GBARNGA, Bong County – In Bong’s District Two, the only talking point now is the November 16 by-election. FrontPageAfrica has gathered that ten candidates have registered with the National Elections Commission (NEC).
They are: Edward Gboe, Independent candidate, James Kolleh, People Unification Party (PUP), Joshua Better of the Collaborating Politial Parties (CPP), J. Mulbah Totaye, Independent candidate, Joe Better, Movement for Liberia Party, Matthew Siakor.
Others are: Melvin Savage of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Jefferson Blackie of the Rainbow Coalition Party, Passawe Yarkpawolo and James Tartor of the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC).
The seat was declared vacant following the election of the district’s former lawmaker, Prince Moye, who won the December 8, 2020 polls as senator of Bong County.
Since the (NEC) announced November 16 as the date for the by-election, the political atmosphere in the district has received fresh vigor.
FrontPageAfrica has gathered that Moye has reportedly identified his former chief of office staff, Joshua Better, as his successor.
FrontPageAfrica now weighs in on the strengths and weaknesses of some of those expected to contest the by-election.
J. Mulbah Totaye: He has a likeable personality, quiet, decent and generally warm. He is also considered to be well-mannered and mentally sound and he is a household name in the district due to the level of work he has done in the district over the years.
Totaye has been undertaking boreholes in the district and it’s likely to payoff on November 16.
However, the unwritten zoning formula may be an albatross to Totaye’s chances. He comes from Gbansia Clan, where more candidates have emerged.
Melvin Savage: Savage has contested the representative seat in the district once, finishing second to former lawmaker, Moye. In 2017, he contested on the ticket of Liberty Party. But in the pending By-election, he is aspiring on the platform of the ruling establisment.
This time around his ambition to become a lawmaker of the district is unabated. Indeed, Savage, a native of Gbansia Clan, has tested his political might and made impressive showings, even though he did not emerge victorious.
The agitation is rife today for Gbansia Clan to produce the next lawmaker in the spirit of equity, justice and fairness and the political wind seemed to be blowing in that direction of power shift.
Weakness: Savage seems not to be popular in Gbarnga, where fifty percent of the voting population resides.
James Kolleh: From being branded as an underdog in the election, Kolleh has emerged as a major factor in the pending by-election – thanks to his ‘Jehovah Witness’ style of campaigning.
Kolleh has exerted himself having toured the nook and cranny of the district by undertaking landmark projects, including town halls and constructing footpath roads.
Kolleh has also built iron poles on several fields, building several youth centers, several boreholes, market kitchen and work with various schools in the district.
He has also built several women meeting halls and distributed several materials to churches in the district.
Kolleh’s major strength is his character and sense of purpose as a young man hailing from the district with enough exposure to tackle the developmental needs of the district.
His age is an advantage for him as young voters who form the bulk of District Two seem to want someone as their own as representative.
Weakness: Kolleh has a lot of work to do in Seanshue Clan as FrontPageAfrica’s findings show he’s lagging behind.
Chances: Representative-in-waiting? From all indications the odds are in Kolleh’s favor ahead of the November 16 by-election.
Jerry Kollie: Kollie has been a loyal political friend to Senator Moye, but he may be disappointed by the lawmaker’s reported decision to endorse Better at his expense. Like many of those contesting in the district, Kollie is said to have played a major part in making Moye senator in 2020. How he copes with his bid without Moye remains to be seen.
Strength: Kollie, a native of Mortar Clan, pushing for power shift in the district, is a forceful character who is not a push-over in the politics of the district. His modest achievements in the district over the years would be a reference point for him when campaign begins.
Weakness: Kollie has always been painted as an arrogant politicians by opposition elements and that seems to have stuck even if there is very little proof to back their claims. Also, Kollie’s popularity in his clan of origin seems to be a weak line. He doesn’t seem to enjoy massive support by residents of the clan, something that could dent his chances of becoming representative.
Jefferson Blackie: He’s a victim of Moye’s political gimmick. At an elaborate program in 2011, Blackie surrounded his political ambition to Moye with an agreement that he would have been chosen as Moye’s successor during the end of Moye’s two-term as representative.
Strength: An erudite lawyer and a native of Samay, Blackie is popular with some traditional leaders of the district. He hopes to leverage on this to be lawmaker of the district. Blackie has been engaging stakeholders in the district for the district for the last few months, assuring them that he would sustain the legacy of Moye, if elected.
Weakness: It’s unclear whether the lawyer is popular enough in the district to win the by-election.
Matthew Siakor: Siakor is a protege of the late Hezekiah Siakor, a former aspirant for District Two who died months to the election in 2017. Siakor contested and finished third amassing over 3,000 votes.
Strength: He has the ears of some youths in the district, mainly from his native Samay. Siakor hopes to leverage on his late uncle’s popularity in combination with former Bong County senator Franklin Siakor, who is said to have endorsed his bid for representative.
Weakness: He doesn’t have the finance to execute his ambition.
Joshua Better: Better has reportedly gotten the nod of his boss, Moye. Moye reportedly unveiled Better to his team at a recent retreat in Gbarnga. Better has served Moye’s Chief of Office Staff for the last night years and will be hoping that his boss will be on the campaign trail with him to reward him for his service to him over the years.
Strength: With Moye by his side, Better seems to stand a better chance of replacing his boss.
Weakness: Even in Moye’s circle the agitations of his endorsement for Better is glaring. Better, insiders say, can’t be a better replacement for Moye given the likes of qualified people in the race. Besides, Better, a native of Seanshue Clan, has more aspirants contesting the race which could be a minus for him. Even more worse for him is the emergence of his brother, Joe Better. Joe would obviously divide the votes in the clan.
Edward Gboe: His first attempt at politics in 2017 was futile as he lost to Marvin Cole in the race for electoral District Three. If the election in District Two were about qualification Gboe would win unopposed. Of all the aspirants, Gboe, according to many in the district, is qualified and prepared for the job.
Strength: After a futile attempt in 2017, Gboe, a native of Gbansia Clan, is back with a bang and has demonstrated that by commissioning people-centered projects in the district.
Gboe’s major strength is the support he continues to garner in every nook and cranny of the district. Gboe has received mammoth endorsements from key stakeholders in his native Gbansia Clan, an area agitating for power shift in the district.
Weakness: Gboe’s major weakness is that he doesn’t have the finance to execute his ambition.