Newly Elected Representative of Bong’s Sixth District Underscores Unity for Legislative Caucus

GBARNGA, Bong – The representative-elect of Bong’s sixth district, Moima Briggs-Mensah, has underscored the need for unity among officials of the county, especially members of the incoming legislative caucus.

Briggs-Mensah said Bong’s development would be difficult to attain in the absence of unity among the county’s leaders.

She said citizens elect leaders to work collectively to ensure that basic social services are effectively delivered.

“If the caucus holds together, we’re going to see the developmental agenda for the people, and we are going to push it very well,” Briggs-Mensah told The Bush Chicken.

She pledged to ensure that the caucus unites to fast track development in Bong.

Bong has seven representatives and two senators at the National Legislature. Many citizens of the county have attributed the slow pace of development projects, such as the county’s technical college and the pavement of streets in Gbarnga, to disagreements among leaders. Others think financial mismanagement is partly to blame.

Bong’s Superintendent Selena Polson Mappy has also alluded to the fact that disunity among leaders has negatively impacted the county.

“We who are in leadership, we [are] using our offices to bring confusion in this county. And it is not supposed to be that way,” Mappy told Radio Gbarnga some months ago.

Reflective of the dysfunction caused by persistent disagreements among lawmakers is the case of the US$300,000 in Social Development Funds from China Union. Sanoyea, Fuamah, and Salala Administrative Districts have not been able to access the funds because lawmakers could not agree on which districts should receive the money.

Representative Corpu Barclay of Bong’s seventh electoral district (containing Fuamah and Sanoyea), believed at the time that the amount was intended for her district alone because it is where China Union’s facilities are located. Senator Jewel Howard Taylor and Representative Adam Bill Corneh (of the sixth electoral district six containing Salala), along with other leaders of the county, argued that Salala District was part of the company’s concession area and therefore should benefit from the amount.

Because the leaders could not agree on the distribution of the funds, the central government did not release the money to the districts.

The rift intensified between Taylor and Barclay until last year when the Bong County Security Council, in partnership with the Mitigating Local Disputes in Liberia Program, convened a reconciliation program for the two leaders in Sanoyea District.

Representative Corpu Barclay (left) and Senator Jewel Howard Taylor (right) and) during the reconciliation program in Sanoyea. Photo: Jonathan Roberts.

It is not clear what specific steps Briggs-Mensah plans to take to avoid similar issues in the future.

Meanwhile, she has lauded Naymote-Partners for Democratic Development, a pro-democracy organization, for organizing training for women in political parties in Liberia couple of months before the opening of the campaign for the 2017 elections.

She said the skills acquired from the training greatly helped her to run an effective and issues-based campaign along with members of her team.

Briggs-Mensah, an independent candidate, defeated 15 other candidates with 6,210 votes (32.5 percent) to emerge as the winner of the legislative seat.

Featured photo by Moses Bailey

Moses Bailey

Moses started his journalism career in 2010 as a reporter at Radio Gbarnga. In 2011, the Press Union of Liberia recognized him as the Human Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2017, he was the Development Reporter of the Year. He is also an Internews Health Journalism Fellow. Moses is also the regional coordinator for NAYMOTE-Liberia, an organization working with youth to promote democratic governance.

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