Liberia: Four Campaign Promises Haunt Marvin Cole

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Wainsue, Bong County – It’s been three years since Marvin Cole made a string of promises during his long 2017 campaign to be the next lawmaker of Bong’s District Three.

Many of the promises made headlines – from constructing a hospital for motorcyclists in his district to ensuring that the auditorium of the Dolokelen Gboveh High School is fully air-conditioned.

But other promises went a little under the radar, like his pledge to construct a modern town hall in Wainsue Town and construct a clinic in Behquelleh Clan.

Three years later, how has he done in keeping his promises? 

The Promises:

CONSTRUCTION OF MOTORCYCLISTS’ HOSPITAL

As a candidate who was petitioned by motorcyclists in Gbarnga following his sacking as City Mayor of Gbarnga, Cole set his initial goal to construct a hospital for motorcyclists in his district in his first one hundred days as a lawmaker.

According to him, a hospital would be a much-needed necessity for motorcyclists in his district to respond to the rising cases of accidents cases. Three years later, the lawmaker has failed to fulfill his promise, even though construction work has begun on the hospital. 

His failure to complete the hospital during the promised period is angering motorcyclists, with many expressing regrets about electing him in 2017. One motorcyclist expressed his anger to FrontPageAfrica: “Marvin Cole is a liar. We make promises without doing anything to implement it. 

Ahead of the 2023 elections, Cole still has a chance to make amends, but the question is whether the completion of the project would be enough to convince those regarded as the “strength” of his political success in the district.

THE MODERNIZATION OF GBOVEH AUDITORIUM

Before becoming a lawmaker, Cole said the auditorium at the biggest government-run institution of learning would be fully equipped with air-conditioning in the first three years of his six-year tenure. 

“I understand the constraints students of Dolokelen Gboveh High School are facing when it comes to the issue of the auditorium. I promise to modernize the auditorium and make it fully air-conditioned. All I want is for students of this institution to elect me as your next lawmaker,” Cole told the cheering students during the campaign. 

But up to date, nothing has been done on the building. His pledge seems to be turning out to be one of the major headaches confronting the lawmaker. 

Three years into his tenure, nothing has been done. And he faces hurdles in persuading the students about his failure to achieve his promise. In fact, he seems to have forgotten about such a pledge to the students. The lawmaker is yet to commission a project out of a whopping 15 promises made before and after elections, and it remains unlikely as to whether he will accomplish those pledges before 2023.

FAILED WAINSUE TOWN HALL PROJECT?

Several times during the campaign, Cole said he would ensure that Wainsue, one of the most populated towns in District Three – have a ‘modern’ town hall in three years when he’s elected as lawmaker. He’s approaching his fourth year and nothing seems to be happening.

On many occasions, he has announced on local radio stations in the county of receiving funds for the construction of the project to complete it in time. His failure to implement this promise appears to be putting him at odds with residents of the town.

One resident who phoned the lawmaker to remind him about the town hall was branded a “goat” by the lawmaker. The telephone conversation between the lawmaker and this resident was broadcast on Super Bongese, a local radio station in the county, provoking many to call on the lawmaker to apologize to residents of the town, though he hasn’t. Wainsue has a population of over three thousand inhabitants. With the level of dissenting views among residents of the town about this statement, the lawmaker appears to be facing the daunting task of renewing his relationship, especially with 2023 elections lurking.

BEHQUELLEH CLINIC CONSTRUCTION AT A SNAIL PACE

Recognizing the importance of constructing a clinic for a clan with a population of approximately one thousand inhabitants, the lawmaker promised residents in May of 2020 that they would begin having access to a clinic of their own before the July 26 independence day of that year. Assuring that he had gotten all the funds for the construction of the clinic, Cole said: “By July 26 this year (2020) residents of this clan will begin accessing their own clinic to reduce the burden of trekking long distances to access health center. I know what my people want; and as your lawmaker, I’m prepared to meet your needs by sourcing funds in the national budget,” he said.

FrontPageAfrica gathered that $52,000 was sourced from the national budget for Legislative Earmarked Project and was directed for the construction of a clinic in Kparnya, BEHQUELLEH Clan. To date, construction work on the building has gone fifty percent, though the lawmaker has admitted receiving all the funds to complete the clinic.

The snail pace of the work appears to be angering many in the clan. One resident told our reporter. “We don’t know when will this clinic project will be completed because we are tired of listening to stories. We are still walking far distances to seek health care.”

RECONCILIATION

The Coalition of Democratic Change lawmaker’s mantra of change during the campaign focused mainly on reconciliation, promising to unite a district embroiled with hate, particularly among the young people. But early into his tenure, he reportedly began to witch-hunt opposition figures who were local officials in the county by replacing them with his supporters. The likes of former Bong County Inspector William Kollie, Wesseh Zorzor are a list of few people who the lawmaker reportedly influenced their dismissals.

Three years into his tenure, the lawmaker appears to have grown into a “monster”, betraying his promise of reconciliation, by targeting people of his own party who differ with him on policy issues using the name of the Minister of State of Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill, as a shield. One classic example is his reported recommendation of Madam Susannah Lorpu Martor to replace Esther Walker as superintendent. 

Cole has never hidden his desire to influence the removal of Walker, the Women Wing Chairlady of the ruling party. FrontPageAfrica gathered that his recommendation last week was rebuffed by the minister.

Cole’s behavior in recent months in the county of being “the only CDC partisan in the county” seems to be hurting the image of the party in the county. Many feel if the party is to succeed in the county in the pending 2023 presidential and legislative elections more needs to be done in reconciling aggrieved partisans who have lost their jobs or being targeted by the lawmaker.

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