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The Liberian DialogueCharles Brumskine is Wrong to Embrace Lahai Lasanah  (From our Archives)Did the Liberian Presidential Candidates Discuss Any Issues During the Debates Worthy of Our Attention?Primary Education: A Wise Investment for Government, Partners and ParentsThe Elliptical Political Journey of Rev. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr“President” J. Emmanuel Nuquay? Lord, Help Liberia and the Liberian PeopleDon’t be Economical with the Truth, Otherwise, Fresh Voter Registration is EminentLiberia: Transformative Social Change Through Youth Development and Sustainable AgricultureThe Republic of LiberiaThe David’s Dossier: 12 Reasons why Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Deserves no Third Term

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Charles Brumskine is Wrong to Embrace Lahai Lasanah  (From our Archives)

From Our Archives

Saturday, November 25, 2008

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh             

I must confess I am one of those people who applauded the Liberian Legislature months ago when that body garnered the courage to suspend one of its own in the person of Isaac Nyenabo, then-President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate.

Mr. Nyenabo was ‘punished’ by his colleagues for constantly siding with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, when the body did not agree with the president on key national issues.

It is one of the few times in the history of the Liberian nation that a president or leader of the Senate has ever been challenged or suspended for his close political ties to a sitting president.

That is because the Liberian presidency is so powerful that members of the Legislative branch or any branch of government better be careful how they deal with the president, else, somebody will either go to prison or lose that much-needed job he or she cannot afford to lose.

In a time of uncertainty and confusion in Liberia, the last thing a person wants to be known for is to disagree with a sitting president who is seen as doing her best to bring stability to a dying nation; to improve the lives of her people after a crippling civil war that almost took Liberia off the map.

However, when a president is wrong about corruption, is seen as loyal and protective of corrupt officials in her administration at a time when the average Liberian citizen cannot afford to purchase a bag or cup of rice to eat or support a family, when national issues of the day are being ignored while the leader of the Senate is seen as protecting the president and trying to turn the clock back to the painful and undemocratic dark days when Liberian presidents ruled by iron-clad, then it is right for those on the other side of the aisle to oppose the president on those issues.

Also, when a leader of the legislative body is believed to constantly side with the president amid opposition from his colleagues on important issues, a feeling of anger and frustration sets in for members who took the drastic step of removing Nyenabo from his leadership position; especially when his colleagues think Isaac Nyenabo’s behavior was motivated by greed and the financial payoffs he allegedly received from the president.

Isaac Nyenabo was suspended August 2008 for six months from his Senate Pro Temporo duties as a way of sending a clear message to others that being an heretic in this modern day Liberian congress is unacceptable, and individuals who are seen as violating the rules and the trust of their colleagues will be punished for betraying those guiding principles, which is a way of instilling discipline in a fragile coalition comprised of opposition political parties and individuals with selfish interests and divided loyalties.

According to news reports from Liberia, Lahai Lasanah then-member of the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) was elected interim President Pro-Temporo of the Liberian Senate by his colleagues to replace the embattled Isaac Nyenabo of the same political party.

Nyenabo refused to swallow this national humiliation and took his case to the Supreme Court – the highest court of the land, which rendered a resounding victory in his favor by clearing the way for his immediate reinstatement to his former position as President Pro-Temporo of the Liberian Senate.

Lahai Lasanah who wants to be a national leader refused to even honor the ruling of the highest court of the land, but allowed his twisted ego and selfish interest to get the best of him as he hid behind such nonsense excuse that the “Senate was already on Agriculture break” as his reason for refusing to abide by the unanimous ruling of the Supreme Court.

This tells me that Lahai Lasanah is not ready to even work as a dog handler. Period!

Because being a leader requires making and accepting tough decisions that affects not only you, but people. Being a national leader also requires abiding by and respecting national decisions that could potentially affect national security.

So, for Lahai Lasanah to jump ship to Charles Brumskine’s Liberty Party because his former party, the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) did not support his quest to hijack the democratic political process is one of the cheapest reasons I have ever heard for switching to another political party.

“I have resigned today from the NDPL so that I can continue fighting my battle alone given that the party that I have trusted and cherished so much has unbelievably continued to fight against me at the highest court in the land – the Supreme Court,” Lasanah said.

Which battle is this idiot fighting?

How can he be so silly and completely out of touch with reality to reach such illogical conclusion?

The Supreme Court of Liberia already fought a unanimous battle against you, Mr. Lasanah in favor of Mr. Nyenabo, which paved the way for Nyenabo to resume his official duties as President Pro-Temporo of the Senate. And the best way to save face, Lahai Lasanah is to drop your contention for the position and let justice prevail.

With those silly comments coming out of the mouth of Lahai Lasanah, one would think opposition leader, Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party, being a lawyer, would have acted quickly to either distance himself from Mr. Lasanah or urge his new friend to honor the ruling of the court before his membership in the Liberty Party can be accepted.

Instead, Charles Brumskine and his Liberty Party swallowed the bait and accepted the membership of a man who refuses to abide by the ruling of the highest court of the land.

Brumskine’s reaction defines his judgment and decision-making skills.

“The presence of Senator Lassana to the Liberty Party signals a positive step for the new day for democracy in Liberia,” quipped Chairman Israel Akinsaya. Also, “as Acting President Pro-Temporo of the Liberian senate, Senator Lassana will be bringing to the Liberty Party worth of experience and strategies in the workings of the party,” Mr. Akinsaya said.

Charles Brumskine, who did not want to be outshined by the remarks of his party’s chairman said; his party is “honored to welcome a senior Liberian senator into its fold.”
Mr. Brumskine, as a party leader and future presidential candidate, are you honored to welcome into your party one like Lahai Lasanah, a rule breaker who will not abide the ruling of the Supreme Court of Liberia, which could potentially set up a power struggle and a disastrous national crisis?

Are you setting a good example, Mr. Brumskine? That anybody can disrespect a ruling of the Supreme Court of Liberia when a decision does not favor the individual?

This is the wrong way, Mr. Brumskine, which most definitely will haunt you as Liberians will now begin to question your judgment and decision-making skills in your quest for the presidency in 2011.

Lahai Lasanah failed the Liberian people by flaunting the decision of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

Liberty Party leader and future presidential candidate Charles Brumskine, failed the Liberian people that he wants to lead when he did not act wisely like the legal scholar and statesman he is to stop the insanity.

Lahai Lasanah put his personal interest over the nation’s interest.

Charles Brumskine also put his political interests over the nation’s interest. Both men are national leaders?

I really want to know.

Editor’s Note:

Mr. Charles Brumskine is the 2017 presidential candidate of the Liberty Party.

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Did the Liberian Presidential Candidates Discuss Any Issues During the Debates Worthy of Our Attention?

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh        

“The Liberian presidential debate was like a baby taking his or her first step as a human being,” said the caller who couldn’t wait to discuss his observation of the debate.

“Really?” I asked him as I listened attentively to the ‘political analyst,’ one of many in the Liberian political sphere who believes “we are getting there.”

“Of course, we are getting there,” I said; and there is a reason to be optimistic about future Liberian elections.

“To fulfill our electoral aspirations, however, we need to do more,” I told the caller.

For a country that wants to break away from its once bloody, controversial and primordial electoral past, debating the issues that affects the people and the country, is a way to build trust and confidence in the electoral process.

But how do you get a thorough and comprehensive presidential debate when George Weah who supposedly is a leading contender, failed to appear; or when economist Mills Jones and political newcomer MacDonald Wento, also didn’t care to show up for that crucial debate? Or, when some of the issues were left out of the debate.

I want to know Mills Jones’ position on the economy because of his former job as governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, especially when portion of the debate focused on the nation’s deficit.

