Six of the eight candidates for the senate in Bong County have unveiled the platforms to citizens during debate Sunday, 29 November at the Gbarnga Administration Building in the county.
Organized by the Liberia Media for Democratic Initiatives LMDI with support from USAID through Internews Liberia Media Development LMD, the Docor Debate in Gbarnga witnessed the six candidates explaining how they intend to help ensure the progress of Bong County.
Candidate Menipakei Dumoe, who did not mention his ‘free Charles Taylor’ message, when he earlier appeared to summarize his platform in five minutes, called for change in leadership, which according to him, would bring economic development.
Mr.Dumoe accused Deputy Speaker Prince Moye and incumbent Senator Henry Yallah of being responsible for Bong County’s backwardness, but the duo (Yallah and Moye) denied.
Former Agriculture Minister Dr. Mogana Flomo, believed to be the most educated candidate in the race, said he sees desperation in the faces of voters, committing himself to solving their problem through food security.
He said Liberia spends millions of dollars to import food, adding that such amount needs to be used here in the country by farmers to produce enough food locally that will make great impact on the economy.
For his part, Deputy House Speaker Prince Kermue Moye listed five pillows, ranging from peace and unity, to decentralization of developments and empowering youths to take on leadership, amongst others.
He said in the past, the developments in Bong had not been decentralized that was the reason a bill to divide the county resurfaced in the Senate.
Mr. Mohammed Nasser, who works with the Youth Opportunity Project, promised peace and a united Legislative Caucus through which young people would be transformed.
“Right now, the Caucus is divided; our nine Lawmakers have formed a bloc, five on one side and four on the other side. We can assure you that when elected, we will not support that, and everything will be okay because we are coming to the Senate with open heart”, he said.
The only female among the eight candidates in the race, Madam Dorothy Tooman, said she will take responsibility of the position, including lawmaking, oversight and representation.
“I am not going to be a senator that you will not see; we will be available anytime you need us. We ensure the livelihood of the local people by advocating for supports for hospitals and clinics in Bong County” she promised.
The former Development Education Network boss also promised to give back part of her salaries to Bong County for development purposes.
Incumbent Senator Henry Willie Yallah, who entered the hall about an hour late, said prior to getting in the senate, he identified nine problems in Bong County and out of the number, he has helped solve three, promising to solve the remaining six, if re-elected.
“Under my watch as Chairperson on Information Cultural and Tourism, we passed the freedom of Information Act that gives you the opportunity to express. The next thing we did was to support the Land Right Act, which was removed from Land Commission to Land Authority”, he said.
Receptions from the different supporters who had gone to witness the debate indicated their willingness to keep hearing from those desiring to lead the county.
Incumbent Senator Henry Yallah and Deputy House Speaker Prince Moye responded to many questions asked by their opponents.
Senator Yallah and Representative Moye had in the past accused each other on several issues but during the debate, it was different, as both men failed to question each other.
Internews Liberia Deputy Chief of Party Jefferson Massa gave an overview of the Liberia Media Development Project and how it intends to improve the professionalism of the Liberian media.
Mr. Massah said Internews has been implementing the project since 2017, disclosing that technically, this will be their last year.
“In 2017, we funded the LMDI, the Press Union of Liberia and the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building to organize debates in all of the 73 electoral districts across the Country. It made significant progress as well because we had over 23,000 citizens participating with over sixty percent of the Candidates who contested during that time” he adds.
He said the importance of the debate is to create the platform for citizens to directly interact with those that want to lead them.
By: Joseph Titus Yekeryan, Bong County–Editing by Jonathan Browne