Liberia: Bong Citizens Angry with Senator Tokpa over ‘Development Comments’

Dr. Henrique Tokpa was elected in 2018 during the by-election to replace now Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor

Gbarnga, Bong County – Citizens of Bong County have been expressing anger over recent comments made by Senator Henrique Tokpa, who said he didn’t promise the people of Bong County any development and didn’t promise to send any citizen of the county to school. He further added: “I only came to tell you thank you for voting me in the 2018 senatorial by-election.”

Bong citizens see this as an inflammatory comment that has earned Senator Tokpa ire and unfriendly attention from his fellow Bongese. Some citizens are not happy with Senator Tokpa’s comments. They are calling for the Senator to apologize; others are expressing disappointment for voting him in 2017. 

Jerry Sulunteh, 28, a resident of Suakoko District, said he was shocked when the statement was made by Senator Tokpa. Sulunteh, who claims to be a supporter of Senator Tokpa, expressed disappointment for voting him during the 2018 Senatorial by-election in the county. “The statement made by Senator Tokpa is disappointing. To have said that he didn’t promise the people of Bong County any development was a disappointment at the highest level,” Sulunteh said.

Continuing, Sulunteh added: “This should serve as a lesson to us as a people. Senator Tokpa’s comments should teach us how to vote the next time. I was one person who campaigned for Senator Tokpa but his latest comment is disappointing.”

Winston Kolleh, a resident of Gbarnga’s Sugar Hill Community, criticized the Senator and described the statement “frustrating. “I felt personally let down by the statement of Senator Tokpa that he didn’t promise the people of Bong County any development. The senator didn’t speak like a leader. How can we trust him in future election?”

James Gbamokollie, a resident of Suakoko District, said Senator Tokpa’s comments are insensitive to the plights of the people of Bong County. “Senator Tokpa ran his campaign on the promises of making our lives better through the provision of scholarships and development but to have said that he didn’t promise us any of those things, I am disappointed in him,” he said.

Since his election in 2018, Senator Tokpa has come under serious criticisms for making derogatory statements against citizens of the county. Early June, Senator Tokpa shunned a group of women under the banner Gbaota Women Association (GWA), who had gone at his Serengetti business center to ask him for assistance for their organization.

According to the head of the group, Beatrice McGill, Senator Tokpa asked whether Gbaota ever existed in Gbarnga when they told him they were members of the GWA. McGill had a press conference in Gbarnga to express her displeasure at the senator’s remarks and promised to campaign against him in 2023.

Tokpa and the Bitter-ball seller comments

While contesting as senator in 2014, Senator Tokpa, former president of Cuttington University, was faced with similar claims that he reportedly made that the university was not built for children of bitter-ball sellers. Though Tokpa denied ever making the comment and promised to provide a cash reward for anyone who provided the recording, the reported comment appeared to have cost Tokpa the election as his main challenger than, former Senator and now Vice President, Jewel Howard-Taylor, used the phrase as a campaign message against him.