Today, high-lighting national developing events are political violence, personal injuries and disappearances, destruction of private and public properties, including one of the most disgraceful, dishonest national/international SCAM, the theft/sale of Liberian passports to foreign nationals by the nation’s (Liberia’s) Passport Director. The impact of these developments dragged the un-divided attention of the law-abiding majority of the Liberian people, the media and discussions at posh restaurants, Fufu and soup cook shops, barber shops, beauty salons, dinner tables, street corners intellectual encounters and the nation’s grapevine rumor mills.
Quite recently, some of Liberia’s diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Liberia’s eyes/ears to the world community of the Comity of Nations, were investigated for reportedly stealing hundreds of thousands of US dollars donated to Liberia by the Empire of Japan, right under the eyes of the past President at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The defendant-officials argued that the official with responsibility for management of the Japanese grant fled Liberia to the USA where he is, allegedly, a Resident Alien. It is, perhaps, a possibility that some of our major diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are citizens of foreign countries!
In an article entitled “What is wrong with Liberians”, the same as the questioning headline above (Analyst Liberia, June 12, 2013), while Author Raymond Leslie Buell posed the question, “What is wrong with Liberia, the nation state?” as the subject of Chapter 2 of his epic book (Liberia: A Century of Survival, 1847-1947). The book was published on the 100th birth anniversary of 1947 and the founding of the Liberian State in 1847. This was a rhetorical question, answer to which was, or is, the subject and analysis of Mr. Buell’s book. This book, we argued, is perhaps, the best assessment of the social, cultural, economic and political activities/operations by Liberia during its first one hundred years as a sovereign, independent state.
At that point on June 12, 2013, we chose to navigate the critical issues raised and facing our country, Liberia, in an attempt to seek answer(s) to ‘what is wrong with us’, Liberians, rather than, What is wrong with Liberia”, the state and land mass.
Government ad Governance
Since July 26, 1847, the founding of the Republic of Liberia, Government & Governance have become a profound nightmare – a Quagmire – an awkward, hazardous, complex and complicated situation; a muddled up, mixed-up and messed-up predicament; a difficulty, quandary, entanglement, imbroglio and a socio-economic fiasco in our Liberia’s social, cultural and political affairs throughout succeeding political administrations up to these days, including the previous twelve-year administration, characterized by ACDL civil war, political and economic mismanagement up to this day.
As it has been and is the case of all nations as Liberia, the Wrongs are many (“to err is human”), but the Wrongs of Liberia are the most major, unique, profound and pervasive; they affect, with drastic, negative economic and deadly impact, the entire spectrum of the social, cultural, economic and political institutions of Liberian society. From the Churches, schools (kindergartens to university); private business corporations (for-profit and not-for-profit); secret brotherhood societies (the Masonic Craft, for example); all other related social organizations and, most importantly, the government and officials of the three branches of government.
Significantly, the staff, operating members, congregations, students of schools, churches and all others are, in turn, members of the social, cultural economic and political institutions of the society to which they are exposed to learn, experience and internalize dishonesty, decadent moral rectitude, rejection of honest manual labor, expect government to do and provide everything for the rest of their lives.
The major founding, ruling political class of the Republic and its descendants had been, and are morally-dishonest and corrupt, with some elements lazy, reject manual labor of the agricultural enterprise. The prevailing Liberian government ruling class has, now, monopolized corruption, the universal vice found on all continents, in every country, society and culture, irrespective of political/economic development and affluence.
Some administrations of the past cancelled several, questionable, rental contracts between the Government of Liberia and some high officials of government for mansions, hotels and other real estate properties developed with stolen public resources for which exorbitant rents were being paid to the same officials. Buildings and real estate development of this sort were and are regarded as “national development”. Rather than arrest, trial, conviction and punishment, these officials were and are commended and rewarded with higher promotions to carry on their corrupt, dishonest enterprise. Hence, it is reasonably factual to argue that the Tubmans and other TWP Big Whigs own most of the Monrovia area real estate in Mamba Point, Sinkor, Paynesville ELWA Junction and the RIA Highway and Cooper Beach estates, etc., etc.
Today’s ruling political class, particularly, lawyers and lawmakers, are the most-often law-breakers in Liberia. Judges, prosecutors, practicing attorneys, court officials, juries, national police, national defense, security and Liberia immigration service officials are all, profoundly, dishonest and corrupt. In fact, the National Legislature debates and passes laws with loop-holes intended for selective obedience/disobedience.
