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Opposition to Koung’s selection

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A prominent citizen of Kparblee Administrative District, Nimba County, Mr. Jackson Paye opposes the selection of the county’s District #1 Representative, Jeremiah Koung to address the opening program of a community radio station in Kparblee Town, slated for Friday, February 8th.

Kparblee Administrative District is in Electoral District#6, represented by Twain Gleekia.

Paye is President and Chief Executive Officer of JJP And Associates Design And Construction, Liberia, Inc. He is also former deputy minister at the Ministry of Public Works and former superintendent.

According to him, he does not have anything against Rep. Koung, recalling that during his public service, he had very limited interaction with Koung, so he does not hate or like him.

Similarly, Paye says he does oppose development initiatives undertaken by the people of Kparblee Town, Zodru Chiefdom, adding that to say otherwise, would be a diversionary tactics from the real issue.

However, he applauds Mr. Samson Cole Kraty, whom he met several times in the US when the radio station initiative was discussed.

He finds nothing wrong with favoring a political candidate against another, but points out that since the radio station is a religious, nonpolitical entity, it would have been better served by a media personality.

According to him, he has no political ambition nor is supporting any candidate at this moment in the 2020 midterm senatorial election.

“As an elderly statesman, and a major stakeholder from the area, I want to clearly disavow the move by just a handful of individuals including the President of Kparblee Development Association (KPADA), Mr. Peter Karngbaye, to invite Hon. Jeremiah Kpahn Koung, as a key note speaker for the dedication of a radio station in the Town of Kparblee this coming Friday, February 8, 2019,” he says.

He cautions that if the situation is not handled appropriately, it could cause confusion and be misconstrued as an endorsement of a candidate in the pending Senatorial Election on which the District has not reached a consensus.

“I disagree with this decision because the program is under the auspices of Kparblee Development Association,” he argues, and notes that Koung is a sitting Representative for Electoral District 1 (Ganta Area) in Nimba County, who has expressed his intention to contest and already begun canvassing for the senatorial seat.

Ex-superintendent Madam Edith Gongloe-Ware, a one-time senatorial contestant, arrived at the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County Tuesday, 5th February from the United States, amid rousing welcome from supporters, as she prepares to vie for the second time.

Paye: “While it is anybody’s right to contest for a political post, the financial implications of a sitting representative who has not completed his term, notwithstanding, I find it repugnant for the Honorable to be given such a platform without affording others similar opportunity.”

He notes that Koung does not hail from the district and has had no history of visiting or doing anything in the Kparblee area previously, saying “One may be tempted to ask why now? Why not the current County leadership and legislators from the area? Why not other prominent sons and daughters of the area? Why not someone from the national government who is not seeking elected political position? Why not a member of media institutions since it has to do with a radio station? In my opinion, given Koung such a platform would appear as a tacit endorsement of a candidate. Maybe the President of Kpada and a handful people may have done that, but it is not the will of Kparblee District. Endorsing any candidate as a group will encompass wider consultation, including citizens in the Diaspora.”

He recalls few months back, the people of Kparblee District were subjected to all forms of denigration on national and local radio stations and thru other media outlets by incumbent Senator Prince Y. Johnson, to the extent of questioning the citizenship of Krahn-speaking people in Nimba County.

Ironically, Paye explains, it was the appointment of Mr. Peter Karngbaye as Development Superintendent of Nimba County by President George Manneh Weah, that provoked such a tirade.

“I stand to be corrected, except for one or two members of the Nimba Legislative Caucus (not including Hon. Koung) spoke out against Senator Johnson’s utterances.” Paye says he refused to get into any argument with the “very powerful” Senator and continues to work with him to find a common ground for the sake of unity in the County.

However, President Weah subsequently withdrew the nomination upon the insistence of Senator Johnson, he reveals, and admonishes that now another election is approaching, the people should be very mindful in making their choice, and not to be deceived by money or empty promises.

He says Nimba County is at a crossroads, and the pending senatorial race will be very crucial in keeping the County together or splintering it on tribal lines, stressing that divisive politics will take the citizens nowhere but set them further apart.

When contacted via mobile phone, Mr. Marcus Sarwi Kpou, Chairman of the program committee, terms Mr. Paye’s statement as unfortunate, maintaining that the District leadership is informed.

Kpou dismisses Paye’s fear that they were endorsing or imposing Rep. Koung on the people of Kparblee District.

He says the choice was made after the program committee failed to get First Lady Clar Weah; and after Information Minister, Lenn Eugene Nagbe and Representative Twain Gleekia both said they do not have time to attend.

Kpou continues that even Superintendent Dorr Cooper was also invited, but attempt to get him via mobile phone failed. At this point, they were left with no other alternative but to select Rep. Koung who consented to attend the program.

“We are not imposing any speaker and we have not endorsed Rep. Koung. We selected Koung because the people we expected to address the occasion told us they have other engagements.”
On the question of Mr. Kargbaye’s nomination for the post of Assistant Superintendent for Development and subsequent withdrawal of the nomination, Kpou clarifies that the matter has been resolved and Senator Prince Johnson has apologized, citing “political pressure.”

Kpou says Paye is aware of Senator Johnson’s apology to Mr. Karngbaye and Kparblee District, and that the District leadership will shortly state its position on the matter.

Mr. Jackson Paye –Editing by Jonathan Browne

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