The naming of a street in honor of Bong County Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor in the provincial capital of Gbarnga has created intense confusion as some eminent citizens are now distancing themselves from the decision, which they said was not reached by consensus. The move to honor Sen. Taylor has backfired with council members differing with former Mayor Melvin Cole.
In a mobile phone interview with the Daily Observer, one of the council members, Ansu Sesay, said he was a member of the council when Cole was serving as mayor, "but I don't know how the renaming of the street in honor of Mrs. Taylor came about." Cole is now Representative-elect of Bong County Electoral District #3.
Sesay said the decision to name the street did not come from the council, but was a unilateral decision by Cole, "because I heard about the development only in the media."
He said there are a lot of streets in Gbarnga that bear names dating back to the beginning of the existence of the city, which were neither given by current Mayor Viola Cooper, nor then mayor, Cole.
"There was no meeting held among the stakeholders to arrive at a consensus to name or rename any street in honor of anyone," he said.
Sesay said if Rep. Cole confirmed that the naming of the street in Sen. Taylor's honor met the agreement of the council, "then he will have to provide evidence, because they have a secretary that can take down minutes of every meeting."
He accused Cole of misleading the public that they all agreed to name the street in honor of Sen. Taylor, "because during a recent meeting with Sen. Taylor she only told the body of her intention to bring sign posts for streets in Gbarnga that will be placed at the various intersections to direct visitors."
Sesay said in that meeting, Sen. Taylor informed them that funding for the project was provided by authorities of the Liberian Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE), "so we all agreed to her suggestion not to name the street in her honor."
In his reaction, Cole said Sen. Taylor did not name the street in her own honor, but the decision was through an agreement reached by the Gbarnga City Council.
"We always made mistakes to put people who don't know how to read and write to a position of trust in this country," the former mayor, now Representative-elect, said.
Cole said it was based on an agreement between the city council and administration that they named the street in honor of Sen. Taylor for her "immense contributions to the county," and to demonstrate to that the county respects her for the level of development she spearheaded in the county.
He said it was through Sen. Taylor's effort that the streets in Gbarnga were named, "so they decided to name one of the streets in her honor." Most of the streets in Gbarnga did not have names, he said, "but with the intervention of Sen. Taylor with financial aid, the naming of the streets took effect."
Cole said they named other streets in honor of people that have been actively working for the growth and development of the county. If Mayor Cooper removes the sign posts to the street, she will be resisted, he added, "because we are not going to take it from her."