I also want to know UPP’s McDonald Wento’s views about the separation of church and state, and his respect or no respect of other religions, and for those who are not members of his Christian faith.

Mr. Wento spoke recently when he explicitly referenced Liberia as a ‘Christian Nation,’ which of course threatens peace and Liberia’s existing relationship with diverse religions and people with diverse views.

Interestingly, candidate Charles Brumskine responded to a question about the nation’s deficit crisis as unimportant to require his attention.

Electoral debates are about bringing a candidate’s views up-close to the electorates, which helps a voter measure and determine the competence, judgment, character, trustworthiness, compassion, and the seriousness of a candidate.

After all, elections are about enfranchising the citizenry and involving them in the process.

And a better way to know the hearts and souls and toughness of a candidate is to parade the candidate before the electorates, to know what he or she thinks about the people and country that the individual wants to govern, which is unheard of in the long history of the Liberian nation.

While I must admit that I am a bit optimistic about the future of Liberian elections after the first-ever (August 17) presidential debate that ever occurred in my lifetime, I am also disappointed about few things.

The debate needed a respected and seasoned moderator- a proven professional who has passion for politics and knows and understands Liberian politics from top to bottom.

Working at a radio station and having a ‘good’ voice and a political science or a mass communication degree is not a qualification to be a moderator.

A good and seasoned moderator sets the tone of a debate; is a good listener and thinker, can articulate the issues, and is fast on his or her feet. When a moderator struggles like the candidates, is a recipe for disaster.

Anyway, I did not hear a question about funding, or a solution about sea erosion in coastal Liberia – and sea erosion in Monrovia that threatens D-Twe High School and the Borough of New Kru Town and surrounding areas.

How are the candidates going to deal with the sea erosion crisis in coastal Liberia?

I did not hear a question or questions about healthcare and the issues of affordability and accessibility.

Privileged Liberians and well-connected politicians including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, often seeks health care treatments in the United States and elsewhere; while indigent Liberians died daily from diabetes, high blood pressure and other treatable diseases, because they don’t have the money and access to see a doctor and other health care professionals.

Education?

I did not hear a question about education and the urgent need to increase the pay of teachers.

The education tragedy of 2013, when 25,000 Liberian students failed the university entrance exam, should be a reminder and a reason to discuss education and how to find practical solutions to such burning national issue of salary increase for teachers, tuition reduction or zero tuition for students, modern labs, computers, electricity, etc.

Any transportation policy?

I did not hear any plan to relieve traffic congestions in Monrovia and surrounding areas, and finding the funds – the money to build Liberia’s bad highways and rural roads. 

How about the postal systems? Any plan?
How about water and sewer?
Any serious policy? Where is the raw sewer going?

“Pupu factory?” to continue to make Liberians sick and kill them?

I did not hear any question about the future of the bankrupt national oil company, NOCAL, after the Sirleaf administration told the Liberian people that it was being restructured and reorganized.

Are the presidential candidates willing to discuss possible indictments of those that bankrupt NOCAL?

Any discussion about a war crimes court? How about the TRC report?

The Liberian people are craving for presidential debates. They are not interested in a ‘teaser’ debate – a comedy hour that makes it look like they are stupid enough to sit around and listen to comedians masquerading as presidential candidates.

I am optimistic; but I am not stupid either.

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Primary Education: A Wise Investment for Government, Partners and Parents

By Martin K. N. Kollie                  

A speech delivered by Martin K. N. Kollie at the graduation ceremony of the Belenie Christian Foundation School System, 72nd Junction, Somalia Drive, Paynesville City.  

I bring you profound compliments from my family, my party (Student Unification Party), conscious students of the University of Liberia where I currently study Economics, and the masses of our people including thousands of vulnerable children across our nation who have no opportunity to access quality primary education. I am grateful to the management team of this great institution for inviting me as this year’s speaker on a graduation program such as this. In the midst of tight schedule, I just could not turn down this invitation because it has to do with our nation’s precious jewels – THE LEADERS OF TOMORROW.

As I go through my message, I am very optimistic that the Belenie Christian Foundation School System shall continue to demonstrate unyielding dedication and allegiance to Liberia by molding the minds of our ones – the ones I usually refer to as ‘THE FORTUNE’ of our nation. BCFSS must continue to shine and make the difference in Paynesville city. Even in the midst of prevailing challenges, this institution must preserve those fundamental values and academic virtues upon which it was given birth to.

BCFSS must do all it can to remain on the path of academic excellence in order to breed Liberia’s best brains. It is not impossible at all for the next President, Vice President, Speaker and Chief Justice to come from this great institution. It is not impossible at all for some of Liberia’s best economists, doctors, engineers, geologists, computer scientists, accountants, managers, journalists, statisticians, public administrators, environmentalists and teachers to come from BCFSS. I see a bright future for these graduates and surely they are stepping into it with self-confidence and self-assurance.

Madam principal, from what I have seen so far through the brilliant performances of these students and future leaders, I encourage you to maintain this momentum and even increase your effort to academically shepherd these young minds. Thank you Madam Principal and your industrious team for successfully completing yet another academic year and producing these bright brains in whose honor we have assembled in this hall this afternoon. I have come to encourage and inspire us never to abandon this genuine cause. By doing so, we will be neglecting not only our future, but the future of our nation. Never must we choose this route – never must we forsake our duty to instruct, discipline and mentor. There is always a reward at the end of the tunnel especially for those who choose to demonstrate hard work, dedication and loyalty to nationhood.

Madam principal, when I received your invitation to serve as guest speaker on this historic program, my inner spirit was immediately provoked by the very low output of our messy educational sector evident by prevailing indicators nationwide in this sector after almost 12 years of democratic rule under Africa’s first female President. As I read through dossier of statistics every day on education in Liberia and even visit some of our schools in urban and rural communities, I usually bleed within as I see our nation’s future drowning.

In Sinoe, Grand Kru, RiverCess, RiverGee, Maryland and Grand Gedeh, our students share classrooms with animals especially goats, cows and pigs. Some of these classrooms have no desks, no text books, leaking roofs, no black boards, no instructional materials, no teachers, etc. I know what I am saying because I have visited some of these mushroom schools mostly in rural communities. The situation is even worse in Gbarpolu, Grand Capemount, Bomi, Bassa and other regions. Even in urban communities, it is not still better! Just imagine for moment, there is no public high school in this country with a science laboratory and modern library. Even the great Tubman High and D. Tweh Memorial we know are lacking these basic academic facilities. If our premier state-run university is yet to have access to even internet facility up to now since 1862, then it speaks to the widening leadership deficit that has engulfed our country. It is time for nationwide reflection, revival, renewal and reformation. It starts with everyone!

But again what hope do we have when a sitting education Minister (George Werner) writes on facebook “Da book we will eat?” Without understanding the scope of the position he occupies, he discounts the value and power of education to accomplish his selfish motive and parochial agenda. In my mind, such a Minister is the most incompetent since 1847. With this minister managing education in our country, Liberia is heading towards a perishable end. This minister needs to understand that education is the ultimate source of wealth, economic equality, social security and national prosperity. As we aggressively pursue a society of more literate citizens, Minister Werner and those who think that education is of no essence must be sent at the back to only follow, and not lead.

As our nation transitions this year, we cannot ignore the fact that there exists a very wide gap in our education system ranging from poor academic facilities, untrained and underpaid teachers to budgetary constraint and academic malpractices, just to name a few. After 170 years, Liberia still has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world. Madam principal and members of the faculty, can we find solution to this sad narrative? Yes I believe so, and the Belenie Christian Foundation School System is treading on the right path. In union strong, we shall triumph one day. This is the hope that continues to keep us aspiring for a glorious height.

