Liberia: McGill Gives Reason Why He Wants to Be Senator in Margibi County
MONROVIA – Former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs says his foremost reason for wanting to contest the senatorial seat of Margibi County is to reconcile the county’s leadership and residents of the county.
Last week, Mr. McGill accepted a petition from thousands of citizens in the county to join the race to replace incumbent Senator Jim Tornolah in the pending 2023 presidential and legislative elections.
Liberians are expected to go to the polls to elect their new leaders on October 10, 2023, according to a timetable released by the National Elections Commission (NEC).
Mr. McGill consistent empowerment initiatives being undertaken in the county have made him uneven with scores of other elected officials of the county.
Speaking when he appeared on Farmington Radio in the county on Sunday, November 6, Mr. McGill attributed his decision to the need to help reconcile citizens of the county.
“We have come to work with the leadership of Margibi, companies and the leadership and members of the legislative caucus to solve problems. We are not here to divide our people; we are here to unite our people. Margibi has lots of problems.”
“Everyone has a stake in Margibi and we can’t do with division. That’s the purpose for which I’m coming to Margibi. There are lots of problems that need to be solved than just fighting each other.”
He cautioned his supporters against attacking others who do not support his ambition
“Reconciliation is cardinal and you see it in my attitude. Democracy requires the exchange of ideas and disagreement. Disagreement is civility and it doesn’t mean we are enemies. We should find a way to solve our problems than to fight.”
Mr. McGill maintained that though there may be disagreements ahead of the elections, citizens should avoid disagreeing or taking steps or actions to fuel disunity in the county.
Aftermath of division
He stated that citizens of the county will continue to suffer if their leaders are divided.
“You get the right to disagree with me respectfully. For the good of Margibi, we can disagree. But that disagreement should be for the unity of Margibi and not to divide us.”
“If we are not unity Margibi will suffer. Nobody should be misled to believe that a single individual or Nathaniel McGill is going to solve all the problems of Margibi; it’s not possible.”
Mr. McGill said the “best brains and other citizens” should hold together and collectively work in finding solutions to the challenges confronting them and the county in general.
“Margibi is a county of immigrants and hospitality. We come from all over and we embrace all citizens. All the counties are represented in Margibi and so, Margibi County is the breadbasket of brains.”
“We are bringing unity and you can’t overemphasize the need for unity in any community or society. And so, Margibi will be of no exception in terms of uniting the citizens. Everybody has a stake in Margibi and plates on the table. Margibi have too many brains in this county and we cannot allow those brains to waste.”
Better retirement package
He further vowed to fight to ensure that employees of concession companies receive better packages after following their retirement.
“There are too many opportunities; our people need jobs and the issue of retirement benefits for employees in the concession areas. Our people work so hard and when they are retired, they should get better retirement benefits. Those are the things we will be fighting for since in fact, this area employs lot of people.”
He maintained that retirees should enjoy the “fruits of their labor” after serving their employers for several decades.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mcgill has provided university scholarships to over 100 recent graduates of the Harbel Multilateral High School.
He served as the guest speaker at the school recent graduation and closing convocation.
He disclosed that the move was a “moral obligation” in fulfillment of his unbending quest to support education and help alleviate some of the constraints parents are faced with in furthering their children’s education in the post-conflict nation.
“I was born as a very poor child and my parents couldn’t afford to send me to school. My father died when I was at the age of nine years old and my mother struggled to send me to school. She had to sell charcoal and potato greens to find school fees for me to go. I know the sufferings our parents are going through to find jobs and something to send their children to school.”
Mr. McGill disclosed that investment in education remains one of his foremost priorities in the county.
“Investing in people is not only to give them economic power; but if you have education, you can be able to do anything for yourself.”
He said women’s empowerment; including the provision of opportunities to accord them the opportunity to advance their studies remain keen on his agenda.
“I will fight for the rights of women anywhere I go and female education is a priority. When you educate a woman, you educate a nation and women’s education is a big, big issue. We want to encourage our women to go to school.”
Mr. McGill observed that though the government has made the University of Liberia a tuition-free higher institution of learning, many people still cannot afford to enroll or pay their fees.
