Liberia: Mixed Reactions in Bong County over Pres. Weah’s Rejection of the Bill to Establish Tumutu Agriculture and Technical College

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Gbarnga, Bong County – On Tuesday, this week, President George Weah vetoed a bill to repeal the act creating the Tumutu Vocational Training Institute to the Tumutu Agriculture and Technical College, citing financial and other concerns.

The bill was initiated and supported by Bong County lawmakers Moima Briggs-Mensah of District 6 and Senator Dr. Henrique Flomo Tokpa.

According to Rep. Briggs-Mensah, the bill when passed by the President, would have granted Associate of Arts Degrees in various field of disciplines – Agriculture, Health and Natural Sciences, Education, Engineering, Business, Information and Community Technology, among others.

Since the bill was vetoed, mixed reactions have continued to trail President Weah’s decision in Bong County. Some citizens of the county believed the decision by the president to reject the bill was in the right interest of the country, stating that leaders of the county should redirect their energies to the completion of the Bong County Technical College, which is yet to be completed, while others believed rejecting the bill was not in the interest of citizens, particularly lower Bong County who have long craved for a college.

Our Bong County reporter seeks the views of a cross-section of citizens of the county on the development.

Arthur Bestman, chief of staff, Senator Tokpa’s office

“Mr. President, you cited the unfavorable financial situation and other reasons – something you said doesn’t warrant Tumutu to college status. Mr. President, you said further that the institution is not captured under the budgetary plans and allocations, and that a swift in decision or its withdrawal from the Ministry of Youth and Sports as suggested by the bill is not healthy for the sustenance of the institution.”

“If Tumutu is captured under the budgetary plans and allocations as stated in your press release, Mr. President, how come the institution is currently closed with several months of unpaid salaries and benefits to employees? Why the institution is not being funded? What’s holding the salaries and benefits payment of employees? Mr. President, let me remind you of the creation of Vocational and Technical Institutions across the country just at the same time the bill to elevate Tumutu to a Technical College was passed. For example, the newly established Forkpoh Vocational Institute in RiverGee with a huge financial burden to government.”

Togar Weyea, chairman, Independent Bong Intellectual Class

“President Weah is on the right track. President Weah did well by withholding his assent on the bill that would have led to the elevation of Tumutu as a college. I don’t think Liberia and Bong County need such a distraction now, considering the fact that the Bong County Technical College which was established in 2013 hasn’t been we have adequately funded and the country is facing economic challenges.”

“Constitutionally, President Weah has the right to withhold his assent on a bill, especially if it requires some corrections. He probably refused to sign the Tumutu bill because the country is challenged financially.”

“What he needs to do is to ensure that the Bong County Technical College is completed and adequately so that students can begin to realize their dreams.”

J.  Howard Mattaldi, Jr, a youth of Bong County

“I’ve never been a fan of President George Weah, but, for once, let me give thumbs up to him for refusing to endorse the bill seeking to elevate Tumutu to a college status.”

“Let’s ask ourselves how effective will the Tumutu College be when it is elevated as compared to the Bong County Technical College that hasn’t had a graduation since it was established in 2013? On what ground should Tumutu be elevated to a college status? Will the college be different from the Bong County Technical College we already have? I say well done to Mr. President for withholding his assent to the establishment of the Tumutu Agriculture College… but I’m still not his fan”!

Moses Bailey, a youth of Bong County

“We should not just be creating institutions; rather, we must ensure the institutions we create are properly financed to ultimately deliver the services for which they are created.”

“Already, we have the prolonged and unfinished construction of the Bong County Technical College at hand here. I also want to remind President Weah about his promise to help Bong completes the construction of the BCTC. If this is done, then we can now begin to think about elevating Tumutu and other institutions here. I think Senator Tokpa and other members of the Bong Legislative Caucus should work with the government, raise money and complete the Bong County Technical College.”

Selena Polson-Mappy, former superintendent of Bong County

“Whilst it is the right of the president to veto any bill as he has done with the Tumutu bill and thank God that all focus will now be placed on the BCTC. Let us all be reminded who are or may be in agreement with all of the reasons stated by the president, that there are children who graduate from various high schools in Salala, Sanoyea and Fuamah, that also have the right to earn university degrees in various fields of study just like anyone of us in here.”

Do you all who are in agreement, see and understand the problems faced by people in other parts of the county that served as major impediments in them earning university education. What a sad day for us again, my heart bleeds for my siblings but in due season it will be fine.”

“President Weah’s decision to have vetoed the proposed legislation seeking the elevation of Tumutu and Vocational Training Center to a college status is in the best economic interest of our Bong County, particularly. Firstly, we all know that the Bong County Technical College has been struggling financially since its inception. From the construction of the BCTC to its current structurally unfinished status, there continues to be difficulties. As a son of the county, myself, I would encourage the Bong County Legislative Caucus, the county’s local administration and well-meaning citizens to consolidate our efforts aimed at buttressing national government’s endeavor to ensure a wholly functioning BCTC in the coming fiscal period.”

John O. Flomo, youth of Bong County

“We don’t have to build enough schools or colleges. We just need to maintain those existing structures and equip them to the fullest and make education affordable, quality and accessible to the public.”

“I think President Weah was right. What are we doing to improve the existing ones instead of just writing papers in the name of lawmakers working.”

Jutomue M. Lawor, exile Bong County citizen

“Senator Henry F. Tokpa is well schooled and his quest to have proffered a bill for the elevation of Tumutu to a college status was in the best interest of citizens of that part of the county. Like him or not, his action was void of politics, but was meant to create an opportunity and an enabling environment for sons and daughters of the county to acquire tertiary education. You can go all out to celebrate the president’s decision to have vetoed the bill.”

“The citizens of lower Bong, I am sure, have recognized the passion the senator advanced through this bill. The elevation of Tumutu to a college level would have created jobs in lower Bong, educated several citizens of Margibi, Gbarpolu and other parts of Liberia, not just Bong.”

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