LIBERIA: Rep. Thomas Fallah: We’ll Shift the Paradigm This Time Around
Monrovia – Rep. Thomas P. Fallah (CDC, Montserrado, District No. 5), the chosen one by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change to challenge the incumbent Senator Abraham Darius Dillon(Collaborating Political Parties) in the upcoming Senatorial Midterm elections is venturing into unfamiliar territory for incumbents in vote-rich Montserrado. With the exception of Senator Saah Joseph who won the special elections to fill the void left by football legend George Manneh Weah following his ascendancy to the Liberian Presidency, the county, regarded as the microcosm of Liberia, has always been dominated by the opposition.
Interview by Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]
After losing bragging rights to Senator Dillon in last year’s elections to fill the void left in the aftermath of the late Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, the ruling CDC is leaving no stone unturn in a bid to recapture the county from the opposition.
In his first exclusive interview since winning the party’s primaries, Rep. Fallah, riding on a wave of recent endorsements, appears upbeat and confident that he is the right man to get the job done, owing to his status as a three-time elected lawmaker from District No. 5, covering the Paynesville communities of 72nd Community, Police Academy, Bassa Town, Red Light, A.B. Tolbert Road and Town Hall, as well as the Congo Town communities of Swankamore and and Pagos Island.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Before we get started tell us about yourself – who is Thomas Fallah, how did you get into politics and what are some of the challenges encountered on the way here?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: First of all, let me say it’s a pleasure to be on this platform. I’m Thomas Fallah, a humble Liberian, young person; from a very humble background, a humble beginning, born and grew up in Montserrado County, especially in the Paynesville township. I’m a businessman turned politician, a family person – married and blessed with kids. I’m an educator, I believe in education. I have been representing the people of District 7 now District 5 since 2005 at the Legislature.
I’ve been opportune to go through the ranks and files of the Legislature. I was just an ordinary member, but today I’m in leadership at the Legislature.
Politically, I’ve been affiliating with the Congress for Democratic Change since I joined politics to present. I saw went through the ranks and file from being a gate keeper and we managed to navigate our way to the national leadership of our party. I’m a devoted Christian, so far so good.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: You’ve been elected three times by the people of District 5, that’s where you got the name T-Five. Why do you think the time is ripe for you now to try your luck in the Senate, especially when you most recently won the 2017 elections with the CDC?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: The name T-Five has been in the body politics for 15 years. Like I said, I went through the ranks and files to begin with Montserrado County first. Montserrado County comprise of 17 electoral districts. We got elected, we had what we called the Caucus of Montserrado County building relationship with the local leadership, the local government and we were successful to have been members of that caucus, we went to assistant secretary of the caucus leadership and then we went to the position of co-chairman and today I serve as caucus chairman of the Montserrado Legislative Caucus.
I had the opportunity also to work with three superintendents of our county. I served the last 10, 15 years, we build a good working relationship with the former Superintendent, we had working relationship with Grace Kpaan; we also have a working relationship – a cordial one with Florence Brandy. We managed to work with the government in terms of the structure – commissioners, governors, and all of that. So, we have a good network.
We also managed to work with our former colleagues form the 52nd to the 53rd [Legislature]. From 2005 to 2011, there was a group of lawmakers that came in and after we had the 2011 elections, we had another batch of lawmakers that came in with different political backgrounds, experience as well. They joined us and we managed to work with them going through the process. Now, we got another batch of lawmakers since 2017 elections that brought me to the chairmanship of Montserrado County [Legislative Caucus].
I understand some of the issues though I was confined to one electoral district which was District 5.
