Liberia: Senatorial Candidate Dillon Trades Fire with Pres. Weah over Education, Competency
Monrovia – Darius Dillon, the Senatorial candidate in the upcoming elections to fill the void left by the death of late Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff used his closing campaign rally Saturday to throw jabs at President George Manneh Weah who recently urged him to go to school before contemplating a run for the Senate.
Mr. Dillon, who is representing the four political parties – Liberty Party, Unity Party, All Liberia Party and the Alternative National Congress (ANC), was slammed by the President for being a high school dropout. “If you questioned me 12 years ago for my education background then Dillon does not deserve your vote,” the President quipped recently while launching the campaign of the ruling party’s candidates in the upcoming race, Paulita Wie, Mr. Dillon’s main challenger in the Senate race and Mr. Abu Kamara, contesting the District No. 15 race. “Tell Dillon to go back to school, let justice be done to all men; what was not allowed for me should not be allowed for Dillon.”
Taking the podium at the headquarters of the former ruling Unity Party Saturday, Mr. Dillon declared the President to be “a complete contradiction of himself”.
Throwing pointed jabs at President Weah, Mr. Dillon said: “The man says do not vote for Darius Dillon because he does not have degree but it’s the same man that appointed Jefferson Koijee as City Mayor of Monrovia, without asking him for paper; The man say do not vote for Darius Dillon because he does not have education but that’s the same man who appointed Mulbah Morlu chairman of the ruling party. This is the man who says don’t vote for Dillon because he does not have college degree but this is the same man who told them to vote for Saah Joseph with no credentials. This is the man who told you, don’t vote for Dillon because he does not have college degree, but this is the same man who appointed Alvin Wisseh in his government without degree. The man is a complete contradiction of himself.”
Mr. Dillon then threw a challenge to the President for a testing duel. “I want to put George Weah to test. If he has college papers – and I don’t have it – let’s go in CDC compound where he feels comfortable, give him his desk and give me my desk, give him paper and give me paper, no spying, then we will know who’s educated.”
“The man says do not vote for Darius Dillon because he does not have degree but it’s the same man that appointed Jefferson Koijee as City Mayor of Monrovia, without asking him for paper; The man say do not vote for Darius Dillon because he does not have education but that’s the same man who appointed Mulbah Morlu chairman of the party. This is the man who says don’t vote for Dillon because he does not have college degree but this is the same man who told them to vote for Saah Joseph with no credentials. This is the man who told you, don’t vote for Dillon because he does not have college degree but this is the same man who appointed Alvin Wisseh in his government without degree. The man is a complete contradiction of himself.
– Mr. Abraham Darius Dillon, Senatorial Candidate, Montserrado County
Not holding any punches, Mr. Dillon accused the President of not understanding the meaning of education. “George Weah says don’t vote for Darius Dillon because Darius Dillon does not have college degree. George Weah is right. I don’t have a college degree but George Weah does not understand what education is when he limits it to only acquisition of a degree. Education is good, we will always encourage people to get an education, but when the President of the country, holding a master’s degree limits education only to acquisition of degree, then he does not know what they called education because he is not educated. So, let me define education for George Weah and CDCians. Education is the acquisition of skills – it can be acquired formally or informally. None of which George Weah has. The man is a contradiction.
Accusing Elections Commission
Mr. Dillon accused the National Elections Commission of conniving with the ruling party to repeatedly put off the elections. “The election commission says they will hold a meeting with us on Wednesday, to tell us when the elections will be held. Every time they go and do their own internal polling and George Weah friend doesn’t come close to me and Telia, they postpone the elections.”
The election originally planned July 2, 2019 has been put off twice already.
On June 4, NEC’s Chairman, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya warned that elections would not take place if all election materials are not procured and brought in the country by June 30. At the time, Chairman Korkoya revealed that the government had finally agreed to disburse the full amount of US$2.5 million for the election but had not paid any amount to start the process.
Last week, NEC made it official, declaring that both the Montserrado senatorial and district 15 Representative by-elections, which were scheduled for July 8, 2019 have been postponed to a date, to be announced.
In meetings with candidates last week, the electoral body promised to announce a new date this week when pre-packed kits are expected to arrive into the country.
The Commission informed the public that the full consignment of one Million forty-six thousand, one hundred (1,046,100) ballot papers are currently in the country. The ballot papers, including tactile ballot guides, forms, and record of the counts, arrived over the weekend at the RIA and were received by authorities of the Commission, along with the Liberia National Police, and taken to a secure location under LNP maximum protection.
The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning had earlier stated that the government could not dish out such ‘huge’ amount owing to the ‘stressed’ budget. But following series of negotiations, the NEC boss noted that the Ministry of Finance agreed to give an initial amount of US$1.5 million but by then the delay had already affected the change in the preliminary election activities including replacement of lost and damaged voter cards.
The decision to hold the by-elections is in consonance with Article 37 of the 1986 Revised Constitution, which states: “In the event of a vacancy in the Legislature caused by death, resignation, expulsion, or otherwise, the presiding officer shall within 30 days notify the elections commission thereof. The Commission shall not later than 90 days thereafter, cause a by-election to be held; provided that where such vacancy occurs within 90 days prior to the holding of general elections, the filling of the vacancy shall await the holding of such general elections.”
Bringing Light to Darkness
In May, NEC raised alarm that it had not yet receive official notification from the Speaker of the House of Representatives about the vacancy created by the sudden passing of Representative Adolph Lawrence in a tragic motor accident on the Monrovia-Roberts Field Highway on the night of Sunday, March 24, 2019 and late Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, who died recently following a lengthy illness.
For Dillon, whenever a date is announced, he and his team will be ready. “I want to go into the legislature so that we can increase the number to create checks and balance in this country, transparency and accountability.”
The candidate said the legislature cannot be accountable to the president when it is compromised. “George Weah does not want Darius Dillon to be President because he wants another Cabinet minister in the legislature, George Weah does not want Dillon to be senator because he does not want someone who will reject bad laws and concessions. I will go there for you. I’m going to be your witness. When I become senator, that thing they call secret session when I move from inside and the secret not in favor of your, I will come and tell the people. I’m going into the legislature to fight for change. The place is dark, I want to go put the light on and I’m not talking about LEC light. If you don’t change inside, outside will never benefit.”
Mr. Dillon has pledged to push for a legislation to slice the salaries of lawmakers once he is elected and make public their salaries. “The law says the legislators can determine how much they make; the law says the legislature can determine how much the chief justice and the associate justices make; the law says the legislature can determine how much the president and his officials make. The lawmakers are in the majority because they are wicked, they give the President plenty, they give the Chief Justice plenty to justify why they are taking plenty. I’m carrying the current in the legislature.”
The senatorial candidate said it is unfair for members of the legislature to make thousands of dollars while those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder linger in abject poverty. “No government official should make more than US$5,000 in this country. You know why? The country’s economy is in the toilet. George Weah is already blind, inept and has no vision. The World Bank and the IMF have told us that we will have to experience small economic growth by 2024. Between now and 2024, our constitution requires the leaders of this country to draft national policy for the economy. While the economy is declining, plenty money can’t be in few people pockets and plenty people suffering. It’s not possible. I am vowing today that we will put the reduction in salaries back in schools, hospitals and back in the people.”