He disclosed that he will continue to lobby with others to provide scholarship opportunities to those who are in need.
He used the medium to urge young people to take their education seriously if they must be productive citizens in the future.
“As long as I live, I will continue to support education. Even if I am leaving, a lot of people will send a foundation for their future. Education is the bedrock of any society. When you have a sound foundation or education, you can be anyone. That’s why I’m defining education to be my priority area. I want to be remembered as the Nathaniel McGill who supported education.”
Mr. McGill said leaders of the county should continue to exert efforts towards providing educational opportunities for citizens, especially young people.
He emphasized that though he intends to undertake and continue other initiatives in the county, he will also support the education of rural women in a bid to make Liberia a strong nation.
Mr. McGill’s stealthy move to galvanize the support of the locals in Margibi barely a few weeks after he was sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department for alleged acts of corruption, raised concerns among former and current elected officials of the county.
He has also engaged in numerous initiatives including the dashing of cash to empower women and youths in the county.
But some former and current elected officials of Margibi, including former Senator Clarice Jah, have called on Mr. McGill to abandon his quest from contest and concentrate on clearing his name from the US sanction list.
They warned against the use of their county as a “dust bin” to accommodate and push Mr. McGill to a political office.
They questioned the rationale behind the decision taken by the former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs to abandon his home, Gbarpolu County to contest for an elected position in Margibi.
Mr. McGill contested the Mid-Term Senatorial elections in Gbarpolu County in 2014 on the ticket of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). He accumulated 1, 636 votes or 14.2% over his victor Senator Daniel Naatehn of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) who got 3,962 or 34.3%.
He came third, out of seven persons who contested for the seat.
His decision taken to abandon Gbarpolu to contest in Margibi County, other than nearby areas, continue to raise speculations and doubts about his chances of winning.
Force to clarify
Senator Emmanuel Nuquay, Political Leader of the People’s Unification Party (PUP) is one of those who is also reportedly opposing the ascendancy of Mr. McGill to the Liberian Senate to join him in representing the people of Margibi at the 54th National Legislature.
Sources have hinted that Senator Nuquay, who is seen as the “political godfather” of Margibi would appear to be losing his “stronghold to a stranger” since in fact, he (Nuquay) wants to contest the presidency in the future.
He contested as Vice Presidential candidate to Joseph Nyuma Boakai of the Unity Party (UP) in 2017.
In September this year, Senator Nuquay described rumors that he was supporting the ambition of Mr. McGill as a “stranger on job hunt”, and urged residents of the county to “shine their eyes” ahead of 2023 legislative and presidential elections.
Clarifying his innocence to residents of the county at a town hall gathering in Kakata, Senator Nuquay insisted he has no idea about McGill’s senatorial ambition, saying “I can’t take the Margibi people’s job and give it to a stranger.”
“I have been accused of taking someone (the former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill) from the Belleh Forest to bring him to the Gibi Mountain to take the Margibian (name for residents of the county) children’s job. I want to assure you that the information is untrue. I have no idea about Mr. McGill’s senatorial ambition,” Senator Nuquay said.
Liberia’s political landscape has dramatically turned to the showcasing of political strength geographically.
Already, various politicians are grabbing hold of various counties by grounding themselves and engaging into multiple initiatives to be seen as the “political godfathers” of those regions.
Senators Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, Edwin Snowe, Prince Moye, and Prince Johnson are presenting themselves as the “political godfathers” of Grand Bassa, Bomi, Bong and Nimba Counties.
These lawmakers have become politically grounded in their respective counties, making it very difficult to have them or candidates of their choice easily defeated during elections or any other decision making processes in their respective counties.
Senator Nuquay, who is reported to also be eyeing the presidency in 2029, is rallying the support of influential leaders and others in the county to prevent the ascendancy of Mr. McGill to the Liberian Senate.
However, more efforts need to be applied to actualize the concerted plan of these former and current elected officials of Margibi County since in fact, Mr. Mcgill has gotten popular in a very short period of time in the county as evidenced by the huge turnout during his recent petitioning ceremony.