Bong County Incumbents: Do They Deserve Your Vote?
Gbarnga, Bong County – Liberians will be going to the polls on October 10, 2017 to elect a new President and 73 new members of the House of Representatives.
Report by Selma Lomax, [email protected]
Voters will be hiring legislators for a job that pays $12,000 a month, plus benefits such as cars, gasoline and others.
Twenty people are vying for the presidency and 900 more candidates are contesting for 73 legislative seats across the country.
Many voters in the 73 Districts say incumbent lawmakers have failed to deliver. They complain about bad roads, lack of health care, poor educational system and overall lack of development.
Voters said their Districts have not changed much in the last six years. On the presidency side, voters say their lives have not changed much under the Unity Party’s 12-year reign.
Voters are contemplating whether to keep things as they are under the Unity Party and incumbent legislators or consider new candidates with new ideas, vision and passion.
In Bong County, seven seats are up for grabs as seven incumbent lawmakers seek re-elections.
FrontPageAfrica looks at the likely “winners” and “losers” ahead of the October 10, 2017 polls.
Tokpah Mulbah, District #1, Bong County, People’s Unification Party:
The race in electoral District one has been throwing up signs of a close contest between the three main political candidates – incumbent Tokpah J. Mulbah of the PUP, Wamah Kuteh of Liberty Party and E. Richard Dillion, an Independent candidate.
Political pundits who have been keen on the development in the District are finding it difficult to place a bet on any of the candidates,
Rep. Mulbah has been a quiet member of the House of Representatives since his election in 2005. He has no bill to his credit since his election.
He won in 2005 and 2011 as a Congress for Democratic Change lawmaker. He is now a member of the People’s Unification Party (PUP).
Rep. Mulbah is contesting against 16 other candidates, many of whom from Kokoyah, one of two administrative Districts making up electoral District.
Kpaii, the other administrative District, there is a competition for vote between the incumbent and two other candidates namely: Wamah Kuteh of Liberty Party and Albert Junior Hills of the All Liberian Party.
In Kokoyah, there is one strong candidate in E. Richard Dillion, an Independent candidate who finished third in the 2011 election.
Chances of Re-election: Political pundits who have been keen on the development in the District are finding it difficult to place a bet on any of the candidates. The race is too close to call.
Prince Moye, Unity Party, District Two:
The Unity Party lawmaker has distinguished himself since his election in 2011.
His first feat major feat came one year into his tenure when crafted a bill which was co-sponsored by Rep. George Mulbah for District two to have a status.
Such move is seen by many as arguably the biggest legislative feat recorded by the lawmaker owing to the status at which he inherited in the District.
Besides, the lawmaker over the years commissioned over 60 people-centered projects, some personal and other government funded project.
Among which was the US 500,000 Seanshue School, mobile health center, construction of the Samay Youth Center, construction of Foloblia town hall and others, public school in Toloma town, construction of the Toomon bridge, construction of Lelekpayea school.
Nyanta clinic in Yandiwon and the ongoing Genequelleh School, over one million Liberian dollars every year are just a few of the lawmaker’s projects over the years.
Chances of re-election: Of all Bong lawmakers, Rep. Moye has the clearest chance of being re-elected.
His achievements in the District over the years may have been responsible for the low number of candidates who registered in his District – two.
He has a clear chance of being re-elected.
Rep. George Mulbah, District Three: PUP
In District three, this election promises to be a close contest since 2005, considering the forces at play, and the events that shaped the build-up.
District three is having its first experience with three strong contenders. Incumbent George Mulbah, the candidate of the Coalition of Democratic Change, Josiah Marvin Cole and the former Executive Director of the Young Men Christian Association, Edward Gboe.
Cole is appearing almost like the main challenger to the PUP’s Mulbah, who is seeking a third term.
The incumbent is running on a platform that is rooted among the people. He also has a pedigree to flaunt because of his 12-year performance which has built a foundation of development and the provision of tuition aid for student of the District.
What seems to be playing against Rep. Mulbah is the wave of accusation that he is responsible for the college not being completed.
