Who Becomes Lofa County Next Senator, As Candidates Await NEC June 28 Verdict

At about now candidates of the Lofa County senatorial by-election are pondering over their political results after days of campaigning in the county to arguably convince their supporters that they are the best amongst the rest in the race.

Tomorrow, June 28, 2022, the National Elections Commission (NEC) is expected to gather results from polling stations in the county as to who will be making the high marks during tomorrow’s polling The six senatorial candidates for the Lofa County by-election are about now pondering over their plight as to who becomes the next senator for the county after few days of vigorous campaigning in the county.

Africa-Press – Liberia. Due to the conviction of former Defense Minister Brownie Jeffery Samaukia, Lofa county will hold a by-election on May 10, 2022, featuring seven notable aspirants including Sumo G. Kupee, Galakpai Kortaimai, Joseph K. Jallah, Mariamu B. Fofana, George Beyan Samah, Johnny Nadebe and Momo Cyrus.

In this election, the Samukai effect, empathy for often-lost legislators, legislative power balance, tribal and religious issues may all play out. Looking at registered voters versus turnout in Lofa can help shape debates about who will succeed Brownie. This piece is based on data from the National Elections Commission and recent polls.

Lofa 2005-2020

Brownie Samukai of the Collaborating Political Parties won in 2020. Ex-CID Officer Stephen Zargo defeated Sumo Galakpai Kupee in 2014. In 2011, George Tengbeh defeated Fombah Kanneh. In 2005, Kupee and Kanneh were elected senior for nine years, and junior for six years . Both lost in 2011 and 2014.

Turnout Between 2005 and 2020According to the National Elections Commission, Lofa had 87,136 registered voters in 2005, with 19,091 (21%) living in IDP camps. Electoral districts were four at the time. The National Elections Commission’s website didn’t have the 2005 election results yet.

In 2011, 100,371 (63.93%) of Lofa’s 156,929 registered voters cast ballots. As a general election, turnout was high. Voter registration increased from 87,136 in 2005 to 156,929 in 2011, with 8,970 invalid votes out of 91,401 valid votes. Former Unity Party Senator George T. Tengbeh won with 24% of the valid votes cast. Stanley Kparkillen (14.7%) and Joseph K. Jallah (14.8%) followed Liberty Party’s Stephen Zargo (13.6%). Incumbent, Fomba Kanneh 8.3% of the vote.

In 2014, 52,226 voters (31.8%) turned out for the December 20th special senatorial or midterm election. Stephen Zargo received 12,797 votes despite having nine candidates. Joseph K. Jallah (8,554), Alhaji Kromah (7,127) and incumbent Senator Sumo G. Kupee (6,288).

In 2020, 68,590 voters out of 187,775 registered voters actually cast ballots. 4,338 votes were void and 64,252 were valid. Brownie J. Samukai won with 20,431 votes, followed by Joseph K. Jallah (13,968 votes), Mariamu Fofana (9,639 votes), and George T. Tengbeh (7,679 votes ).

 

The National Elections Commission, politicians, civil society organizations, and the media must collaborate to increase voter turnout, particularly in senatorial elections.

POSSIBLE FACTOR THAT MAY AFFECT THE MAY 10,2022.

Upper and Lower Lofa counties exist. Upper is Voinjama to Salayea and Lower Lofa contains the remaining districts. Lower Lofa has 100,278 registered voters (53.40%) while Upper Lofa has 87,497 (46.6%).

In the most recent 2020 midterm election, 38,400 people voted in Lower Lofa , while 61.71 percent of eligible voters did not. Only 30,190 voters out of 87,497 voted in Upper Lofa.

George Tengbeh, from Lower Lofa, held the seat before being defeated by Brownie Samukai, also from Lower Lofa. The same region has not elected two senators since 2005.

The following 2005 data substantiates the above:

In 2005, Upper Lofa’s Sumo Kupee and Lower Lofa’s Fombah Kanneh were elected senators.

George Tengbeh, a Lower Lofa Son, replaced Fombah Kanneh in 2011.

Upper Lofa native Stephen Zargo replaced former Senator Sumo Kupee in 2014.

Former Senator George Tengbeh lost to another Lower Lofa Son, Hon. Brownie Samukai.

In senate elections, the Lofa political balance has been stable for over 16 years. Will this suddenly change in the May 10, 2022 by-election?

THE ASPIRANTS

Mariamu B. Fofana:

Her political experience in Lofa dates back to 2011. For the District #4 Representative in 2011, she received 4,631 votes out of 20,345 cast. In 2017, she received 8,438 votes. The 2020 Midterm Senatorial Election saw her come in third with 9,629 votes out of 64,252.

Her critics called her a tribalist who is not reconciliatory, citing her fallout with former Chief of Staff Musa Kolleh. “No Lorma candidate is chosen until the palm wine is finished” is a statement attributed to her, though she has denied and demanded proof that she ever made such a statement. Regardless, the statement still continues to haunt her.

Sekou Kolleh and other potential Quardu Gboni children will almost certainly hurt Mariamu’s Senate quest on May 10, 2022 due to fallout.

Mariamu has a strong tribal and interpersonal support network but has done little to diversify her support base. As a result, her likely defeat will primarily come from Upper Lofa due to the number of aspirants, as well as turnout and her personal fallouts. With a 40% chance, if Mariamu wins the election, she will be the first woman elected to the Lofa Senate.

