By: Matthew H. Turry
There has emerged a new twist in the war of words that ensured between President George Manneh Weah and Senator Prince Yormie Johnson of Nimba County, as few days ago the Elders Council of Nimba County publicly condemned the action of Senator Johnson to oppose President Weah’s second term bid as “gross disrespect to the President and gross insubordination”, pledging to massively vote for the President in the ensuing general election, in “keeping with the agreement we had with the President”.
Speaking at a press conference over the weekend in Monrovia, the Senior Advisor of the Council of Elders of Nimba County who was a key fighter with the Charles G. Taylor-led National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), ex-Major General Albert Gounkalo Zoegwah Paye laid the premise of his statement that Nimba county is embarrassed and confounded by the recent allegation by their senior senator of Nimba County, and that Nimba is not in favor of the allegations pitted by Senator Johnson against President Weah.
“We have come to let the Liberian people know that Nimba County loves peace; Nimba County wants peace; Nimba County wants to maintain peace, we are peaceful people, we are sound.
“We have come to say that this statement is a gross disrespect to the President and gross insubordination. It does not go to the President as an individual but it goes to the state. So, we have come to debunk the statement by our senior senator.
“Our expectation in this voting year, we have promised and we are ready for Sayebein Gbekugbeh George Manneh Weah; that Nimba County is for George Manneh Weah, we are prepared to vote only him and make it only one round winning for him come October 10, 2023,” Paye said.
He criticized the manner and form with which Senator Johnson was pursuing his claims against the President, especially the timing which could be taken as trying to cause confusion and division in the county, adding that the people of Nimba County are civil minded people who do not want trouble in the county
“Why is it that it has to be in this election year? If you have something against the President, as a senior advisor of the Elders Council of Nimba County, we as citizens, we have elders in the county. Anything concerning the county, he should come to us to seek advice, but at this election time he has accused the President in order to bring problems to Nimba County. We are civil minded people, we don’t want trouble to be in our county”, he said.
Chief Paye did not mince words about the antics of Senator Johnson whom he accused of being at the center of most of what has occurred in the County, starting with the onset of the protracted civil war which he described as a “Revolution”, and they have managing things with him because “he is our brother but he does not respect the county and its people. So, we are fed up with it. Let the Liberian people and the international community people know”.
Old man Paye who said he was one of the key fighters that got his training from outside of the country to join forces with Taylor and launch the protracted civil war, rubbished the liberation credentials Senator Johnson who boasted of having a hold on the county, claiming that Senator Johnson in fact worked to undermine “the revolution” by so many actions that he orchestrated against key fighters, some of whom he summarily executed, including Johnson’s own brother that made the senator not to visit his own town of birth after some eighteen years.
“The self-proclaimed political godfather, our Senator, Senator Johnson, we came to liberate our citizens of Nimba, but for killing his own brothers from the same town, he got afraid and fled from us, broke away and founded his own Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL)”.
“He sabotaged the whole process; he broke away and founded the INPFL, misleading the Liberian people by saying Charles sent him. But to all Nimbaians, listen to me. Where and when did Senator Johnson fight in Nimba County to capture areas? He never fought in Nimba. When he fled for killing those children, he founded the INPFL, left Nimba and entered Bong County where he passed through the forest to come and settle in Caldwell”, Chief Paye asserted.
He named several victims of Senator Johnson’s alleged atrocities during the formative days of the civil war, including herbalist Nathaniel Tegbeh who reportedly possessed a lot of talisman including the one that was a “gun proof. Paye also named other victims who lost their lives at the hands of Senator Johnson including Duopu Kaibeh, Moses Kwanyan, Nelson Blenyah, Peter Blenyah, among others.
“He said he liberated Nimba County. Look at my face, where and where he fought in Nimba County? Ask him where he fought to liberate. He killed his own brother and got afraid to be at home. For 18 years as a Senator he is scared to go in his own town”, old man Paye said.
He said the decision to vote for President Weah has gained traction in the minds of the people because “what we have not seen, we have been able to see them”, implying that the President has delivered development projects above other Presidents that they have come to know.
“Due to the road connectivity in the county from Ganta to Seclapea, Tapeta connecting to Grand Gedeh County, we preferred to vote for him for the second time to accomplish his mission. We, the people of Nimba County, have given our President Nimba County this 2023 election; we are prepared for only one round winning vote. So, I ask our citizens of the Republic of Liberia to join Nimba County people to elect George Weah for the second term. For the matter of fact what we have not seen before, we are seeing it.
“Now our children are having free education. So, we have made up our mind to vote for a second term”, he said.
He said the message to re-elect President Weah has gone wide and resonated with the people of Nimba County, and that nothing can stop it. Chief Paye then called on every citizen to disregard the senator’s allegation against President Weah.