MONROVIA – Former Margibi County Senator Clarice Alpha Jah has sounded a caveat to United States-sanctioned former Liberian Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill to relinquish his ambition of contesting in the county or brace himself for a barrage of humiliations and embarrassment from citizens of the county for justifying his involvement into corruption. Madam Jah served in the 52nd and 53rd National Legislatures on the ticket of the opposition Liberty Party (LP).
For months now, Mr. McGill has been in Margibi holding a series of consultations with the locals to contest the senatorial seat of the county come the 2023 general and presidential elections. He has been engaged in numerous initiatives including the dashing of cash to empower women and youths in the county despite being sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department for acts of corruption. But speaking in an interview with FrontPage Africa via telephone over the weekend, Madam Jah observed that Mr. McGill has lost his identity as a result of the sanctions imposed on him and his decision taken to abandon his motherland to contest elsewhere. She said the resigned Minister of State should avoid thinking that he will use his questionable finances to influence the pending 2023 elections to excel in power and represent the people of Margibi.
She maintained that gone are the days when citizens of Margibi were misused and kept poor by others who used their wealth and resources to win their votes during the electioneering period. Madam Jah observed that citizens of a few counties, including Gbarpolu and Bong, have already rejected the senatorial ambition of Mr. McGill, and as such, he is desperately on the move to influence the electorates in Margibi to contest. She said though Mr. McGill, who is a close confidante of President George Manneh Weah has his constitutional right to contest despite the sanctions imposed on him by the United States, he has not domiciled in Margibi as enshrined in the organic law of Liberia.
“Honorable McGill is lost in identity. One election he’s here and another election he’s there. He can’t be domiciled in three areas at the same time. You can’t be domiciled in more than three areas because you hold allegiance to only one area. Hon. McGill knows that Margibi is a peculiar county and people are mindful of what they say or do. Sometimes we go the wrong way and we see it coming back at us. That’s why I am sending out this warning to them (citizens).” “People have the finances and think that because of that, they can influence your vote. So, they will keep you poor in order to misuse you and we must get away from these things. Margibi is not a dustbin that you are sick of your waste product and you decided to thrash it in the county. I am speaking as a born citizen of Margibi and not a stay-here citizen. I was born on a dusty road in Margibi and I am a legal child of Margibi.”
She stressed that Mr. McGill, who do not properly know the layout of Margibi could use a portion of his questionable wealth to purchase a property in the county in one of the communities in a bid to legitimize claims of his domicile ahead of the elections in 2023. “Financially, I do not know his standing. But if the international community (US) can sanction him because of corruption, then he has the cash. We have already put our people in the spotlight and I know very well that the people of Margibi will not resolve to that (electing McGill). Even if McGill is given the opportunity constitutionally by the National Elections Commission to contest, he may just be coming as one of the others.”
A plea to back off
Madam Jah has also declared her intention to contest the senatorial election in Margibi. She claimed that Mr. McGill has allegedly asked her to back off from the race and support his ambition. Hon. McGill invited and spoke to me personally to back off. I told him that, that decision was the decision of the people of Margibi. He was playing scarce tactics. Why was he asking me to back off?” She further claimed that Mr. McGill further communicated with her via telephone over the weekend, expressing his unbending quest to contest the election in Margibi despite her latest statement issued on her social media page.
In the statement, Madam Jah accused Mr. McGill of justifying his alleged involvement in corruption when he met with a cross-section of citizens in Bong County. “Recently, our political landscape has seen the involvement of Mr. Nathaniel McGill, former Minister of State of the Republic of Liberia who among others was sanctioned by the US government for potential alleged grand corruption. Mr. McGill also justified his direct involvement in mass corruption during a public meeting with local leaders and community actors in Gbarnga, Bong County. He stated without remorse that “stealing the Liberian people’s money and using it in Liberia is a good thing”. This statement undermines our collective commitments to address corruption in Liberia, it has directly affected thousands of Liberians who aspire to be great leaders.”
“I am puzzled to see Mr. McGill interfering in our body politics, after being shamefully resisted by the people of Bong County and frighten to run in Gbarpolu where he once ran from in the last election. The open confession of Mr. McGill as being an abuser of state resources frightens our togetherness and collaboration as a people.” Madam Jah emphasized that: “Margibi County is not a trashcan or a dirt bin for bad products, nor am I willing to compromise my decision for the senatorial seat for McGill 2023.”
She observed that too many youths and a cross-section of Margibians are resisting the ambition of Mr. McGill through protest and demanding statements, and as such, he (McGill) should see it wise to stay away to avoid the repeat of the Brownie Samukai’s saga.
“This county is peaceful and we cannot regard someone that is not in line with our county’s integrity and common interest of our people to interfere in our body politics. In a more honest and professional manner, Mr. McGill would have resolved to Gbarpolu since he is lost in the identities of the county.”
She stressed that in pursuit of public positions and to represent the rubber tappers, market women, youths, and traditional elders of Margibi, one must clearly understand that integrity in public and private leadership is a precondition to functional public trust and effective representation. This, she added, is “lacking in the course of McGill’s political career which we must all unite to resist void of parties’ sentiments and allegiance.”