“How can you be a Senator of Montserrado County, you have no working relationship with the Superintendent of the County – that’s the local governance structure of the county. How can you be the Senator a county you don’t know the name of one township commissioner? You’re the Senator of the county, you have no working relationship with the caucus members because you’re the Senator for the 17 of us, you have no working relationship. You have no better working relationship even with the three branches of government.“– Rep. Thomas Fallah, Montserrado County Senatorial Aspirant (CDC)
Working outside of District 5, we managed to understand some of the issues working with some of our colleagues – the challenges in their respective districts; working with local governments. I think we’ve been doing well and I think this time around, we have come with leadership because in Montserrado we believe we have managed to go through the ranks and file to understand the challenges our county is faced with. To begin with our colleagues because we’ve got new breed of lawmakers that have come in. The role of a Senator is to help play that administrative role to manage the expectations of those that cannot find their way through. Especially, as a Senator, you represent the aspiration of the 17 districts, you must have a complete network that would manage them and I think I’m good at that because of our stay there and our working relationship that we have built over the years.
We come with a perfect leadership, I think history is there that we have network even with the opposition community.
In 2005 we worked with our colleagues in the former ruling Unity Party – we were in the CDC we built that working relationship. It is a strong network that we built and today we are part of the ruling party though we have our colleagues and friends from the opposition, we also have a network. In the legislature, it’s about network building, it’s not about a singular individual no matter how well you propound or how well you push an issue, if you don’t solicit the support of your colleagues, sometimes you’ll only be making sense on what you think is right for the people so the first thing is you have to build a consensus within the legislature. So, we have come with the collaborative spirit; we have come with little knowledge in terms of the governance or running of Montserrado County. So, I think we’ve got the pedigree, we have the know-how, we have the connections that we can put on the table working with our colleagues using our networks to make sure provide those basic social services to our people in Montserrado County.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: You’ve had this job in the lower House for more than two times. What difference are you going to make in the Senate?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: I am the longest serving representative in Montserrado County and I went through the rank and file. If one could say, I am the senior elder of Montserrado County because since the inception of there is not one individual that have been elected in succession in Montserrado County. So, if I am the most senior elder of Montserrado County by virtue of my staying in the House for 15 years.
I’ve come with the leadership, I’ve come with humility and passion for the job. I can do the work and I think I can deliver what the people of Montserrado want.
By my elections three times in my district it speaks volume because no one can just be easily elected if you’re not doing anything for your people, if you don’t understand the terrain. Just by that, it gives me edge over my colleagues that think they want to provide leadership for Montserrado County.
I stand a better position both in the executive, in the judiciary, in the legislature there is a network there because this is how governance work.
Even in the opposition community, we have a lot of friends, we disagree on issues; we’ve built that relationship.
I think we can work with the current government today which I’m part of and even manage to stabilize the expectations of the oppositions.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Monstserrado is a very difficult territory for incumbents, the only exception in the last few years is Saah Joseph who managed to fill the current President, George Weah. What are you going to do differently to change the trend, in terms of an incumbent winning Montserrado County?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: Montserrado County, normally people say is a place for the opposition – we respect their opinion. This individual that is in question is not only limited to the ruling party, I have built beyond the ruling party or my own party, I have managed to even cultivate in the opposition because during our days, we worked with the former ruling party.
There were critical issues, understanding the doctrine of coordination and cooperation in governance, we were able to work with the then ruling party. I have been with the CDC all through – from school to politics. There were times we disagreed with Madam Sirleaf, but if you check District 5, I was a strong opposition candidate but because we managed to build that coordination and representation adequately, today you see the district is completely laid out.
Being an opposition doesn’t mean that you must always create tons of problems for the ruling establishment. There would be internal disagreements, there would be problems, but you need to have a focused leadership that would be able to bring the ruling party to the table, bring the opposition to the table, navigate your way and see what the issues are and be able to solve problems and that is leadership.
I can tell you for a fact that outside of Saah Joseph, we’ve had two support from the opposition community today – that story would be changed. That fact that people believe that Montserrado is for the opposition, we have a support base in the opposition, they’re not CDCians but because our working relationship. Once it comes to the governance of country I’ve managed to build that relationship, so outside Saah Joseph we’re going to make that history and I think our party didn’t make any mistake in selecting someone that would go into the opposition community and speak to into the minds of the opposition.
