Gbarnga, Bong County - There are strong indications that Unity Party headed by Vice President and standard bearer Joseph Boakai and Speaker and vice standard J. Emmanuel Nuquay will win more votes in Bong County than any of presidential ticket but a recent decision is looking to dampen the chances of the party in the county.
Until now, both Boakai and Nuquay have drawn considerable individual support in the county at separate programs held in their honor, as citizens of Bong County have turned out in their numbers to pledge support.
But the trend slightly shifted during the launch of the Unity Party campaign at the Gbarnga Sports stadium when Senator Henry W. Yallah was jeered off by a large section of the crowd in attendance.
Even though, it was clear that the jeering might have caught the attention of Vice President Boakai, weeks later the UP has named Senator Yallah as its campaign head for the county.
The naming of Senator Yallah as campaign chairman for Bong County is turning out to be a huge political gamble by the ruling party, according to close followers of Bong County politics.
Facing stiff oppositions from the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) which is fielding incumbent Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor as vice presidential candidate on the CDC ticket and Jeremiah Sulunteh as vice presidential candidate on the ticket of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) on the other hand, the decision by the Unity Party in Bong could cost the party dearly, according to citizens.
Even within the ranks and files of the UP, local party officials are said to be unhappy with the appointment of Senator Yallah, whom many believe has lost the fame that propelled him to the Liberian Senate in 2011.
While the UP might be relying on statistics of 2011 to name Senator Yallah as its campaign chair, many believe the variables six years down the line cannot be dependable to be used in making decision in 2017.
Within six years, dynamics of politics in Bong has changed and Senator Yallah, many believe, is a big gamble by the ruling party in a county that could be one of the deciders of the winner of the pending presidential election.
Bong has the third largest number of registered voters according to data from the National Elections Commission of Liberia (NEC).
Last week’s decision by UP to announce Senator Yallah as its head of the party’s campaign in Bong County is being greeted with rejection by partisans of the party.
“The party is not really serious to win Bong by the selection of Senator Henry Yallah to lead its campaign in Bong,” said partisan Younger Brown of the Brooklyn Community in Gbarnga.
Younger said Yallah’s preferment would dampen the chances of the party in Bong because, according to her, the senator has lost the popularity that brought him to power in 2011.
Younger is one of several partisans of the Unity Party who are rejecting the pronouncement of Senator Yallah.
Gabriel Jones, another partisan, told FrontPageAfrica that he was withdrawing his support from the party because the Bong County Senator is an embodiment of bad leadership in the district.
“I am not supporting the Unity Party because I believe Senator Yallah has nothing to offer the party in Bong County. Because of him, I am withdrawing my support,” he said.
In Bong County, there are five Bong lawmakers who have announced their support for Boakai, out of seven.
They are Representatives Corpu Barclay (Unity Party) of district seven, George Mulbah (People’s Unification Party) of electoral district three, Tokpah J. Mulbah (People’s Unification Party) of district one, Edward Karfiah (People’s Unification Party) of electoral district five and Prince Moye (Unity Party) of electoral district two.
Of the five lawmakers, Representative Karfiah and Barclay support for Boakai could prove costly because of the growing agitations from citizens about their representations at the House of Representatives over the years.
The citizens are saying their support for Boakai is nothing new as compared to promises that have been made to them in the past.
With the level of dissatisfaction that has greeted Senator Yallah’s preferment as head of the campaign in Bong, political observers say it sends a bad sign for the party in Bong.
According to political analyst Fahlon Smith, the party should move in to remedy the situation before it escalates if the party is serious to win the county.
“I think their concerns are genuine because appointing Senator Yallah is a bad sign for the party because it has been generating lots of mixed views from strong partisans of the party,” he added.
The Unity Party faces a challenge of winning Bong County amid the growing disenchantment over the naming of Senator Yallah as its campaign chair.
The ruling party is counting on Bong in addition to Lofa and Margibi as some of its stronghold counties.
Senator Taylor has won two successive senatorial elections in Bong County and also predicted to be counting on the support of Bong to help the CDC win the pending elections.
Mr. Sulunteh, who also contested as vice running mate to Cllr. Winston Tubman of the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) in 2005 and helped his party win 42.2 per cent of the votes in Bong, is still hopeful that his past performance will bring some political dividend to the ANC.
While remains arguable is that both Jewel and Mr. Sulunteh are counting on past glory which might perhaps be illusive, but the UP is also weighing on Yallah, another decision clouded with old memory, perhaps far from the prevailing realities in the county.