Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan and J. Milton Teahjay are two ambitious politicians who remind me of the beauty, the distractions and what is wrong with post-war Sinoe County.
Nyenpan and Teahjay are new breeds of native-born Sinoeans – young men and women who want to make a mark in an era of being self-governed.
This would have been unheard of decades ago when the county’s political system was fully in the hands of the Americo-Liberian ruling class, and a potpourri of token indigenous Liberian office holders – with the former calling the shots and dominating the political, economic and social landscape of the region.
Since Liberians are driven by personality politics rather than substance and accomplishments, those running for office were never pressured to be transparent and accountable at that time and even now, and were never pressured to also say what they will do after they are elected to the office in question.
As a result, the individuals were elected and re-elected time after time for their popularity, their tribal connections and family ties, and how verbose and readily fluent the person is in the English language, as they manipulate the passion of the electorates to win by any means.
There is a whole lot wrong with post-war Sinoe County. That alone should be the reasons why those running for political office should earn the job rather than it given to them on a silver platter, as if it is an entitlement. It is not, and shouldn’t be.
Like the Liberian nation, Sinoe County is unspared when it comes to an obvious lack of jobs, poverty, sea erosion, education, bad and incompetent legislators, healthcare, agriculture, and development in general.
Thanks to the detestable centralized form of government, which helps to flourish corruption and enhanced the developmental troubles of the nation; expanding beyond the boundaries of the capital, Monrovia, and trickling down to the financially strapped counties.
So when two equally prominent sons of the county stand out to challenge the other for the high-profile senatorial seat, people listens and hoped for a better outcome that will not remind them of the bad old days when Sinoeans were treated as non-humans in a place they always called home.
With contrasting personalities, some political observers see the 2014 midterm senatorial race between Nyenpan and Teahjay as the “Race of the Ages.”
Even though Liberian “political analysts” and ‘writers’ already hyped the race as one for the ages, again, the writers and analysts did not mention the programs, or care to mention the platforms of the candidates, and what they will do for their people and county once the individual is elected.
Instead, the people of Sinoe County and Liberia are left to fend for themselves in this cyclical political game that repeats itself during national and local elections, as Liberians are left to vote for the same bad, selfish, neglectful and incompetent candidate every election season, as if it is the normal thing to do.
Mobotu Nyenpan, the incumbent since 2005, has yet to show what he has done, and what he will do for the people of Sinoe County, since he was elected to the senate.
Certainly, Mr. Nyenpan represents stagnation and the odious status quo that has hampered progress, growth and development in a county that needs urgent development.
In nearly 10 years since he occupied the Sinoe County senatorial seat, Nyenpan has taken the people of Sinoe County for a ride and for granted, and has also played to the visible flaws of a spineless Press Union of Liberia and its members who operates in name only.
From what I have seen and read so far, Liberian ‘journalists’ surrendered and played shamelessly to the hype and popularity of the political office seekers and office holders, and have not held the politicians accountable by writing and asking tough question, which is a disservice to the Liberian people and the electoral system.
J. Milton Teahjay, however, on the other hand should be given an award for being the “most improved” and tactical politician in terms of political maturity.
I have known J. Milton since the mid 1970s, when I lived briefly in Sinoe County. I have also written about him in the most unflattering terms, which hasn’t gone well with him over the years.
An unabashed populist, Teahjay is known for his bombastic in-your-face rhetorical loquaciousness than actually making a difference in his previous political life.
From his days as G. Baccus Matthews’ key lieutenant in the United People’s Party (UPP), to his opportunistic fling with Charles Taylor’s deadly and unprincipled government, and his flirtation with George Weah’s CDC party, J. Milton Teahjay wandered all over the political terrains like a drunken sailor searching for his sinking ship.
Did he do all that out of restlessness? It could be because that opportunistic side of Teahjay puts a question mark on his commitment to genuine democracy.
In his new political life, however, Teahjay’s skillful political maneuvering (re-invention) which took him away from the convenience of Monrovia to the inconvenience of Sinoe County for a Superintendent job in the Sirleaf administration, to be with his people – his constituents, could possibly give him a victory over the incumbent Nyenpan, in the mid-term senatorial election.
Teahjay could also win because visuals are powerful tools in politics. Visuals can serve as a constant reminder of who’s with whom during difficult times when one is down on his or her luck. The people of Sinoe County could elect Teahjay because he stuck with them in trying and difficult times by living among them.
At a time when most young people of J. Milton Teahjay’s age are either living in Monrovia or overseas seeking greener pastures and better living conditions for their family, he relocated to Sinoe County and accepted a government job there.
It is a political calculation that could appeal to the electorates; that he’s one of them – eating, suffering, living and dreaming with them.
As the progressive he is, was or has been throughout his adult political life, I was hoping to see and read Teahjay’s platform, programs and policies for Sinoe County.
The 2014 midterm senatorial race could make or break the career of two of the most visible politicians of our time in Sinoe County.
Too bad, J. Milton Teahjay hasn’t spelled out his programs and policies for Sinoe County.
Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan has outlived his senatorial usefulness.
Vote him out!