The opposition would always have issues but we need someone that would cultivate and say ‘Opposition, yes, we have issues, we can talk? Can we sit? What are the issues?’ and the only way that can happen is when you have a working relationship, they’ll listen to you. So you have those issues catalogued, put on the table, move to the ruling party if it is the CDC and say Mr. President, though you’re the Chief Executive of our country but there are issues from our opposition community and get them on the table.
Given my relationship as a son – I consider myself as a son to the President and he’ll listen. The chairman of our party, the national executive committee, the governing structure of our party – these are people that would listen. So, I’m going to play that role.
The opposition, they are comfortable; probably they’re not going to come outside and day we’re going to lend support to Hon. Fallah in the open but even Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf out of respect I call her my grandmother. When the construction of the Police Academy Road came, it was Gyude Moore by then, she had the opportunity to break ground but she called Fallah to go and break ground as a son because we collaborated perfectly. We were not there causing noise or attacking but we were discussing; where necessary we needed to disagree we disagreed. So, we’ll change it, we’ll shift the paradigm this time around to ensure that we have a better working relationship with the opposition.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Montserrado is like the microcosm of the whole country, what happens in Montserrado County affects other counties; much is expected of Senators and Representatives in this position, do you think as a ruling party member, you would go against anything that the ruling party is doing against the county interest and are you capable of speaking truth to power?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: We have done it, we have done it several times. Sometimes when you’re not vocal on the radio or on the social media people believe that you cannot disagree with issues. But our style of leadership doesn’t require too much of noise except where necessary.
We can disagree with our President, we disagreed before with Madam Johnson Sirleaf when Fallah’s name was not a popular name probably because it was not the radio every now and then. We disagreed in terms of exchanges of communications – where necessary we write as a sitting Representative knowing my responsibilities, bringing matured leadership to the fray. We write the Office of the President and if she saw it necessary she would invite us to her office at the time and then we address the issue.
Go to District 5, there were times Police Academy was a dusty road, our people suffered. When they started the road network connections at the time, we said Madam President Police Academy is the place where we have the only police barracks in this country that the police people, paramilitary people go to train, today is worse because our people cannot commute perfectly, Madam Sirleaf you should please help us in making sure that in your programs in terms of road network connectivity, let Police Academy be prioritized. We did not go around causing noise and she saw the need and importance of constructing that Police Academy Road.
I remember she came from a place and they had some welcoming program for her at the Paynesville City Hall when she went from the Joe Bar end, the PCS, the road was very bad and it gave her some problems, she got upset and we said yes, Madam President you see what we talked about as District Representative.
This is the City Hall, we have the only city hall in the entire Paynesville but look at the road connection and the President saw it fit, the next day me, Hon. Fallah what can we do, I said Madam President this is the situation. Look at the LRA Road, the AB Tolbert Road, these are places that you use easily to avoid traffic congestion but because there was no attention.
So, our disagreement at the time was constructive and then it brought some dividends to our people. So, we’ll disagree, there will always be issues but we must be able to mitigate these issues through a responsible manner given our responsibility as national leaders.
Sometimes as national leader you speak and what you say becomes policy, it drives the voters even if you’re wrong. So, must be careful and balance what you say because your support base, when you say today let’s burn this village down, obviously your supporters would move. If you say let’s fix this road today, people would follow you. So, you have to be very careful how you speak, how you make public pronouncement and public engagement.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Those days were when you were opposition, now you’re ruling party, the dynamics have changed. Look at, for example, the rape issue, this week has been a very daunting week for women, they’ve been protesting for rape and many people are not happy with the response they are getting from the government. As a Senator, what would you do differently to address the situation?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: There are procedures, the first thing to commence with a big thanks to the organizers, the young people that exercised their constitutional rights, under our constitution, there was nothing wrong to take the streets. The essence of taking the streets was to make the government and international partners to know that something is happening and they are there to raise alarm to raise local and international attention which is protected by the Constitution of our country.
