MONROVIA: The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) for whatever reasons that its partisans may have justified at the time, lost the bulk of its Montserrado County stronghold to the opposition during the crucial 2020 by-elections that saw Senator Abraham Darius Dillon wrestling to retain the seat he had overwhelmingly won in 2019 by 55.74%. Smarting from that disgraceful showing, the ruling CDC is now leaving no stones unturned to reclaim its lost hegemony, as key strongholds continue to pledge a one-round victory for their incumbent Standard Bearer George Manneh Weah whose blazing campaign tour of Montserrado County saw him in his elements in New Kru Town’s District 16, speaking from his heart and moving the electorates to a frenzy that could most likely translate into tangible votes on October 10.
The jam-packed CDC Montserrado County campaign tour which commenced Tuesday, August 8, 2023 in Districts 7 and 8, rounded up yesterday Wednesday at Districts 14 and 15, ending up at the densely populated stronghold of New Kru Town where the message of a one-round victory for the ruling party resonated well with the electorates.
At New Kru Town’s newly-built football pitch where the district #16 program was held Wednesday, partisans, supporters and sympathizers of the ruling CDC were engaged in intense celebrations along with government officials who were dancing and singing in sync with the blaring music from ear-busting loudspeakers.
Introducing the occasion, District 16 incumbent Representative Dixon Seboe, who himself is seeking reelection, urged the people of his district to reelect President Weah because, as a striker who has delivered on the country’s development goals, it would be foolhardy to substitute or change him in the heat of the game.
“No one substitutes a striker who is quick on the ball; a striker who has scored more than 700 goals in six years. On an average, it’s almost 120 goals per year. The goals you have scored, Mr. President, can be seen in your achievements across the country. There is no county in this country that you left out of school, market place or road connection. So, we believe, Mr. President, who is the coach that will ever sacrifice this kind of striker for someone else? As a matter of fact, we are happy today because of the environment we live in, Mr. President; because of your striking role, you are a double number 9. And so, in this district, your hand mark can be seen everywhere. And that’s why in this district, we want to be very clear that we are cognizant that going to a second-round election will cost almost US$15- US$20 million. We don’t want that. And so, in this district, we are ready and prepared to give you at least 30% of the entire vote. Because when that is done and is replicated across the country, it means a first-round victory is certain.
“Mr. President, I was in the private sector, and worked in the public sector also. We never knew anything about politics. You walked in and brought me into politics. You have made me a serious politician. Because of that, Mr. President, I will always remain faithful to you. I will not show any sign of ingratitude, because ingratitude is a curse.
“New Kru Town people, people of district 16, let me assure you that this president is a winning president; and just like him, Honorable Saah Joseph is going to be a winning senator, and Dixon Seboe is going to be a winning representative,” Representative Seboe said.
As for incumbent Montserrado County Senator Saah Hallie Joseph who is seeking reelection, President Weah is the only option for the masses whose lives his administration has touched in massive ways.
“Fellow citizens of District # 16, please permit me to remind you that in 2014 we came on this same football field to climax the senatorial election in Montserrado County when the president was running as a senator. And you promised to us that you were going to give us all of the votes. I want to remind you that President Weah is part of you. You are committed to that decision. Let me also inform you, whenever you have a problem in District 16, the only person that you can call is President Weah. The last time when there was a disaster in your community, who did you call?” Senator Joseph bellowed, to which the excited crowd responded: “President Weah!!!”
“Now, President Weah is here to tell you we are ready to give him six more years to continue to develop the country. Let me tell you something. As senator of Montserrado County, I want to say thank you to the President for all of the development he has done in Montserrado County. I can say to you, giving President Weah six more years, Montserrado County will receive more development because he once served as our senior senator. So, we will stay with our senator and our brother to make sure that he continues to serve our country. Let us remain committed, let us continue to work. We don’t want to stop development, we want one-round victory. To go for another election, it will take another US$30 million. The president could use that money to develop Liberia.
“In conclusion, you all know I am from Lofa County. I am a Kissi man. That UP pappie is a Kissi man. He is my uncle, don’t vote for him. Vote for Ambassador George Manneh Weah,” Senator Joseph cautioned, to a wild burst of laughter from the crowd.
