By Joe Bartuah
As the great people of Nimba County anxiously await a crucial opportunity, as sanctioned by article 46 of the Liberian Constitution, to robustly exercise their democratic rights through the ballot box on the second Tuesday in October this year, I’m convinced that this time around, Nimba County will definitely win, because there are more principled, farsighted voters in Nimba who actually want the county to succeed and ensure sustainable development. I hear Nimbaians saying, “You can fool some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.”
For the past eight years, Nimbaians have had the opportunity to carefully assess the individual and collective performances of their lawmakers--their Representatives and Senators—and as a result, they are now fully cognizant of the most competent as well as the most legislatively challenged lawmaker(s) representing them. Individually, none of the current lawmakers from Nimba County is a stranger to the county; almost every one of them was either born in the county, or for most part, grew up in Nimba County. As it often said, every day of one’s life is a day of campaigning. The sages insist that formal campaigning is just a formality. Just as an adage holds that one’s attitude actually determines one’s altitude, so too, is the case with campaigning. One’s daily interactions with a cross-section of people, public utterances, character, trustworthiness and reputation are some of the essential elements of life’s campaign process.
In short, candidates and potential candidates in the impending midterm elections have been directly or indirectly campaigning over the years, either knowingly or innocently throughout their respective life times. Whatever have been the characteristics of their interactions with their fellow human beings are, to a large extent, an integral part of the campaign process, for which voters would be rewarding them on Tuesday, October 14, 2014. Having said that, I have no doubt that Nimba County will win in this midterm election, because our compatriots have had the chance to scrupulously diagnose the political malaise which is currently plaguing the Nimba legislative delegation in Monrovia. Just as a good medical practitioner would carefully examine a patient before prescribing medication, or a good mechanic would assess a vehicle in order to detect the fault line, so have Nimbaians had the individual and collective opportunities in the past eight years to do the same.
Our compatriots, who are the actual voters in the county, are aware that indeed, Nimba County is at a critical juncture in its history and are therefore, leaving no stone unturned in their attempt to reclaim the dignity of our covetous political domain. Nimbaians are aware that the senatorial chair of dignity in which the likes of Johnny Voker, T. Q. Harris, Sr., Jackson Fiah Doe, David M. Toweh and Catherine B. Cummings, among others once occupied is being recklessly defiled. Our people have had to bow their heads in utter shame, embarrassment and disgrace for the past eight years, due to a conspicuous anomaly within the Nimba County legislative delegation. From so high a height, we as a people have stooped so low within the national political arena. As a result, instead of being admitted into the proverbial political hall of fame, we’re instead being ushered into the indignant hall of shame.
This time around, Nimbaians are saying that it can’t be business as usual; Nimba County must radically change course for the better. Whether it is young Nimbaians attending colleges and other institutions of higher education in Sanniquellie, Monrovia and other parts of the country, or the farmers in Gbehlay-Geh, Zoe-Geh, Sacleipea-Mah, Kpaiblee, Gbi & Doru, or Tappita Districts, the consensus among Nimbaians is that an urgent political surgery is imperative in order to normalize the abnormal political atmosphere in our dear county, with regards to the persistent bickering within the Nimba legislative delegation. Nimbaians are now ready than ever before to rid their dear county of deficient, temperamental and repulsive rulership and correlatively usher in an inspirational, congenial leadership that prioritizes the socio-economic transformation of the county.
As I have often indicated in many of my publications, nobody is so strong to defeat his or her conscience. Even the pathologically dishonest people are most often quietly pricked by their ever invincible consciences, because the truth is infinitely unassailable. With regards to the impending midterm election in Nimba County, even the most ethnocentric fanatics and a few other souls that are currently blinded by a façade of clannish parochialism would be excruciatingly pricking their conscience, if they fail to concede that cordiality has been prevailing within the Nimba legislative delegation. We need to search our respective soul as to why Nimba County, a vibrant political subdivision with the second most demographic hodgepodge of Liberia, is currently at the fringe of legislative or national leadership. Why, for example, did Representative Ricks Toweh, whose county has nine delegates in the House of Representatives, lose to Representative Alex Tyler of Bomi County with only three Representatives? Why has the Nimba delegation generally become a flash point of laughter in Monrovia, despite strenuous efforts by some individual lawmakers from the county to exude an aura of dignity and nobility around the delegation?
