GBARNGA, Bong County – The presidential dream of renowned human rights lawyer, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe hit a milestone following his nomination as the standard bearer of the Liberian People’s Party (LPP).
Founded in 1983, the LPP was an electoral wing of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA), a leftist pan-African group founded by some of the historic figures that launched the campaign for multiparty democracy in Liberia; amongst them, Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh and the late Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer.
Dr. Sawyer served as President of the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) from 1990–94 and a young Gongloe served as his protégé and special assistant. Dr. Tipoteh ran on the ticket of the LPP in the elections held on 19 July 1997, accumulating just 1.61% of the vote.
Since the 1997 election, the LPP has been on the periphery of the Liberian political landscape, joining ranks with the United People’s Party (UPP) in the 2005 general elections and participating as part of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD), supporting Togba-Nah Tipoteh for president.
It resurfaced in 2011, this time as part of the National Democratic Coalition, NDC) backing Dew Mayson for president. In the same elections, its former presidential candidate and political leader Dr. Tipoteh left and ran for the Freedom Alliance Party of Liberia (FAPL).
Reawakening LPP’s Momentum
However, with his anti-corruption message, Cllr. Gongloe has set his sights on reawakening the momentum of the LPP by making a direct appeal to Liberian voters to entrust him and his party with the country’s highest seat to combat corruption, a menace that has held Liberia back for so long.
“We will mobilize and motivate the Liberian people by showing a good example, for all Liberians to collectively sweep corruption from Liberia. The number one task of the Liberian People’s Party today is to lead the Liberian people in the battle against corruption. We must collectively form a movement against this notorious enemy of Liberia,” he said while accepting the LPP’s nomination as its stand bearer at the recently held national convention in Gbarnga, Bong County.
The former president of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) has emerged as one of the Weah-led Government’s staunch critics since he launched his presidential bid. Often seen with a homemade broom in public, the LPP’s new standard-bearer has consistently accused President George Weah and his top officials, as well as the Liberian Legislature of looting the state through reckless budgetary appropriation and massive corruption to the detriment of the citizens.
He vowed to take his anti-corruption message to the people to get their support.
He said: “Today, you have directed me to go forward to tell the Liberian people that a better Liberia is possible if we collectively fight the high level of corruption that exists in the governance of Liberia, in order to save enough money to improve our health system, educational system, reduce food insecurity, improve our infrastructure, increase our use of technology and tap on our green energy potential in order to move from being an energy-dependent country to a productive partner in improving the electricity capacity of West Africa.”
He thanked partisans for his nomination, saying they have given him the mandate to effectively present to the Liberian people the agenda of the LPP for a better Liberia- a Liberia in which the rule of law will be strengthened for the safety of all Liberians and the promotion of law and order through the maintenance of an effective and accountable police force, on the one hand, and the improvement of the court system to be so independent, fair and impartial for justice to be done to all with a high degree of integrity.
The former solicitor General said his nomination as the LPP’s presumptive presidential candidate has propelled him to inspire all Liberians that a better Liberia is possible if the country’s resources are managed properly.
“Today, you have directed me to go forward to tell the Liberian people that a better Liberia is possible if we collectively fight the high level of corruption that exists in the governance of Liberia, in order to save enough money to improve our health system, educational system, reduce food insecurity, improve our infrastructure, increase our use of technology and tap on our green energy potential in order to move from being an energy-dependent country to a productive partner in improving the electricity capacity of West Africa.”
He added that he has been mandated to inform the Liberian populace that government can provide more job opportunities for Liberians through creative ways for factories and other employment-generating activities all over Liberia away from Monrovia via different kinds of investment incentives and thereby putting more money in the pockets of Liberians and improving government’s revenue-generating capacity.
There are possibilities for creating Liberian millionaires outside government offices by giving Liberian business entities more government contracts than is being currently done.
He also said he has been given the task to convince the Liberian people to insist on adding value to the country’s mineral resources such as producing polished diamonds and processed gold, adding value to our iron ore, and stopping the exportation of round logs and instead produce made in Liberia furniture for local use and export.
Liberia, he said, has a huge potential to prosper, and provide more job opportunities for Liberians through creative ways for factories and other employment-generating activities all over Liberia away from Monrovia via different kinds of investment incentives thereby putting more money in the pockets of Liberians and improving government’s revenue-generating capacity.
In addition, he said there is a possibility to grow enough rice and other food crops for our consumption and even exportation by mechanized farming through farmers’ cooperatives and the agricultural battalion of the Armed forces of Liberia.
Corruption: weapon of mass destruction
He said while these are possible, Liberia continues to watch its neighbors make progress while it keeps being held back due to several negative vices.
Liberia, he recounted, has experienced the worst forms of hardship from the effects of one-party rule, military dictatorship, armed civil conflict, and brutal civilian dictatorship all due to bad governance stimulated by greed and selfishness.
Bad governance has made corruption an acceptable culture of governance, unfortunately; and as a result of the high level of corruption in most government offices in Liberia, a majority of the people of Liberia are getting poorer and poorer every day.
Further outlining the negative impact of the menace, he said corruption has made every aspect of life so difficult that more children are dying in Liberia before reaching the age of five, more pregnant women are dying and more people are dying from easily curable diseases and from hunger.
“Corruption is keeping more children out of school because their parents cannot afford to send them to school. Corruption has made it impossible for Liberians to travel in most parts of Liberia, especially in Southeastern Liberia during the rainy season. Corruption is a weapon of mass destruction,” he stated.
Likening corruption to a pandemic, he said the only way to slow it is to take preventive measures.
“We will tell the people that LPP believes in operating an open, transparent, and accountable government with the assets, salaries, and benefits of the president, the vice president, the Speaker, President Pro Tempore, the lawmakers, the Chief Justice, justices and judges as well as all public service employees made known to the people of Liberia by publishing same on a government website.”
He vowed to mobilize and motivate the Liberian people by showing a good example for all Liberians to collectively sweep corruption from Liberia; saying “The number one task of the Liberian People’s Party today is to lead the Liberian people in the battle against corruption. We must collectively form a movement against this notorious enemy of Liberia.”
Meet the Man
Cllr. Gongloe, has had an illustrious career in and out of the government. First, as an executive administrative assistant to the late Dr. Amos Sawyer, President of the IGNU during the turbulent days of Liberia’s first civil war from 1990 to 1994. He gained prominence during the despotic regime of former President Charles Taylor where he suffered from several life-threatening human rights abuses including torture due to his fearless advocacy.
Following the end of the war, he served as Solicitor General (SG) and Minister of Labor during Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration. He resigned from his ministerial post in November 2010 over a policy disagreement with President Sirleaf.
Eight years later, he was elected as president of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) where he served until his tenure expired this year.
With his wealth of experience and his “impeccable record of advocacy for human rights and good governance, his supporters say he is best suited for the presidency.