Liberia: Senator Dillon “Decimates” CDC and President Weah
“I Mulbah K. Morlu, Chairman of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), on December 8, 2020, one of us will leave his position. I will defeat Dillon. Dillon, if I do not defeat you, let me resign as chairman of the CDC on December 8th. You will be retired. I, backed by hundreds of thousands of CDCians will retire you peacefully.” These were the words of the loquacious chairman of the ruling CDC few months ago when he threatened to literally dethrone Montserrado County recently re-elected senator Abraham Darius Dillon from the Liberian Senate.
Analysis by Moses D. Sandy, Contributing Writer
It is now almost a month since the most talked about December 8th came and went into oblivion, but Chairman Morlu is yet to quit his post though his party lost 12 senatorial seats including that of Montserrado in the just ended midterm elections. He is still walking the streets of Monrovia shamelessly. Morlu’s loose talk targeted at Senator Dillon, alias, “The Light,” was preceded by several of such rants made against the Senator by CDCians including President George Manneh Weah and Representative Acarous Moses Gray. Then they vowed to make the Senator a one term legislator. They confidently declared, “We will reclaim our seat.”
The President, Chairman Morlu, and the CDC executives’ overzealous pronouncements were meant to fire up their support base for massive turnout on December 8, 2020, for the midterm special senatorial elections. Fifteen senatorial seats were up for grab. They were upbeat and overconfident about their chances in the elections. They publicly boasted that the 15 senatorial seats were theirs. They claimed, “Based on the works the government has done in the space of three years, it is clear that we will sweep all seats in the special senatorial and by-elections, and the national referendum”.
However, when December 8th, the date which many Liberians had earlier dubbed as the “Do or die day” in Liberian politics finally arrived, the President and the CDC’s ploy to “Peacefully” retire Senator Dillon and “Reclaim” Montserrado failed. They lost miserably; instead of winning as predicted, Senator Dillon for the second time convincingly humiliated the President and the Party in Montserrado, the province they once called their home.
Dillon’s victory in Montserrado means a lot politically; a lost for the CDC in the County is a major slap in the face of the Party and Mr. Weah. Moreover, the defeat shows that the future of the CDC and the President is at risk because Montserrado is the microcosm of Liberia. The County has always been dominated by the opposition. Montserrado is one of Liberia’s 15 counties and it is strategically situated. The County, especially Monrovia, Liberia’s capitol is very important politically. Monrovia is the seat of the national administration and most of the foreign embassies accredited to Liberia. Also, the City is the most populated. Currently, Monrovia has a population of over 1. 5 million people.
Despite the President and the CDC’s easy access to Liberia’s material wealth and human capitals, they lost bigly to “The People’s Senator”. On December 8th, the Senator proved to the Party, Liberians at home and abroad, and friends of Liberia, that in contemporary Liberia, he is a serious political contender. He triumphantly demonstrated in numbers that the name, Dillon, in today’s Liberia is more marketable than George Manneh Weah, the CDC, and their defeated senatorial hopeful, Representative Thomas Fallah. The Senator unarguably whipped Rep. Fallah.
Even though Senator Dillon did not “Decimate the CDC with more than 300 thousand votes” as forecast several months ago, he won his re-election bid with a commanding lead over the Representative. He won with nearly 86 thousand votes difference between him and the Representative. The Senator’s return to the Liberian Senate was an easy ride. He secured 206, 368 votes representing more than 61 % in the midterm election while Rep. Fallah trailed with120, 405 votes, which accounted for more than 35 % of the total ballots cast. Senator Dillon was re-elected for a nine-year term.
Senator Dillon’s formidable victory compelled the CDC, President Weah, Chairman Morlu, and Representative Fallah to concede defeat before the NEC official announcement of the Senator as one of the winners of the 2020 special senatorial elections in Liberia. On December 12, 2020, the President in a nationwide address, painfully accepted the outcomes of the elections and urged Liberians to do same. He said the elections “Represent a major victory for democracy in Liberia; and have significantly enhanced our democratic credentials and affirmed our support for the rule of law in our country.”