With this unshaken desire and patriotic spirit to find genuine solution to our existing dilemma, I have come to revive our hope and re-echo a patriotic call to all of us (The Government, Parents, Guardians, Administrators, Teachers and Partners) to reconsolidate our energy and resources in addressing those pressing challenges facing primary education in Liberia. Sometimes, I find it very difficult to re-examine our nation in terms of its strive towards primary education because it is not just easy to comprehend the sad narrative of primary education in Liberia.

Even though some gains have been made to promote primary education, but the non-gains are even more. The achievements in this sector are far less than the non-achievements. The demerits are more the merits. The challenges far exceed the successes. The dilemmas are even more the non-dilemmas. Yes, I know this for a fact, because I have travelled to almost every region in this country as a youth activist and a patriotic young citizen. Only in Liberia school-going kids would prefer spending 5 hours on the beach on super Friday than spending even 1 hour in the library. The students of today are becoming more addicted to gambling, alcohol and drug abuse than quizzing, debate and spelling competition. Either we change this pattern now or risk a future of societal liabilities and academic handicaps.

Madam principal, members of the faculty, parents, distinguished guests and our brilliant students, this unique occasion affords me yet another opportunity to cautiously share my thoughts about what confronts us as a nation and what we must do now to secure a new future of prosperity for all through social justice, academic freedom and peace. Yes, it is a moment for all of us to genuinely reflect on finding appropriate answers and sustainable remedies to our poor system of education.

I have travelled to the north, west, east and south of this country, and I know what primary students endure – I know how primary schools look like – I know what quality of teachers most of these schools have – I also know the type of academic facilities they have. The hard fact is that access to free, compulsory and quality primary education is yet too far from our shores even though this is a fundamental human right that every child is entitled to according to Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What then can we do to jealously protect this right and secure a brighter future for Liberia and generations yet unborn? What must we do as a people and a nation to guarantee quality primary education for every Liberian child? As these questions run through our minds, they must remind all of us that we have a sacred duty to this country. And this sacred duty is tied to our collective resolve and deep sense of solidarity as nationalists and patriots to act now and salvage the future our nation.

If not now, then when? If we cannot invest now in primary education, then when? If we are unwilling now as parents and guardians to pay our children’s tuition, then when? If our government cannot take concrete steps now to address this prevailing mess confronting primary education, then when? If our teachers, communities, churches, mosques and civil society organizations cannot buttress government’s effort now by promoting academic excellence and instilling discipline in our kids, then when?

If our partners or donors do not increase their support to primary education now, then when? If our students themselves are not willing to study and research for hours, then when? I ask again “Then when will we get rid of this mess” in order to safeguard our nation’s future. All of us have a responsibility one way of the other to get rid of this mess once and for all. The government, partners and parents have a leading role to play. If this tripartite alliance can increase their support to primary education, the desired change we are yearning for can become a reality in this century. This is why I have come for us to briefly consider the theme “Primary Education: The Wisest Investment for Government, Partners and Parents”.

Madam Principal and distinguished guests, I primarily chose to focus on the government, partners and parents because they are like a triangle in terms of investment towards primary education. Without the support of these 3 key groups, the impact of primary education would be infertile. If only these 3 groups can recognize that they are the most significant architects and leading actors of quality primary education, there would be an educational renaissance throughout our nation.

What investment is wiser than quality primary education? What investment is wiser than investing in our children’s future? All through my life, I have not seen any investment more valuable than the investment in quality primary education. Building a strong foundation is more crucial than building a strong roof. After all, there is no roof without foundation. After 170 years, Liberia still has the highest proportion of children missing out on primary education worldwide, 65% of them, according to UNICEF. Though Liberia has an enrollment rate of 1,531,489 students with a total of 5,181 schools and 44,250 teachers, but quality education still remains a major challenge.

The Government, Partners and Parent must fix this mess and ensure that Liberia gets back on track even more than its pre-war status. 63% of Liberian girls between the ages 15 and 25 still remain illiterate. What are we doing about this? Vulnerable groups such as the BLIND and the CRIPPLED still have difficulties in accessing our schools due to unfavorable environments. This has to end as well. It is time for our government, partners and parents to rigorously prioritize goal #4 of the SGDs, Article 6 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, Article 26 of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11 of the 1979 African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Article 28 of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 2011 Children’s Law of Liberia.

If these provisions are patriotically pursued, I am very sure that a messy education system in Liberia would be a story of the past. The need for our government and partners to increase support to public and private institutions in Liberia cannot be overemphasized. I call for increment in the budgetary allotment of primary education in Liberia. Madam Principal and our distinguished audience, having said all of these, we want to congratulate these graduates for moving a step further in their academic sojourn. This journey may seem long or rocky at some point, but you must never give up. There is a crown at the end for every one of you. Hard work, discipline, humility and perseverance can get you there.

I want to encourage the parents of these students to never stop paying their fees. Surely, the investment you are making today will pay off tomorrow and give you a decent retirement package. All of us today must keep in mind that primary education is the wisest investment of all. Madam Principal, I want to extend my earnest gratitude to you and your hard working team for inviting me and may God continue to bless this great institution and make it the LIGHT in this time of darkness. May God bless our nation and its people as we look forward to a new era of prosperity for all. Thank you very much…..

 Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth and student activist, a columnist and an emerging economist who hails from Bong County. He currently studies Economics at the University of Liberia and is a Lux-in-Tenebris Scholar. He can be reached at: martinkerkula1989@yahoo.com

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The Elliptical Political Journey of Rev. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh      

I don’t know much about Rev. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr., the vice-presidential candidate who is on the ticket of presidential candidate Mills Jones of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE).

I got to know a little about Rev. Reeves just recently after his protective brother, Joe Reeves, (a former die-hard supporter of presidential candidate Joseph Boakai (Unity Party), who has since jumped ship to join his brother’s elliptical vice presidential bid), inboxed me the ‘profile’ of his brother.

How can an individual who was once a dedicated, passionate, early supporter and defender of the presidential candidate of the ruling Unity Party – long before his relative was ever chosen to be on a ticket drop his candidate and any allegiance to the candidate for a relative’s campaign; is perhaps an issue I need to thoroughly look at in a future article.

If I ever should do a future piece on this issue, I will take a look at the lack of loyalty, commitment, betrayal, opportunism in (Liberian politics), and the family ties that served conveniently as a magnet that drew Joe Reeves to his brother’s camp in the 2017 Liberian legislative and presidential elections.

 For now, I want to focus on Rev. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr.

 According to his profile, Rev. Reeves is an “inspiring man with a hope-filled vision of faith, a powerful community leader, a theological scholar and a transformational pastor.” He is also “a family man who enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and extended family and friends.”

Those are warm and fascinating qualities about a man of God who wants to be the next vice president of Liberia – a “transformational pastor” who could be the next President of Liberia in his own right.

If those qualities about Rev. Reeves are true, they are worthy of our collective attention and adulation because of the compelling nature of his story, which shouldn’t be told only when he’s running for a political office totally and completely different from his ecclesiastical role at the holy pulpit.

I want to hear more of those stories, inspiring stories about Rev. Reeves and other Liberians whom I believe are good and decent God-fearing people residing in the Liberian orbit, whom we don’t often get to know or hear about (except for the legendary Togba-Nah Tipoteh), whose trademark decency and uncorrupt public life has riveted our collective imagination.

So where has Rev. Reeves been all these years when the Liberian people needed him?

 Again, according to his profile, Rev. Reeves “has been serving for the past 12 years,” and “has made Providence {Baptist Church} one of the most social and politically conscious churches in Liberia.”

Rev. Reeves has made Providence one of the most “social and politically conscious churches in Liberia?”

“Politically conscious?”

Really? When?

