The head of the Margibi County Civil Society Organization, Rev. Edward Travis, together with voters from Ginimue, Margibi, are determined to boycott the December 8 elections, which will result in low voter turnout, they say.
Voter turnout is the number of people who actually exercise their constitutional right and vote on election day. It is expressed in percentage point of the total number of registered voters.
Ginimue, established about 15 years ago, has over 300 voters. It is one of the most remote areas in Margibi county district 5. It is about 30 kilometers from the county capital, Kakata. A visit to Ginimue by our reporter revealed that the citizens lack everything: there is no road, no safe drinking water, no healthcare facility, and the old elementary school is not fit to welcome animals, much less pupils.
David Flomo, Ginimue General Town Chief, said that since the town was established, as his predecessors told him, there has not been a single individual from his town to be allowed to participate in a county sitting. Flomo has been a town chief for the past 2 and a half years. For this reason, Flomo plans to advise voters to stop from voting anyone in office until their requests for infrastructure and development are met.
And since the lawmakers have abandoned them, Flomo also threatened that Ginimue may join Grand Bassa county, which shares a border with Margibi.
Mary Sumo, chairperson of the So Say One So Say All (SSOSSA) advocacy group in Ginimue has called on nearby towns and villages to boycott the voting process and demand answers from politicians. Sumo recalled that the group also boycotted the 2017 general and presidential elections because of the same reason: abandonment by elected officials.
Sumo said she that she persuaded voters to refuse to cast a ballot for selfish and greedy leaders who cannot protect the interest of the ordinary Liberians but seek their own interest. In 2017 SSOSSA walked from village to village to boycott the elections and Sumo promised that this is what she is doing now. “We stand in the rain to vote for them and after voting that’s the end. But we will not allow our people to participate in the so-called election,” Sumo said while also threatening to invoke the spirits against any political candidate that will come to ask for votes.
In 2017 Margibi had 154,108 registered voters, of which 25,246 voters were registered in district 5.
Mercy R. Johnson, resident of Ginimue, said that if leaders of Margibi county don’t want citizens of Ginimue to be a part of the county, they should make it known so that others can stop saying that Ginimue is part of Margibi. She added that she voted for current Senator Jim W. Tornolah in 2017, she has never seen him visit the people in Ginimue since then.
Annie M. Moses, who graduated from the Ginimue public school in 2017, said that has had no option to continue further education. The long road to Kakata and lack of money to pay for transportation, forced her to remain isolated in her village where she married and now has children of her own. She said that participating in the December 8 election is like pouring water on the back of a duck. It is a waste of her time. She added that since she completed six grades at the Ginimue public school in 2017, she has no means of achieving higher education base on the distance they normally travel to the county capital Kakata for higher education.
“Our people we put in power really doing bad things to us here in Ginimue, so I will not vote, I will be on my farm making palm oil on December 8,” Annie said.
However, senatorial candidates contesting in the pending December 8 elections have given different views promising developmental activities if elected as Margibi next senator.
Politicians return with more promises and ask more time
Ginimue is found between Margibi electoral districts 3 and 5, but part of district 5 currently headed by Rep. Clarence G. Gahr.
Gahr denied the allegations and said what the citizens should be upset with the past regime, because his office is marking all efforts to ensure that development, including roads, schools, and health facilities are constructed in Ginimue. He acknowledged that the majority of his votes in the 2017 came from Ginimue and he will not let the voters down. He encouraged the voters not to boycott the election as he prospers to bring relief to them in the district.
“We are calling on our people to turn out and vote in the December 8, 2020 senatorial election, as we make all efforts to bring tangible development to them. What they have said was from past regime, but our leadership will never let them down Ginimue, which is one of the places I actually got more votes in 2017. They are my people and I love them all,” Rep. Gahr said.
Margibi county Senator Oscar Cooper also encourages voters to go to the polling centers in December 8. He explained that he has worked through throughout the Margibi county but that nine years are not enough to do all the work.
Representative Ivar K. Jones who is currently serving the people of Margibi electoral district 2 said that, if elected senator in the pending election, Ginimue will be his first stop.
“The people of that town have suffered a lot, if I am elected in this election, we will begin our first development from their end,” Jones said.
Independent candidate, Rev. Alexander B. Collins, also promised the people of Ginimue a good road and improved healthcare facilities. He added that if elected senator, he will persuade several ministries and agencies, including the Public Work, Education, Health and Agriculture ministries to ensure that they bring development to Ginimue.
“I pity their conditions, but we were not in power to implement what they have been crying for, but we will work with them in a sooner possible way,” Collins noted.
Complete loss of faith in the meaning of voting
But Flomo remains undeterred and refuses to believe in more promises: “We, as citizens of Ginimue, will not participate in this election and all other elections that will be held in Liberia because [of] the way our leaders we elect every election are treating us. It’s better to stay off the election than voting for people who we can only be seen during the campaign and election time.”
On top of these grievances, the principal of the Ginimue elementary school, Moses Yarkpowulo, stressed the lack of quality education for school going kids in the area. He said that the Ginimue elementary school was constructed by the government of Liberia in 2014, but there was no support with maintenance work since then. Children who graduate from 6th grade normally turn to farming and girls marry because the higher-level schools are too far. Yarkpowulo stressed that, based on the failure of past and current government officials to represent them, they have decided to not vote on December 8.
“As a principal of Ginimue elementary school, I am calling on the few students who are eligible voters to stay away from this election because we are not feeling the impact of our leaders principal Yarkpowulo added.