By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
It is common in every society following the holding of an election like the Special Senatorial race held recently for people and observers to give their views on reasons they feel are responsible for the defeat or victory of particular candidates in such race. Some may attribute the defeat of the candidate, especially the incumbent to the person’s failure to impact the lives of the people, while others may hold the view that it is because the person had not lived up to expectation. As for the incoming, the voters believe that such a person would make the difference. And for that, the voters consciously or subconsciously would have rallied around the person in the race who could deliver the good to better their lives.
Unsurprisingly, since the just ended Special senatorial election, there have been reasons given by some individuals about why some incumbents have been defeated. One of such candidates, whose eyes were focused on because of his position in the National Legislature, is the president Pro-tempore of the Liberian Senate, Gbehnzohngar Milton Findley, who according to the completion of votes cast in the country, was defeated by Charles Brumskine’s Liberia Party’s candidate, Jonathan Kaipay.
The result released by the National Elections Commission (NEC) shows that Mr. Findley got 10,306 which is 36.3 percent, while the winner, Kaipay, got 16,296, earning 57.6 percent of the total votes cast of the five candidates who took part in the race. The other candidates were Siokin Civicus Barsi-Giah of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Solomon James Murray of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and Gabriel Smith, an independent candidate.
Interestingly, since the result began showing that Senator Findley was being defeated or is finally defeated by the Liberty Party candidate, some of those who spoke on the issue attributed his defeat to the involvement of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who they claimed made him “UNPOPULAR” with the people, for which they did not vote for Findley. One person said that the fact that the President was publicly seen during the campaign with the Senator dampened the chances of the Senator being re-elected.
While respecting the views of those individuals on the assertions or reasons they believe contributed to the Pro-temp’s defeat, I beg to differ with them, in that it has created the impression that the Bassa people are not happy with the Sirleaf’s Government. I decided to take on this because my late mother Mary Wleyonnoh Wesseh, consanguineously had link with the Bassa people and therefore by extension, so do I too, with the Bassa people. As such, I cannot sit supinely while all of these reasons or assertions go on.
To make long matter short, the reason for Findley not retaining his seat in the senate is far from what is being perceived. I do not believe that the votes were a disapproval of Sirleaf’s government because the county is one of the areas that continue to benefit from government’s developmental initiatives.
For example, the construction of the road from Cotton Tree to Buchanan City, a project viewed as one of the best roads by Sirleaf’s administration and the establishment of a community college are just few to name. Besides, the county produced the President pro-temp of the Liberian Senate and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
My belief is that internal wrangling among the leadership of the county, which seemingly suggests that Mr. Findley was alone in the wilderness, as he and other leaders of the county could not see eye-to-eye. I can recall that the Deputy Speaker campaigned against him, urging the people not to vote for him.
Similarly, there was this confusion between the Senator and Representative Gabriel Smith of District Number Three, who was also eyeing the senatorial seat over the running and activities of Radio Gbehnzohn.
More importantly, after it was now certain that the Pro-temp was not returning to the Liberian senate as a result of his failure to get majority votes cast, one of the Representatives of the county, Byron Brown of District Number Four, said the defeat of the Senator was a “punishment” apparently because of the cat-and-mouse relationship between him and other county leaders.
Deductively, I hold the view that the forces against him were too much, and as such it was a difficult campaign. Again, I beg to differ that it was because the President supported his candidacy and that the President is “unpopular’ for which he was defeated. NO. I do not hold that view as the reason or reasons for his defeat.
As I conclude, I should not be misconstrued as suggesting that all is well in Liberia and that all of the citizens are happy for the state of affairs. There are still more to be done. There is more to be done on the issue of employment, the fight against corruption, the present Ebola outbreak, the issue of water and light and the implementation of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on the Liberian civil conflicts from 1973 to 2002.
Once more, the internal wrangling among the leaders of the county greatly hampered his chances. I believe that this wrangling may have even hampered self-help initiatives in the county.
Let me welcome, now certain would-be Senator Kaipay, and hope he takes notes. I Rest My Case.