Liberia: Tamba Aghailas, an Underdog in Lofa Senatorial Race, Eyeing a ‘People-Centered Agenda for County’
Monrovia – Vote-rich Lofa County is expected to present one of the hotly-contested races in the upcoming Midterm Senatorial elections.
Former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, and Representatives Julie Wiah and Mariamu Fofona are among a list of high-profile names eyeing the coveted seat. The incumbent George Tengbeh recently crossed carpet to the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change from the former ruling Unity Party and is also expected to make the race quite intriguing.
Now comes Mr. Tamba D. Aghailas, an author, advocate and philanthropist promising to empower and inspire a new generation of leaders and ensure that the county gets its fair share of the “National Cake.”
“We will work with colleagues in the “House of Elders” and with the Executive to ensure that Lofa County gets it fair share of the national budget,” Aghailas told FrontPageAfrica at the weekend. “No more false promises while our county is locked and inaccessible every year during the worst periods of raining season. We will lobby vigorously for budgetary allotments towards programs in Agriculture supports, Education, and Healthcare. Read our candidate’s proposal on creating the Agriculture Corps of Liberia, which will result in job creation for young people.”
The candidate recently received a petition from a cross-spectrum of citizens of Lofa County to contest in this year’s midterm elections slated for December 8, 2020.
Recently, a group styled and named “Friends of Tamba Aghailas”, after careful scrutiny of candidates who have been crisscrossing the County to seek their support, decided that this illustrious son of the soil was the candidate of their choice.
“Tamba is capable, pragmatic, and can bring about real change, advocacy, and representation to Lofa County. He will be the only candidate in this race who brings clean hands, an impeccable character, and a track record of success in development. Lofa County needs him to champion the cause of our people and restore the dignity of our county in particular and country in general,” said the Chairman.
Aghailas has been in advocacy and international development for the last 20+ years and says it would be an honor to put his experience, skills, and abilities to good use in serving his people when elected to represent the county in the upper house.
During the course of his career, Aghailas has helped raised millions of dollars for development programs; hired and promoted hundred of young professionals, including Liberians in INGOs he worked for including Plan International, International Rescue Committee, BRAC, etc.
He has also led relief efforts in Liberia (2014-2015) during the worst Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa; and provided emergency relief supplies to Lofa County and other counties affected by the virus.
At BRAC, he helped passed the poultry & livestock policy, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture.
“We will work with colleagues in the “House of Elders” and with the Executive to ensure that Lofa County gets it fair share of the national budget.”– Tamba Aghailas, Senatorial Aspirant
As a community activist and founder of The Voice of Liberia, Aghailas organized a “Peace and Reconciliation” Conference in Foya District, Lofa County under the auspices of the “Tamba Aghailas Foundation.” Paramount and sectional Chiefs, officials of government and over 400 youths participated in a two day training in “conflict resolution.”
The foundation at one point raised a three-day tournament that saw the participation of over 2,500 people and funds and provided financial support to over 500 Lofa University Students in Monrovia.
He has also created business opportunities that employed young Liberians and continues to invest in other opportunities for mobility.
He has published “In Pursuit of Liberty: A Refugee’s Chronicles of Triumph” and Uprooted by the Liberian civil war (1989-2003).
Born in Foya and raised in Monrovia until the 1990 war, Aghailas moved back to Foya with his family until he was nearly executed in the middle of the war in 1994.
He spent 10 years as a Refugee in Guinea and moved to New York City as an International Student.
Aghailas has written extensively on his country’s recent history and has dedicated his life to public service.
As a candidate, Aghailas is trumpeting the burning issues of accountability and transparency in government. “We will lead with distinction, accountability and transparency,” he told FPA. “We will ensure that our people know the work we are doing for them and what allotments are made to our office and county. We will ensure a reporting mechanism is put in place to promote transparency in government.”
Aghailas says if elected, he will also checkmate the Executive Branch of Government in a bid to increase the check and balance of the three branches of government. “If left unchecked, the Executive Branch, especially the presidency, can become corrupt and dictatorial given its proximity to national resources and unchecked power. We will ensure that we checkmate the Executive Branch of government so that our country do not return to the old “dark days” of conflict.”
Aghailas says he is committed to advocate and represent Lofa County at every level of national discourse and bring about development to the citizens of the county. “Lofa County will no longer be silent or take a back seat. Lofa County must lead through strong advocacy and representation. We will lead by example and restore the dignity of the “House of Elders” and Lofa County.”
The candidate says he also intends to work with national stakeholders and international partner agencies to seek support (financial & material) that will benefit the youth, women and vulnerable (including the disabled) populations. “We will earmark programs and budgets centered around microfinance loans, financial support to students in primary school, agriculture programs (seeds & support to communal farms), and create job opportunities in the manufacturing/processing sectors.”
Despite his pledge, Aghailas is under no illusions about his chances and the heavyweights in the race he has to conquer en route to an upset victory but says he brings change and a fresh voice that may be lacking. “I am like David going against Goliaths like Tengbe, Samukai, and Fofana who have benefited immensely from high government salaries and kickbacks and are now using cash violence to buy votes.”
Aghailas insists that his competition has nothing new to offer Liberia. “They have failed in terms of leadership and empowering our people, who are being kept subservient through handout and votes buying. It’s time we graduate from the handout mentality by creating the conditions to accompany our people towards self-empowerment. And this will take a “people-centric leadership.” This is why we have stepped forward given our track record of advocacy and success in the international development sector.”