There was nothing wrong except where after the first 48 hours, we observed that some political flavor started to get into it.
I am a father of three girls and I am a serious supporter of whoever or a group of people that want to go against the issue of rape. So, as a party, as a government we support that. This has not been the first time… I can remember, the little girl they call Angel, I remember the young man at the time, our youth leader, Jefferson Koijee, they took to the streets. We were in government at the time we saw attention that was paid by the government to those young advocates – some of them went to jail, some of them were beaten and all of that.
Today, the people were given the opportunity to go and demonstrate except at the end they had some disagreement.
We can speak to the President; there are laws on the book. Someone would say capital punishment, someone would say death penalty; can we look at those laws as our responsibilities as lawmakers, we must legislate, we must amend, we must repeal. So, if there are laws repeal or to add teeth to what we have currently we must enforce them. The demonstrators did their part but now it is our responsibility, so, if we went, for example, and said let’s do death penalty because the issue of rape is damaging our children, it’s the prerogative of the lawmakers to speak to that and put that into law.
If the President do go and veto and says the penalty is too harsh, we can’t do death penalty, we can come as opinion leaders, as lawmakers and say Mr. President, this is the way to go. I can go there and say Mr. President, this is how I think it should be so that it can help to curtail the issue of rape.
The issue of rape is not an individual stuff, I think the Chief Executive is inclined, the entire government is inclined, the three branches of government is inclined. As I sit here, a meeting is now going on, our colleagues received the petition, the petition would be put in a better perspective for formal legislative discussion…
While we agree holistically that rape is an issue in our country, we must play our role as lawmaker,s we can disagree with the President when we think it’s necessary to disagree on behalf of the Liberian people. I did it with Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, now my government, it gives me a better platform sit with the President, go in his living room, go in his bedroom and say Mr. President, here are the issues. I can call the party’s chairman and say Mr. Mulbah Morlu, these are the issues, these are things that I think we need to do, can we move as a governing party and I have that latitude. I can go the Justice Minister that has that statutory responsibility, I can to go the Gender Minister that has that statutory responsibility. There is something we even have at the level of the LNP, I think they call it Gender and Children, so these are things we can do. With my position now with the ruling party, I think the flexibility is there for us to have conversations on those major national issues.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Let’s look at your main challenger, the incumbent, Abraham Darius Dillon of the opposition CPP, what’s your strategy for making him a one-year Senator?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: Well, strategies are not meant to be disclosed but I think I would just speak a little on that because I think he, too, has a strategy to deny us from winning. But the first thing is hard work. Hard work is one of our tools. For the last two, three weeks, I’ve been totally involved in community engagements because you know sometimes we’re not involved in public appearance, we that’s the background of our understanding so we move in the communities.
With my experience in the Legislature, I said to myself in 2005 with a little experience at the time from school, from the plank field, a lot of people said can Fallah make it? A lot of people believed that I could not made it given my background.
But the first thing I did was to do community assessment. The community assessment was to define and know the needs of our people. I realized at the time that District 5, the issue at the time was roads, the issue of water, the issue of electricity. So, what I said to myself was how do I achieve this? That was the question I asked myself. When I got to work, at the end of the day the people saw some dividends.
Today, the Pipeline Road you see, it was under my leadership; so, there were a lot of things we did and we made sure we got dividends and we got respected by our people, appreciated by our people. That’s what I did and we would make sure to unseat him, he would be a one-year Senator. It’s not by bragging, it’s not by talk , it’s about our deeds, the work we do…
When it comes to our function, we have performed very well in terms of representation and our making of law. And we believe that we can do that for the people of Montsrrado given that what I’ve done in District 5, I allowed the people of District 5 to give us the mandate for the second terms, we will spread it over the entire Montserrado County – all sectors, the education because that’s what I know doing best. We’re going to use our oversight, we’re going to use our functions to embrace government so that we can make sure we bring development to our people and I think we know how to do that best given our level of experience.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Are you content with the situation in Liberia right now?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: Montserrado has been like this but we are hoping we can accelerate more. We can do more. From my experience in just two and half years of this government, I think a lot have been achieved when it comes to improvement in the education sector. The issue of education, encouraging our kids to take education seriously, this government has demonstrated to my understanding and opinion it. Especially where at the University of Liberia, the university has been declared tuition free. That was costing US$3-4 million annually, that’s the responsibility the government has incurred.