Momo Cyrus:

Cyrus earned the County’s first two trophies (football and kickball) since Lofa’s inception in 1964 and has been involved in the development of the county, especially in Voinjama District. Many Liberians and Lofians work for his SEGAL company, one of Liberia’s top private security firms.

On the other hand, many believe he’s running to defeat Senator Stephen Zargo ahead of 2023. Some critics say he is a newcomer to the Lofa political scene and cannot be trusted with the top job.

The incumbent senator, Stephen Zargo, is from Voinjama District, making Momo’s chances slim. It’s probably a political test. Cyrus now has a 20% chance of being elected senator of Lofa county and an 80% chance of not being elected.

Galakpai Kortaimai:

2006-2012 Superintendent. His Unity Party won in 2005 and 2011. Kortaimai is a nice guy. In Lofa County, he owns a large peanut butter producing facility. In 2014, he ran against incumbent Senator Sumo G. Kupee from the same Zorzor District and came sixth with 3,570 votes.

His kin in Fissebu, Yeala, and Zorzor City trust him. Voinjama’s Lorma speaking population has helped Kortaimai build long-term relationships. Others believe they can reward Galakpai by electing him to replace Brownie Samukai, who is legally ineligible.

As Acting County Chair, he has not been politically stable, having moved from the Unity Party in 2005-2012 to the Congress for Democratic Change in 2014. Kortaimai’s old feud with Sumo Kupee may hurt him. His upper Lofa support base is unlikely to overturn the Districts 1-3 vote counts. Kortaimai (Gizzimai clan), Kupee (Gizzimai clan), and Samah (Zeayama) are all in the by-election.

Kortaimai job will be to make sure Samukai supporters vote. Given Mariamu’s re-entry and Momo Cyrus’ return, this seems unlikely. Kupee and Samah may cause issues in District 5. Kortaimai has a 25% chance of winning and a 75% chance of losing.

Sumo G. Kupee:

He was Lofa County Senior Senator from 2006-2014. With former House Ways Means and Finance chairman Moses Y. Kollie and other Lofa legislators, he secured funding for community radio stations, hospitals, and public institutions in Lofa County. Many of his supporters think this will help him win, even if not alone.

He left the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC) in 2017 to become Chairman of the National Port Authority (NPA). He helped write the Public Financial Management Law and improve the Investment Incentives Code to help Liberia’s economy and reduce poverty.

On the other hand, many critics say he is arrogant and seeks praise from all. A proud attitude made Kupee unpopular among Lofians, who saw his loss as proof he wasn’t the best choice to represent Lofa in the Legislature.

The alleged ritual killing of Vawu Kesselee in Zorzor District may hinder Kupee’s return to the Senate.

Although Kupee has flaws, the Zorzor District and Gizzimai Clan’s Zolowolo and Fissebu Regions trust and support him. Momo Cyrus and Mariamu Fofana may make him struggle to maintain a strong presence in Voinjama. It is even more complicated with the presence of George Samah and Kortaimai in Zorzor. Kupee has a 35% chance of winning and a 65% chance of losing.

George B. Samah:

Samah represents Montserrado County District 12. According to Samah, he improved health care in Lofa by donating over $80,000 in medical supplies to Curran Lutheran, Voinjama Telewoyan, and Kolahun hospitals.

On the other hand, his participation in the By-election hurts Kupee and Kortaimai’s Senate prospects. Others see him as a political crook who practices cash violence. Regardless, his Zorzor District Zeayama Clan stands by him. Given Kupee and Kortaimai’s presence, Samah has a 15% chance of being elected and an 85% chance of being rejected.

Joseph K. Jallah:

He came second in two elections (2014, 2020) and third in 2011. In 2011, he received 12,420 votes out of 91,402 valid votes cast among ten candidates. Out of 48,812 valid votes cast, Jallah finished second to Senator Stephen Zargo with 8,570, in 2014. Jallah received 13,968 votes out of 64,252 finishing Second to Brownie Samukai in 2020.

Jallah is trusted by his kinsmen, especially those from the Gbandi chiefdom and thus the lower Lofa region. Clearly, the lower Lofa has favored Jallah in all of his elections. Lower Lofa voted 8,886 times for Jallah, while Upper Lofa voted 3,534 times for him in 2011. Lower Lofa gave him 11,157 votes out of his 13,968 in the 2020 Midterm Senate Election. Districts Two and Three saw him receive more votes than previous years, except District One, where he came in fourth. Due to a lack of candidates in the lower district, these figures are expected to rise, putting Jallah in Lower Lofa in a stronger position.

Many of his critics blame his three losses on his arrogance. This is despite his denials and challenges to prove his involvement in Samukai’s trial. Inability to contact Friends of Samukai. His plans may be jeopardized if other districts do not support him. On the overall and considering that, there are five aspirants from Upper Lofa, Jallah may have a 60% chance of winning.

Johnny Ndebe

Johnny is a long-time civil society activist and youth worker running for Lofa County Senate. A total of 64,252 valid votes cast put him eighth in the 2020 election with 1,196 votes. Just like Cyrus, he is maturing and learning about Lofa power dynamics. Given his poor performance in the recent 2020 elections, the Gbandi Chiefdom poses no threat to Jallah. Lower Lofa does not support him. In the by-election, he may have a 10% chance of winning and a 90% chance of losing.

Source: African Press

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