Weah Takes Away Bong’s Lone Key -Bongese Say County Is “No-Go Zone For Opposition”

MONROVIA: Liberia’s third most populated county and also in terms of registered voters, Bong County, has traded “marital vows” with the presidential ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). For three days, President George Manneh Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor organized earth-shattering campaign rallies and meet-and-greet conversations in 13 communities of the county. It all was climaxed in the political capital city, Gbarnga, where the Bongese show themselves as the third biggest province and one of CDC’s strongholds, releasing into the streets and public squares mammoth crowds of people never seen in many decades.  As The Analyst reports, the citizens on the one hand and the CDC ticket which also bears the face of the county’s most eminent daughter on the other, entered into a “Social Contract”, vowing to be for one another in the 2023 elections and beyond.

President George Manneh Weah completed his campaign rounds in the Liberian central province of Bong where, for three days, the citizens rose up in their numbers not only to welcome the President and his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) but also to adorn him with eulogies and to voice their second term endorsements for the President for what they call his unprecedented development policies and programs across Liberia.

At the CDC’s climaxing of the Bong County campaign rallies in the capital Gbarnga, the Bongese, as citizens of that country are fondly called, represented by swarms of young people, including first-time voters, elders, market women and men, traditional leaders, students and eminent personalities symbolically turned over the county’s key to President Weah.

In justifying the unanimous reason for their gesture, the citizens of Bong County, the native domain of Vice President and Vice Standard-bearer Jewel Howard Taylor, declared that their territory fully and squarely belongs to President Weah and his CDC, and that the vain loitering of the province by opposition politicians is intolerable, unwelcome and waste of time on their part.

During the first two days, the President and entourage crisscrossed a couple of districts and communities of the country, including Panta-Kpaii District where the President turned on a CLSG electricity hub located in Palala, and immediately electrifying 79 homes.

On Wednesday, by the time the President and entourage arrived in the city from their first engagement of the day which was held in rural Bellemu and Belefania, the capital Gbarnga was already inundated by residents of the city and its environs.

From the Lofa Road junction and through the major street and towards the Gbarnga sports pitch, huge crowds of people filled every corner, delaying the President’s convoy for nearly two hours.

The Gbarnga rally was exceedingly colorful as were the speeches of adoration and endorsement made by the citizens, mainly the young people of Bong County.

Speakers after the other were clear and forceful in tune when they declared their resolve to vote for the reelection of President Weah and their daughter, Vice Standard Bearer Jewel Howard Taylor.

Spokespersons of the young people—the youth, the student groups, including Muslim student leadership of the county and first-time voters—variously expressed delight over the extreme passion for development, including youth empowerment that they said President Weah brings to the national governance process.

A young man who spoke for first time voters said: “Mr. President, we have closely followed your development trajectory in the last five and half years, and what we continue to hear from older folks including our parents about the situation before our days, indicate that you are indeed the best leader of this country in terms of transformation in the education sector of our country.”

“Policies and actions that you have employed in the quest for the transformation of Liberia, including the empowerment of young people—whether it is free tuition in public schools, or free WASSCE, or building of modern sports pitches, giving young people jobs in government, amongst others—make you the true liberator of youth and impoverished people in this country.”

The spokesperson of the youth of Bong County, Ms. Stevea Dungba, nearly stole the show as the most outstanding orator, for using a compelling human interest wit in the delivery of her short statement.

“Mr. President, I still remember as a child seven years ago, my siblings and I could not get outfits for the celebration of July 26 Independence Day because two of my older siblings were graduating and what our parents had was used to pay their WASCCE fees,” Steavea said amid deafening applauses.

“Mr. President, I just graduated from high school and my parents did not have to bother about the stress of paying my WASSCE fees because you did it for me. Mr. President, thank you for paying our WASSCE fees.”

She continued: “Mr. President, before I was born, my aunty was making a living by selling ice. But she was actually working for the owner of a gas station because she had to spend all the money again buying gas every day to keep her ice business afloat. This continued until electricity enter our county. Today, my aunty is able to build her and own a house from earnings of her ice business because she’s no longer buys gas to run a generator. Mr. President, thank you for bringing electricity to our county.” There were applause again.