The issue of WASSCE – we all are parents, normally we all get worried when they say the children are going for WASSCE. At times you see children in the street corners, in the community begging, asking for assistance. This government came and took that responsibility that brought relief to us.
We’re talking about infrastructure – the roads. In two and half years go to Rehab today, go see Johnsonville Road, go see my own district VOKA Mission it’s paved. We can name on and on. There are lots of companies around here, Bishop Michael Francis Road. These roads [have] been in existence from time immemorial. In two and half years, I think more has been done but more needs to be done so that would be my role as a Senator. When I am presiding over the county, I’ll make sure that we encourage the current government to do more; where there are interventions needed, we can make those interventions collectively.
In the legislature where budgetary support are needed, we are going to make sure we work and cooperate with the Executive.
Like the issue about the rape, we need serious budgetary attention and that would be one of my focus points. Where we need to focus or finance, shit or focus some of the priorities, where we need to finance the Ministry of Gender because there are logistics issues; the Ministry of Justice there are issues to fast track some of those cases this is where we use our resources.
So, we’re going to make sure the Liberian people show, we all show that we want to tackle and fight rape then we must put our resources there. We’ll use our role perfectly, negotiating with our colleagues in the Legislature.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Speaking of priorities, a lot of people thing there’s no priority given to victim support. For example, the man that raped his 15-year-old step mother, the mother is now saying that when the man goes to prison, there would be no support coming to the victim anymore. As a Senator, how are you going to ensure support for victims for their families?
REP. FALLAH: Budgetary support, budgetary support because it’s not an individual thing. It should take the collective responsibility and interest of national government’s strength is within the national cake which is the budget so if the budget so if the budget is being discussed, these are things as national leaders because when someone is victimized and there is not much attention given, to help develop the mind of that kid or individual, it helps to traumatize the mind. The stigmatization about rape is a terrible thing so there must be provision in making sure that that person’s life is protected, that that person’s life is managed in a way that he or she would feel that they can be integrated into society again and contribute positively into society… Once these supports are given people would come out willfully.
“The opposition, they are comfortable; probably they’re not going to come outside and day we’re going to lend support to Hon. Fallah in the open but even Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf out of respect I call her my grandmother. When the construction of the Police Academy Road came, it was Gyude Moore by then, she had the opportunity to break ground but she called Fallah to go and break ground as a son because we collaborated perfectly. We were not there causing noise or attacking but we were discussing; where necessary we needed to disagree we disagreed. So, we’ll change it, we’ll shift the paradigm this time around to ensure that we have a better working relationship with the opposition“– Rep. Thomas Fallah, Montserrado County Senatorial Aspirant
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: One of the proposals of the anti-rape campaigners for a state of emergency to be declared in Liberia. Is it something that you would support?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: It’s not something to say yes or no. State of Emergency is a constitutional issue.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: If it is brought to the flow of the Senate will you support it?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: We have to look at the merits and demerits of it. there must be issues that can be justifiable. I’m not going to say gentlemen, state of emergency. We will look at the merits and demerits, when I believe the merits is enough for us to support it, why not. If we see that we have a lot of demerits, then we’ll have to make the public to understand.
When you announce state of emergency, it has economic implications, it has security implications. There are a lot of implications that are involved in announcing state of emergency. So, we have to look at the merits and demerits and not just the political aspects of it. Some of these comments are made to gain some political relevance or dividends, forgetting that some are a lot of technical issues that we need to look at.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: This election is very critical, your victory or your defeat could greatly decide the fate of 2023.