Historically, the Republic of Liberia ruling groups have been, and are, very conscious of Social Class stratifications, adopted and thrive on such divisive systems as Americo/Congo Liberian versus Country/Indigenous-Liberian Divides, a political, un-democratic and ritualistic adventure. Some examples:
a) The African tradition of Ethnic/Tribal Bigotry – fear, rivalry, jealousy, segregation/discrimination, based on myths/superstitions and antagonisms bordering on hate which, often, led to tribal wars has been encouraged, adopted and is, now, un-written, major government Policy which led to the decades of Liberia’s recent, modern civil war of mass destruction;
b) The National Legislature recently impeached, reluctantly, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court for abuse of his judicial power as the-then “Justice in Chambers” by issuing Writ of Prohibition which prohibited the Liberian Government from collecting US $31 million from 2 petroleum importers (proved to the Associate Justice’s business partners ) who collected this sum from the public at the gas pump, but due and payable to the government;
c) The Prohibition was approved by all 5 Justices, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who presided over the Senate Impeachment trial. But Liberian Lawyers, members of the politically-powerful Liberia National Bar Association, have registered opposition to the impeachment. This, indeed, trial/impeachment provided a peak at the iceberg of the dishonesty and corruption of the Liberian judiciary process;
d) One Senator refused to support impeachment, because it (the impeachment) failed to include all five of the Justices, including the Chief Justice and the retired Associate Justice who was one of those who approved the illegal Prohibition. The Senator declared, also, that “Liberia is a Lawless country”;
e) The Liberian Senate routinely ignores, disregards and disobeys the PPCC Act which requires public bidding in awarding public procurement contracts, apparently, because of demands for kickbacks. The Senate, for example, purchased 30 top-of-the-line, expensive automobiles for itself without the required public bidding.
f) Liberia’s historical tragedy has been compounded, continues to be, such that the source of Liberia’s only informed and highly-educated Liberian political ruling Class, the MBAs, MSCs, LLMs, PhDs, including those who fled the towns & villages of Rural Liberia, the political Class of Leaders which should and must lead, teach and encourage the citizens to be independent and resilient, but has become the opulent swimmers in the pool of corruption, dishonesty and of lies, deceit, thievery, war & economic crimes. And
g) The Super Ministry of State for Finance & Development Planning actually plans and develops nothing, but continues to be the Center known, historically, for “get-rich-quick schemes of stealing and stealing with the Liberia Revenue stealing Authority in cooperation/coordination”, with beliefs that taxes collected are for the exclusive, personal use by the officials of government.
US-based Liberians expressed Concerns
Recently- announced (New Dawn Liberia, April 5, 2019) was yet another commitment by a group of concerned, US-based Liberian professionals to provide social, cultural, economic and political aid to Liberia, our troubled land and its people. That such assistance is in great demand and timely is an understatement.
Liberia’s Turbulent Past, Recent Past & Prevailing Activities
In the light of the chronic graft/greed/corruption and endemic disregard and conscious disobedience and violations of Laws during the more than a century and half of Liberia’s existence as an independent country, the following organizations and others have been, and are, engaged in activities designed to strengthen good “Government & Governance”, hopefully, for Change & Reforms, and to promote social, cultural, economic and political development of Liberia:
Center for Transparency and Accountability CENTAL
Liberia Media Initiative (LMI)
Liberia Democratic Institute (LDI)
455 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C., 20001-2621
Sustainable Development Institute (SDI)
Duazon Road, Duazon, Liberia
And several others
These are Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), the recent innovative revolution in Foreign Aid, international cooperation and development, perhaps, funded 100% or in part by government but prohibited from government participation or control, although they have lawful responsibility to deliver social services such as health, education, etc.; advocate protection for human rights, freedom of association & assembly, etc.; and influence peaceful public policy Change & Reforms, particularly, for social cultural, economic and political development.
Apparently, moreover, these NGOs are owned and managed by non-nationals who, also, own and manage Liberian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). But ownership and lawful management responsibility of Liberian CSOs which are, in fact, Liberia’s major public policy watch-dong agencies, should and must be the legal responsibility of and involvement ONLY by citizens of the Republic of Liberia. Though well-intentioned, dedicated and possess the required expertise for organization and management, but foreign nationals lack the lawful, local, legal muscle (power/authority) necessary to demand, with “guts” and the political will to achieve legal compliance. Essentially, significantly, “None Governmental Organizations (NGOs)” come to Liberia to “help us (Liberians) help ourselves”, but may not and cannot, under law, do for us that which we should and must, do ourselves.
Moreover, the NGO Foreign Aid Revolution benefitted only the Donor Countries in terms of employment of their citizens. For Liberia, the NGOs (in agriculture, finance and related enterprises) records show little or no meaningful contribution to Liberia.
The major source of the historical problem within the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) is a serious crisis of factionalism based on ethnicity, jealousy and related factors of little and/or meaningless favors (of “hand-outs”) from the “tables” of powerful, wealthy officials as compared to national, meaningful pride, dignity, honor, respect and socio-economic and political benefits to the nation and people. Basically, these Liberian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) like the NGOs, must be owned, managed and dominated by Liberian citizens, not Non-government Organizations (NGOs) for the same lawful reasons – lack of the required local, lawful legal muscle (legal power/authority) necessary to demand and achieve compliance.
But today, Civil Society activists in Liberia, as elsewhere, face serious threats. They continue to face traditional forms of repression, such as imprisonment, harassment, disappearances, and executions, although many governments have become much more evasive, elusive or refined in their efforts to limit civil society organizations (CSOs) applications, especially, in areas of the democratic process and human rights.
