Nimba Senator Receives Lashes…For Preaching Tribal Politics

Residents of Nimba County have lashed at Senator Thomas S. Grupee for his tribal advocacy against three county officials belonging to the Mano tribe in that county.

Senator Grupee’s lashes came last week when he stated on a local community radio in Ganta (Radio Kergheamahn) that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was putting Nimbaians against one another by appointing more Mano people to head the county administration.

Text messages received on the community radio news magazine program in reaction to Senator Grupee’s comment cautioned him to be careful not to divide the Gios and Manos who have common identities in language and culture.

According to some of the messages, Senator Grupee is an American citizen as his controversial citizenship status indicates.

They said he was the same when Edith Gongloe-Weh lost the election to him in 2011, took him to court and Nimbaians condemned Madam Gongloe-Weh’s action.

During that time, some messages said that Cllr. YameinQuiquiGbeisay represented him (Grupee’s) legal interest to the detriment of his Gbeisay kinswoman.

The listeners emphasized in their messages that the ordinary people living by farming and other unrecognized occupations are not thinking in such a direction, but only those wanting to perpetuate themselves in government and the “so-called educated” ones are causing the problem.

In the President’s recent appointment, she named Ganta City Mayor Dorr Cooper, Assistant Superintendent for Development following the dismissal of TekoYorlay upon recommendation fostered by Nimba Legislative Caucus that Senator Grupee heads.

Mr. Cooper, if confirmed, makes a total of three belonging to the Mano tribe at the county level.

Senator Grupee who is also of the same Gio tribe as TekoYorlay, played a cardinal role in the removal of Mr. Yorlay and is still calling on the President not to allow him take a new position as Assistant Minister for Youth Development at the Ministry of Youth & Sports.

According to Senator Grupee in a live interview on the community radio, he wanted President Sirleaf to remove the current Superintendent, Fong Zuagele to be replaced by Dorr Cooper while a member of one of the minority tribes of Nimba takes over the Assistant Superintendent position.

He said as a result of adding Mr. Dorr Cooper to Superintendent Fong Zuagele and County Inspector Reginald Mehn both of whom are Mano, one tribe dominates the county leadership while others are not represented.

Reacting to this tribal politics taking a center stage in Nimba as the Senatorial election kicks off, District #8 Representative Larry Younquoi argued that through the influence of incumbent Senator Prince Y. Johnson in 2011, Senator Grupee and four other Representatives of the Gio tribe were elected, thus giving one tribe dominance on the legislative caucus.

“When did Grupee know that tribal dominance was bad when Prince Johnson held his hand and people of the Gio tribe and some Manos voted him in this county? Can he tell how by comparing the number of Gio people on the legislative caucus?”

“Didn’t he know that there were minority tribes in Nimba at the time when Prince Johnson was taking him around to be voted?” they argued.

It is yet unclear which part of the Liberian Constitution Senator Grupee’s argument is based.

Article 54 © of the Liberian Constitution gives power to the President to nominate and, with consent of the Senate, appoint and commission cabinet ministers, deputy and assistant ministers, ambassadors, ministers and consuls.

Also Article 18 of the Constitution states, “All Liberian citizens shall have equal opportunity for work and employment regardless of sex, creed, religion, ethnic background, place of origin or political affiliation, and shall be entitled to equal pay for equal work.”

Meanwhile, Senator Grupee’s recent tribal advocacy is contrary to his previous promise to reconcile Nimbaians during his tenure.

Senator Grupee, during his visit at a local Baptist Church in Ganta early 2012 promised to visit villages in Nimba to reconcile people who were devastated by war.

The residents said having spent almost three years in the Legislature, the Senator is yet to show a record about visiting any village in Nimba for reconciliatory discussions.

Plea for tribal position in Nimba took center stage during the sitting of the 52nd Legislature.

It may be recalled that Senator Prince Johnson, though voted in power by both Manos and Gios because of being their God-father, was the first to speak against giving government positions to some Mano people.

Senator Johnson is also on record for urging Gio youths to go to school or the Manos will always rule them in the county if they do not.

A group of Mano men and women including former Representative, Nohn R. Kidau after the 2011 election called for the division of Nimba having observed that most Nimba legislators were of the Gio tribe.

The Manos have always boasted of their education as a result of establishments of schools by Christian groups in their settlements earlier, while the Gios on the other hand boast of their strength in warfare and being emancipators of Nimba.

As tribal sentiments worsen, only the government under the constitutional provision in Article 5© that states, “The Republic shall take steps by appropriate legislation and executive orders, to eliminate sectionalism and tribalism, and such abuses of power and the misuse of government resources, nepotism and all other form of corrupt practices,” can intervene to find a solution to the situation.