Whether a very, very small group of ethnocentric fanatics like it or not, the harsh reality is that the Legislature is a collective democratic entity; no one person can railroad his or her way in the Legislature, because it operates by consensus. Gone are the days of over-powerful emperors in ancient times and during the middle ages, when their subjects used to barely exist under subjugation in conformity with their whims and caprices. For all the doubting Thomases, indeed, Liberia is a democracy in which the people have the right to exercise their sovereignty. Because of the collective architecture of the Legislature, it is incumbent on every competent lawmaker to cultivate cordial working relationships with his or her colleagues, because in legislative deliberations, every lawmaker would need the support and crucial votes of his or her colleagues, irrespective of party affiliation, so as to ensure such lawmaker’s legislative success. Because of its collective nature, a lawmaker who characteristically espouses bickering, squabbling and all other forms of confrontation is doomed for failure. This is simply because such controversial, enigmatic lawmaker would definitely fail to enlist the loyalty and support of his or her colleagues. In such scenario, such a lawmaker is practically plunged in a state of legislative vegetation or political stagnation, because the anchor of his or her legislative success—collaboration—mercurially dissipates. Of course, it is needless to say that a lawmaker who squanders opportunities of collaboration with his or her colleagues is a political liability of his constituents, because his or her capacity to successfully legislate is severely curtailed.
This reminds me about another adage which says that one’s attitude is like a flat tire; you’ll not get anywhere unless you change it. Lawmaking is not an egocentric, whimsical enterprise; it is a collective undertaking carefully done for the collective good of the society at large. As a result, those who adopt eccentric or capricious approach to lawmaking, carelessly court legislative inefficiency and failure. Another adage that comes to mind is that if your house does not sell you, the street won’t buy you. For any lawmaker to begin earning the respect of his or her colleagues from other counties, he or she must first of all, be able to earn the respect and admiration of his or her immediate colleagues from the same county, because in legislative tradition, the votes from a lawmaker’s constituency ought to be among the most loyal and the most reliable. As the sages would say, every tree must have a root; you can’t claim to be a giant oak tree without any root to depend on.
The great people of Nimba County want to see all of their lawmakers cultivating a spirit of collegiality and cordiality among themselves. When a legislative delegation engenders a spirit of collaboration, it tends to project influential power dynamics within legislative and even executive corridors. Each of the nine electoral districts in Nimba County looks up to a day at which a cordial working relationship would subsist between its Representatives on the one hand and the two Senators on the other hand. I refuse to believe that constituents of the various legislative districts in Nimba are cheerful about their Representatives being at loggerheads with one of their Senators.
Just as no parents rejoice when their child is in confrontation with another person, or even when their children are engaged in bitter confrontation, so too, voters in the various districts, who are the political parents of the lawmakers from Nimba County have been at pains in the past eight years to see their Representatives squandering precious time on insidious confrontation, largely generated by one of their Senators. Our compatriots from all the ethnic mosaic in Nimba have had to live with such shame and embarrassment, quietly grieving in mental anguish.
Due to the profundity of this political aberration, Nimbaians are uncompromisingly determined to exercise their sovereign rights, as enshrined in the constitution, by tossing out an element of confrontation so as to ensure a new era of cooperation and collaboration for the progress and development of Nimba County. Clearly, if a Senator of a county is seen to be frequently at loggerheads with the rest of his colleagues, it simply means that the legislative delegation has a political malaise which must be swiftly corrected, yet Nimbaians have patiently waited for the past eight consecutive years to make this crucial correction. This time around, our people will definitely get it right; Nimba County will definitely reclaim its dignity. Indeed, that’s the echo I hear from Mount Nimba.