Rev. Reeves was politically conscious during his 12 years at Providence Baptist Church during the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration?

On the issue of social consciousness, Rev. Reeves’ LEAD (Liberian Entrepreneurial and Asset Development, Inc), according to his profile “established strategic plans of extending his vision of Christian Education to other regions of Liberia,” which has offices in seven counties.

Rev. Reeves’ profile mentions that he is in the “process of building a homeless second-chances model center for Ebola orphans, with vision of senior house complexes. Rev. Reeves “has built the DeVos Village, comprising of Medical Center, a high school, an IT Center, a water company, a farm, and housing units, located in Bo-Waterside region.”

Are these facilities in Bo, Sierra Leone or Liberia? If yes, why Sierra Leone and not in Liberia?

Truth is I follow Liberian politics a whole lot and I never heard anything about Rev. Reeves’ “politically conscious” activities in Liberian during the Sirleaf administration, or in any administration.

 With a profile as rich in everything positive about Rev. Reeves circulating everywhere, I would think his profiler would include and specify the Rev’s “politically conscious” activities in a country (Liberia), and a government that experienced over the years slews of political killings, rampant corruption, abject poverty, hunger, underdevelopment, high unemployment, nepotism, armed robberies and a whole lot of other criminal activities, in the nearly 12 years of the Sirleaf administration.

History tells us that the Liberian people are not too kind to preachers-turned politicians, and are not kind either to a quasi-theocratic republic as it was superficially during the Tubman-Tolbert autocratic regime and the Tolbert-Warner-Greene period.

Can the Liberian people handle another preacher as vice president or president?
Do you all remember what happened in 1980 and after? Is he ready for the incoming political storms? Can Rev. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr. handle the heat in the political kitchen?

Providence Baptist Church has a history of political consciousness when Rev. E. Toimu A. Reeves pastored the church in the 1970s, during the Tolbert administration.

I know because I listened to Radio Station ELBC that year, (I believe) 1978, when Rev. E. Toimu A. Reeves boldly tote the moral bullhorn to the pulpit and spoke passionately to the conscience of an anxious nation when he challenged President (Rev.) William R. Tolbert, Jr’s. cruel attempt to make what was known as the “age of consent” law legal in Liberia.

The so-called ‘age of consent’ law was meant for 13-year old girls (kids) to legally have sex with grown men.

Had the age of consent law passed, it would have made it legal for grown adult men to molest, rape, ‘marry’ and have sexual intercourse with 13-year-old young girls.

It is one thing to be socially-conscious like Rev. Samuel B. Reeves profile says. It is also spiritually and morally unconscionable for men and women of God to sit by idly and see the children of God suffer at the hands of an uncaring government.

What would Jesus say or do?

I guess Jesus will say, ‘your people are suffering. Speak out like Rev. E. Toimu A. Reeves once did when he rallied the consciousness of a nation and stopped a bad law.”

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“President” J. Emmanuel Nuquay? Lord, Help Liberia and the Liberian People

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh          

J. Emmanuel Nuquay is the current Speaker of the Liberian House of Representatives.

Mr. Nuquay is also the running mate of the current vice president Joseph Boakai, who is running to be the next president of Liberia.

Nuquay could be President of Liberia.

Scary, indeed.

Before his selection as the vice-presidential running mate of the slumberous septuagenarian Boakai, the once obscure Nuquay represented Margibi County in the House, and later became Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Mr. Nuquay became Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2016 after the disgraced Speaker Alex Tyler was removed from office for his sleazy role in the Global Witness Sable Mining investigation, which accused Tyler of receiving a $75,000 bribe.

Anxious and nakedly ambitious to climb the political ladder in a country where only the strong, sleazy and powerful political and non-political hustler can survive, the 48-year old Nuquay once a member of the ruling Unity Party in his previous political life, conveniently resigned from the Unity party and co-founded the People’s Unification Party (PUP).

What became of Nuquay and his People’s Unification Party for him to suddenly and shamelessly become the running mate of Vice President Joseph Boakai and his ruling Unity Party in this year’s electoral fervor to surpass 15 others in the selection process, is left to our speculation.

Because these are two distinct individuals with (I guess) different ideas, beliefs, values and vision for Liberia that supposed to set them apart politically.
They are also from two different political parties (Unity Party and People’s Unification Party), that supposed to have different political values, beliefs, platforms and goals for the country and the Liberian people.

Any political conviction?

Does it matter anyway in Liberian politics when ideas, values, goals, beliefs, vision and political platforms are thrown out the windows to satisfy the opportunistic and self-centered political ambitions of a politician?

A possible answer for this blatant disregard of political norms and convictions on the part of Nuquay, and Mr. Boakai’s selection of Nuquay (as the rumor mill suggests) could be bribery and the payment of $2 million that Nuquay allegedly paid the Boakai camp to get the selection.

As it was with Alex Tyler whom he succeeded as Speaker, Nuquay was embroiled in his own controversies regarding his dubious role in the passage of the 4-G multi-year Farmington Hotel tax break deal, his close and suspicious ties to the powerful Lebanese businessman, Abi Jaoudi, and the insensitive and disjointed rant he made about fellow Liberians after he was chosen by Boakai, raised eyebrows.

“People coming they want job but it’s not our business to give our job to them, to give our birthright to them. So we will never, never ever do that. If they come with rudeness, if they exhibit rudeness; but one thing I have said which I want to reiterate, let them bear in mind that whether it is one month from now, its two years from now, its three years from now, its five years from now, it’s ten years from now, they will pay the price for their rudeness. I’ve said this and I’m saying this consistently and I will do it no matter heaven open, this the time for them to exhibit rudeness? After October 11, it will be our time, from October 11 going, it will be our time,” Nuquay reportedly said.

Is this guy, Nuquay, serious? How did he get to be Speaker or a Vice-Presidential running mate, in the first place?

Really, Liberia?

How low can the bar be?

However, when he was confronted about his suspicious legislative dealings with the Farmington Hotel bill and the Lebanese businessman, Abi Jaoudi, Nuquay said:

“First of all, let me establish that I’m not engaged in any business anywhere or at no point in time have I been engaged in a business venture with any Lebanese; I have never been engaged with any business with a Lebanese either here in Liberia – or in any part of this world.”

Vice President Joseph Boakai’s judgment is an issue here for choosing Nuquay as his running mate amid his volatile comments and his dealings; and he (Boakai) hasn’t demonstrated an intellectual and policy grasp for the office he wants to be elected to in the upcoming elections.

Nuquay, the man he chose as his running mate is completely out of touch, lack intellectual depth, cocky and reckless in his dealings and his utterances like a drunken sailor grasping for air to survive in a stormy sea.

Most Liberian politicians, as is already known, are not politically and emotionally connected to their constituents, and are not even held responsible for what they say or do. As a result, they usually get away with “murder” and not accountable to the voters.

Joseph Boakai is at an age (72 years old) of retirement – or he should have retired by now. Is Mr. Boakai preparing the way for J. Emmanuel Nuquay to be President of Liberia?

Lord, help Liberia and the Liberian people.

There is a serious need for new leaders – serious, respectful, caring, smart and issue-driven/development-driven leaders who are accountable to the Liberian people.

There is also a need for leaders who understands policy and can deliver. Liberia is not the place for apprenticeship, nor a place for cockiness.

We’ve had too many of those already in Liberia’s 170 years as a sovereign nation.

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http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/07/31/president-j-emmanuel-nuquay-lord-help-liberia-and-the-liberian-people/ Mon, 31 Jul 2017 20:21:51 +0000

                

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http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/07/31/dont-be-economical-with-the-truth-otherwise-fresh-voter-registration-is-eminent/ Mon, 31 Jul 2017 13:44:56 +0000

Don’t be Economical with the Truth, Otherwise, Fresh Voter Registration is Eminent

By Josiah Flomo Joekai, Jr.       

