The people of vote-rich Nimba County, home of National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP) Standard Bearer Prince Y. Johnson are reportedly making huge demands from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in order to give her their votes in the November 8, 2011 run-off presidential election.
Among others, Nimba County is demanding exclusively 30 percent representation in government, US$30,000 per each district to launch the UP campaign (excluding materials cost and logistics) and to allow the NUDP to spearhead the UP’s re-election bid in the county.
The demand followed Senator Prince Johnson’s recently declaration of support for President Sirleaf in the pending second round of polling and his subsequent holding of discussions with traditional leaders back home, including chiefs, elders, women and youth groups to buttress his political choice.
We all know that politics is interest, but for a particular county or group of people to demand exclusively 30 percent space in government besides other things at the disadvantage of other less populated counties is a dangerous precedent that could revert this country along tribal and factional lines.
Though Nimbaians are saying these demands are negotiable, as a nation, we should not allow ourselves or our country to return to that route following 14 years of civil war generally ignited by tribalism, sectionalism, and other ugly vices.
As Senator Johnson and his NUDP/Nimba people negotiate with President Johnson-Sirleaf and her governing Unity Party in the vote trading, we urge both sides to prioritize the interest of Liberia over tribal and sectional demands. Any attempt to politick along tribe, section, or religion is to make other fellow citizens feel insecure and marginalized.
We don’t think Madam Sirleaf has any intention politically and otherwise to preside over a tribal dominated or sectionalized government, which is counterproductive to national reconciliation and unification. The worldover, we are aware that there are spoils of politics, but to allow such practice to be documented in black and white as being demanded is to undermine the very fabric of our budding democracy.
While the governing Unity Party or the President herself is yet to comment officially on the Nimba Card already placed on the table, we strongly believe other means should be employed to get the Nimba votes and votes of other counties rather than forming the next government based on tribal percentages because sooner or later, other counties could make similar demand.
NUDP Standard Bearer Prince Johnson has spoken of the need for long-term development programs, including infrastructures for capacity building, seeking the welfare of ex-soldiers and former combatants, and generally improving the standard of life for Liberians. However, for the people of Nimba to be demanding exclusively 30 percent jobs in government in exchange for votes is a dangerous precedent with unforeseen repercussions that should be discouraged in the new Liberia we envisage not only for ourselves, but future generations.