Liberia: Former Bong County Lawmaker Frowns on Calls to Split County
Monrovia – A former representative of Bong County has termed calls for the split of the central Liberian county as “tantamount to undermining the current government”.
Report by Alpha Daffae Senkpeni, [email protected]
Lester Paye, who represented electoral district four in the 53rd Legislature and lost in the 2017 elections, argues that dividing the county into two will destabilize its people and ruin the significance of producing the country’s vice president, Jewel Howard Taylor.
“For the first time we are having a vice president and she has not even sat for six months and people are calling for division. What do you think the interpretation will be?”
He added that instead of dividing the county, stakeholders must focus on improving development by engaging and unifying people of the county.
“The solution of the county is to come together as one people and have common understanding,” he said.
“If there are people feeling different about certain things that may be taking place, this is the time to come on the table to discuss it but to say there should be division is wrong.”
There have been increasing oppositions to the split. Some suggest that the problem with the county is “lack of adequate and united leadership that will see Bong as a whole in decision making and ensure the adequate distribution of the limited resources for the sole purpose of improving the lives and well-being of the citizen”.
And the former lawmaker claims that those proposing the split “want to score political goals at the expense of the majority,” adding that most people of the county are frowning on the proposal.
“In 2023, we will be having senatorial elections and I think people want to gain political relevance so they are calling for division which they think would give them influence during that election,” Paye alleges.
He, however, suggested that there have not been a particular individual of the county who have openly proposed the division to the Legislature, adding that the suggestion should be treated as “a rumour” until the proponents can solicit the appropriate reactions from natives of the county.
However, Senator Henry Yallah appears to be the main advocate for the demarcation of the county.
The Bong County Senator had contended that separating the county would bring more development to the lower part of Bong, an area he claimed has been marginalized and underdeveloped.
He cited the major developments in Upper Bong such as Cuttington University, Phebe and C.B. Dunbar hospitals, the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) and the Bong County Technical College don’t benefit the lower region.
“My bill is in the interest of everyone,’’ he said. “I know that there will be descending views on this but I strongly believe when the bill is passed everyone will see the rationale,” said Yallah in April this year.
But Paye, who is now a private legal counsel, rejects justifications that the split would give the people of the Kpelleh tribe political leverage in national decision making and enhance development of the region based on the additional legislative seats that would be created.
Mentioning the under development of counties like River Gee, Gbarpolu, Grand Kru and River Cess – created in the past decades, he argues that demarcating county based on political interest doesn’t assure development.
“Go to those counties that people came and said that we want a new county – they are still underdeveloped,” he said.
“We should not only request split because of politics; we should be talking first about becoming more cohesive and work together as one county and one people.”
He then called on citizens, traditional leaders and county officials to resolve the situation by initiating a county conference.