Liberia is at the crossroads and it is not a choice but an imperative for some of us who are conscientious to ensure that the right thing is done to consolidate the hard-earned peace that we currently enjoy.

I am fully committed to this well-intentioned course and that is exactly why I am not only discussing this critical national issue regarding the reported problems that have inundated the current voters roll on radio, but equally making sure that my thoughts or opinions are meticulously written for easy access and reference in seeking genuine solutions.

The fact is that the voters roll has multiple problems beyond the total number of 13,000 omissions reported by the Chairman of the National Elections Commission, Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya, when he appeared before the Liberian Senate.

The NEC boss averred that his reported 13,000 omissions on the Provisional Registration Roll are not alarming as being claimed by some well-meaning Liberians, including me. Thus, there is no need for Liberians to panic.
Conversely, the unadulterated fact is that the 13,000 omissions reported by the Chairman are not just untrue but constitute a fragment of the different issues that have beset the credibility of the roll.

Certainly, I am already panicking and I have no doubt that many of my fellow compatriots are also deeply concerned thus becoming frightened. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our citizens do not comprehend the extent of these problems and their implications for the conduct of the October, 2017 polls. The imbalance in the public understanding of the extent of this issue further strengthened my resolve to enlighten the public by raising the much needed awareness on the voters roll controversy.

Omissions on the Provisional Registration Roll

The Commission through its Chairman, Cllr. Korkoya has denied that the omissions on the provisional roll are alarming declaring that they only amount to 13,000. The Chairman’s report on this matter which is causing so much apprehension amongst the citizenry has to be published in keeping with the practice of the Commission to allay fears and instill trust and confidence in the electoral process.

It would be in the best interest of the Commission and nation were the Chairman to present to the Senate and publish in local dailies a breakdown of omissions per county using a spreadsheet that further provides details per registration center. However, I have no doubt that this is not easily going to happen simply because it will invalidate the 13,000 omissions reported by the Chairman. The truth of the matter is that this does not represent the total number of omissions reported from magisterial offices across the country following the close of the exhibition exercise.

For the sake of the records, let’s take a look at a tip of the iceberg

Gbarpolu County for example with just three electoral districts, there is a little over 4,000 omissions reported. This by all accounts constitutes alarming omissions in a county with a little over 45,000 registered voters (2017 Provisional Registration Roll).

It is absolutely unprecedented in our electoral history and must not be sugar-coated. No one needs to be a Rocket Scientist to understand that this situation is a recipe for chaos if it remains unattended. By this figure, one can infer that taking into account the large numbers of registered voters in bigger counties like Nimba, Bong, Lofa, Margibi, Montserrado and Grand Bassa, 13,000 is grossly understated. The Chairman cannot be economical with the truth knowing very well that it has far-reaching consequences.

Existence of Additional Names on the Provisional Registration Roll

As I mentioned earlier, the roll does not only reflect omitted names or particulars but the names of individuals who were not originally registered during the Voters Registration exercise from February 1-March 14, 2017.

Take for instance GBAHN Registration Center with Code 33180 in Nimba County originally registered 1519 persons but the Provisional Roll showed 1650 registered voters with an increase of 131 registered voters. This is a situation that cuts across the entire roll. Interestingly, these names are within the system and will be difficult to identify since they are recorded under the same center code with those who were originally registered.

Like the omissions, this is a recipe for manipulating the roll and setting the stage for illegal voting in October, which will eventually culminate into electoral fraud. The million dollar question is how did the names appear on the roll, particularly in a disaggregated manner at various centers where the individuals concerned were not originally registered in the first place?

Whether or not this unacceptable act was done knowingly or unknowingly, the Commission is yet to inform the public about this dimension of the voters roll emergency.

The NEC Chairman’s Statement and its Implications for the October Polls

Chairman Korkoya’s June 14, 2017 statement that citizens with valid voter cards will vote on Election Day whether or not their names are on the roll is consistent with the current voters roll controversy. The Chairman’s statement undermines the integrity of the voters roll. It is inconsistent with the standard of maintaining a credible roll. Thus, it is counterproductive to credible elections in October, 2017 thereby creating the need for urgent intervention.

In the first place, how does one obtain a valid card when his or her information is not captured on the roll? The profile of the voter established by a credible voters roll confirms the validity of the voter card. In so doing, one can safely say that the Chairman’s statement is a paradox because maintaining a credible roll is one of the basic standards in electioneering that any staff or technician must fundamentally understand. In fact, to simply put it, without credible voters roll there will be no free and fair election.

Besides, this principle of maintaining a credible voters roll is also guaranteed by Article 77(b) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia mandating the Commission to ensure that voters are eligible by being registered. It goes without saying that it was not necessary for the government to spend resources on the just ended exhibition exercise if one will vote using his or her cards without being captured by the roll. Hence, making such policy statement that is consistent with the problems associated with the voters roll only point to the dangers that loom over October, 2017 polls. Now the picture is even clearer thus corroborating the Chairman’s statement and the credibility questions that have plagued the voters roll.
The Jonathan K. Weedor (Commissioner) Factor

In his 15 June 2017 position statement disassociating himself from Chairman Korkoya’s statement, Commissioner Jonathan K. Weedor unambiguously underlined that “there are several problems associated with the current Provisional Registration Roll ranging from the omission of hundreds, if not thousands of names to missing photos and profiles of registrants.”

Commissioner Weedor furthered that the Chairman’s statement is alarming, disturbing and troubling because according to him, a reliable and credible Final Registration Roll is a cardinal requirement for every free, fair and transparent election. He even affirmed that he was not part of the decision to hold the press conference and was shocked when the Chairman made the pronouncement.

It is no doubt that the move by Commissioner Weedor and his assertions do not only invalidate Chairman Korkoya’s claims of 13,000 omissions but are strong indications of lack of unity and coherence amongst Commissioners. This misunderstanding at the level of Commissioners speaks to serious leadership crisis at the Commission and I find it incomprehensible to believe that such thing is occurring at a time when a crucial national decision-making process is at hand. The Commissioner’s position is not just an ordinary insider statement but one that comes from a policy decision-maker which makes it grave thus necessitating urgent attention.

Undeniably, Commissioner Weedor is by far the most hands-on, knowledgeable and experienced Commissioner of the seven Commissioners including the current Chairman himself. Commissioner Weedor has been at the NEC since 2005, and has played a pivotal role in the management of elections to present. The wealth of experience he possesses is an asset that the Commission should adequately tap into especially at this critical juncture of our political transition. To hear from him in this manner raises a number of credibility questions.

It beats my imagination that key stakeholders including political parties and civil society organizations are very silent on this crucial national issue. Consistent advocacy and engagement with the Commission to ascertain the facts with the aim of addressing this problem must be an immediate priority.

In particular, with the irregularities that attended the entire voter registration exercise such as illegal registration activities, use of non-serialized Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) forms, limited professional capacity and the disorderly arrangement of the forms, stakeholders are to painstakingly follow up on every step of the finalization of the voters roll. Unfortunately, that is not happening. This is paramount because the Impartiality and transparency of the Commission can only be guaranteed if these institutions follow up with the Commission on every step of the way.

Indisputably, this is a critical national issue which has attracted tremendous attention. That is exactly why in no uncertain terms any Liberian should be allowed to vote without being accounted for by the voters roll. The reported omissions are not just in the fives, tens but hundreds and thousands. If this is anything to go by, it cannot in anyway be taken lightly since many Liberians stand to be disenfranchised as a result of these reports.