Madam Jah added that citizens of Margibi should stop being influenced by the sanctioned finances of McGill if they dearly envision the best for their county and the struggling masses. “While I understand that the Liberian National Election Commission has no legal obligation to investigate McGill’s alleged corrupt practices but to ensure a free, fair, and transparent election, it is also binding on them to protect our state from the hands of people who personalize and milk our country resources at the detriment of the Liberian people.”
Madam Jah stated that ahead of 2023, the NEC should set a standard that should prohibit alleged corrupt public officials and Liberians who seek to contest for public offices to face investigation prior to granting them certificates to participate in electoral processes. “As Ex-Senator of Margibi County, a Mother, and daughter of the people of Margibi, I want to say this in a more simplified term that if the Government of Liberia fails to ensure that Mr. McGill is investigated, in no time we will continue to mobilize our people to demand the right thing at this time. Our people have suffered for too long, it’s time to elect people with unquestionable integrity!”
Read the writings on the wall
Speaking further, Madam Jah called on Mr. McGill to abandon his ambition because citizens of the county will not support his election over their kinsmen. “Mr. McGill should read the writings on the wall. Though he was not tortured physically he is being booed out because of loss of identity. If he is really a genuine citizen of Margibi, how will the citizens boo at their own citizens? I foresee more humiliation and embarrassment for him if he doesn’t quit. I see it coming from the five districts in Margibi County
She, however, dispelled rumors circulating in the county that she accepted money from Mr. McGill to back off from the race “McGill did not offer me cash or anything when he asked me to back off. By God’s glory, I will be a candidate in 2023.”
She disclosed that her decision taken to make a comeback at the Senate by contesting in 2023 is due to the deteriorating state of the county, especially in the areas of health, education, and reconciliation. Madam Jah observed that the high level of unity that existed between the sons and daughters of the Margibi no longer exists and as such, she remains the only one who is mature to address the situation and rescue the county.
McGill’s uphill task
Mr. McGill contested the Mid-Term Senatorial elections in Gbarpolu County in 2014 on the ticket of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). He accumulated 1, 636 votes or 14.2% over his victor Senator Daniel Naatehn of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) who got 3,962 or 34.3%. He came third place, out of seven persons who contested for the seat.
His decision taken to abandon Gbarpolu to contest in Margibi County, other than nearby areas, continue to raise speculations and doubts about his chances of winning. With an already questionable character, Mr. McGillfaces an uphill challenge to win the senatorial seat of Margibi over incumbent Senator Jim Tornonlah.
The U.S. Treasury Department alleged that Mr. McGill bribed business owners, received bribes from potential investors, and accepted kickbacks for steering contracts to companies in which he has an interest. McGill allegedly manipulated public procurement processes in order to award multi-million dollar contracts to companies in which he has ownership, including by abusing emergency procurement processes to rig contract bids. Mr. McGill is credibly accused of involvement in a wide range of other corrupt schemes including soliciting bribes from government office seekers and misappropriating government assets for his personal gain. He has used government funds allocated to other Liberian government institutions to run his own projects, made off-the-books payments in cash to senior government leaders, and organized warlords to threaten political rivals.
He has received an unjustified stipend from various Liberian government institutions and used his position to prevent his misappropriation from being discovered. McGill regularly distributes thousands of dollars in undocumented cash to other government officials for government and non-government activities. Mr. McGill has been designated for being a foreign person who is a current government official who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.
Nuquay to protect the stronghold
Senator Emmanuel Nuquay, Political Leader of the People’s Unification Party (PUP) is one of those who is also reportedly opposing the ascendancy of Mr. McGill to the Liberian Senate to join him in representing the people of Margibi at the 54th National Legislature. Sources have hinted that Senator Nuquay, who is seen as the “political godfather” of Margibi would appear to be losing his “stronghold to a stranger” since in fact, he (Nuquay) wants to contest the presidency in the future. He contested as Vice Presidential candidate to Joseph Nyuma Boakai of the Unity Party (UP) in 2017.
Last month, Senator Nuquay described rumors that he was supporting the ambition of Mr. McGill as a “stranger on the job hunt”, and urged residents of the county to “shine their eyes” ahead of the 2023 legislative and presidential elections.
Clarifying his innocence to residents of the county at a town hall gathering in Kakata, Senator Nuquay insisted he has no idea about McGill’s senatorial ambition, saying “I can’t take the Margibi people’s job and give it to a stranger.” “I have been accused of taking someone (the former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill) from the Belleh Forest to bring him to the Gibi Mountain to take the Margibian (a name for residents of the county) children’s job. I want to assure you that the information is untrue. I have no idea about Mr. McGill’s senatorial ambition,” Senator Nuquay said.
Liberia’s political landscape has dramatically turned to the showcasing of political strength geographically. Already, various politicians are grabbing hold of various counties by grounding themselves and engaging in multiple initiatives to be seen as the “political godfathers” of those regions.