A day following the President’s state of the nation address, Chairman Morlu and Representative Fallah, the CDC’s defeated senatorial hopeful, on December 13, 2020, at a hastily arranged news conference held in Monrovia also, publicly admitted that they lost the Montserrado senatorial election. Then Mr. Morlu appeared somber and embarrassed by his Party’s underperformance in the midterm elections. He grudgingly told Liberians and the world that, “Consistent with the call by the President and with the tradition of democratic culture in free democratic societies, Representative Thomas P. Fallah, the CDC candidate in the Senatorial elections, has just placed a call to Senator Darius Dillon of the CPP to congratulate him on his victory and to pledge commitment to work together as lawmakers to move our country forward.”
CDC Diminished Popularity
Before Senator Dillon’s ascendency on Liberia’s political stage, Montserrado County was the CDC and Mr. Weah’s comfort zone, or terrain. They for many years had absolute control of the County. They were the roosters in the town. The CDC was the most popular grass root political party in Montserrado. However, Dillon, as the Senator prefers to be called, has now made that fame a thing of the past. He initially altered that history in 2019 when he boldly defied the CDC and the President’s popularity in the County.
He defeated the Party in a senatorial by-election. With meager, or no monetary support, Dillon surprisingly crushed the CDC and its candidate Paulita Wie. He clinched the senatorial seat from the Party on July 29, 2019 after the NEC declared him winner of the by-election. He won Ms. Wie with an overwhelming margin in votes. He secured102, 549 votes representing more than 55% of the 166,520 votes cast while Ms. Wie earned 63,971 votes, which accounted for more 34 %.
He replaced the late Montserrado County Junior Senator Geraldine Doe Sheriff, formerly of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). The late Senator Doe Sheriff was Chairman emeritus of the CDC. She won the seat on the CDC’s ticket in 2009 before severing ties with the Party to join the former ruling Unity Party (UP). In February 2019, she died in Accra, Ghana, after months of nursing a cancer illness.
Most Popular Legislator
Dillon’s most recent victory in Montserrado County now makes him Liberia’s most popular legislator. He obtained 206, 368 votes representing more than 61% of the total ballots cast in the County. According to the NEC, 2.4 million qualified and registered voters participated in the December 8, 2020 nationwide midterm elections.Besides the Senator, no lawmaker in recent Liberian parliamentary election history has ever secured such number of votes. Before his Tsunami in Montserrado, President Weah in 2014 set similar record in the County when he contested and won Mr. Robert Sirleaf, son of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. He won the senatorial seat with 78% of the vote while Mr. Sirleaf received 11% of the votes tally.
In Liberia, Senator Dillion, 50, is widely cherished and supported by the people. Most Liberians at home and abroad considered him an icon of nationalism, honesty, and good governance in the country. Since 2019 when he made his debut in the Liberian Senate as a lawmaker, he continues to win the admirations of Liberians for selflessness and social justice advocacy. He took a massive pay cut. He willingly sliced his monthly salary from US 15 thousand dollars to US 5 thousand dollars; and donated the remainder to a select committee for the undertaking of developmental projects in Montserrado. Since then, he has reportedly donated more than US 36 thousand dollars to the County.
Also, he is on record for continuously chastising President Weah and the CDC for issues of bad governance including unbridled corruption in the public sector, and the President and his cronies’ nonadherence to the rule of law in Liberia. Additionally, he with the support of Liberians at home and abroad, is currently constructing a rehabilitation center in Monrovia for Liberians struggling with alcohol and drug addictions. As a result of his persistent stance against malfeasance in government, he has earned for himself names such as “The Light” and “The People’s Senator”.
He is one of three incumbent senators in Liberia that were re-elected on December 8th during the midterm elections. The others were senators Nyongblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa and Augustin Chea of Sinoe Counties, respectively.
Senator Dillion is National Vice Chairman for Political Affairs of the opposition Liberty Party (LP). He represents the Party and the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) in the Liberian Senate. Liberty Party is one of the four opposition political parties that makes up the CPP. The others are Unity Party (UP), Alternative National Congress (ANC), and the All-Liberian Party (ALP). The CPP was established following the 2017 general and presidential elections that brought the CDC to state power. The political alliance is dedicated to consolidating its constituents and posing an effective challenge to the ruling CDC in subsequent legislative and presidential elections in Liberia.
