By Joe Bartuah
The date is September 22, 2022, which means that the rainy season is still in full force in Liberia. It’s been six days since he was popularly elected by his fellow partisans as the Standard-Bearer of the Liberian People’s Party (LPP) at the party’s national convention in Gbarnga, Bong County.
In his powerful acceptance speech, Counselor Gongloe had told his fellow compatriots, “Today, you have directed me to go forward to tell the Liberian people that a better Liberia is possible, if we collectively fight the high level of corruption that exists in the governance of Liberia, in order to save enough money to improve our health system, educational system, reduce food insecurity, improve our infrastructure, increase our use of technology and tap on our green energy potential in order to move from being an energy dependent country to a productive partner in improving the electricity capacity of West Africa.”
It is against such backdrop of receiving a national mandate from a cross-section of his fellow partisans during that historic gathering, to be the Project Manager of Liberia’s Herculean drive towards transformation that Counselor Gongloe is determined to engage with his people, especially folks in the rural parts of the country and convey to them the good news that his peers have given him a preferment to seek the nation’s presidency and boldly spearhead its transformation. From the onset, many people were skeptical about the tour, because of the dilapidated road conditions. Many of the roads in rural Liberia are actually makeshift roads constructed by logging companies, to enable them transport their logs to the main roads, onward to the seaports for export.
Because such make-shift roads were not intended for durability, the logging companies used logs as bridges over the creeks and streams along those roads and of course, the dismal result is that a few years after the loggers had left, many of the makeshift bridges collapsed, or most of them are now very risky to drive over, because they’re in poor shape. Moreover, following the 1980 coup, it seems that post-putsch Liberian governments virtually abdicated their responsibility of constructing or maintaining primary or feeder roads, a situation that has rendered road travels very difficult and dangerous across the country. Besides that, in spite of its 176 years of existence as a nation, many towns and villages in the country don’t even have motor roads; rural inhabitants have had to tramp for hours on bush paths before getting to their destinations.
As a son of rural Liberia and a frequent visitor to many parts of the country in his over three decades of practice as Liberia’s foremost human rights lawyer, Counselor Tiawan Saye Gongloe is abundantly aware of the near impassable road conditions, especially in the remote parts of the country. But due to his eagerness to reach out to the Liberian people–the rural dwellers–who continue to bear the brunt of the abject deprivation being callously unleashed by kleptocrats on the downtrodden masses, he’s not deterred by such vexing road conditions.
Born on August 6, 1956 in Glehyee-Zorpeay, Yarwin-Mehnsonon District in the then Central Province, eight years before the region became Nimba County in 1964, Cllr. Gongloe has seen and practically lived in severe deprivation. He has seen and walked miles and miles on bush paths, when there was absolutely no motor road. He has experienced tramping twenty to thirty miles on bush paths, crossing the Saint John River in crudely dug-out canoes to sell farm produce in the Zoweinta market in Bong County. He has experienced walking for more than 12 hours from Glehyee-Zorpeay to Tappita, in search of a new school, because he had graduated from the elementary school in the village.
Because he’s readily familiar with and aware of the pathetic plight of the people, he was not deterred to embark on his tour of rural Liberia. If anything, the dire condition of the people, the fact that the Liberian people have over the years been relentlessly working, generally abiding by the rule of law, contributing their quotas to the socio-economic development of the country, but unfortunately, our people have been marginalized, neglected and deprived of the very basic necessities of life by their rulers in Monrovia, is the primary impetus of Counselor Gongloe’s indefatigable determination to spearhead Liberia’s pivotal Good Governance Project as we near the end of the first quarter of the 21st century.
As a result, he told members of his canvassing team to purchase some cutlasses, shovels and a chain-saw, or power-saw and other road-clearing tools as a sort of pre-requisite for embarking on his tour. With those crucial logistics mounted atop his four-wheel drive vehicle, Counselor Gongloe and his entourage embarked on the first leg of the LPP Standard-Bearer’s tour of the most neglected, most deprived segment of Liberia on September 22, 2022. Because he’s already familiar with rural Liberian culture, Cllr. Gongloe initiated his tour in Bong County, the county of his late mother’s birth, where he went to formally inform his traditional uncles that he’s contending for the Liberian presidency.
