A bill introduced recently in the Liberian Senate by Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, seeking public holidays for Muslims here has sparked serious debate in the county with some residents saying the document is a recipe for chaos.
Many residents of Ganta who called on two popular radio talk shows in the provincial city expressed opposition to the bill. Speaking on the live call-in programs “Gompa Talk” hosted on Radio Kergheamahn [94.5FM] and “Have Your Say” on Voice of Gompa [106.5FM], they warned Senator Johnson not to repeat such statement.
According to some aggrieved residents, they did not elect Senator Johnson to create trouble among Liberians, but rather to introduce bills that will impact the lives of citizens at large. Some of the callers noted that since Senator Johnson was elected twice to the Senate, this is the only bill he has introduced on the floor.
They said the bill is intended to foment war between Christians and Muslims, while others said if their senator did not have anything to offer for the nation, he should remain quiet rather than saying things that will create trouble in Liberia.
Some of the residents, who spoke to this paper, noted that the lower House of the Liberian Legislature is in conflict and citizens are seeking means to have the problem resolved rather than creating another trouble in the country.
Liberian Muslims are vehemently opposed to call by some Christian leaders to declare Liberia a Christian Nation. Muslim leaders have threatened to stage “unrestricted civil disobedience” if Proposition 25 seeking a Christian Nation was voted in upcoming referendum.
Senator Johnson on Tuesday, 23 August submitted a bill to the plenary of the Liberian Senate, seeking two separate holidays for Muslims in the country. The bill seeks that Ramadan, which climaxes the month-long fast and prayers by Muslims should be observed as national holiday, while Abraham Feast Day be also legislated a national holiday in Liberia. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which Muslims abstain from all worldly activities and fast between sunrise and sunset, while Muslims observe Abraham Day in commemoration of Abraham’s obedience to sacrifice his son Isaac upon the instruction of Almighty Allah.
Speaking to reporters following the submission of the bill, Senator Johnson, a Christian and Preacher, said it is unfair that Liberia, a secular state, should give exclusive preference to Christianity over Islam.
He added that the Islamic community has contributed hugely to the freedom and development of the country as any other faith, but the population, especially state actors have overlooked Muslims for decades, stressing it’s time their rights and religion be respected and protected by law.
Our Nimba County correspondent says Christians, Muslims and other religious groups live in the Country without any major competition or contest. They said the senator has hidden political agenda for introducing the bill as the ex-rebel leader and pastor is seeking for votes from the Muslim community in the country.
Senator Johnson entered Liberia from Nigeria in 2004 and participated in the 2005 elections as a Senatorial candidate which he won and contested for a second term in 2015, serving two nine consecutive terms.
He founded the defunct NUDP party in 2011 vied for the Presidency, coming third in the race. He was subsequently booted out of the party and had few months ago organized a new party, Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) for the 2017 elections.
The callers noted that the only thing Senator Johnson continuously boasts of in the county is that he slain dictator Samuel K. Doe.
By Franklin Doloquee, Nimba-Editing by Jonathan Browne