MONROVIA – Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, ahead of the ensuing 2023 General elections, has called on partisans of the Coalition for Democratic Change and the entire voting age citizens of Bong County to repeat the similar feat they performed in 2017 to elect President George Manneh Weah and her to the Executive Mansion by according the CDC another massive support in order to return President Weah and her for another term of office, promising reciprocation upon re-election.
Madam Howard Taylor made the clarion call over the weekend when she spoke to a multitude of partisans and supporters of CDC as well as other citizens who turned out for a well-attended interactive reconciliatory and unity meeting she convened and chaired at the Gbarnga City Hall preparatory towards launching a massive electoral process by the party in the county very soon.
She told her Bong family: “I made a promise to the President that I am a child of a living God. I know God will hear my cry and I am sure He will allow us to work together so that when we go through the 2023 elections, the results from Bong County will be the best. You must remember we are fighting for Bong ourselves; let us remember we are brothers and sisters. Let us unite so that strangers will not inherit our properties.”
The Vice President who spoke in a remorseful and reconciliatory tune told the gathering that she is aware that there has been some misgivings and reservations among the partisans and supporters of CDC over the years, some of which led to defeats of the party in some crucial elections in the county but assured the citizens there should be room in their hearts to bury the past and forge ahead to ensure the party returns to winning ways in the county and beyond.
She solicited candid views and suggestions on how to turn a new leaf and keep the opposition at bay and not give them the opportunities to feast in the party’s strongholds and territories.
While stressing the existence of oneness between and among the Congress for Democratic Change(CDC), the National Patriotic Party(NPP) and the Liberia People’s Democratic Party(LPDP), the three parties that formed the Coalition for Democratic Change(CDC), she told the people, especially those who have not formally declared for any of the parties, to join them because what is needed is for more people to come on board to be part of the coalition or collaboration that is made of the three legacy parties.
“You can make your way to any of the three parties, NPP, LPDP and the Congress,” said and added:
“Though we are one, you can choose one because we need everybody. We want to set up a leadership structure in a way that no one will leave from Gbarnga to go all the way to Monrovia for anything so that everyone will be allowed to do their own work and the leadership will just be moving around to make sure things are working.”
The well attended meeting, which is regarded as the first major one to reconcile the party after what has been described as a long period of in-fighting and internal bickering that saw the party existing in factions, brought together the crème de crème in Bong County politics.
They included Representative Melvin Cole, former lawmakers Henry Yallah, George Mulbah, county officials, former lawmakers, top government officials from Bong County, traditional and community leaders, women groups, youth groups, etc.
The Vice President who is a major stakeholder in the county said though the task ahead is herculean but all hands should be on deck so as to ensure that President Weah is given a resounding victory in his bid for the second term in order to consolidate on the gains of the first term of office.
She emphatically called on the people not to only freely voice out what was on their mind but to also proffer solutions on what to be done differently in order to brighten the chances of the party ahead of 2023.
Taking the floor after the Vice President had ended her remarks, Mr. George Howe, a commissioner at the Governance Commission, thanked her for being insightful of the need to meet far ahead of 2023 so as to strategize for victory. He added that, like in 2017 when they went to all parts of the county to elect her and the CDC into power, they are still ready to repeat similar undertaking.
He however suggested that the party needs to review the promises made to the various communities they went to in 2017 to canvas for votes to know which one of them have been fulfilled and which ones are yet to be fulfilled.
Mr. Howe told the VP: “Madam Vice President, sincerely we have to go back to what we promised the people, what we were able to give back and which ones we did not do. To be frank some of us are very embarrassed to go back to some communities where we went in 2017 to campaign for you and the party because the people continue to look in our faces to tell us we did not do for them what we promised and so could not trust us again. So there are some areas we need to touch and address and go back to the people to ask for their votes again.”
VP Taylor who was touched and felt concerned about the revelation requested that proper notation should be made and recorded so that at the end of the day, a committee will be set up to review some of the concerns and make proper recommendations for immediate solutions.
A lady who represented an auxiliary group, the Independent Grassroots Movement, corroborated with Howe’s submission and said like some other individuals or groups, after all the efforts and sacrifices made by the group to the electoral fortune of CDC in 2017, the leadership of the party both at the local and national level abandoned them, leaving them frustrated and being mocked by others in their respective communities.
She urged the VP: “Madam Vice President, it is good that you called this meeting today and I just hope that it is not going to be the same way we started in 2017 and ended after the elections. I represent the Independent Grassroots Movement, the group of women who risked their lives and everything to go and campaign to places where no one wanted to see or talk about CDC but we still went there to campaign and we got the victory. But since that time nothing has been done for us. Our children could not go to school, our husbands could not get jobs and we could not get any form of assistance to help ourselves.
“Even the very people we told to vote for CDC are laughing at us and you are now telling us to go back to the same people to ask for their votes again? Who will take us seriously? The government has to do something for us so that we can have the face to go back to the people to ask for their support”, she said and drew applause from the crowd.