What is even worrying is the number of reported cases of illegal voter registration activities that took place using NEC registration materials in some instances during the exercise. Even though some of the culprits were apprehended, the public is yet to know the outcome of those illegal activities in terms of the number of cards recovered; in whose custody they (Voter Registration Cards) are, and what has happened to those involved. Besides, forgery is one thing that remains prevalent in our society today. Thus, no one doubts the possibility of the use of hundreds or thousands of forged Voter Registration Cards in October given the capacity issue that remains a challenge for the Commission.

In my sincere opinion, the voters roll dilemma constitutes a national emergency requiring the timely and prompt intervention of the government through relevant functionaries, political parties, civil society organizations, religious institutions and diplomatic missions accredited near Monrovia, particularly those with the history of supporting the strengthening and sustenance of our embryonic democracy.

Josiah Flomo Joekai, Jr. is a Representative Aspirant of District #3 Montserrado County, and former Director of Civic and Voter Education of the National Elections Commission, with more than 13 years of professional service in the areas of education management, democracy and governance. He has authored several published articles and books on contemporary issues.

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http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/07/31/liberia-transformative-social-change-through-youth-development-and-sustainable-agriculture/ Mon, 31 Jul 2017 13:09:05 +0000

Liberia: Transformative Social Change Through Youth Development and Sustainable Agriculture

By Francis W. Nyepon  

The most vital and clear-cut pathway to propelling transformative social change and inclusive growth in Liberia is through youth development and sustainable agriculture.

It is no secret that agriculture is the backbone of our economy with over 80% of our people living in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day, and relying primarily on small-scale subsistence farming as their primary source of income, food, nutrition and survival. Our country ranks 12th from bottom of the United Nation’s Human Development Index with 75% of them under 36 years of age, and 44% of that percentage under 16 years of age, with the majority uneducated, unskilled, jobless and idle.

Over the past 12 years, transformative social change in various sectors has been stalled due to the lack of vision, innovation, support, training, performance, investment, inequalities, and gender bias, even with a female president leading and navigating the ship of state.

Sustainable agriculture for instance, the backbone of our economy and major component of our food security was left unattended without promulgating cutting-edge policies and programs to build critical capacities to enhance social change. As a result, the size of farmlands were allowed to shrink, along with severe inadequacies in water resource management, upgrading of seed varieties and distribution to boost food production, employment and training. Instead, appalling policies were implemented, which did nothing more than to compromise the growth of the sector along with outrageous concession agreements that will seriously injure our country in a few short years to come.

Conversely, with such serious challenges facing Liberia, the majority of our youth, the greatest segment of our population, are stuck at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder twisting in an endless cycle of abject poverty without a strategic pathway to contribute or participate in our country’s development agenda. Many are instead, marginalized, neglected and excluded from mainstream society without constructively and strategically being engage in contributing to the sustainable growth and development of our country. Since the end of the civil war in 2003, the majority of Liberia’s youth have been left behind in frustration, restlessness, impatience and agony due to the lack of productive education, skill- training, employment and a clear pathway to livelihood improvement.

Today, more than ever, Liberia desperately need a game-changing strategy to fundamentally root transformative social change to spur inclusive growth. The strength, vigor and dynamism of all our young people needs to be groomed and harnessed through sustainable agriculture, the service industry and the trades.

Our youth are a sleeping giant and they must be made the principle driving force to propel transformative social change in every community and municipality in our country. If transformative social change is to take place in Liberia, than the culture of impunity that has historically hamstrung and restrained our governance structures and socioeconomic relationships must be urgently brought to an end.

Since our country’s founding, impunity has been used to institutionalize inequality, injustice, privilege and poverty. It has separated, alienated and set most of our people apart socially, economically, politically and geographically by creating class structures that are destructive and urgently needs to be torn down.

Fundamentally, when impunity is paired with bad governance, corruption, dishonesty and deal making, it prevents our leaders from formulating clear-cut policies and pathways for inclusive growth and delivery of critical services such as, education, healthcare, human resource development, employment, nutrition, water, sanitation, and electricity amongst others. Every Liberian knows all too well that as a collective, these social ills limit social mobility, sustainable development, food security, efficient service delivery, youth development and poverty eradication. According to the World Bank, these are the primary reasons for our country’s underdevelopment, even with its vast wealth and abundant natural resources.

It is this author’s view that the major contributing factor to Liberia’s underdevelopment is the existence of two exclusively separate and unequal societies that exist in Liberia. One of these societies is prosperous and well-off, while the other, illiterate, poorly educated, unskilled, unemployed and hopelessly poverty stricken without straightforward opportunities for upward social mobility. Each of these societies remains so culturally different from one another that they project diametrically different, and opposing views about prosperity, social change, growth, and development.

Since the end of the civil war in 2003, Liberia’s extractive industry has been the principal source of growth, however, as a collective, the industry’s lofty ventures and enormous profits yield very little, if any, benefit for our people; thereby, forcing the vast majority of our people to continue to languish at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder in excruciating agony, misery, disappointment, resentment and pain.

However, Liberia has an extremely impressive future ahead of it. The country is in a unique position to chart a new destiny towards a better and brighter future. But, innovative public policy will have to be promulgated to ignite transformative social change. Such innovative policy initiatives will have to be put front-and-center in our governance structures by a visionary leader to create a trajectory for change through youth development, sustainable agriculture, food production, service delivery, increased commodity production and the creation of small and medium industry.

This trajectory will indeed shift the changing realities of economic diversification. If this doesn’t happen after the 2017 elections, high illiteracy rate, couple with the lack of marketable skill-sets for our youth along with food insecurity, malnutrition, and unemployment will continue to keep Liberians hopelessly in poverty without clear-cut pathways to transformative social change.

In this light, it will take a progressive leadership with a vigorous and resolute agenda to empower our youth and enhance sustainable growth. Liberia cannot afford any longer to allow the most vibrant segment of its population to continue to arbitrarily and haphazardly be used as instruments of hostility, violence, conflict and devastation.

Our youth are the engine that can, and must drive our country to prosperity. They are endowed with the most underutilized talent for building critical capacity to igniting transformative social change and inclusive growth in our country. The time has come for our youth to be empowered with productive education, livelihood skills and employment to ignite transformation, increase resiliency and annihilate socioeconomic vulnerabilities. But, it is imperative that our youth be nurtured and guided in order for them to revolutionize their communities to success and prosperity.

Another way to also begin this transformative process is through the effective utilization of the robust value chain applications, practices and performances of a sustainable agricultural sector. Such an approach will allow the sector to become successful in enhancing youth development and empowerment. Our youth must be strategically targeted in a consequential manner so as to boost inclusive growth in a dynamic, and innovative way.

It is no secret that our country is a net importer of food; yet we produce far less than our potential given our rich soil, abundant rainfall, and favorable climate for agriculture. This author holds the view that when sustainable agriculture is paired with youth development, it will translate into a win-win situation for our country. It will create considerable employment, improve food security, improve livelihoods, plus increase the balance of payments for our country. For instance, frozen foods and livestock that could be raised and grown in the country will no longer have to be imported.

Moreover, basic vegetables, which are consumed every day by every Liberians will be grown in our country; instead of being imported from neighboring Guinea and Ivory Coast to fill the gap as it is currently being done at a tune of US10 million dollars annually.

A definite way to begin such a transformative process is the regional institutionalization of Farmers Field Schools. Such initiatives without a doubt will surely help to lift millions of Liberians out of poverty through sustainable agriculture. It can bridge the divide between the youth, women and smallholder farmers’ through capacity building, and discovery learning to facilitate interactive learning amongst this underserved segment of our population.

