Saturday, June 23, 2012

Zekepa Move a Political Ploy?

Talk of a new capital for Liberia had peaked for a second time when President Sirleaf announced her wish to move the seat of government to Zekepa, Nimba County, in her January 2011 state of the union address. Sooner after, however, the subject had once again disappeared, until earlier this year, when the issue swelled for a third time. From a report in the Public Agenda newspaper from March 2012 of a Nimba County legislator's remarks which publicly questioned the Zekepa plan. New here is mention not of the shameful condition of Monrovia, but of the desperate state of the region around Zekepa itself. Also notable is the speculation that Sirleaf's pronouncement was only to entice the relatively-heavily populated County to vote with the Unity Party in the November, 2011 elections:

In her annual message to the nation addressed before the sixth session of the 52nd national legislature, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on Monday, January 24, 2011 received a heavy applause when she disclosed her government's plan to relocate Liberia's capital city from Monrovia to Zekepa in the central of the country. 
Fifteen months [sic?] after the pronouncement, the lawmaker of electoral district #9 in Nimba County, where the town is located, has begun to raise concern; hoping that the President's declaration was not a mockery to the people of Liberia, especially Nimba. 
Rep. Richard Matenokay Tingban, an Engineer by profession, says though he does not have reasons to think that the President's promise was a mockery, reminding the Liberian leader about public pronouncements helps nation building and truth telling. 
He, however, maintains that by now signs of a possible relocation of Liberia's capital could be visible. The Nimba lawmaker said he and other Liberians would feel very disappointed if the President had only made the pronouncement to win votes from Nimba during the 2011 presidential election. A 2008 LISGIS census report put the county as the second most populated area in Liberia.
Although Rep. Tingban says he has reminded the President on some occasions about the pronouncement, nothing seems to be signaling anything in the area.
Zekepa is currently not accessible by roads. “The President herself could not reach in this district and particularly Zekepa during the election when she came here. This was due to road inaccessibility. She knows this of course,” Rep. Tingban told a gathering of citizens in Voipa, Yarmensornor District over the weekend.
The education system in Zekepa remains very deplorable and remains confronted by questionable transfers and rotations of teachers allegedly by Ministry of Education officials. Healthcare delivery, too, is virtually impossible to an extent that some pregnant women are said to have passed away or delivered on the highway while struggling to get them to nearby town.  Information about pregnant women losing their lives or delivering on the highway before reaching a medical canter could not, however, be confirmed by journalists due to road inaccessibility.Rep. Tingban is calling on the President to make real her promise at least by showing signs of a possibility. But it appear that the Liberian leader herself understood that it would never have been an easy task even before she made the pronouncement. 

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