'Amputees Mother' Takes Over
By Julu M.Johnson, Jr.
After numerous hurdles, Mrs. Barbara Ogunti has at long last been elected to the post of President of the Amputees Football Federation of Liberia (AFFEL).
The lady, who is described as the 'Mother of Amputees' defeated Johnson Kollie 10 votes to nothing at the elections held at Ministry of Gender and Development on Friday, January 11, 2007.
In a victory statement, she unveiled plans to not only take the amputees off the streets, but also institute a microfinance program that would enable them do businesses, go to school and obtain vocational education.
Despite the division that hit the amputee footballers before the elections, Madam Ogunti insists, "All amputees are going to work with me because I am the mother of the amputees. We have to plan for the pending African Nations Cup."
Later, she organized a victory party in Sinkor to officially commend her supporters for the victory.
At the occasion, she revealed that there are plenty work to do including taking the amputees off the streets.
"I'm not surprised that I won because the seed you sow is what you reap. No amount of bribery and manipulation could have changed your minds.
"Whatever resources collected will be given back to you. We are not hiding anything from you," she assured the amputees.
The new AFFEL boss stated further, "You can't be international players and be beggars on the streets." She then disclosed plans to have a reconciliatory peace match and that the resumption of normal working duties would lead to getting back to the various teams so as to put amputee football back on track.
Former Liberian football star, Jonathan 'Boye Charles' Sogbie was elected as Vice President for Operations of the AFFEL after crushing Festus Harrison and Roland Doe by 10 votes to nil.
In his victory speech, Mr. Sogbie indicated that the new leadership intends to take the group beyond the aspect of just moving the amputees off the streets.
"Working with the amputees is a tedious task, but once you are producing good results, they will cooperate," he said.
The former Lone Star striker assured that the pending African Cup of Nations for amputees will go on with proper planning.
The only amputee elected on the new leadership is Eric Myers, who was elected on a white ballot for the position of Vice President for Administration.
The Secretary-General of the Liberia Football Association (LFA), George Wah Williams headed the Elections Commission of the AFFEL.
Mr. Williams explained after the elections that his role was to ensure that a transparent process was put in place.
He expressed regrets that the "Amputees Unity Party" boycotted the election despite their initial presence at the polls.
However, the LFA Secretary-General admonished the aggrieved amputees to join their colleagues in moving amputee football forward. "It will not help them if they stay out of the process," appealed Mr. Williams.
Three voters from the six amputee football clubs were accredited to vote, but 12 were present, while only ten marked the ballots. The clubs are Island Warriors, Survivors, Mighty Conquerors, LASA, Monrovia Giants and Young Invaders.
The new AFFEL President, Mrs. Ogunti happens to be the President of the champions club Mighty Conquerors.