United Methodist prelate Rev. K. Richard Tonnonlah is questioning the rationality of President George Manneh Weah’s recent suggestion to the 54th Liberian Legislature to grant citizenship right to non-Negroes and dual citizenship right to Liberians in the Diaspora, noting that many Liberian officials, including President Weah himself and his predecessor, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, already hold both Liberian and foreign passports, respectively.
According to him, former President Sirleaf carries an American Green Card besides her Liberian citizenship, while President Weah is a French citizen in addition to carrying a Liberian passport.
Rev. Tonnonlah, Senior Pastor of the David Gueh Memorial United Methodist Church in Paynesville City outside Monrovia raised the concern in his sermon delivered on Sunday, 4th February at the Church on the theme, “Put your faith in God” with text from Luke 8:22-25, which also coincided with the reaffirmation of commitment to service by the leadership of the local congregation.
He says rather than legislation, the real problem confronting Liberians is lack of integrity and love for country, asking that “those Liberians with dual citizenship already, what difference are they making?”
On the question of granting citizenship to non-Negroes, he argues that as non-Liberians they already control the economy of the state, and what’s more of legitimizing their status.
“My people, let us remind our lawmakers that what is protecting our sovereignty as a nation, one of them is being tempered with. Permit me to predate the next law to pass will be to change the term of service for the Presidency from two terms to three or four before the end of this Presidency”, Rev. Tonnonlah forewarns.
“Listen to this, we have the rape law that we understood is non-bailable, yet we have a lawmaker, who illegally committed the same art and is going on performing his normal duties. There is a law that says no one smokes in public places or in taxi cab etc, but you see people smoke anywhere anytime. Law to control transportation fares, the drivers charge at will. In the market places, it is even worse, they are not citizens yet the prices in the market they control it. What’s more if they are citizens?”
He explains that the Liberian people gave a command at the ballot box to choose a young leader over an older statesman with a promise that there will be change for hope that will take Liberia on the other side of the lake, noting that now the ship has taken off, and the captain just announced that Liberia is about to get harder with white people coming to buy land, not only that but one could be citizen of another county and still be a Liberian.
“From my human experience, there is no human being in the world that will not face and have not faced problems. People of David Gueh, let us prepare for these trying times by listening to God’s Word and trusting Him to fulfill His promises.”
Rev. Tonnonlah: Church, where is your faith; in the midst of you losing your only heritage or everything that you have as a nation and people? Even when all the Methodist properties have been leased for a period that none of us here will be alive, that is 100 years from now? Where is your faith? Please put your faith in Jesus, He is the author and finisher of our faith.
The Methodist prelate continues that Liberia’s problem is not the storm of life, but Liberians’ dishonest attitude toward one another, which he notes is actually more dangerous than the storm of life, saying “Without faith in God, we are left to live a hopeless life in Liberia.”
Rev. Tonnonlah is a graduate of the Gbarnga School of Theology or G.S.T. operated by the Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is also a graduate of the Kofi Annan Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution, University of Liberia.
He says every one, whether a Christian or not, will face some form of challenges during life time, and that the storm of life may look discouraging, but there is a power greater than the powers of the wind and waves.
“I know in the face of many problems there is a tendency of looking around and all you can see is danger and hopelessness. When you look within and what you will see will be fear. But over the years as a church and nation, we have failed to look up by faith to trust the Lord who controls the wind and the waves with our plans. Rather, we say “you killed my ma and pa, I will vote for you. Yesterday, we were saying, you know book or not we will vote for you.”
Rev. Tonnonlah observes that Liberians often respond to problems of life not with faith but fear, adding, “Fear is the natural reaction we have when we feel we are losing control, when things are not moving according to plan. You know when fear takes over, it prevents us from dealing with the actual problem. That is the reason you will hear some of us saying, the devil fool me. Faith and fear cannot dwell together in the same heart.”