“I’m running because I want to transform this nation so that Liberia in ten years from 2017 will become a first world nation, not a third world, Liberia will become a model nation in Africa, for Africa and the rest of the developing world. I love this nation; I want lives and living conditions to be changed” - Rev. Hannaiah Zoe“In 2005, my name was out and I did not register to vote so I peacefully backed out. I had to take elections commission and other groups to court but it got to the point where I was told just relax and wait for the future, this is the future.”
Rev. Zoe, who has previously advocated for perpetrators of the Liberian civil war to be prosecuted for their role during the country’s 14- year civil unrest, says, Liberia is in desperate need of a reconciler who will improve the lives of those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder. “Where the nation is now, Liberia needs to move to the next level.
So I firmly believe and I know that based on everything that we have done through research, I am ready to move this nation to the next level where Liberia where no child will go to bed hungry, no child or no parent will feel like they can’t pay school fees, I can’t make it. This is going to be a whole different era.”
While crediting the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf-led government for helping to restore stability to Liberia, Rev. Zoe says he is more interested in transforming the post-war nation. “I’m running because I want to transform this nation so that Liberia in ten years from 2017 will become a first world nation, not a third world, Liberia will become a model nation in Africa, for Africa and the rest of the developing world. I love this nation; I want lives and living conditions to be changed.”
Man on a Mission
Asked what makes him different from other politicians that have sought the presidency and made lofty promises, Rev. Zoe averred: “I’m a man on a mission and other politicians may say nice things but I back what I say and I stand with my word.
My word is my word. I’ve had calls from other politicians who will say get your position and get some money too. You have suffered for this country, you have worked and have done everything, why don’t you get your position and get some cash.”
Rev. Zoe explained that his driving factor or motivation is to make life better for Liberians. “I want to see an average person far out in the village, that old lady who is suffering, that old man who is pushing the push-push and change their conditions.”
Rev. Zoe also revealed that he has been holding discussions with other political institutions in hopes of building a strong team for the 2017 presidential elections.
“I think I have the strongest stronghold when it comes to mobilization I don’t like making noise. I like working quietly behind the scenes.
So I have done I would say, the best and even my best when I analyze I like to go beyond that so we’re still working, I have very good advisers, counsellors, very good team of Liberians and others that are working very closely with me and we have done our homework and it is going to be great and Liberia will be happy.”
Capitalizing on Nimba Factor
Rev. Zoe says he will be targeting the grassroots of Liberia in his bid for the presidency because he is a product of that constituency.
“My mother was a market woman, she will go and sell, she will buy snail here and there. I was born and raised in Nimba County, I speak Gio and Mano frequently, and that’s my roots. My target, I wouldn’t even say my target, my team is the grassroots. We are all working together.”
Rev. Zoe says residents of the county have been eagerly anticipating his entry in the race and he will not let them down if given the chance.
“Once they hear me, they will know. Because they are they are the ones who are calling and asking and yearning for my participation in these elections. Many have said they will not talk to any political party whether they are given T-Shirts or rice or whatever. I’m here to bring all of us together.”
Rev. Zoe says it is important for political forces to come together and he is the best unifier to lead a well-rounded coalition. “Political parties, other institutions, we are all one. I’m here to bring us all together. I don’t see opposition. Who’s opposing who and for what?
Even the opposition, I look at their agenda, they too have a desire to do something good for Liberia. I’m not opposing them.
There are times, I tell myself, I’m not an opposition, I’m a unifier, and I’m here to unify the nation, to bring the nation together, even if others curled insults at me, no problem but it’s amazing since I came back.”
Not Ruling Out VP Option
Asked whether he would be willing to settle for a vice president role as a result of coalition discussions, Rev. Zoe said: “It’s all about Liberia.
It’s not about me being number one or number two; it’s all about this nation, that’s how I see it. There are others who will say, I have a party and I am standard bearer and must be number one or number two.
When it comes to me it’s all about Liberia first. It’s not about me or what I want. As long as I have a vision that I strongly believe is the best and I know is the best for this nation but it’s all about Liberia. It’s not about me, me being first, me being second, no.
It’s about this country and what needs to happen here to transform this nation. We see Liberia as a model. This is Africa’s first child, first child? And your condition is like this? We’re going to change it, that’s’ my vision, it will be changed.”
Nevertheless he insists, he would prefer being in the driver’s seat. “In running for the presidency of this country, I started in 2004 and 2005 and people were clamoring to lobby to become minister and other things and I refused. That’s not my focus. I want to drive. When I’m in the driver seat, I know where to drive Liberia and in ten years, Liberians will be amazed.”
Deflecting criticisms as clergyman
Asked how he plans to take on his critics and opponents as a man from the pulpit, Rev. Zoe says no amount of insults will deter him from his quest.
“My skin is very thick. No insults can move me. I’m not an emotional person. There are times some family members tell me, you’re too soft. But what Liberians have gone through, we don’t need someone who will go out attacking and killing people. I am going to bring unity and peace and stability.
The President has done her very best but for now, what does Liberia need? A unifier, a unifier that is accepted nationally and internationally. And I am the best for the nation this time.”
Hopeful of PYJ Backing
Rev. Zoe dismissed suggestions that his entry in the race will split votes in the vote-rich Nimba, already fielding Senator Prince Johnson and Edith Gongloe Weh, said to be on a shortlist of vice presidential list for Liberty Party’s Charles Brumskine.
“I was born and raised in Nimba. I speak Mano; I speak Gio, the two dominant tribes in Nimba. I read and write Mano and Gio. I can extend an open invitation to all of them, to come on board; this is where it’s going to end. Even if they don’t come on board, I will still engage them.”
Rev. Zoe explained that he has a strong relationship with Senator Johnson.
“In 2004, he called me and said, Reverend, I will support you to the Presidency. And I respect my Senator from Nimba County. We have done everything and I have called people to his support. We have elected him two times:
The first term nine years and this time. So, I’m looking up to my Senator, I respect him and whatever it takes for us to rally around our Senator, we will. He is my Senator and my big brother and I will support him in anyway but when it comes to the presidency, I am not an unstable person.”