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NEC Workers not using Traditional Zoe Bush for BVR in Gbarpolu County

Gainkpai Town, Gbarpolu County – The Senior Elections Magistrate of Gbarpolu County, Ernest McCay, has denied allegatiosn by a resident of Gainkpai Town, Bopolu District #1 that the National Elections Commission (NEC) workers in the town were using a prepared traditional Zoe bush to register eligible voters.

 Report By: Henry B. Gboluma, Jr. in Gbarpolu County

Alton Volo, who had spread this alarm in Gbainkpai Town and nearby villages, also used his Facebook page to disseminate his message.

On March 22, 2023, he asked in a social media post that, “Where in the world a Zoe Bush can be used by NEC workers who are not members to carry out electoral process?

In a fact-finding call, Alto Volo said: “My brother please go and check. NEC staff are not protected, and people are not turning out because of that Zoe Bush the locals prepared all because of corrupt officials who have stolen the money intended for the construction of a modern town hall.”

As a result, some Liberians, who have reached the age of 18 and above in Gainkpai Town, were staying away from the Biometric Voter Registration Center (BVR) all because they are not member of the Zoe Bush – either the Sandy or the Poro Society.

“I was almost going to be left out of this registration,” Yamah Flomo, a resident of Gainkapi Town said. ‘‘When I got the information last month [March 2023], I said, I not already getting something from this election business, so I will stay on my farm.”

But Yamah got registered on April 5, 2023, ahead of Sunday, April 9 BVR deadline date set by the NEC. “I came to buy salt and saw some people there, and they said to me that the information was not true, so I got my voting card.”

Like Yamah, several others almost miss out on the BVR process due to how Alto Volo portrayed the center, which spread fast by other passersby and villagers.

Speaking further on the widespread misinformation, Magistrate McCkay urged Alton  Volo to retract his statement, which he did, but his damaged control message  did not easily resonate  well.

“I’ve been to Gainkpai Town; the center prepared by the town is not a Zoe bush,’’ Magistrate   McCay clarified.

“The town started a town hall project, but the project is at a standstill because of some issues between they and the contractor,” he explained.  “As a result, we’re using the old town hall spot prepared with thatch to carry out the registration, we, therefore, encourage the leaders of the county and residents of Gainkpai Town to turn out to register.

The unfinished townhall building is being used for the BVR process but has been misconstrued as a tradition shrine by one social media user | Photo By: Henry B. Gboluma, Jr.

Carter Kpessi, the Town Chief of Gainkpai Town, said in an exclusive interview that Alto Volo lied. “How can we use Zoe Bush to support national program like this registration process,” he said, describing the Zoe Bush news as false and misleading.

“So, you need to help us inform our people on the radio to come and register and get their voting card,” Chief Kpissi said.

‘‘The only way we can change bad leaders on October 10 this year is by registering first,” Chief Kpissi further said

Commenting further on the status of the town hall, the chief said that US$10, 000.00 acquired because of a lease agreement from the Korveilayah lodging company, Aaron Joboe – the Public Works Resident Engineer of Gbarpolu was contracted to build a modern town hall.

In our discoveries, contract documents in our possession show September 20, 2021, as the date the Resident Engineer and the Paramount Chief of Korninga Chiefdom, George Sumo representing the people of Gainkpai Town signed the agreement. This agreement, which was witnessed by Gbarpolu Development Superintendent, Joseph Akoi, was for the lifespan of three months.

But since September 20, 2021, the project is standstill, at the disadvantage of the residents of Gainkpai Town

Prior to the voter registration, the resident even threatened not to take part in the voter registration process until their town hall project can be completed, according to Chief Carter Kpessi.

He said but through the intervention of Gbarpolu County Superintendent, J. Keyah Saah, they prepared a temporary place with thatch, not Zoe Bush, for the BVR process.

He said that they have also reached an agreement with the contractor in the presence of County Superintendent and Paramount Chief Sumo for the contractor to complete the project in four months [April –July 2023], which was confirmed by Aaron Joboe, the contractor.

The Zoe Bush or Sandy and Poro Societies are the most trusted custodians of culture in must of Liberia. These societies are traditionally believed to inculcate values and teach skills conducive to communal harmony and to prepare children for the rigors of adulthood. The Sandy is a female society and only members are allowed to its Zoe Bush, while the opposite is the Poro for the male.

Henry B. Gboluma, Jr. is a journalist, social worker and advocate. He's dedicated to reporting issues that affect rural communities. Gboluma is the Deputy Manager for Administration and Public Affairs at the Voice of Gbarpolu in Bopolu. In 2018 and 2019, Gboluma was awarded Journalist of Year in Gbarpolu County for his commitment to empowering communities through development reporting. He holds a Diploma in Broadcast Journalism and has obtained couple of certificates in Management, Humanitarian Communications, Health Journalism and Environment and Occupational Health. Henry is also a student of A.M.E. Zion University College.

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