Responding to her, VP Howard Taylor regretted that this took place but said perhaps it must have been because of misconstrued identity as a similar group with a leadership made some request in the past and were taken care of. She said it was good that she raised the concern at the meeting and since the gathering was to take stock of what went wrong in the past and finding ways not to be repeated, the party will seriously look into the grievances and come up with the appropriate response. She then appealed to the lady and the group to renew their commitment and dedication for the party as the crucial elections come up in 2023.
Former lawmaker George Mulbah, who had at some time went against the party in other elections to support rival candidates, told the VP for the party to consider looking in the direction of inclusion in the government to reflect the make-up of the party as well as the representation of the county in the national government and empowerment of partisans especially the youths and women.
He said these are what encourage loyalty and commitment to the cause of the party which can ensure victories in elections.
He said Bong County still remains a stronghold of CDC, especially the NPP, a constituent of the coalition but what has affected the chances in the past are some of the issues he had catalogued and that they must be taken seriously if the party wishes to reverse the trend.
A youth leader simply referred to Thompson at the meeting while assuring the VP of massive support from the youth, highlighted the continuous narrative of the perceived existence of “Upper and Lower Bong “which must be looked at seriously as politicians are cashing in on it to garner support against the party as well as the perceived neglect of the youth in the county when it comes to opportunities such as employment and scholarship opportunities”.
He reminded the VP of the voting strength of the youth in the county and called on the party to address the major youth related issues that are crucial in soliciting support from them.
The three legacy parties, CDC, NPP and LPDP made presentations at the meeting where they all expressed concerns about the plights of the party and its partisans in the county that have seen the party struggling to win various elections in the past and may affect its chances in 2023 if nothing positive is done avert the situation.
In a prepared speech read by the Chairman of CDC in the county, the partisans reeled out a list of challenges the party was plagued with, ranging from lack of a furnished headquarters, local logistics, anti-party activities to neglect of government officials and imposition of candidates during elections, among others.
The Statement read in part:
“Madam Vice President, we wish to bring to your attention about the disconnect between the government and the party which has made it impossible for the party to benefit from the government it has produced. Oftentimes, government officials from the county do not identify with the local branch of the party and its partisans which has led the party not to receive any support from them.
“We also want to state that in most cases when a candidate is seeking election on the party’s ticket, they prefer to work with friends and other personal set up to campaign thereby leaving the party which has made it impossible for the candidates to win elections.
“We recommend that candidates should be selected from the party structures such as from the ward to the state level other than imposing candidates who the electorates do not know”, the statement said among other things.
The LPDP stressed on the party showing concerns for its members such as in the area of job offers and other forms of empowerment to encourage them. He said it is sad that most of the partisans are disenchanted due to neglect from the party and may affect the chances of the party in 2023 unless something radical is done in the shortest possible time.
A woman leader of the NPP in the county who was not identified at the meeting spoke about the spirit of undermining and anti-party activities in the party and cited her own experience that she lost the representative election in 2017 because partisans of CDC as a coalition did not support her but went for her archrivals which cost her the election. She said she could not understand why partisans and supporters of the party would settle for opposition candidates when CDC is fielding candidates in the same election.
“One other thing we have to look at is for those who are blessed in the party to assist the party. The late Richard Flomo made available the building NPP is now using after we went to him and told him his legacy should not die like that, and he gave us that building which we are using today. I will encourage the CDC and LPDP to come there so that we can be together if the issue of party headquarters is the problem. We should be able to work together”, she said.
Political observers who spoke to The Analyst said the party could be seen in the right direction if the partisans are sincere with themselves. One observer, Tony Guarerta Kollie, a local political commentator said the meeting will in no small way impact the ensuing election if those he saw at the meeting are serious enough to adhere to what they discussed.
“Honestly, against the background of where they have been as one of the factionalized parties in the county, this meeting should be a new beginning. There are so many stakes to protect, one being the Vice President is from here and you know what it means if she loses the election. They just have to be serious with what they discussed and agreed to do”, he said.
Bong County is one of the vote-rich political subdivisions in the country that is so dear to every politician and parties seeking national elections in the country. The party gave overwhelming support to CDC in 2017 due mainly to the influence of VP Howard Taylor who had before then being elected twice as senator of the county in 2005 and 2014, the position she occupied before being elected as Vice President.
The party did not succeed to maintain the vacant seat during the subsequent by-election due to what many believed was the disenchantment and dissatisfaction among the partisans when Representative Melvin Cole was selected to contest the vacant seat but lost to Dr. Henrique Togba, the incumbent senator of the county.
Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor Continued her Town Hall Meetings yesterday with Bong Citizens As Part of Her Nation Wide Tour: yesterday’s meeting brought together all traditional leaders and commissioners from the 13 administrative districts of Bong County. Also in attendance were Superintendent Esther Walker and District#3 Representative Marvin Cole among others.
These week-long citizens’ engagements in Bong are gear towards ascertaining development issues in the county as well as reconciling partisans of the 3 political parties within the Coalition for Democratic Change and bringing on board members from other political parties including first time voters.
Conversations from these discussions are being catalogued and will be developed into a consolidated framework to guard the decisions of all political actors within the Coalition residing/hailing from Bong County ahead of the general elections next year.
Madam Vice President was honored yesterday by the Bong County Muslim Community for her support to development initiatives in the Muslim Community in the county.