By Martin Blayon
Liberian Politics does not have a “stable formula”, but proper calculation and planning; could help a candidate or political party become successful in any political contest.
Against that background, Dr. Henrique Tokpa’s victory in Bong County cannot be considered as a serious political minus for Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor because; the former Bong County Senator reportedly “campaigned in 2017 election against several representatives, which reportedly led to their defeat.”
It is an open secret that Representatives George Mulbah, Tokpah Mulbah (ex-Deputy Speaker), Lester Paye, and Corpu Barclay, were defeated because; Madam Taylor applied a unique and result-driven political tactic; which led to their defeat in the 2017 legislative elections in Bong County.
The Vice President nonstop investment in education and the Charles G. Taylor’s influence, has allowed her to produce some lawmakers including, Representatives Marvin Cole (defeated senatorial candidate), Edward Karfiah, and Senator Henry Yallah; who is allegedly “one of the chief propagandists against VP Taylor’s political future in Bong County.”
I stand corrected; Senator Henry Yallah and Representative Karfiah worked in Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor’s office prior to their election as lawmakers of Bong County; which is located in central Liberia.
Even though she heavily campaigned for her party (Coalition for Democratic Change –CDC candidate, Marvin Cole) who got over 20,000 votes, while his rival (Senator-elect, Dr. Tokpah got over27,000 votes); according to election results recently released by the National Elections Commission (NEC).
It can also be recalled that despite the “huge trauma” Madam Taylor was faced with, when her ex-husband (ex-President Charles G. Taylor) was arrested and taken for investigation; she mustered the courage to live in Liberia; in the wake of serious “embarrassment and marginalization, which she encountered daily.”
The Bong County “strong woman” who also has traditional root from Lofa County elevated national conversation, thus allowing her to contest in the 2005 senatorial election; which she won overwhelmingly.
Notwithstanding, she applied another workable tactic; which helped her acquired legal education at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, and she also got a credential in Diplomacy from the Foreign Service Institute-Liberia).
In the wake of heated political talk about who to replace former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf before the 2017 elections, Madam Taylor was faced with another serious political battle; regarding her legitimacy as standard bearer of the ex-ruling party (National Patriotic Party-NPP), but she overcame that struggle.
She also lobbied and defeated former President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Senator Armah Jallah of Gbarpolu County, ex- Finance Minister, Nathaniel Barnes, and other sitting lawmakers, who were against her candidacy for the NPP’s highest seat.
Ex-Senator Taylor now Vice President of Liberia also faced tough fight from Senators Dan Morias (Maryland County), Oscar Cooper (Margibi County), Sando Johnson (Bomi County); Representative George Mulbah, among others; battled her legitimacy and candidacy to represent the party, as standard bearer in the 2017 elections.
She won that battle which helped her to be selected by the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) standard bearer, George M. Weah now President of Liberia, as vice running mate.
Another issue which should not be ignored focus on the chieftaincy title (Chief Nye Suacoco); which was conferred on her by chiefs and elders of Bong County.
In 2009 and 2011, she won two national excellent awards, and has served as Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Liberia, coupled with occupying other high-profile positions.
She also served as president of the Agriculture Cooperative Development Bank, and First Lady of the Republic of Liberia.
It can also be recalled that in 2014, when several sitting Senators were defeated when they contest for re-election, Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor and Nimba County “strong man” (Senator Prince Y. Johnson) emerged as winners.
Dr. Tokpah, a former president of Cuttington University who was recently declared winner in the just ended senatorial by-election in Bong County; is aware about the political strength of the former lawmaker; due to the defeat he experienced in the 2014 heated senatorial election.
In a related development, the much publicize division of Bong County, no money syndrome earlier announced by this government; which delayed the just ended senatorial by-elections in Montserrado and Bong Counties; coupled with the alleged unfavorable assertions made by the Vice President; could be some of the reasons that led to her candidate defeat in Bong County.
VP Taylor’s popularity cannot be measured because her candidate (Representative Cole of District#3) did not win the election, due to lower Bong County politics regarding division; “should not be chest beating point for her critics;” who are endlessly ignoring the fact that she also played key role for the victory of the Coalition for Democratic Change; in the challenging 2017 presidential elections.
However, it is also an open secret that Vice President Taylor’s presence, on the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)’ ticket, attracted thousands of voters namely, former Liberian Education Minister, “Intellectual”, George Werner, Journalist Moses Brown now Liberia’s permanent Representative designate to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and others who I cannot named; gave great prestige to the CDC, during the heated 2017 electoral period.
On the other hand, political pundits believe that the defeat of the CDC senatorial candidate; should not be considered as a political weakness by critics who are still ignoring her political prowess; which might fall against Senator Yallah who is allegedly “spreading divisive politics (division of Bong County) to get more famous; ahead of the upcoming senatorial elections in Bong County.”
The Bong County lawmaker (Yallah) has association with Lower Bong County, and is on record for opening providing reasons why Bong County should be divided.
He allegedly mentioned “that development projects are centralized in upper Bong County, while Lower Bong County is allegedly being marginalized.”
However, a prominent citizen of Bong County, Leymah Gbowee, has frowned at the repeated call by Senator Yallah and others, who are seeking for the division of Bong County.
Finally, politics is a game of chess, and only strategically minded- players can survive. And Madame Taylor is the true definition of a survivor from a political standpoint.
Anyone believing that VP Taylor is a lame- duck only six months in office must think again.
It can also be recalled that women Newsweek Magazine dubbed Madam Taylor as the second most powerful female politician after former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2011.
More importantly, “a Khama Group opinion survey done in 2014 predicted that any of the top three candidates of the 2017 presidential elections stood a greater chance of winning the Presidency; with Madame Taylor on their ticket.
That predication also turned out to be true.
And with Former President Sirleaf now out of the political stage, we can say, the Newsweek characterization of Madam Taylor is right.
However, President George Weah did not just pick any woman, he saw in former Senator Taylor; consistency, loyalty, dedication, and commitment; which led to their overwhelming victory.
Disclaimer: the comments expressed here are my views, and they do not have any association with an institution or individual, I am associated with.