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CommentaryON 2ND THOUGHT

On 2nd Thought: Lofa by-election: A shadow of 2023

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has declared government-backed candidate Cllr. Joseph K. Jallah winner of the much-trumpeted rerun of the Lofa Senatorial by-election, and that’s final.

He won the votes by 1.31% securing 36.46% of the total votes cast, while his closest rival, former ruling Unity Party candidate Kortima Galakkpai got 35.15%, at least according to the electoral body which says it is open to any legal challenge against the result.

The election followed months of legal battles on all fronts: first delegitimizing the result of the December 2020 election of former Defense Minister J. Brownie Samukai based on his criminal conviction; the legal battle between constituents’ members of the now fragmented Collaborating Political Parties (CPP); the forgery trial of ANC Political Leader Mr. Alexander B. Cummings and the bitter infighting within the Liberty Party of the late Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, another constituent member of the CPP.

This summed up a divided opposition heading into the rerun. Interestingly, while the opposition remained locked up in various battles, whether in fighting or at the court, the ruling party had remained engaged with the people, selling its backed candidate.

Regardless of how much it had in terms of resources, the opposition had no chance – election is about time and timely application of resources, not just popularity. As if that was not enough, the defeat took place right in the stronghold of the former ruling Unity Party of Mr. Joseph N. Boakai. In fact, the coronation of the senator-elect was held in Boakai’s hometown-Foya.

A wake-up call

The just-ended Lofa by-election is the shadow of what will come in 2023. With opposition political parties locked up in crisis and fighting in the public glare, the chances of wrestling power out of the hands of the ruling party will be farfetched.

Let’s not also forget that the euphoria which greeted the opposition victories in December 2020 has disappeared.

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Although many out there would want the public to believe that the collapse of the opposition bloc CPP was engineered by elements within the ruling party linking up with like minds within the CPP, they might want to take a different look. But let’s say this argument was to be held with a pinch of salt it deserves, it also simply means that members of the opposition bloc, mainly the CPP were not honest with each other in the first place- it’s like the Bible says a man’s enemy is of his own household or like Liberians would say “if your house doesn’t sell you the street will not buy you.”

Therefore, one could say that the CPP collapse was primarily the result of dishonesty among members. It was doomed to fail from the get-go – it had no solid foundation. Its ideas and ideals must have been good, but it takes honest men of like-minded hearts to succeed together.

Thus, the opposition should have no one to blame but itself. It killed the momentum that greeted its victory in December 2020 immediately after that mid-term election that left the ruling party so confused.

Now, this by-election should be a wake-up call. The campaign for 2023 has just begun and the only way forward for the opposition if it really means business to give the CDC the run for its money, it should start putting its acts together, burying its hatchets, and coming up stronger.

Raising CDC’s hope

The victory of government-backed candidate Jallah has revived the hope of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC ahead of the 2023 general and presidential elections. And why won’t they be so hopeful when the victory was secured in the opposition’s territory.

UP political leader Boakai and All Liberian Party (ALP) Political Leader, businessman turned politician, Benoni Urey, and other staunch opposition members amongst them Sen. Dillon and Rep. Yekeh Kolubah, without the presence of incumbent President George Weah, speak volumes.

This also means that the CDC doesn’t need the presence of its political leader on the grounds to get the job done; simply put, its messages cut across better than that of Boakai and his supporters. It could focus that energy on other areas.

Finally, if the opposition wants to make President Weah a one-term president as it claims, it cannot do so in dishonesty, disunity and disarray. It must put up a united front or else it should stop wasting the people’s time and prepare to wait for another 6 years.

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