He visited at least 37 hamlets, villages and towns in the county, quickly immersing himself in traditional welcome rites, closely interacting with the people, sharing kola nuts with the older folks, attending local church services, engaging with the youth and helping to inculcate in them the virtues of honesty and integrity. He has been consistent in saying, “Government is a place to serve, not a place to steal” and his integrity-driven message seems to be resonating with the people. Palala, Zoweinta, Yolota were among some of the areas visited.
From Bong County, Gongloe and entourage went to Nimba County. Just as the people had enthusiastically welcomed them in many parts of Bong County, their arrival in the border town of Baila in Nimba County was exhilarating. It was as if the villages, towns and cities in Nimba were positively competing among themselves in staging the most festive reception ceremony. Whether it was in Kpein, Neingbei, Ganta, Sanniquellie, Gbahpa, Bahn, Buutuo, Saclepea, Kparblee, Tappita, Glehyee-Zorpeay and all over the place, Team Gongloe has been receiving a rousing welcome. In all, Counselor Gongloe and his resilient entourage visited at least 107 villages, towns and cities in Nimba County.
On the third leg of his people-centric outreach, which began on Christmas Eve, the LPP Standard-Bearer crisscrossed Grand Bassa County. Besides meeting with fellow compatriots in Buchanan, Gongloe visited 28 other towns and villages in the county, among them Barsee Giah Town, Klein Town, Kpelleh Town, Desoe Town and Sue Town. From Grand Bassa, Gongloe and company went to River Rivercess County, holding meetings with and conveying his message of Good Governance and A Better Liberia directly to the rural folks. Again, he reached out to some of the remotest parts of the country, including sailing on a crudely made canoe for about 70 minutes on the Cestos River to get to some of his destinations. In Rivercess, the LPP Standard-Bearer engaged with his fellow compatriots in Boegeezay Town, Cestos City, Gozohn, Jason, Yarpah Town and Zia Town, among others.
Right after his outreach to Bassa and Rivercess, the agile and energetic LPP leader embarked on the fourth round of his tour to Lofa County, visiting many cities, towns and villages in that vast county, including Voinjama, Kolahun, Konia and Foya, among others. In all, since his election as the Standard-Bearer of the Liberian People’s Party on September 16, 2022, Counselor Gongloe has visited more than 220 cities, towns and villages in Bassa, Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Rivercess Counties. That’s besides his December 29, 2021 visit to Grand Gedeh County, immediately after declaring his candidacy for the presidency. It was during that visit that he and his wife celebrated the ushering in of the 2022 New Year at the time.
As he traverses the country, Gongloe is consistently setting himself apart from the rest as the best alternative for Liberia’s upliftment and transformation. One of the unique characteristics of the LPP Standard-Bearer’s quest for the presidency is that it’s authentically people-centric; it’s about the Liberian people, especially uplifting the downtrodden masses who have perennially been victimized by a callous socio-economic caste system. That’s one of the reasons why stalwarts of LPP and enthusiasts of the Gongloe Global Movement readily refer to their political leader’s involvement within the Liberian political theater and his unprecedented engagement with the people as an Article One Project. It is an article one project because based on the first article of the Liberian Constitution, “All power is inherent in the people…”
As a legal luminary, Counselor Gongloe is aware that the very first article of the 1986 constitution mandates every elected Liberian government to ensure the safety and happiness of the people, and further provides that any government which miserably fails to function in the best interest of the electorate, as the current George Weah regime has done for the past five years, the people have the inherent right and authority to peacefully change their government via the ballot box. Even though past and current governments had contemptuously disregarded the rights and plight of our poverty-stricken compatriots, the harsh reality is that the chronically deprived, victimized Liberian people indisputably constitute the majority of the society and in October this year, they will resolutely exercise their constitutional power in changing the occupant of the Executive Chair at the Executive Mansion, if and only if the elections are conducted freely and fairly.
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