Additionally, it will prepare participants to effectively utilize the entire value chain spectrum of the agricultural sector, by allowing them to become more engaged citizens through employment, entrepreneurship, teamwork, and problem solving. Agriculture is the backbone of our economy, it cannot continue to suffer from entrenched negative perception and underinvestment where smallholder farmers perform long hours of backbreaking-work with very little to show for their life’s work. Our agricultural sector desperately needs to be modernized through the introduction of new techniques, methods, fertilizers and modern equipment to achieve better yields. What better way to initiate transformative social change, than through youth development and sustainable agriculture?

Mama Liberia, the country we love, and the only country we have cannot continue to be weakened by shortsighted public policy, which bring about intolerance, injustice, sexism and hostility. The confidence of our people cannot continue to be corroded and sink deeper into poverty and paucity.

Every Liberians must be welcome on board. We need all hands on deck to develop our country from Cape Mount to Cape Palmas, and from mount Nimba to seashores of Montserrado. But most importantly, the participation and contribution of our youth in sustainable agriculture must be encouraged through the public and private sectors, and civil society working together to reach this goal.

Liberia First!

Francis Nyepon can be reached at fnyepon@aol.com for remarks and comments

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http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/07/27/the-republic-of-liberia/ Thu, 27 Jul 2017 14:55:19 +0000

The Republic of Liberia

By D. Garkpe Gedepoh           

July 26, 1847 was declared Liberia Independence Day by freed Africans who were once sold or abducted into slavery in America. But upon obtaining freedom they returned home after hundreds of years and established a nation which they named “Freedom” or “Liberia,” a derivative from the Latin root word “Liber.”

The constitution of the republic was carefully patterned after the American Constitution but failed to work in the interest of the masses. Majority of the returnees had worked on plantations in America and developed the plantation mentality or way of life, and controlled by an overseer within a patronage system. And so they felt alienated in Africa.

Prior to the establishment of Liberia, the indigenous inhabitants of West Africa had Kingdoms. West Africa was the land of many kingdoms ruled by kings not chiefs. The Europeans traded with the kings along the coast and referred to the land as the “Grain Coast” because it was also blessed with plenty of food.

In their quest to expropriate land and dominate the indigenes, the settlers overthrew the Kingdoms with the help of American gunships and canons and established townships, districts, and chiefdoms, which became conduits of their indirect rule.

They appointed native chiefs who were willing to obey their orders through divide-and-conquer mechanism. They also set up security check points around the perimeters of their settlements to watch out for any rebellious indigenes. This situation led to a semi-colonial domination by the settler minority over the indigenous communities.

The history of Kingdoms was now replaced with the history of the settlers. And most of the history that was written about the indigenous by the settlers was distorted.

The story of Chief Boatswain who the settlers claimed was a Bassaw (Bassa) Chief is an example of such distortion. Boatswain was never a Bassaw Chief! On the contrary, he was a Mandingo King and a Muslim who accommodated and protected the settlers when they arrived at Dugbor Nin or Ducor. The settlers later changed the name Dugbor Nin or Ducor to Monrovia after an American President. Boatswain’s Mandingo name was King Sao Boso…

We will revisit the history of Kingdoms or Liberia in depth in part 2 of “The Republic of Liberia,” but I will like to focus on contemporary Liberia for the moment.

Now, as we celebrate Independence Day on July 26, it is important for the patriots of the nation to reexamine and come to terms with the true meaning of the word “independence.”

What does the word independence mean? According to Merriam Webster online dictionary, independence means: Self-government, self-rule, self-determination, self-sufficiency, self-reliance; the quality or state of not being under the control of; SOVEREIGNTY.

No sovereign nation allows her territory to be occupied by foreign military forces. The presence of foreign forces in any country under the banner of peace keepers means that the occupied country has lost her sovereignty and the existing peace is fragile. So in light of this, you can only concur that Liberia Independence Day celebration is strictly ceremonial with regards to words and not deeds in our contemporary times…

You see: the moment the safety and security of Liberia got transferred from the citizens to foreigners, Liberia lost her sovereignty.

So let’s pray to the Almighty God for LIB (Liberia) to regain her sovereignty and become a nation capable of protecting everyone; a nation that will truly implement the rule of law throughout its borders; where real liberty and justice can be guaranteed to all; where this phrase that has been written in stone on the walls of the Temple of Justice, “Let justice be done to all men” will be rectified indiscriminately to reflect everyone, “Let justice be done to all”…

We pray for the real independence of our beloved nation (LIB), that our independence celebration will mark the true meaning of independence without neo-colonialism; where justice can no longer be shackled; and jungle justice has seized to exist; and a place where crooks and criminals have no place to hide their loots or build their mansions from the coffers of the nation.

Let’s pray for a better Liberia where real social and economic justice is guaranteed to all with her citizens serving as the true custodians of the state…

D. Garkpe Gedepoh is based in Maryland, USA.

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http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/07/26/the-davids-dossier-12-reasons-why-ellen-johnson-sirleaf-deserves-no-third-term/ Wed, 26 Jul 2017 23:23:29 +0000

The David’s Dossier: 12 Reasons why Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Deserves no Third Term

By Dave Toh Jah                   

Close to the end of this year, Liberians will go to the polls to vote in presidential and legislative elections. This is the time for the Liberian people to send a message to the country and the rest of the World regarding the direction of the country. I do not believe the ruling Unity Party’s Government or its associates should be allowed a third term. My reasons are not limited to the followings:

1. Ellen wrote off a huge chunk of the Liberian population

I am not talking about the Southeastern region of Liberia which includes Grand Gedeh, Maryland, River Gee, and Sinoe Counties, a major part of Liberia the Sirleaf’s government has paid little or no attention to throughout her presidency.

The region’s deplorable road network, depopulation, and alarming unemployment rate have become so pervasive that citizens in that part of the country have resigned to the fact such is their destiny. As dire as their plight is, Southeastern Liberia is not the population that I am focused on in this work. That will be reserved for another time.

The government under President Sirleaf has neglected our brothers and sisters who, not by any fault of their own, are stranded in refugee land across West Africa.

Even before the ECOWAS mandate which ended their status as refugees, the government of Liberia has already written off those Liberians who were catching hell in deplorable camps. From Camp Kola, Gbeke, Yomou in the Republic of Guinea to Oru, Ijebu Ode in Nigeria, Liberians continue to languish in refugee camps while their President tour the globe and reward herself and her cronies very fat salaries.

Throughout Mrs. Sirleaf’s presidency there was no sustained effort to return, repatriate or resettle Liberians. Even at the time when Liberians were being mistreated and murdered in refugees’ camps, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did not crack her teeth. She acted like those people did not exist or that their lives did not matter.

 2. Failure to acknowledge the war and heal the wounds for fourteen years

Liberia was plunged in one of the worst wars in human history. Of a population of less than three million people, over 250,000 of our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, friends, classmates and loved ones were killed, some in the most brutal and gruesome manner.

Even the sitting president at the time was mutilated to death. It was the election of Mrs. Sirleaf that marked the closing chapter of the brutal war. Her government is the most stable and longest-lasting of post-war Liberia. Sadly, throughout the nearly 12 years of Madam Sirleaf’s presidency, she pretended that the country has had no war thus she made no attempt to acknowledge that the country and its people have been hurt for over a decade of wars and needed healing and reconciliation.

She did not acknowledge that thousands of mothers, fathers, and families have lost loved ones and there is a need for some consolation from their leader, especially the one they have called ‘Ma Ellen.’ One will expect that a president of good conscience and empathy will rally the country and work to heal the wounds and build the hope that such nightmare will never happen again. The only group President Ellen Johnson thought was victims were the children of the thirteen former ministers who were killed following the coup of 1980.

3. Ellen’s arrogance and disdain for the majority

President Johnson Sirleaf has presided over the country as if she is omniscient. Even in situations where she has sought the input of the general population through national conferences, she has treated the outcomes of the people’s voices with disdain and failed to act on their recommendations.