Gboe, meanwhile, has been making inroads since he declared his ambition to contest in 2016.
He seems to have control of Gbarnga, which has 60 per cent of the voting population. But the battle for Gbarnga seems to be between Cole, who is relying on the growing influence of the standard bearer of the CDC Ambassador George Weah.
In earnest, anyone who wins Gbarnga will be the next representative of the District.
Rep. Lester Paye, Alternative National Congress District Four:
Most of Rep. Paye’s six years at the national legislature grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons. The most infamous was his inability to procure the ambulance he promised the people of Zota District, one of the two administrative Districts he is serving as lawmaker.
Ahead of October 10 polls, Rep. Paye’s popularity continues to plummet as the people of Zota have vowed not to re-elect him.
In terms of representation and pushing argument on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Paye has been a key member of that body.
He has co-sponsored and sponsored several bills including the famous Youth bill he sponsored.
But back in his District, citizens say Rep. Paye hasn’t done much to deserve re-election. Claims of failed campaign promises including the failure to make true his promise on the ambulance he promised the people of Zota District is taking a toll on his campaign.
Besides, there is also disenchantment from citizens of his native Foequelleh in Panta District over his inability to deliver.
Chances of Re-election: Rep. Paye’s chances of re-election are slim. His major contender in the District is Unity Party’s Bong County chairman Robert Womba.
Womba hails from Zota District, one of two administrative Districts that comprises of District four that has a population of 11,457 people compare to Panta’s 8,900.
What is also compounding Rep. Paye’s re-election chances is the multiplicity of candidates from Panta District. They are ten as compare to Zota’s three.
Rep. Paye has a 20 per cent chance of being re-elected.
Rep. Edward Karfiah, People’s Unification Party, District Five:
Rep. Karfiah’s woes with citizens of the District began the first year of his tenure about diverting the District’s scholarship to his personal scholarship.
Though the scholarship has benefited some young people in the District, others believe that such scholarship has only been directed at supporters of the lawmaker as a means of securing re-election.
Besides, Rep. Karfiah’s long standing political fight with CDC’s vice standard bearer Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor and Internal Affairs minister Dr. Henrique Tokpa – two influential persons in the District is greatly undermining his chances of re-election.
Rep. Karfiah worked in the office of Senator Taylor prior to his election in 2011 and she played a major part in his election victory, while Tokpa is seen as the “political face” face of District.
Though Senator Taylor is not supporting a particular candidate in the District, she has vowed to campaign against him over claims of diverting money she reportedly give Rep. Karfiah as appreciate token to citizens of the District.
Tokpa, on the other hand is poised to endorse Cuttington University’s Procurement Director James Dorbor Sao. Political pundits say such endorsement could spell doom for Rep. Karfiah’s re-election chances.
Chances of Re-election: Unless the unexpected happens, time has run out on Rep. Karfiah to make amendments in securing his re-election as the odds for his re-election are so high.
Rep. Adam Bill Corneh, CDC District Six
Rep. Corneh’s chances of retaining his seat hang in the balance with the presence of two females in the race: former Bong County superintendent Selena Polson-Mappy of the Coalition of Liberia’s Party’s Party and an independent candidate Moima Briggs.
After surviving the Code of Conduct, Polson-Mappy is getting her campaign on track with a door-to-door campaign.
Briggs has emerged as another potential candidate likely to replace Rep. Corneh. Briggs has the midwives in the District as her strength.
Chances of re-election: Rep. Corneh might not be re-elected.
Rep. Corpu Barclay, Unity Party, District Seven
Rep. Barclay is facing serious opposition from former Deputy Minister of Information and Coalition of Liberia’s Progress party candidate in the District Andrew Tehmeh.
Like Polson-Mappy in District six, Tehmeh is a survival of the Code of Conduct.
He has been making inroads in both Sanoyea and Fuamah District. He has provided loans to market women, constructed schools and provided tuition aids for students of the District.
Tehmeh’s chances of replacing Rep. Barclay received a boost over the weekend when women in Barclay’s stronghold of Fuamah District endorsed his candidacy.