MONROVIA – Senator Prince Y. Johnson is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Nimba people’s political franchise, generosity and largess in history. For him it is a payback cheque for the “liberation of Nimba County” which he claims to himself exclusively. Thus, not only have the citizens of that second populous Liberian province elected him unreservedly twice, and willing to do so thrice, the people have also allowed him dictate his way in nearly all social, economic and political decisions in the last 18 years, while the outside world looks on bewildered, wondering if Nimba has run out of men and women. As political contestation bells toll across the country, all eyes are cast at Nimba yet again and many are asking if Senator Johnson will once again keep his knee on the necks of all other Nimbaians even his political flip-flopping notwithstanding. But early signs are that this would hardly be the case because in a special call meeting yesterday in Monrovia, prominent elders of the county told him something he has never heard in decades. The Analyst reports.
Nimba elders and Senator Prince Yormie Johnson were at odds yesterday, perhaps the first time in many decades, when they faced off in what many pundits described to be tough and honest conversation at the meeting.
Prince Y. Johnson is one of the longest-serving post-conflict legislator, having been elected twice since 2005. And whenever he did, his victory was overwhelming.
He is regarded as the “Political Leader” of Nimba County, an appellation he acquired having been a rebel leader during the Liberian civil conflict. He claims to have fought the war primarily to “liberate my people who were being slaughtered by Samuel Doe”.
Thriving by appealing to the sensibilities of the people in that way, Senator Johnson has been able to mentally colonize Nimbaians, even including their educated and intellectual elite.
Senator Johnson, by so doing, has not only been able to get himself elected twice almost unopposed; he has also begun the latter day “kingmaker” in the Liberian political arena, using the unsuspecting people of Nimba, which is the second largest county in terms of population.
Towards the October polls, Senator Johnson has begun to do what he’s been good at in nearly two decades: firmly pulling the people of his country into his political direction.
However, signs are that, this year, the PJY scheme is unlikely this time around because it seems the people are just weary to the bream.
During a town hall meeting in Monrovia Tuesday, the Senator asked elders of his county to follow him as he transitions his political loyalty from the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) which he supported in 2017 to the ruling Unity Party that he had supported in 2011.
He told Nimbaians in the meeting that it was in their best interest to follow him join the former ruling Unity Party.
Apparently tired with his political flip-flopping, the elders retorted: “Five years ago you came to us to support President Weah. We did and he has been good to Nimba. Everything is not perfect but he has shown us some serious development compared to other counties. Why should we be ungrateful to him now?”
And he also countered to convince the Nimba elders that he had worked with President Weah for years, knows him, and that he (the President) is not a good person for Nimba.
But the elders, almost unanimously and severally insisted, saying something that amounts to this: “Senator PYJ, we know you have been there for Nimba. But Nimba too has rewarded you for 18 years. We are even prepared to reward you for 27 years as Senator. That is fine. However, your reward is not to tell us that which we have eyes to see for ourselves. We don’t see why we should turn our back on the President. The president has only shown Nimba love. And he has shown you love too. Rethink what you are doing. We cannot destroy Nimba because of you!”
When the Nimba elders had said this, Senator Johnson went on a begging spree. He told them: “I beg you elders; trust me one last time. This is the same PYJ that fought for y’all. Is this how MIMBA will remember me? The road President Weah is building in Nimba is not for NIMBA alone. This is the road to the South East and other counties. We are benefiting only because we are in the middle of the country. “
He continued: “Y’all don’t make me shame or carry me to my early grave! If my own county rejects me then what will I be living for. Koung is your son. Old man Boakai is old and sick. When he leaves Nimba will be in control of the country, something we all have been fighting for.”
One elder growled: “Stop this Yealue! This is not the way for a son of Nimba to get to power. To pray for someone to die first? Our son Tehwon Gongloe is in the race. Why are you not telling us to support him? Is it because he is a Mano man? Are we all not from Nimba? Is it because he is not from your party the MDR?
Another elder said: “How are we going to build Nimba Unity if you are dividing us like this? George Weah’s mother too is from Nimba, from Gbe and Doro! It was you the same Yealue who said that to us. And we believed you because it is the fact. You and Koung have been supported by this President. If we the Nimba people follow you and Koung we will be painting a bad picture of the Nimba people: that the people of Nimba cannot be trusted and their word is not their bond. For five years we gave President WEAH our word. If we left him because of you then who are we? Stop what you are doing to Nimba! You cannot control this Great County and people like a play toy.
“Why you think, wherever you go west always, we should go west, then when you change to east, we should follow you even if the reason is not good? What is good for Nimba is good for PYJ. But what is good for PYJ may not be good for Nimba. We are Nimba and we are telling you to go make peace with the President. You are disobeying us but saying we should follow you! We will not destroy the reputation of Nimba. We are staying with President WEAH and we will show him and the Liberian people that Nimba and its people are loyal!”
The elder who interrupted his colleague, yelled in anger: “This meeting is over! You go to Boakai, we will stay with Weah! The voice of Nimba will be heard on October 10.”
If what the elders of Nimba told PYJ on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, resonates with the larger population, mainly the young people who are already reportedly sloganeering, “We’re putting development over ethnicity,” then PYJ is bound for a rude awakening.
Prince Johnson has had a field day for quite so long, a sort of one-eye giant, surprisingly in a county not short of people and brains. This prompted one young man who called on a public radio talk show the other day.
He said: “If it’s a voodoo he was using, it’s worn out. We conquered it. If it is empathy and evokes ethnic feelings bordering war time, it fades into oblivion. If it is empty sweet talk, we have grown antibodies against it. PYJ must cave in or cave out. Nimba is too big and too sound to lie prostrate forever under a single man for two long decades while his knee on our necks asphyxiates us to political and intellectual death. No. No. We are awake to our senses.”