Cestos City, Rivercess County - It is too close to call. It may even go to the wire. That is how difficult it is to predict who wins the by-election in district two, Rivercess County on April 21, 2015. Ask any two residents in Cestos City and they are likely to mention one of two names: Matthew Walley or Charles Bartee. As many samples as you take and as many times you pop the question, these two names come up alternately. Walley is the candidate of Liberty Party and Bartee is of the Congress for Democratic Change, (CDC).
There is of course Byron Zahnwea of the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC), a noisome upstart who has managed to stand out in a crowded field and Kofi Zah, the inconsequential candidate of the beleaguered Peoples Unification Party, (PUP). There are a handful of other pretenders, but there exertions will not count for anything at the end of the day, political observers have said.
The Walley Challenge
Some residents of electoral District #2 spoken to by FrontPage Africa Friday described Walley as a true Bassa character. First on Walley for the only reason is his height, which is presumably (4.9 ft) and not for any particular bias for any of the two candidates under review.
Walley discerning district two people will tell you, is the true leader of the district alive today. According to them, he understands perfectly, the Bassa situation in the Rivercess equation and he knows exactly what is to be done. Anyone who has encountered Walley knows that he has the wiles, the wisdom, the courage and hardihood that define a true Rivercess man. Though brief of stature, when it comes to District #2,residents interviewed by FrontPage Africa, Walley would stand taller than any in the political arena of the district today.
Walley is seen as a populist and a man of action. According to residents of the district when Walley was a social worker and teacher in the district between 2003 to 2013, he showed what a thinking and smart native can do in a short space of time and won the heart of his people. When many of his colleagues abandoned classes due to incentives and built up excuses why they couldn’t attend, he remained in the classes to offer his service to schools in the district in the way not experienced since the end of the civil war. That, according to residents, made him to instantly win the confidence and admiration of residents of the district.
Key issues also playing in Walley’s favor is that the 41-year-old social worker is well educated, tested, experienced and, according to residents, will need no further tutoring. They say Walley will hit the ground running when elected on April 21. One little snag though may be that he is given to over excitement, that mislead most men of power in Liberia. Can he muster that level of sobriety and reflection required to deliver optimal benefits to a district still much dishevelled and underdeveloped?
Bartee and the backing of Senator Paye
The best thing seems to be going for Bartee is the backing of Senator Francis Paye (a former Representative of the district who won as senator during last year’s election). Among his contemporaries, Senator Paye has shown the most comportment as lawmaker of the district; he has also delivered some modest performance, adopting an integrated development strategy that has impacted every corner of the district.
His common-sensical approach employed during his tenure as lawmaker of the district has also ensured some developments in one of Liberia’s underdeveloped counties. Some residents of district two quizzed by this reporter say Senator Paye has shown over the years that he is not the typical Rivercess do-or-die politician. On the other hand, his civil, unexcitable and austere ways have confounded his opponents and won him many followers in a land where swashbuckling in a winning virtue.
Having created a candidate in his own likeness, all these pluses, according to political observers could work for Bartee who looks cast in the mood of Senator Paye. Like Senator Paye, he has a business background who rose as Chief-of-office staff to Senator Paye prior to his election as senator. Some solid track record of work counts for something no doubt. The continuity of the steady development of the district as initiated by Senator Paye could also be a big plus, according to political observers.
Apart from coming under the halo of incumbency, not to be ignored is the geopolitics that are taking center stage. As this election approaches, CDC, perhaps the most fractious party in the district made up most magically, mustered a candidate and rallied behind him. William Fineboy, the hitherto embattled party chairman in Rivercess has never looked so happy. He has been the chief of campaign for MPC’s Zahnwea and it appears he knows the terrains a bit.
Senator Paye had determined that Timbo, one of the populated towns in the district, had never produced a representative ought to be given a chance. It makes sense, but many questioned and even faulted his motive with some insinuating that he was merely working to his own answer. But the gain in it is that Timbo may already be in the bag for CDC.
He also seems like a man who may be hamstrung by his godfather, Senator Paye and could be a Representative who may not possess a mind of his own. Finally, it promises to be an interesting election and another huge test for the National Elections Commission.