Liberia: The Lofa Dilemma

MONROVIA – There was excitement in many corners of Liberia, especially regarding youth, when national news broke that the 43-year-old Dr. Clarence Moniba ascended to the political leader of the Liberian National Union, and subsequently announced his run for the presidency of Liberia.  This makes him the youngest leader of a political party, especially in comparison to the major opposition leaders in former Vice President Boikai, 78 and Alexander Cummings, 66. 

By Lennart Dodoo,

Although the surfacing of Dr. Moniba on the national scene brought thousands of young Liberians out in the streets, with him gaining momentum, his emergence has also brought about anxiety because his appearance on the national stage means that very soon, Lofa will have a serious choice to make.  Will they stick with the elder and tested statesman in Joe Boikai, or turn the page to the younger and more energetic Dr. Moniba – for whom the majority of the Liberian population, which is made up of the youth, would relate to.

Lofa’s tradition though, is one of the strongest in the country, as evidenced when Augustine Ngafuan attempted to run but was forced out of the 2017 race for what people thought was Boikai’s last attempt at the presidency.  The natural choice at that time, especially in 2017, was to chose the then sitting vice president to lead Lofa.  What will transpire now remains anyone’s guess as the call for generational change continues to grow among Liberia’s youthful population.  What seems clear, is that Dr. Moniba is intent on leading the next generation of young leaders as he continues to travel the country preaching generational change.  And, unlike 2017 where Lofa was resolved to carry only the former Vice President, where he won nearly 80 percent of the vote, six years later, his grip on Lofa has weakened as evidenced by the recent special elections that brought Senator Jallah to power. 

Boikai supporters claim that Dr. Moniba will significantly reduce the number of votes he gets, especially from vote rich Lofa, while the growing number of supporters for Dr. Moniba claim that the younger people from other counties such as vote rich Nimba and Bong will not identify with the elder Boikai who already lost with a significant margin (14 counties to 1) to President Weah. 

This situation is also made more complicated as Lofa has not been able to produce a president, but two vice presidents, one of which was Dr. Moniba’s father, Dr. Harry F. Moniba (1984 – 1990).  Now, Lofa may have another choice to make in deciding between two of the most accomplished names to come out of the county in Boikai and Moniba?