REP. THOMAS FALLAH:: We’re going to win. We’ve got no history of losing elections since we got into politics, we maintain that we have very good working relationship in the 17 electoral districts. Opposition representatives and Senators today, they may not come out openly. You go today in some of the constituents… just my community engagements these few days have made me to realize that lots of people in Montserrado County have appreciated me. They are of the opinion that we get the opportunity to be elected as Senator more would come rather than just the talk and talk, but we need to actualize what we say to our people and make things to work.
I think what we need in our country now is actualizing what we talk, strong network, strengthen your base and working with the opposition community to make things happen. That’s what going to be demonstrated coupled with the support base of the political institution that we come from, our strengths, our ability to bring the ruling party to the table. We’re going to win, you can be assured. I understand the dynamics of Montserrado County – I understand it very well.
The commissioners today, you ask any of them they’ll tell you we have good working relationship. How can you be a Senator of Montserrado County, you have no working relationship with the Superintendent of the County – that’s the local governance structure of the county. How can you be the Senator a county you don’t know the name of one township commissioner? You’re the Senator of the county, you have no working relationship with the caucus members, because you’re the Senator for the 17 of us, you have no working relationship. You have no better working relationship even with the three branches of government.
We must have a Senator that can take phone and call the Office of the President and be able to disagree with the President properly or agree with the President on policy issue. But you have a Senator who has no connection, absolutely. How do you bring development to the community? How do you bring development to the people because you join the executive of the three branches of government in driving development as they go.
As a Senator, you administer the affairs of the county, compile those issues and be able to present it in a perfect and professional way that brings dividends to the people because you’re not going to take it from your pocket. You may push forward policies, write letters, bring it to the table, that would just be for the public because for those communications to be transferred into impacting the lives of the people you need to that cooperation that the Constitution speaks about.
What kind of Senator that has no rapport with the Judiciary. There are judicial issues that you’ll need to talk about, how do you go there and say Mr. Minister of Justice or the Chief Justice, can we sit, can we look at these issues, there’s no way. Even in the Legislature that you work, you come and vilify all those that you met – some of those guys have been working, they’re experienced, they are educated more than even me and you, you come and call all of them “weak”.
How can you work in the Legislature and call the legislators spineless and weak? What it means is that you’re saying even your political leader is weak. I said it in one of my forums, you have Nyonblee Kangar, she’s the political leader of the Liberty Party; so you’ve got a Senator from the Liberty Party, the guy came and said the Legislature is spineless and weak, meaning Nyonblee Kangar you’re weak, by that you have campaigned against Nyonblee Kangar in Grand Bassa.
CPP has got strong lawmakers, there are strong Senators in the Senate that have been vocal on national issues. You look at someone like Oscar Cooper you say he’s weak; you look at someone like Varney Sherman that have been around.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: I think most of these comments were before the impeachment of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh. In that vote to impeach Associate Justice Ja’neh, do you think it’s something that deserve criticisms?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: It’s good to criticize but not to come to your workplace and say Rodney you’re weak. This is not criticism, this is different from disagreement. It’s a theatre of disagreement in Legislature. If I come and tell you that you’re weak, in my understanding, it’s beyond disagreement. So you look at all the CPP people, they’re all spineless in the Legislature so how do you get their cooperation to proffer a bill.
I learned there is a bill that has been proffered, who do you go to to lobby to say this is what I want us to do and you’re making sense you want this to happen and get the guys to work along with you, to vote along with you, give you the support so that it can be passed and become a law to benefit you and the Liberian people, but you call of your colleagues weak and spineless.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Are you happy with the salary you’re making now?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: I’m happy, I’ve been content.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Will you be willing to have a cut?
