LIBERIA: “Nimba Must Unite” – Melvin Garpeh Asserts

Mr. Melvin Garpeh

A Lecturer of Public Administration with specific focus on Public Governance Administration at the state-run University of Liberia is calling for unity in Nimba in the midst of what he calls ‘internal wrangling’ following the just ended December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections (SSE).

There have been series of bickering following the elections in the county as the victory of the Senator-elect, Nimba County electoral district one Representative Jeremiah Kpan Koung has been challenged by his main contender, Madam Edith Gongloe-Weh of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).

Representative Jeremiah Kpan Koung of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) has since been declared by the National Elections Commission (NEC) as winner of the Nimba County mid-term senatorial election. He won with 37,899 votes constituting 36.12% with his closet rival Madam Edith Gongloe-Weh of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) obtaining 34,153 votes constituting 32.55%. The votes are compilation from 741 polling places in Nimba County.

However, Madam Gongloe-Weh has since filed a complaint at the NEC citing ‘irregularities.’ This has reportedly caused some bickering in the county among supporters with some citizens of the county reportedly calling for the division of the county.

But speaking to this paper in Monrovia, a former Representative candidate of Nimba County electoral district eight and Lecturer at the University of Liberia, Mr. Melvin Saye Sendolo Garpeh called for unity in the county despite the ongoing administrative hearing into the electoral matter.

According to Mr. Garpeh, the county has reached a defining moment that requires unity and collective reconciliation regardless of where they are and who side they support.

“Nimba must unite no matter how challenging it may appear. Nimba is all we have as a county and we must muster the courage and cultivate the true spirit of reconciliation. In the last few weeks there has been media coverage dedicated to the ongoing legal challenge. This is an appeal to our stakeholders and particularly members of the fourth estate, let work to discourage the growing discontent among the once loving people of Nimba that continues to promote internal divisions. Nimba has a number of tribes and the elections became tribal unfortunately. The UNICO (United Nimba Citizens Council in the Americas and elsewhere should pay more attention to what’s going on in Nimba and its unexplained potential consequences,” he said

He also averred that in a participatory democracy; numbers make the difference especially with the recent electoral law of simple majority.

“Let forget the bad memories and campaign rhetories and unite to build the Nimba we all want and a place for all. No well meaning Patriot can be politically insensitive to the result; it speaks for itself that one cannot succeed without a collective approval across the 9 electoral districts. The indicator points and calls for an inclusive strategy. I am excited that the Senator-elect is a people’s person who understands the Nimba situation and willing to work with others for the benefit of all,” Garpeh avers that he has confidence and strongly believe consistent with the organic Law, that the electoral commission’s duty to ensure the will of the majority people of Nimba is not reversed.

He added “I followed the acknowledgement from former senatorial candidates in the 2020 special election and the outgoing Senator Thomas Grupee congratulating the Senator-elect Koung on his victory. I want to appreciate them for putting Nimba first. Thanks Nimba won and there is always a tomorrow. The legal battle is test to our democracy and the ability of Hon. Koung to demonstrate leadership in these trying times. I cannot over emphasize to what extent Nimba is thirst for genuine reconciliation. Empirically, we cannot embrace development and succeed with divided front.  The proposed Ganta-Tappita road construction and Pro Poor housing units’ projects should be seen as a happy moment and an opportunity for us as one people. But with this internal division, could be a bit challenging for some of our brothers and sisters to work, we are stronger together and need each other.”

The UL Public Administration Lecturer further added “The internal wrangling is not healthy for us. The longer the case stays, the bitter the people will become and people could preempt in different ways. No matter how long it will take us, it is a legal process and there is a timeframe to it. We hope it will be adjudicated in time and we will achieve our desire objectives to lower the anxiety.”

“When we are divided, it becomes challenging for people to work with you.  You can’t lead by division and hope to succeed. Whether from the office of Senator-elect Jeremiah Kpan Koung or Madam Edith Gongloe Weh of the CPP, Nimba must unite. We should not fight on our rice farm. Nimba strength is in Nimba Unity,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Garpeh has vehemently rejected the calls from Nimbaians to divide the county.

“I am against the division of Nimba, I want additional districts in Nimba,” he maintained.

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