Kpein, Nimba County – Since he began running for office in 2005, Senator Prince Y. Johnson has enjoyed the overwhelming support of voters in most towns, villages and cities across Nimba County, except the town of Kpein.
By Selma Lomax, [email protected]
The Mano-speaking town of more than 3,000 residents has never voted for Senator Prince Y. Johnson who is contesting for re-election having served for 18 years and he has never delivered the town to any politician he has supported. Senator Johnson has endorsed the candidacy of Unity Party’s standard bearer Joseph Boakai. Johnson’s political ‘son’ Jeremiah Koung is the vice standard bearer to Boakai.
“Helping us as a county during the civil war doesn’t mean we should support you in your political endeavor,” said Konah Kabia, a Kpein resident.
Considering his voting record in Kpein, Johnson’s endorsement is not likely to garner much votes for the Unity Party ahead of next month’s presidential and legislative elections.
The 2023 Voter Roll Update shows that the town has 2,13 registered voters.
Some Kpein citizens said they are grateful to Johnson for his role in saving the county during the civil war, but he is not a good leader.
Adam Dolo, 41, didn’t vote for Unity Party’s vice standard bearer Jeremiah Koung during the 2020 senatorial election when he contested as senator, and he plans to vote the other way in the presidential and legislative elections.
He is urging her fellow Nimbaians ( people of Nimba) to follow the people of Kpein and not allow themselves to be used as “remote control’’ by Senator Johnson.
“I just believe we should be allowed to select our choice irrespective of the role someone played during the civil war,’’ she said.
Johnson, she said, has not done much for the people of Kpein since he became Senator in 2005.
“He has not constructed or built hand pumps for us in Kpein or sponsored any of our children through scholarship, so why we should always show him love?” she asked.
Josephus Kahn, 43, said he intends voting the standard bearer of the Liberia People’s Party, Taiwan Gongloe. He said the town is prepared to vote against the Nimba senator and Unity Party in October, regardless of Johnson’s endorsement.
The fight for the Nimba County vote is between the Mano and Gio tribes. The majority of people who will vote for Boakai will come from the Gio tribe, he said.
“We the Mano people are resolved to vote against Joseph Boakai on October 10 because we don’t believe in our leaders who are supporting him,” he said.
Sen. Johnson acknowledged that he has not reached out to the people of Kpein or supported them, but he promised to make amends if they support Boakai.
“I have not been there for long but will reach them soon and I am confident that I will deliver for the first time,” he said.
“The people of Kpein are loving people and I know what ever disagreement they have with me will be sorted out.”
Kpein’s vote, he said, is crucial for his support to the Unity Party.
In 2005, Johnson won his senatorial seat with 80.5 percent of the 265,456 votes cast in Nimba County , but Kpein’s 2,313 registered voters overwhelmingly rejected him.
He received 16 percent or 206 of the 2, 239 votes cast.
That same year, Johnson supported President George Weah in the run-off election against President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the Unity Party.
Ellen went on to win Nimba County by 75,003 or 77.1 per cent of the votes cast, while President Weah, who ran under the banner of the Congress for Democratic Change, obtained 22, 276 or 22.9 percent of the votes cast.
In that run-off election in Kpein, President Weah received 405 or 33 percent while Unity Party obtained 812 of the 1,217 vote cast.
When Johnson contested the presidency for the first time in 2011, he received 75 percent of the votes cast in the county.
In Kpein, he received 316 or 10 percent of the 3,017 votes cast.
In that election, Johnson Sirleaf received 909 votes.
Sen. Prince Johnson’s endorsement in the runoff, Johnson-Sirleaf received 75 percent of the votes in Nimba County . Back then, the town voted for CDC in the runoff, though the party boycotted the election.
Senator Weah will get support from two elders in Kpein – Mark Kollah and Roosevelt Ziamo.
Kollah said he’s always voted for Johnson because of what he did for Nimba during the civil war.
Senator Johnson is the “face of Nimba County and should be respected by all citizens of the county irrespective of tribal divide,’’ Dorley said.
“He suffered for us and it was time that we the citizens of Nimba County show him that respect.’’
Ziamo, 66, said he will vote for the Unity Party because of Senator Johnson.
With the elections planned for October 10, it is left to be seen whether citizens of Kpein will repeat history against Senator Johnson.