What appears to be an “unforgettable animosity” against the administration of Cuttington University has developed within the students’ community in Bong County.
As a result of his opposition to the construction of the Gboveh Community College in Gbarnga, Bong County, the President of Cuttington, Dr. Henrique Tokpa may have just “added insults to injuries” by luring thousands of high school students into disliking him.
His description of the college project as an embarrassment to Cuttington in the March 2011 edition of the “Cutting Edge” Newspaper produced by Cuttington was enough for the students to perceive him as an opposition to their academic growth and development, as well as efforts by the Government of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to decentralize college education in Liberia.
Despite Dr. Tokpa’s bitterness and persistent efforts to undermine the construction of the Gboveh Community College, students of a number of high schools in Gbarnga and its environs, including the main public school, the Dolokelen Gboveh High School, St. Martin’s Catholic School, St. Mark Lutheran School, the Suacoco Central High school, as well as the E.J.Yancy High School continue to appreciate the Bong County Legislative Caucus and President Sirleaf for their tireless efforts to build the college.
They told the New Dawn-Liberia in Gbarnga recently that the presence of the GCC will not only discourage urban migration among the student population in search of higher education, but also diminish the astronomical economic situation that has impeded their enrolment at Cuttington University over the years.
“Yes, Dr. Tokpa has told us that because our parents are ‘bitter-ball sellers’, we cannot attend Cuttington. And so, God has answered our prayers for the Caucus to make law so that Bong County can have a University; at least, the money from the bitter-balls, pepper, okra and kittilay will pay out school fees at Gboveh Community College,” a group of students exclaimed to this paper in Gbarnga.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf officially broke ground on December 4, 2010 for the construction of the College following the submission of the bill in 2009 and its subsequent passage into law in 2010 by Representative George Sylvester Mulbah and the 52nd Legislature.
When the Act establishing the Gboveh Community College was finally passed into law and signed by the President of Liberia, the President of Cuttington University, Dr. Tokpa, through Cuttington’s Procurement Director (also Representative Candidate for District Two) Prince Moye, on Radio Gbarnga and ELBC, described the school as not necessary in Gbarnga because of the presence of Cuttington.
After receiving thunderous condemnations from the students’ community and citizens for his remarks, Director Moye, a former partisan of the opposition Liberty Party now contesting the representative seat on the ticket of the Unity party, somersaulted to suggest during another radio broadcast in Gbarnga that the college instead be built in Fuanah District in the west of the county since Cuttington was already in Gbarnga.
The Cuttington University Procurement Director also fell short of giving reasons why the Cuttington University Administration chose to establish its Associate Degree program in Kakata, Margibi County, other than Fuamah District.
When contacted on Monday, August 29, 2011 at 4:37pm for verification, Dr. Henrique Tokpa said: “I can grand telephone interview; if you care much, then come to my office in Gbarnga.” A few minutes later, Dr. Tokpa again called, having gathered some of his staff members to listen to what he told the New Dawn-Liberia, to repeat what he said earlier.
Mr. Moye could not pick up his phone after being contacted on a number of occasions on the same day and the day after, perhaps after being informed about the nature of the call. Cuttington University is a private institution owned by the Episcopal Church of Liberia, while the Gboveh Community College is owned by the Government of Liberia.
The College, financed from the social development fund provided by Arcelor Mittal just as the Nimba Community College and Grand Bassa Community College, is valued at $4.2m with duration of about 20 months. Fifty percent of that amount has already been paid to a Chinese construction firm, the Liberia-China Investment United Company.