the company seems to have earned him some consolation from citizens when he declared to contest against Nuquay.
Contesting on the ticket of the CDC, Gahr invited his standard bearer to Weala two weeks ago where Weah declared to end Nuquay’s political dominance with a Gahr victory on October 10, 2017.
“The district doesn’t belong to Nuquay neither do citizens belong to one person who will always control them. We respect him for what he did during his 12 years as lawmaker but it doesn’t mean he should impose someone on you people. Someone who is incompetent,” Weah said.
“So, I have come to send this caveat that with Gahr, victory is sure. We will bring an end to Nuquay’s longtime political relevance.”
One thing that is said to be playing in Gahr’s favor is the growing agitations from citizens that one group of people should not enjoy power for 18 years.
Charlie and Nuquay are both from Dinningta Clan in the district.
While Charlie and Gahr are both on the campaign process, the contest in District #5 is far above the two individuals, pitting Speaker Nuquay vs Weah.
With the comments by Weah that he is up to end the dominance of Speaker Nuquay through the election of Gahr, the District #5 race is not just between the two youthful candidates but the two political titans.
It is left to be seen how the politics will unfold in the coming days but political observers say the race is too close to call.
It will be interesting to see whether Nuquay will give Weah and Gahr a knock blow like he did to Cllr. Brumskine and Weah during the 2014 special senatorial election or whether Weah will show some strength in the Speaker’s backyard.