“Mr. President, my mother told me that when she was leaving Monrovia to come to Gbarnga after buying my bag, she did not have to go through the near-impassable, crowded Red Light. She said she passed through Johnsonville to get to Mount Barclay because you built a paved road to hit the main highway from Monrovia to our county. Mr. President, thank for building paved roads in this country.”

Stevea rapped the audience further: “Mr. President and Madam Vice President; a friend of mine who attends a community school across the Lofa Road, who used to wear rain boots because of huge muds on the road at this time of year in times past, was seen the other day wearing her clean black shoes to go to school. When I asked her why she was wearing her clean shoes this raining time instead of rain boots, she told, ‘George Weah fini putting coal tar on the Lofa road oo’. Mr. President, thank you for your efforts…”

Whether it was Stevea, or young female Muslim spokesperson Mabadu Keita, or first-time voter Abenego Perry, or District #3 Representative Melvin Cole, or Superintendent Esther Walker or Kingdom Elders spokesman, or Senatorial Candidate Edward Kaifiah or the spokespersons of various women groups and elders, the people of Bong told President Weah: “Mr. President you have our unshakable commitment to reelect him in October”.

One said: “We have the Key of Bong County with us here. We are giving this key to you and our daughter, sister and mother, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, to have and to keep until the elections are over. And we are sending out a caveat to opposition politicians: ‘Bong is locked up. The Key is possessed by George Weah. There is no space and entry way for anyone in Bong who is not President Weah and VP Jewel Howard Taylor. We have made up our minds and we are resolved to reelect the CDC ticket; our resolve is cast stone. We just cannot afford to ignore the good things these two persons have done for our county and our young people to turn otherwise. They served Bong well, and we are under obligation to reelect them.”

President Weah, in remarks, thanked the people of Bong County for their continued support to his administration.

“You made us what we are today,” he said, returning compliments to the residents who trooped to a local football field in swarms. “I heard many of you who spoke here telling me thank you for electricity, free WASSCE, free public college education, for free housing units for the poor, for building more paved roads and others. But if you did not elect me and Jewel, we won’t have done what we did.”

“In 2017, right on this same field, we came to you and asked you to elect us as President and Vice President,” the President reflected on the bond of relationship between him and the people of Bong.

“At that time, you really did not know me. We only promised that if you elected us, we would improve governance and we would impact your lives. You did not let us down. When results came that year, we won Bong County; meaning you did what you told us—that you would vote for us. I should be thanking you more. Now that you have seen what we also did, it shows we also did not fail you, and you all testified here today to what we have done. Today, we have come again to ask for your vote, so that we do more than we did in our first term.”

President Weah told the Bong County citizens not to pay attention to politicians announcing themselves as rescuers and fixers of Liberia.

“Some of these people are the same people who could not fix the country for twelve years,” he continued. “They have no history of fixing a single thing, let alone rescuing a single human being. In fact, they are not able to rescue themselves. How can they rescue a whole nation? Today, we have to be fixing the mess that they left behind when they left office in 2017.”

“We are the real rescuers. We are the real fixers.  It is this government, your government, that put on payroll 2000 health workers abandoned by the Unity Party government. It takes us to stabilize the economy, and lower the exchange rate after the Unity Party government printed and dumped plenty banknotes in the economy, causing high inflation and hard time for you, our people. It is this government, your government, that has cleaned up the mess they caused in the education sector. Don’t remind them. Reject them. Vote me and Jewel, your own daughter. We are one family. We did together it before—we beat them before—and we can beat them again.”

Bong is Strategic

With the highly impressive campaign rounds of the President in Bong, impressive because all rallies conducted witnessed not only the rise of floods of citizens but also the outpour of endorsement and solidarity in all districts and communities he and his entourage visited.

Bong is the third populous counties, with the total registrants of 234,787, next to Nimba and Montserrado counties’ 307,254 and 901,162 registered voters respectively.

Capturing it, as the CDC apparently has done on its campaign trail this week, and if the momentum sparked during the rallies is maintained, it could be a decisive decider in the 2023 elections.

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