On December 8th, the CPP showed its political might and emerged as winner of the midterm senatorial elections. The Conglomeration won 6 of the 15 senatorial seats that were up for grab. The CPP backed candidates won in Montserrado, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Bassa, Bong, River Gee, and Lofa Counties. According to the NEC, independent candidates won 3 seats in Bomi, Margibi, and Rivercess Counties while the ruling CDC secured 3 seats in Grand Gedeh, Maryland and Nimba Counties.
The recent special senatorial elections were a referendum on President Weah, his administration policies, and those politicians, who have tied their fortunes to him even though he was not on the ballot paper. To maintain the CDC’s influence in the Liberian Senate, Mr. Weah spent a significant portion of his time on the campaign trail motivating his party base to vote for the ruling party’s candidates, no matter their disagreement with the party. The President’s mandate to CDCians then was “party discipline.”
He threatened to punish CDC partisans and officials of his administration who will vote contrary to that the mandate. Also, in a bid to mobilize voters, the President and his party embarked on the dedication of long-term projects, as well as quick impact ones. However, the outcomes of the elections showed that the President and the CDC’s messages and quick impact projects did not resonate with the voters. The people overwhelmingly rejected the CDC senatorial hopefuls. The Party lost massively.
Since the midterm elections, many political pundits including some insiders of the CDC and the Liberian government have concluded that Senator Dillon and the CPP’s outstanding performances in the elections pose serious threats to President Weah’s 2023 re-election bid. The people including the President’s controversial Deputy Information Minister for Press and Public Affairs, Eugene Fahngon, say unless the political variables in the country change for the better, Mr. Weah risked being a one term President.
Weah and Govt’s Excesses
President Weah’s insensitivity to the plight of the people, failed political promises, gross incompetence, aloofness, and his administration’s exposed acts of unbridled corruption, blatant disregard for the rule of law, and other forms of malfeasance dampened the chances of the CDC and its candidates in the just ended December 8th midterm senatorial elections. They lost because the voters saw them as representations of the President and his administration’s excesses.
Liberians through their votes conveyed to the President and the CDC that they should not be taken for granted; and that they are angry about his administration indifference to their plight. Also, the people communicated to the President that they are unhappy about he and his cronies’ overnight accumulated wealth, his administration’s misrule of Liberia, the unexplained deaths of the four government auditors, broken medical and educational systems, and other societal ills.
Before 2017 when Mr. Weah was elected President of Liberia, he was very popular and liked by most Liberians at home and in the diaspora. As a former celebrated soccer star, the President was the “People’s man”. In Liberia, Liberians, especially his followers, literally worshipped him. In 2017, he won the Liberian Presidency from the UP after clinching 14 of Liberia’s 15 counties in a run-off election.
However, after three years of leadership as President, Mr. Weah and the CDC’s fame in Liberia have dissipated. He has fallen out of favor with most Liberians because of his brazen insatiable greed for money and material wealth; and his proven inability to govern the country effectively. He is the first Liberian President in recent history to have built 49 condominiums costing millions of dollars under unexplained circumstances in the country in less than a year after ascending to the Presidency. Also, he demolished his reported US 150 thousand dollars home located on 9th Street in Sinkor, Monrovia and commenced the construction of a mini mansion there while Liberia’s economy, and healthcare and educational institutions remain in shambles.
Appalled by the President self-centeredness, CDC Chairman Morlu in a December 2019 secretly recorded and leaked audio tape was heard lambasting Mr. Weah for acts of dishonesty and sexual harassment while in a conversation with some unidentified individuals in Liberia. Then the Chairman claimed the President literally seeks sexual favor from female candidates in exchange for appointments in government. Also, he accused the President of diverting monetary aid given to Liberia to his personal use.
He disclosed, “The man goes to other countries to seek funding for the country, but when the money comes, he diverts it. He tells Tweah that the money belongs to him because he is the one, who went for it.” Besides being selfish, Mr. Weah is a terrible administrator. After three years of political leadership, he has proven his many critics right that he is ill-prepared for the presidency because he does not understand his job duties and responsibilities. Moreover, he is disengaged from the governance process of Liberia. He has literally outsourced his job duties and responsibilities to State and Presidential Affairs Minister, Nathaniel McGill, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah, and some executives of the CDC for the management of the country.
As a result, he has no clue about happenings in the country. Most of the times, he comes across as clueless and insensitive about political happenings in Liberia. He now spends most of official work time on leisure; either making music or playing soccer with his trusted aides while critical national matters of the country remain unattended.