The Truth and Reconciliation Committee Report and the Gbarnga Constitution Review Conference are just few of the examples where the Government of President Sirleaf demonstrated a clear disdain and disrespect for the views of the majority.

4. Failure to build a system that may outlive her

 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has failed to put into place a system that will outlive her presidency. There is no genuine policy or doctrine that she has contributed to the country which can be attached to her legacy. As the result, after twelve years in office, Liberia remains a trial and error nation. Now she wants her Vice President to continue with such junk policies that will continue to render the country impoverished and as she described the education, a mess. This trend has been ongoing and seemed unabated. It gets even worse and disheartening when one considers that this nation is turning 170 years since the declaration of independence.

 5. An economy in shambles

 If the economy of Liberia goes well, everything goes well. Liberia like any nation on Earth needs a vibrant economy to build roads, hospitals, schools, improve education, feed the people and perhaps make progress in almost everything.

Sadly, after nearly 12 years of the acclaimed Harvard economist presiding over the country and its economy, it remains in shambles. The economy still largely depends on foreign aid, handouts and solicitation. For 12 years, government has been unable to resolve which currency to use. Government under the leadership of Madam Johnson Sirleaf has failed to pay attention to the pillars of the Liberian economy which include small businesses (e.g. market women and men, tailors, weavers, farmers, etc.). The Liberian taxation/revenue systems are misguided and served only the needs of the elites.

The same can be said about the oil and mining industries which account for no economic inputs for the country but as milking cows for the President, her relatives and her cronies. Under the Sirleaf leadership, there is the working elite government class and the scraping poor. There is no sustained attempt to create a middle class or encourage private sector emergence and growth. The case of the National Bank of Liberia and its inside loaning process, the PSDI Loan Scheme at the Finance Ministry and a gamut of other mounting scandals are worthy of in depth attention.

6. Unemployment at near 0%?

 Some time ago a key person in the Liberian government was boasting that Liberia’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the World. He said the number of people actively searching for jobs indicates the number of capable people that are not working. So, if the unemployment rate is near zero, it means that there are more people working so they are not looking for work. Really, Mr. Bigshot!

It means there is no work to look for so nearly 95% of the able body men and women in Liberia have no jobs and must toil with brute force to feed themselves and their families. For nearly 12 years the government remained unable to link standards of living to being employed, and seemed incapable of establishing mechanism for job creation. The government seemed incapable to connect roads and building constructions to job creation for Liberians.

7. Disregard for the separation of power and check and balance system

 Liberia is one country where the president exercises unfettered powers across every branch of government. Under president Sirleaf’s leadership, there have being visible presidential overreaches which use money and cronyism to influence the fragile system. The president actively took advantage of the high rates of incompetence and impoverishment among members of the various branches of government especially the Legislative Branch of government to usurp her power and influence.

8. A divided nation

 Under president Sirleaf’s leadership, the nation is divided than ever and she does not seem to have interest in fostering unity and cohesiveness across the country. She has helped to foster a culture of tribal embrace and alienation to keep the nation divided; and perpetuate the rule of her tribe (the Congau). President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf failed to reconcile the nation and foster a spirit of people coming together for the good of the nation.

 9. An educational system in mess

 Needless to write much about this because in her own words, she described the educational system of the country she leads as a ‘mess.’ And she was right. And even at the end of twelve uninterrupted years of peace, the story is still the same.

From kindergarten to tertiary levels, the Liberian educational system is a total disaster, and those in positions of responsibilities seemed to lack the capacity and the will to make meaningful changes. The trends of mass failures at the University of Liberia and other institutions of learning is just tip of the iceberg.

Even when one considers the creation of the community colleges as a plus but on close observation the attempt is misguided and ill-conceived. The various counties are financially distressed and do not have the human capacity to sustain themselves. The smarter approach is to allow and equip the University of Liberia to expand into the various counties.

10. The scourge of an East African disease

 Under the leadership of President Sirleaf, Liberia has experienced the worst disease ever in its nearly two hundred years of existence. It was under her leadership that Liberians were falling in the streets with blood gushing out of them as they perish in droves.

The havoc of EBOLA is a testimony to her administration’s failure to revitalize a failed healthcare system. (This is how you will know that a country does not have a healthcare system when it must take foreigners to teach or remind people how to wash their hands).

What have they been doing since they took power and staffed the Ministry of Health? Maybe this is why someone once stated that the E in Ellen stands for Ebola. This is the President and Vice President, in fact the government’s legacy which they must own. This must be disquieting and disqualifying for a third term in Boakai and Nuquay.

11. The death traps they call roads and highways

 The evidences are found across the country and even in the capital city. Maryland, Sinoe, Grand Kru, Lofa, Bopolu Counties and other parts of the country are considered ‘no-go zones.’ They are cut off from the rest of the country especially during the rainy season due to broken roads and bridges.

Recently, a higher up in the Liberian government shamelessly stated that government was trying to bring the roads up to pre-war level. How sad, that after almost 12 years in office that the desire state should be a pre-war level! No, (I told him) you are not bringing the roads to pre-war level; you have kept them at pre-medieval level.

 12. The Boakai-Nuquay factor, a recipe to perpetuate the chaos state

 President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the number one person in the Liberian Government. Joseph Boakai is the number two person in the government, and the Margibi lawmaker and Speaker of the House Mr. Emmanuel Nuguay is the number three person in the same government.

At the same time, the number two person (i.e. the Vice President) is constitutionally the head of the Liberian Senate. This is the government which its own auditor, Mr. John Morlu characterized as ’10 times more corrupt than any government in Liberian history.’

For nearly 12 years the legislative Branch of the Liberian Government has served itself with fat bonuses, luxury cars, gas slips and other amenities while the people it is supposed to serve swim in abject poverty.

In fact, in one of their proposed bills, they dished out benefits for themselves and their families even to the point that when they die, their wives and children will continue to rake checks from this impoverished nation up to three generations. And let us not forget that this very legislative branch has not written a single substantive bill on how to create a vibrant economy and enact laws that will protect the interest of the struggling population. Where do they expect the money from to pay their wives and concubines and service their gluttonous lifestyles?

Mr. Joseph Boakai has conceded the notion to continue with this legacy. So, he picked the third person in line as his running mate. By such choice, Mr. Boakai has endorsed the failed policies and corrupt practices that have thrived under their leadership.

Mr. Boakai did not give Liberians any assurance that he will think outside of the box but has wrapped himself wholly and solely with this failed legacy and a chaos state. If Mr. Joseph Nyumah Boakai thought he did not support the failed policies of the government, he would have long cut away from Ellen Sirleaf by resigning from her government. Or he would have picked a running mate who seemed to think and act outside of the corrupt circle to take the country in a different direction.

My Last Words

 My fellow Liberians – brothers and sisters, on October 10 of this year (2017), I appeal to all of us to end the system of impunity, corruption, nepotism, incompetence, and disdain by giving the Unity Party’s government a knockout punch.

Knock Them out in the First Round! This will be our time to punish slothfulness, divisions, apathy, negligence, and a sluggish economy. Let us not reward those who have failed to serve their country with distinction.

In Liberia, we do not kill chicken for a student who has failed his/her class. We say in Liberia that there is no food for a lazy person. The people of this country gave the government 12 stable years to perform and deliver. Our neighbors and the international community lavished goodwill on the Sirleaf regime with a high hope that the government under Sirleaf and Boakai will deliver. They failed.

Let us not give them an additional minute to continue the dismal performances. May the Lord bless us all and save our Country! Happy 26!

Mr. Dave Jah can be reached at sirdavejah@yahoo.com/215-342-2876.

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