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Last Friday’s Gbarnga Protest by Bong Students

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The amount of more than Five-Hundred Thousand United States Dollars has been acknowledged by the authorities of Bong County as their indebtedness to universities across the country for the last academic semester for students benefitting from the Madam Suacoco Scholarship program run by the county.

Of the more than Five-Hundred Thousand United States Dollars, the county owes Cuttington University more than Two-Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars, thus preventing Bong County students at that university from registering for the 2013/2014  first academic semester.

The Chairman of the Bong Legislative Caucus, Representative George Mulbah, recently announced efforts being exerted to negotiate with authorities of the various Liberian universities in which students benefitting from the scholarship are enrolled for settlement of the arrears.

Chairman Mulbah comments were in direct reaction to Friday, September 13 demonstration stage by Bong County scholarship students under the banner of the Bong University Student Association of Cuttington University in Central Liberia. The demonstration was against the backdrop of the decision by authorities of CU not to register unless arrears owed the university were settled.

The demonstration took place on the morning of the induction of the leadership of the Bong University Student Association or BUSA of the University of Liberia at the Gbarnga Administration Building – something which disrupted the commencement of the ceremony on time (9:00am) even though it later started at 1:00pm. Regrettably, the Cuttington students had planned the protest on the day of the induction ceremony of the UL colleagues without their knowledge after they (CU students) had been extended official invitation since three weeks. Neither did the mother organization of all student organizations from Bong County- Bong Student Union or BONSU know about the protest action.

Interestingly, the very officials of Bong County, including the Chairman and members of the Caucus against whom the demonstration was staged, were nowhere around the administration building, but the students chose such action against the interest of their colleagues.

In as much as the decision on the part of the Cuttington students may have been genuine as it relates to the interest of all Bong County students enrolled at various universities across the country, the leadership should have initially and continuously coordinated with their colleagues from other universities and BONSU before the induction of the leadership of BUSA-UL- that was not only very unfair, but uncivil and not in the interest of the general cause of their struggle.

Even though such unbecoming behavior must be condemned as it has already happened, the leaders of Bong County, especially the Caucus must also be blamed. There should be no reason(s) by anyone to convince anyone as to why the delays since the beginning of the second semester of academic 2012/2013. This is why many Bong County citizens would choose not to accept the justification(s) by Caucus Chairman George Mulbah- the architect of these entire hullabaloo’ surrounding the students.

If they had not “hijacked” the scholarship program for selfish reason(s), such problems would not have been occurring to the embarrassment of not only the students and their parents, but other well-meaning Bong County citizens, including me, who regularly follow activities and other developments in the county.

Sometimes, some of us are accused of generalizing issues for which a single official of the county is responsible-that’s correct; and this is because we had anticipated that young and potential Lawmakers like representatives Prince Moye, and Edward Karfia, as well as Senator Henry Yallah who have been at the core of student activism, would have for the past two years, constructively resisted the financial and political viciousness of Chairman George Mulbah, other than being mute for reasons best known to themselves.

It is no secret in the entire Bong County that Chairman Mulbah has been manipulating various projects, including the Madam Suacoco Scholarship scheme to financially and politically capacitates himself to the disadvantage of the people of Bong County, while his colleagues continue to succumb to his whims and caprices.

After “hijacking” the scholarship program to the detriment of the students of Bong County and parents, probably because they (Legislature) believe they own the resources of the county, they have begun dishing out cash for their individual scholarship programs for political or whatever support among the population. A typical example is last week’s cash-distribution campaign by Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, under the guise of expressing love and concern for “her people” –something she failed to do for the past eight years. Is it only because of her desire for next year’s Mid-term Senatorial election that she’s pretending to be in the interest of Bongese? How sure we are that such campaign is to cover up her dismal performance for the last eight years?

Initially when most of these lawmakers and their former colleagues took office in 2005, some of us visited them regularly to give them our pieces of advice in the interest of our county, but they misconstrued us. We had told many of them that their induction in January of 2006 was the beginning of their campaign for the next election if they so desired, but again, they felt they still had time in their favor. To be continued. By Sir. George Kermue Barpeen, Citizen of Bong County.

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