Rounding up the remarks before President Weah mounted the podium, CDC’s National Campaign Chairperson Lenn Eugene Nagbe encouraged New Kru Townians to be very vigilant in protecting their votes on October 10, so that they can give President Weah a one-round victory.
“It’s good to be home again. October 1, 2023 will be the President’s birthday again. Do you know the gift he wants from you? On October 10, just add one zero in front of the 1. On October 10, vote for him, Number 18. Remember the number.
“Number two, here in New Kru Town, we wake up early. Anybody from a poor community, when you wake up late, everything can pass you by. Then the fishermen are gone. Wake up at 4am. Be at the polling center by 4:30, get on line and be the first to vote. Let them get tired, they will run away.
“The third thing, don’t get vexed when you are voting. Don’t bust any candidate eyeballs. When you check from up to 18, and you take the pen and bust someone’s eyeball, it is your own eyeball you are busting. Because they will cancel that vote.
“During the campaign, don’t leave from District 16, don’t leave from New Kru Town to go campaign another district. Campaign right here. When the president is going to another district, don’t follow him. When we are going to District 3, the people there will receive him. We are doing this to know and consolidate our strength in each district. In fact, we will have a day where we will campaign and have rallies concomitantly in every district, simultaneously for the President. No violence, no confusion. When they provoke, just stand back. Reply them on October 10 with your vote,” Mr. Nagbe said, as the crowd responded by chanting, “Are you sleeping, you are sleeping, Uncle Joe, Uncle Joe, Gbekugbeh is coming, Gbekugbeh is coming, stop napping, stop sleeping!!!”
Deviating from the usual combative posture that he assumed during the 2019 by-election campaigns, President Weah commenced his Montserrado County District 16 campaign tour speech by calling on the voters to eschew violence as a means of protecting the democratic process.
“Before I speak to you, let me state that last week they called all of the Presidential candidates to talk about peace, going forward to campaign. And I want to admonish you. Most of you that come in the crowd to stir up problems, we advise you not to. If anyone acts disorderly while going to campaign, you will be dealt with by the law. We want peace, and we are going to campaign; and the only way you are going to vote your candidate is if we are in a peaceful environment. As a government, we told our counterparts that the election will be peaceful, so, when you come here and you have issues, reserve your problem. Don’t bring it here. We have offices that you can go to and express your grievances, but not in a rally. Because someone will be angry with you, they will hate you, you will hate them, and the whole place will be stirred up.
“This New Kru Town, I lived here, I was gbana before. I lived here, I lived in Clara Town; I lived in the Old New Kru Town. But in this community, we respect elders. When elders are sitting, we don’t bring our friskiness around them. You know I am talking to you. The next time you see government officials and you see people here and you want to flag issues, we will make sure that the law will take its course.
“We are the government, we’re going to elections, we want you to go to the polling centers peacefully. We don’t want anyone to use you as tools when they are losing and they use violence. So, all CDCcians, Weahcians and Liberians, we want you to be safe when you go to vote because it’s your right to be safe. When you vote, you must come back home; and that’s why we don’t want anyone to start anything in any gathering. When we are in the streets, do not beat on taxis, do not hit any cars. It’s uncivil. We are the government, we have to take the lead. You are supporters of the government; you are supporters of Ambassador Weah, the peace ambassador of the Republic of Liberia.
“You cannot be a Manneh supporter and you’re slapping people, you’re cussing people, no! So, I am informing you, I am signaling you, and warning you. We are here peacefully to campaign. Let us campaign. If you have your grievances, you can meet them peacefully to discuss it. This is a campaign. The NEC gave us this moment to talk to our people to campaign. So, please, if you are in opposition, you can observe from far. Because even if you are in opposition, we want to persuade you. But you have to be a listening person,” President Weah said, as the residents of New Kru Town listened attentively.
Continuing, the CDC standard bearer rallied District 16 to appreciate why they should not listen to detractors who bring them falsehoods, but must instead look at the substance of his deliverables as president for the past five years, which could be transformed into more tangibles if he is given the chance to continue for the next six years.
