The saying that time flies in the midst of activities cannot be ignored. Those who have fallen victims to procrastinations are quite aware. For the Prince Johnson’s faction of the NUDP now being referred to as NUDP/J, early planning appears to be the best option towards success. Informed sources say that the NUDP/J has finalized plans for a National Convention that will carry PYJ unopposed as the Standard Bearer for the Party.
During the past elections, the NUDP, despite its dismal performance in other counties, captured the 3rd position and became the King Maker. NEC results placed this success to the votes obtained in Nimba County, the home of Senator Prince Yormie Johnson. However, instead of the party celebrating its first performance in national elections and gravitate towards a united front to cling the presidency in 2017, the NUDP has become polarized with the current standard bearer leading his own team of executives while the national chairman leads his own. Each believes in the legitimacy of his team.
The Secretary General of the NUDP, Mr. Medricks Gonte declares that a vote of no confidence had been taken by the legitimate executives of the party against Prince Yormie Johnson due to an alleged unilateral decision taken by him in the interest of unity party for personal aggrandizements which has caused the party embarrassment and jeopardized the collective interests of partisans. This resulted into his expulsion and an Elections Commission’s hearing of the case which ended with a decision that a convention should be held to determine a new leadership. Meanwhile, both parties were advised to return to status quo. Senator Johnson remains standard bearer and Gbao Kou and others remain in their respective positions.
The determination of the case by NEC has not helped as the party remains divided. The Spokesman of the Party, Mr. Eric Gbemie claims the chairpersons of the 15 counties constitute the Executive Committee and these are solidly in support of terminating Senator Johnson as Flag bearer through a democratic convention. Those referred to as executives by Johnson are friends and kinsmen, the spokesman clarified. The national executive committee under the leadership of Gbao Kou believes it would be catastrophic for the current standard bearer to lead this democratic nation.
What are their options for a democratic leadership? Sources close to the Kou’s leadership say that Ricks Toweh has been tipped for the political leadership of the party and would be recommended as the running mate to CDC presidential candidate in NUDP and CDC collaboration. They claimed that Ricks Toweh commands greater respect among the people of Nimba County and would consolidate Nimba support for the CDC numerically than the last elections. But the NUDP/K which is the Gbao Kou’s faction has denied the claims though my source remains resolute in its authenticity.
Would the strong man of Nimba allow his throne to be given to Toweh? Certainly not, says a resident in Ganta City. Many citizens of Nimba County reached by this writer emphatically says NUDP is a personal party of Senator Johnson and advised that Honorable Toweh directly joins the CDC and would be assured of Nimba support. When contacted, Honorable Toweh expressed shock that he is being tipped for the Flag Bearer position. The law maker says he is a reconciler and would prefer playing that role to re-unite the party rather than dividing it the more. Some CDC insiders say Toweh’s inclusion could be a possibility as Nimba is a strategic political zone. “Toweh is also a strategic asset,” they have concluded.
Honorable Toweh says while Johnson is alive and has interest in the leadership of the party, he would prefer other choices rather than engaging into intra-party battles. In this case, it is predicted that Honorable Toweh might join the CDC with the backings of the people of Nimba County and the entire Gbao Kou’s structures around the counties. The law maker did not comment on this issue.
But how popular is Honorable Toweh in Nimba County and around Liberia? Hon. Toweh says he has not contested the presidency as Sande Kennedy, Walter Brumskine, Prince Johnson and others to be known around Liberia. “All my life, I have been a businessman. It is political parties that market candidates and make them known all over. But candidates’ reputation, character, interactions, statements, and interpersonal relationships with others gain for them admiration and victory.” He noted further that it is too soon to begin talks for the presidency or vice presidency. “I have just been elected Representative and striving to justify the confidence of my people. But this is not to suggest that when greater responsibility is thrust upon me, I might shy away.”
In Ganta City and other areas I paid undisclosed visits about my mission to assess the thoughts of Nimba citizens, about 75% of those spoken to support a Toweh’s collaboration with the CDC and would grant support to George Weah if Representative Toweh is considered as vice presidential candidate. In their expressions, they claimed to have been misled by the current political leader of the NUDP in supporting the successful return of Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as President with all promises yet to be redeemed. This, according to them, has brought ridicule to the citizens of the county and suffering of the NUDP partisans who ensured a third place position for the party and thus making it the King Maker. They claimed that Senator Johnson is the only beneficiary of huge cash gift enough to make him and his immediate family comfortable for many years to come.
For his part, Senator Johnson and his esprit de corps maintain that Gbao Kou and his group are suspended and must appear before the Grievance Committee. He claims that the Executive Committee is standing firm with him and convention would be held in Ganta, Nimba County on the 22nd of July. Party sources say the results will be challenged by the current national chairman and his executives. NUDP/K says the Elections Commission has already been notified about the unauthorized convention. On the other hand, Senator Johnson believes he continues to have the endorsement of Nimba County and the party executives for the presidency of Liberia. The embattled political leader claims that the Kou’s group committed anti-party activities and also received cash gift from the CDC without reference to him. Like a beleaguer general, it appears that Senator Johnson might either bow to pressure or risk putting the party out of relevance.
Observers believe the NUDP has been personally possessed by Senator Johnson and as long as this mentality lives, he might never yield nor would the NUDP have another standard bearer or conduct a competitive democratic election for the political leadership of the party. The NUDP is presently referred to as a dominant Gio party or NUDP/J that disenfranchises fourteen other counties that are legitimately organizers.
As evidence, says a source, the party convention was held in Saclepea prior to the General and Presidential Elections. Its national campaign was launched at the same venue, Nimba County. Its convention beginning June 22 next week is slated for Ganta City, Nimba County and does not include the legitimate national chairman. It is being steered by Hon. Cornelius Porte, Vice National Chairman for Operations. The source who is from the NUDP/J says all efforts to get the national chairman to cooperate have failed. Others from the NUDP/K claimed that the standard bearer failed to cooperate with the Jeremiah Koonk reconciliation team for their failure to persuade the national chairman and his group to apologize to him (Senator Johnson) and beg for forgiveness.
Critics of the NUDP strong man says Johnson has nothing to offer Liberians but rather what he and his immediate family can get from the presidential throne. They claim that a Johnson’s presidency is bound to slide Liberia back to dictatorship, horrors of unimaginable proportions, carnage and disintegration. But Johnson’s supporters are of the strongest belief that he is able to change the politics of Liberia and transform it into an equity state that would grant the counties autonomy in a federal arranged system. Johnson is the hope of Liberia, they claimed.
Others believe if Senator Johnson adapts himself to democratic principles, distant himself away from erratic dispositions and unpredictability; have respect for the fundamental freedoms and dignity of life and labor, as well as removing himself away from revengeful cultures and careless utterances, he could be a prize winning leader. This might suggest that he has a lot to work on.
In the midst of these controversies, Johnson’s party members have gone a step further by calling on the international community to prosecute him for war crimes. They are leading a massive campaign to ensure that. Further, there is a current campaign to assure that he does not return to the Senate and a great probability that the NUDP, if remained in a divided state up to mid-term elections, Prince Johnson would have to use another source to be elected Senator for another nine years. “Instability seems to surround Johnson. The best option for Nimba citizens is to focus attention and support for Ricks Toweh,” says an anonymous executive from the Johnson’s camp.