The political leader of the opposition Liberty Party Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine raised serious security concern here Wednesday, December 2, 2015, specifically about terrorism and advanced series of recommendations to the Government of Liberia to be on the alert.
In a speech titled “Safe-Guarding the Nation—A First Step!” Cllr. Brumskine expressed concern about recent waves of terror around the world, which he said, have highlighted the expanding reach of global terrorism, and that international terror networks have shown that they can have an even more deadly urban reach.
He said terrorism is no longer about atrocious violence and evil in some distant land, like Asia, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, or even East Africa, but it now occurs in our neighborhood—within the West African region. “Nearly half of all death caused by terrorism in 2015”, he notes, “occurred in the ECOWAS theatre of operations, with Africa’s most populous state, Nigeria, being on the frontline of this battle, and Mali, the latest victim.”
Brunskine stressed that this menace of humanity has shown that even the greatest and most powerful of nations find it difficult to shield its people from the danger of an enemy who is determined to kill himself or herself, to wreak havoc in a nation and upon a people like the recent terror attacks in Paris, France which left over 100 dead and hundreds others wounded, stressing the need for immediate concerted action by the government to ensuring that Liberia remains a safe haven for all.
These concerns have nothing to do with politics; they are about the continuous stability of our common patrimony, the Motherland and our safety as Liberians. Therefore, we totally agree with the Liberty Party leader that security should be paramount here if Liberia is to remain on the path of peace, progress and democracy.
The Boko Haram attacks in West Africa, particularly Nigeria, Cameroon and Mali clearly indicates that the threat is next door, and like Brumskine is reminding us, because it has not happened before in Liberia does not mean that it cannot happen so we must move as a nation from being reactive to become proactive by adopting pre-emptive measures to avert any future attacks.
As a nation that has a population of 4 million people, Liberia is a small country, and we cannot bear the psychological and traumatic effects of terrorism, particularly in the face of UNMIL’s drawdown coupled with a shattered national security system that our government is struggling to rebuild.
Brumskine wants security at our borders strengthened and new stringent measures introduced at our airports, including an absolute ban on the issuance of Airport Visas, adding that they reduce, if not eliminate, any possibility of vetting those who are admitted into the country, and that anyone intending to work in Liberia should be allowed admission into the country only if s/he is in possession of a Resident Visa as well as training security officers assigned at the airport and ground staff, ensuring that screening equipment at the ports are in good working condition, with quick turnaround periods for repair and/or replacement, among others.
He also stressed the need for joint security collaboration with neighboring countries within the framework of the 15th Protocol to the MRU Declaration on Co-operation on Defense, Security, Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs, while calling for full and effective implementation of the Political Declaration on a Common Position Against Terrorism of ECOWAS, which includes a Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Implementation Plan.
The Strategy, according to him, is inspired by the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy to provide comprehensive steps that states must take individually and collectively to address the threat of terrorism. It requires member states to undertake a wide range of activities for preventing terrorism; such as, ratifying and effectively implementing the relevant legal regimes, eliminating conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, enhancing early warning and operational intelligence, preventing extremism and radicalization, as well as promoting democratic practices and human rights, among others.
We believe these are germane concerns and logical or meaningful recommendations coming from a patriotic citizen, who wants to see a stable Liberia even as we prepare for general and Presidential elections in 2017. It is our that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her national security team would take these recommendations into consideration as the government carves its national security strategies to take over from UNMIL.
Politics aside, the concern raised by Brumskine and the corresponding recommendations put forward clearly demonstrate marks of sound statesmanship, which indicates that as a Liberian, the general well-being of the Nation remains his top priority even while he’s outside of government, a quality citizenship we think every Liberian should cherish.