At least three of the 10 senatorial candidates for Montserrado County have participated in the first senatorial debate hosted by the Liberia Media for Democratic Initiatives or LMDI in Bentol City, the county political seat, barely a week before the poll.
Rep. Thomas Fallah of the Coalition for Democratic Change, Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties and Independent Senatorial Candidate Sheikh Al-Mustapha Kouyateh layout their platforms separately before voters.
Sheikh Kouyateh vowed that if elected senator, he will reconcile the people of Montserrado County, stressing that in spite of various political views, the people need to be one.
He also promised to provide empowerment for the youth, who constituent 60 percent of Liberia’s population, by introducing a youth empowerment bill before the Liberian Senate and encouraging Liberians to get involved in national development.
According to him, Liberia is poor because of poor management and lack of accountability, further vowing to ensure people coming to public offices are accountability to those they serve.
“I’m a 42-year-oldman, who has worked in the private sector for 21 years and I’m coming to government because I want a change. I will proffer a Bill for concession agreements to bring development in the county”, Kouyateh vowed.
Next ruling Coalition Candidate Thomas Fallah vowed to allow the people of Montserrado to participate in what he termed the Agenda for Social Contract Conference to involve them in decision making.
Fallah who represents Montserrado County District#5, said he doesn’t want to be like others, who unveiled platforms they cannot execute, noting that it makes them unpopular.
He then took on his main rival incumbent Senator Dillon, who he noted has failed to complete a rehabilitation center that he embarked on after coming to office last year.
Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, who describes himself as the Light and reformist, said the Legislature is a place for check and balance rather than a place for “Yes Sir, and Yes Ma’am”. Therefore, he informed voters in Montserrado that he wants to retain his seat in the Senate to keep the light on.
“My platform is based on reform; if we don’t reform where we are, we will have no standing to reform outside. The legislature is a place of constructive engagement.” Dillon stressed.
“You need to reelect me to ensure we do check and balance, without [which] you will have a dictatorship. Citizens need to benefit from their own resources. The system needs to work with integrity and hard work”.
He described the Liberian Senate as the last vetting committee of the public in terms of confirmation, as members of the senate determine who gets confirmed or not, based on competency.
Facing each other, he asked Rep. Fallah whether has ever used County Social Development funds in constructing the T-Five University, Fallah vehemently denied, saying that he has never used the public money for his personal activities. He said the fund cannot be used without consent of his constituents.
But while debunking Fallah’s statement, Dillon, who came to the debate with documents from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, claimed Fallah took US$20,000 from the Ministry as a scholarship for students at T-Five University and yet told the students they are benefiting free education.
Fallah however, asked Senator Dillon to name all commissioners, township and cities in Montserrado County and that Dillon doesn’t have an office in Bentol as the elections law required.
But Dillon countered that reasons why commissioners can’t go to his office is because “Fallah Bossman” President George Weah will sack them.
He then explained that under the election law, if a contestant is an Independent Candidate, he or she must have an office, but if contesting on a party ticket, that party headquarters automatically becomes an office for said candidate.
By Ethel A Tweh–Editing by Jonathan Browne