Liberty Party Wrestles Montserrado County Away During its September 9 Launch
What was the scene of pure jubilation for over 200,000 loyal Liberty Party supporters and sympathizers, who turned out for the official launch of the party’s campaign in Montserrado county, was also a scene of shock and total confusion for other political parties vying for votes in the most populated county in Liberia. Montserrado County, once the stronghold of the Congress for Democratic Change and the Unity Party, swayed in the wind of change that blew across the county from the Liberty Party headquarters located around the Catholic Hospital Junction. And not only did Montserrado sway in the wind on September 9, it fell. And when it did, Liberia’s most populated county laid at the feet of Liberia’s resurgent political party, the Liberty party.
The atmosphere in Montserrado was heavy with excitement. Thousands of men and woman trekked for miles from the 17 electoral districts in the county. The party created floats traveling from different parts of the county. One float was assigned to Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, another float to Hon. Harrison Karnwea, a third to the CEO and Chairman of the campaign, Musa Bility, and a fourth float assigned to the head of Liberty Party’s auxiliaries, Charlyne Brumskine. As the entourage and floats converged around the Party’s headquarter, euphoria overtook supporters and onlookers alike. Some screamed, others cried, while most danced to beats of campaign songs. One song that mesmerized the crowd throughout the day was the Liberty Party’s anthem, sung in traditional Liberian pidgin English. “Liberty oh, I need my Liberty, hiah. Liberty oh I want my Liberty, hiah. Liberty I tire living in poverty oh. For the papay, vote for the papay, Charles Brumskine. For the papay, vote for the papay, Harrison Karnwea.”
And when Cllr. Brumskine and Hon Karnwea stepped on the stage to greet supporters, the chants, songs, dance, claps and screams reached a crescendo of pure symphony. It was this symphony that drove fear and disbelief into the hearts of those who thought Montserrado would continue with its voting history. One observer, Tito Morrison, noted “I am out of words. If all these people can show up for Liberty Party in one event, who else is left in Montserrado to vote for another party.” Another supporter, Aaron Zubah, stated “If Liberty Party can duplicate this in Nimba and Bassa, this race may end in the first round for them.” Yet another observer, Tamba J. Kiazulu, said “I did not intend to vote for Liberty Party, but I am going to re-evaluate. For such a crowd to follow someone, it means this party has the voice of the people. Maybe I missed it, so I need to step back and reconsider.”
For his part, Cllr. Brumskine reiterated what he and Hon. Karnwea would do for the Liberian people. “It must be for the good of our country. Harrison and I will work together to bring much needed relief to this country.” Over the last few years, Cllr Brumskine has trumpeted the Liberty Party 4Rs of Reconciliation, Reform, Recovery and Rebuild as the tenets of policy making in his administration. He said Reconciliation will bring Liberians together, Reform will change the legal and judicial system to uphold justice, Recovery will bring Liberia back to prominence, and Rebuild will start the work of nation building. Cllr. Brumskine recently delivered a speech few months ago, where he addressed national issues and outlined his fifteen commitments, campaign promises he will implement within his first term of office.
1. Government will underwrite all WAEC fees, and make all government schools free of charge.
2. Establish a Student Service Corp to draw high school graduates and college students into community service, working for government during their annual vacations. The government will in turn pay for their public university/college education.
3. Expand the education sector with more formal and informal teaching and training opportunities for school-age children, adult learners, and vocation and technical education. We will computerize the schools, and use the Internet as a tool for learning.
4. We will not re-create the old Liberian education system—with its bias towards Liberal Arts training leading up to the college level. We will make education more relevant to existing and the future jobs and skills needs of the economy. We will extend the school days to late afternoon, initially on a voluntary basis, to give our children the opportunity to learn more, and to have the benefit of adult supervision while their parents are at work.
5. We will use the Armed Forces of Liberia as a vehicle to assist with the development of our country. We will establish auxiliary units, such as the Agriculture Battalion, the Engineering Battalion, and the Medical, in which Zogoes and other troubled youth, as well as the average young Liberia, who may so desire, to be trained as carpenters, painters, masons, electricians, plumbers, farmers, medical technicians, among others.
6. We will reintroduce the militia, as a means by which young Liberians may be trained and become reserve soldiers, and in exchange for four-year college education paid for by the government.
7. Use government procurement of goods and services to give priority to Liberian-owned businesses, build the domestic entreprenurial class, and attract talented Liberians in the Diaspora. This will be supervised by a small business institute (SBI).
8. We will reactivate and recapitalize the Agriculture Cooperative & Development Bank, establishing branches all over the country, so that our farmers will be able to secure loans to grow more food, with the aim of making Liberia self-sufficient in rice production.
9. Emphasis will be placed on preventive healthcare as opposed to curative medicine. Liberty Party government will focus government health programs on the true causes of ill health such as poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate housing, and unsafe drinking water, among others. We believe that preventive health measures and improved sanitation are less costly and more effective, which will include a network of mobile clinics that will be placed in each of the 73 electoral districts of the country.
1o. Our social welfare system will be enhanced to include benefits to Liberians over the age of 65, who have not worked in the monetary sector of the economy, primarily rural dwellers who lived off subsistence farming. These citizens will be given a monthly package, sufficient for each to afford at least a bag of rice every month.
11. Make the Southeastern counties and Lofa and Gbarpolu accessible year-round by road. We will also acquire ferries to connect our coastal counties.
12. We will create the enabling environment, and provide incentives, to ensure employment of Liberians with disability.
13. Once I discovered that over the last three years, the Office of the Vice President has received about US$9 million from government, Harrison and I have agreed that should the people of Liberia elect us, we will reduce the salaries of the President, Vice President, and appointed officials of the Executive Branch of Government. We will challenge members of the Legislature to do the same. The savings from these reductions will be used for, among other things, to increase the salaries of civil servants.
14. We will reform the land law so that every Liberian who, as rural dwellers, possess land their ancestors lived on for time immemorial will be given deeds—fee simple title for their land.
15. We will create the enabling environment for the establishment of free zones in Liberia, and recommence transshipment, which was a major source of revenue prior to the war.
And so, as we approach the October 10 elections of 2017, Liberty Party is now poised to change the very nature of Liberian politics. And while Montserrado has now fallen to them, the party now has the unenviable task of duplicating this success in Grand Bassa, Nimba, Bong and Margibi. Party leaders are confident they can do so and supporters are ready to trek, clap, dance and scream their way to the musical tune of “Liberty oh, I need my Liberty, hiah. Liberty oh I want my Liberty, hiah. Liberty I tire living in poverty oh. For the papay, vote for the papay, Charles Brumskine. For the papay, vote for the papay, Harrison Karnwea.” For now, party leaders say they want to relish this monumental victory for 24 hours before taking the fight to other counties.