REP. FALLAH: You know the Legislature, sometimes people talk. We already had a cut. This issue of salary cut was raised long ago. Acarous Gray raised this issue during Madam Sirleaf’s government. Someone is just trying to take the glory and trying to glorify themselves. That issue was raised and we’ve been working on it as we speak, the salary is cut.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: How much are you making right now?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: It’s below US$6,000. We make like US$5,500, it includes everything as a package. Before someone could even proffer this bill, the salary was cut. You listen to the Legislature debate, a lawmaker took the floor and said because we are having a state of emergency, we should wave some of the benefits, so these things happen, that is how government runs. It’s something that we all need to cooperate at times and have a smooth operation.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Do you think you have an advantage over your opponent because you’re an incumbent in terms of resources like we see you dividing rice around the country. How do you explain your sudden interest in all these things happening?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: You have had advantages over our opponent because as you know I have won elections three times. It’s not about cash. You know sometimes, I hear people say I going around distributing and giving money. These are all lazy arguments. You see, when people lack leadership, they don’t understand how to partnership and network in government. They go about complaining. You hear them talking about I have three functions, my responsibility is not to build roads, it is not my responsibility that when your house gets burned, I should come – I differ.
I tell someone with my experience, I understand Legislative politics. I introduced what we call the fourth component. The fourth component is the social contract theory with your people which, of course, is not binding. You went to the people and solicited their votes and they said they’ll support you, you said to them that I would advocate on behalf of you at the National Legislature.
You as a sitting Senator, you have a responsibility to develop a network that you can attract investors, businesses. You have a responsibility to put a framework into place that you can sit somewhere and say gentle one oldma house got burned, what can we do as a Senator?
I can call Jeety and say Jeety because of my partnership and network can you give me 10 bundles of zinc. Is that what someone calls inducement? You must have a network, you preside over the county.
In Montserrado, there are businesses, there are investors; is there anything wrong with going to K&K and say K&K can you give me 50 or 100 bags of rice to identify with my people? That is the social contract theory. While I am negotiating with central government to come and improve the lives of the people, there will be process, there will be bureaucracies in attracting government attention to the community.
As a sitting Senator, you have a responsibility to move in. We had a situation in police academy to remove garbage. It’s the statutory responsibility of government and the Paynesville City Corporation. So, if the Paynesville City Corporation cannot clean the garbage in Red-Light, is there anything wrong with me calling one company, looking at my role as a Senator, to say can you get me two, three machines and trucks, move in the community, while we wait on government.
It’s not one person’s responsibility, it’s the collective responsibility to make these things work.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Would you be open for a debate with Abraham Darius Dillon?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: The theatre is a debate theatre, we’re not going there for confrontation. He’s my friend, we call one another, we laugh a lot, we joke a lot. He understands, he knows Fallah. He knows how Fallah got in this whole stuff, he knows what’s up. He knows very well that Fallah is a serious-minded person. It’s not about debate, the debate would come and go, but it’s what I can do for my people.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: It’s not about the debate, I think most people feel that when people are elected into office, when they change, so they want some assurance in the form of debate where the two of you can say who’s the best person.
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: I am the best person. It’s evidenced by my role played over the years. I am the best person and my brother and friend is aware. The people of Montserrado, they are quite aware. I have not been in the social media, I have not been the radio guy, but have you ever seen a Senatorial candidate that has received endorsements like Fallah in less than two weeks? Someone would say it’s stage managed. We saw Geraldine, we saw Joyce Musu Freeman Sumo, we saw even my friend and brother, we saw my brother Saah Joseph, but watch out, it’s all over the place because the people follow the track record. Today, everywhere, I go, endorsements, endorsements, because they know that this guy is a serious-minded person. And working with this government, it has given an added advantage.
In the opposition, I work there for 12 years, I managed to be elected in succession – the first time, the second time, the third time as a CDC candidate. You know what you’re talking about Fallah being part of the ruling party where he has a complete network with the office of the Chief Executive, the office of the judiciary, the office of the legislature, the Speaker, the Pro-Tempore; working with the 102 Representatives and Senators.