“Today, we’ve come again to New Kru Town, to speak to you. I know they’ve been coming to you, but what are they telling you? They cannot tell you about performance, because we are performing. What are they saying to you? They came to you about education, that George Weah doesn’t know anything. But I’ve done something. Who’s coming to you? What are they telling you?
“You elected us. We came to be your government, there were deficits. Today, we stabilized your economy. Even though they said to you, if you elect this man, it will be a waste of time. But how can a George Weah be a waste of time to a people that he loves? It is not possible.
“We sat here as opposition. We kept the peace. Those people that are coming to you led us for 12 years. Like I said, don’t mind them because they are changing their identity. They worked in government for 12 years; they’re coming back for you to believe that they were not in government. And they’re telling you that they are coming to rescue you. But for 12 years they didn’t rescue you, but is it now that they are coming to rescue you? For 12 years, everything that they spoiled in this country, and today they’re coming to you to say they will fix it? What are they fixing? What are they rescuing? The Mansion burned down 16 years ago. You did not fix it in 12 years, but I fixed it, then you’re coming to rescue it?
“When I was living in New Kru Town, I had to leave to go to Gibralta because going to school was hard. Our parents had to pay, if they didn’t have it, we had to go to work in the streets and beg other people. Today, you have free school, then they’re coming to rescue it? The WAEC you talk about, I am also proud. You know why? This WAEC business came from a group of children from St. Mary. I am sure some of them are in this crowd. I saw them in the corridor of the Senate. I passed them and asked what were they doing on the Grounds, and they said they came to see their lawmaker, and it was the same Edward Fohr. They came to Edward Fohr for WAEC fees and he ran away from them. And I asked them to come to my office as Senator of Montserrado County; and I asked them why were they on the floor, and they explained that they didn’t have WAEC fees. I took them to my office and told them that I would give them my money but they should give me their grades. They took the WAEC, they came back and they passed. And I said to the girl, that I will get in the race, and when I become president of the Republic of Liberia, I will fight for WAEC to be free of charge.
“This is the same kid from New Kru Town. I am not here to come and lie to you. I made a promise to these young children, and through these young children, if I am not mistaken, they were about 300. The next day, another 2,000 went to CDC party headquarter saying, ‘the chief paid the people WAEC fees, we too want our WAEC fees’. Because when I was struggling to go school, it was difficult, so we understand your suffering. Those people don’t understand your suffering.
“I was born on Capitol Hill. My wish was to go to the University of Liberia, but there was no way. Even to go high school was difficult. Today, we say free education so most of our children in the ghettos where we came from can have opportunities. It’s not to make news. For 171 years, there was no free school. In five years, you made me president, you have unprecedented free school in the Republic of Liberia; it’s a milestone.
“Today, somebody will come to you and tell you that I am doing the wrong thing. No! I am the right thing. The economy went down, we brought it up. We were here when I was CDC leader when Ebola attacked us. Everything that happened in this country, they blamed it on Ebola. Yes, it’s epidemic. We agree. But when Corona came, they don’t want to blame anything on Corona. During their time it was Ebola, during our time it was Corona. But they were telling you that with Corona here, we were not doing well with the economy. That’s a blatant lie! But even with the Corona virus, Liberia is developing. We did not make that excuse to you. All we did was to keep you indoor and help you to be safe. With all that, we were building our country. We have some projects at 85%, some at 90%, and they are telling you that even though we have done something, but you have to remove them, because they want to come back.
“This is our time. I know your struggle because I went through that struggle. This is why we are doing our best for you to be ok. They will blame you that you are uneducated. That was the same thing they said to me. But most of them that said it to me, I went back to school not to defy them, but because I believe that education is the future. So, I went back, not to convince them. I went to college; I got my first degree; I got my masters. Some of them did not go to school, but they are lawmakers. Today, it’s ok. They lied to you; they go for false document. Even those that came to my graduation, that congratulated me, and acted like they were going to school, they came here and lied to you. They did not go to school; are all here passing around. And some of them are lawmakers. Liberian people, open your eyes,” President Weah, among other things, intoned.