Liberia’s serious Social, Cultural, Economic and Political problems are numerous, as indicated earlier; but the most pronounced and pressing are:
a) Inability to feed our rapidly-growing population, although historically, our major economic activity, as indicated elsewhere, was agriculture – subsistence agriculture- and that private land ownership was not permitted in order to make land available to every household; therefore, Rural Liberia produced adequately and fed the nation.
b) But today, almost all able-body individuals fled Rural Liberia, migrated un-regulated, to Urban Liberia without the requirement for economic survival in an urban setting; therefore, hundreds of thousands of the migrants are crammed crowded and excessively over-populated Ghetto Slums Enclaves of “suburban” Monrovia with hunger, unemployment, un-education, disease, unsanitary living condition, high crime, etc., etc.;
c) But “above all else”, the Liberian Nation is held hostage, now, by the Rice Import Cartel for exclusive import of Rice, Cooking Oil (Liberia’s staples), rotten fish and chickens and related tropical food items.
Our Proposed Solution
That there is an urgent NEED for national Transformation, Change and Reforms – peaceful, radical, fundamental and comprehensive, our only option for justice, freedom, peace, security, stability and national co-existence and economic survival is un-deniable and non-debatable. To achieve this peaceful objective in the light of the foregoing analysis, we suggest and propose the following:
Formation of an Integrated Organization of Liberian citizens on-ground in Liberia (IOLIL) of Liberian professionals, including returned Diaspora-based Liberians concerned and dedicated to the Challenges-for-Peaceful-Change (CFPC) of Liberia’s traditional Political System of corruption with characteristic Impunity.
The IOLIL will consist of academics/intellectuals – Journalists, Economists, Political Scientists, Counselors- and Attorneys-at-Law, Sociologists, Psychologists, Management and Public Administration Specialists, Public Policy Specialists and Researchers/analysts.
The on-ground, in-Liberia and citizenship requirement as indicated is a critical and crucial necessity to capture, experience on-ground, in-Liberia of the socio-economic and political dynamics of who says and does what to whom, why, how, where, when and the context of these dynamics. For, dishing out “pie-in-the-sky” pontifications of classical democratic principles from the comfort of distant, foreign lands will not produce the desired peaceful, radical, fundamental, and comprehensive transformation of the socio-political Change.
Moreover, the Challenge-for-Change requires not only “the concerns” but, also, active liberal, progressive, democratic, loyal and patriotic Liberians committed to peaceful, lawful challenge to expose and rid the Nation, peacefully and legally, of corrupt and undemocratic system for Change of the following:
1) Corrupt Judges, Prosecutors, Court officials, Grand Juries and defendants with corrupt Bail/bond, foreign-owned insurance Companies;
2) Corrupt National Police, National Defense, NSA Security Agency, NEC; Corrupt State-owned Enterprises (NPA, LPRC, NOCAL, NASSCORP, NIC, etc., etc.);
3) Corrupt Branches of Government, the Executive (President and Ministers) and Legislative (Speakers & Protemps); and
4) The Indigenous Liberians who fled the towns & villages of Rural Liberia to Urban Liberia for education/personal growth and development, but now are some of the major crooks and criminals.
We argue, reasonably, that an on-ground, integrated Organization of Liberians is doable and fundable, because it is concerned with and dedicated to do and achieve the right and lawful objectives for the nation and people and that the International Community of the United Nations, led by Liberia’s historical ally and mentor, the United States of America, is and will be, with the Liberian Organization. But we, Liberians, have to start “the ball to roll”.
Some Diaspora-based Liberians will have to return home and “invest” in this Challenge-for Change. Liberia’s cesspool of corruption and Salary/Wage Allowances will not produce the desired socio-political Change. The Integrated Organization of Liberians will, initially, require a core group of about the minimum of 5-6 persons for initial organization/leadership to achieve the indicated objectives.
Funding the Organization (IOLIL)
One may ask, rightly and reasonably, about funding the Integrated Organization. As always in such cases, funding or capital formation raises the issues or has been based upon the Cause and Quality of Management, in terms of training/experience and demonstrated/demonstrable Integrity & Commitment/Dedication and , also, in terms of loyalty, allegiance and patriotism to the Cause, the Liberian State in this case.
Liberia’s “partners-in-Progress”, donors and foreign investment promoters have argued, advised and demanded, persistently and consistently over time, that there is an urgent need that should, and must, be addressed for fundamental, socio-political Change in Liberia by Liberian citizens, not those who come “to help us (Liberians) help ourselves. They are not here, under law, to do for us that which we, Liberians, should and must do ourselves”.
Therefore, we are confident that they – the United States, USAID, EU, UN, UNDP, World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Africa Bank (AB), etc., will be happy to assist with adequate funding upon diligent institution of the Integrated Organization of Liberian citizens on-ground in Liberia (IOLIL) of Liberian professionals, including returned Diaspora-based Liberians.