The people of Montserrado County are going to benefit a lot. Government or personal initiative, you can rest assured that it’s going to be done.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Someone wants to know, the government says it does not have money, but you’re leaving an elected position in the lower House to the Senate. That’s a vacuum you’re creating for another by-election.
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: Every competition requires the best player on the team. Since there is no law, I don’t want to delve into that. This is a competition – the ruling party is contesting against the opposition for a seat in the Senate, the both institutions have to field a candidate. In the wisdom of the CDC, they believe that Hon. Fallah is the best suited candidate to run because you want to win. So, once it’s not a law, there will always be issues, government would always find funding and Fallah is not the only person. If you check the opposition community, there are a lot of my colleagues that are running to become Senators.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Will you support a law or bill preventing that?
REP. FALLAH: If that should come, I wouldn’t mind because like I said, I want to be very careful. In the legislature, it’s not about your personal feelings, it’s about the holistic view of the body. If the body thinks this is something for us to do, even if I disagree, I’ll support it. The body believes that it’s going to be in the interest of the people.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Your university, your institution, is it tuition-free?
REP. THOMAS FALLAH: I have a school, I run a school T-Five Academy, the name I carry today, it has been in existence since 2007. The first thing I established was how do I give help to the people. Someone would say that’s Fallah’s personal thing. I have a child that goes to school. Sometimes transportation is very high. Sometimes, tuition is rocketing high. Some people pay three hundred, some people pay five hundred and it even go up to one thousand. Fallah built a school in a densely populated community. Some people cannot afford, some have even forgotten about school because they cannot afford which is just L$10,000.
I built a school that has been in the existence for the last 12 years, the highest school fees 12th graders pay is L$18,000… Is it not affordable for someone to be in my school and pay L$18,000? Have you gone to my school? We have modern facilities. It’s compared to any facility in the Repulic of Liberia. Good facilities, spacious, auditorium, library, everything is there. We managed that institution so that we can give back to our people and then giving job opportunities to our teachers. We’re not getting any benefit from that. There is no return. My thought is I should be able to give back to the community, encourage the young kids to go back to school…
Like the university we’re talking about today, we used our network, our connections, we used our resources – I am from the business background, I was trained to from selling plastic bag to waiter market. All through my life it’s business before becoming politician. I managed my life, I managed myself.
All my friends that know me, I’m not a social guy. I’m not everywhere. I leave from work, I go home and from home, I go to work. So, all of my resources I’ve gathered over the years, my business partners, my connections built that university.
I proffered a bill for Paynesville Community College. While we’re negotiating with government, it passed from the House of Representatives, it’s now with the Senate for deliberations, we hope the Senate can concur, that would be an added responsibility on government.
But we said to ourselves since I have a high school up to 12th grade, can I build a university…The strength of Montserrado County in terms of number is Paynesville. Can we build one quality university here and get professors that would give quality education to our people so that it can help alleviate the transportation difficulties, risk of accidents, for our people in Paynesville and its surrounding…it’s about giving back. I would have taken that money to build hotels.
FRONTAPGEA AFRICA: Have you declared your assets?
REP. FALLAH: I have declared my assets, except sometimes when you add a kitchen you have to add an addendum.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA: Any final message for the Liberian people?REP. THOMAS FALLAH: Liberian people I would continue to encourage you. We know these are hard times, we understand, it’s just that we need your patience, your courage in working with the government, understanding the government, the people of Montserrado County, here we come because I know you know me, we have visited almost all of the districts in this county; we are coming with development , we are not coming with noise, we are coming with reconciliation because we know after this entire process it would be my responsibility to reconcile all of our people. You can rest assured that with my colleagues, our working relationship that we have had, I’m prepared to work with you, I’m prepared to move the county forward, I’m prepared to work with the three branches of government, especially working with the legislature – the theatre where I come from. We’ll like to say we’ll come into your community, our community engagement, please accept us. It is time for us to move forward void of violence. Like me, I follow a leader that is not violent, President George Weah who has always instilled that in us.