Congratulations! It takes determination, courage, commitment and raw “guts” to make that momentous decision public.We welcome you to this special club of distinguished Liberians, with wishes of success in your journey to theNation’s “Presidential Palace”, the Executive Mansion.
No doubt that you are aware of the inherent criticism of politicians, worldwide. Almost a majority of citizens believe and regard politicians as poli-trick-cians or crooks – liars, thieves, killers, power-seekerswith inordinate greed and graft for wealth perceived to be associated with public service and political power.But you know that this is not true, because Politicians are a unique breed of rational beings who, by nature, are born to lead.They are honest and dedicated to the service of others; they are liberal, progressive, knowledgeable, articulate, selfless, caring, patriotic and, most importantly, they areteachers.
However, it is the tiny (bad apples) minority ofrascals,rabble-rousers and con-artistswhoinfiltrated and infiltrate this honorable club of humanists, describe and pass themselves off as “politicians”.
Now that you have commenced the journey to our “Executive Maision”, and in the light of our inherited, prevailing and future challenges facing the Republic, please permit us to give you the following Message or Reminder (tuohwlee,in Kanneh, Krahn dialect, “message from the elders”), the critical elements and substance ofwhich, no doubt, you know, already, but a Message-Reminder, nevertheless, for emphasis.
Religion – Christians& Supporters Versus Muslims-Islamists
This issue, deeply personal and highly explosive, is likely to tear this small nation apart – Christians & Supporters versus Muslims-Islamists. But they lived together for centuries in peace and harmony until, quite, recently. Christians and Supporters claim that the Liberian Nation should and must be declared, in law, a Christian nation because, they say that,“Liberia was founded on Christian Principles”.The Muslims-Islamists disagree. But, was Liberia founded, based, on Christian principles?
What are the facts of History?
According to Miss Jackie Sayeah (Sayeah, On Shaky Ground . . . FPA 2015), the White-people’sAmerican Colonization Society(ACS)started off in response to the dilemma of what to do with the Black population in America. “Robert Finley, a Presbyterian pastor on February 15, 1815, wrote a letter to a colleague . . . explaining that ‘Everything connected with their (black people’s) condition, including their colour, is against them; could not the rich and benevolent devise means to form a colony on some part of the Coast of Africa, similar to the one at Sierra Leone, which might gradually induce many free blacks to go. . . . . . We should be cleared of them; we should send to Africa a population partially civilized and Christianized for its benefits. . . ”
“The ACS . . . was formed for the sole intent that the slaves not be restored to liberty . . . except for transportation(out of the continental USA); and that, as the free coloured people never can mingle with the whites, the only practicable way of doing them good, is to remove them from their own country to the distant land of their forefathers.” The 13th Report of the ACS continues “The present number of this unfortunate, degraded, and anomalous class of inhabitants cannot be much short of half a million, and the number is fast increasing. They are, emphatically, a mildew upon our fields, a scourge to our backs, and a stain upon our escutcheon. To remove them, is mercy to ourselves, and justice.” Charles Fenton Mercer of Virginia favoured removal of the freed blacks because they were “every day polluting and corrupting public morals” and furthermore “more than half the freed black females were prostitutes and half of the males, rogues.”
“At the first general conference of those that favoured colonization of the freed slaves, Elias Caldwell explained:“It was expedient because the free blacks have a demoralizing influence on our civil institutions; . . . Africa seemed the best place to send them: ….the climate was agreeable to the coloured man’s constitution, they could live cheaply there, and above all other reasons, they could carry civilization and Christianity to the Africans. . . . With the promise of equality, a homestead, and a free passage, no black would refuse to go” (Alexander, 82).
“But refuse many did. Most Blacks distrusted the ACS and made their opposition loud and clear, claiming the USA as their place of nativity and expressing outrage that they should be banished from a land they viewed as their own. Some went so far as to approve a petition in 1817, calling for colonization “while we thus express our approbation of a measure laudable in its purpose, and beneficial in its design, it may not be improper in us to say, that we prefer being colonized in the most remote corner of the land of our nativity to being exiled to a foreign country . . . whether it would not be an act of charity to grant us a small portion of territory, either on the Missouri river, or any place that may seem conducive to the public good.”
Thus, the Liberian, African-Americans founders migrated to this land of their ancestors, forced out of the country in which they were born and bred because ofrace and skin color, without regard to religious, Christian sympathy. For the immigrant settlers, it was in search of peace, justice, particularly, racial justice, and human dignity, although they inherited and brought with them notions of Christianity, the teachings and religious faith of Jesus Christ.
So, these immigrant-settlers – “Top Hat-ted”, “Tail Coat-ted, Bow-Tied” and “Free Masons” African-Americans were and are more “Demon” than the “Devil himself”. They surrounded-surround themselves by several concubines; they fathered-father many children out of wedlock; they lived-live in a cesspool of adultery; they fornicated-fornicate extensively; they lied-lie against, hated-hate and stole-steal from others; they stole-steal, extensively from the state; they sold fellow citizens into human bondage; and they killed-kill fellow citizens for economic and political gain. This behavior, this attitude, is anti-Christianity and its teachings, although these Liberian, founding fathersattended-attend Christian Churches regularly and diligently.
Those Liberian citizens concerned about the “Christian Principles”thing, especially, the Muslims-Islamists, have nothing to fear from the“Christians, traditional believers, non-believers, etc. But there is much to fear from and be suspicious of the Muslims-Islamists. Just watch the nightly, Evening World News on television or turn to the world news page in the newspaper.
You will be treated, in the “on-going, international ‘trouble spots’, by Muslim-Islamistsatop anti-aircraft carriers with mounted artillery, brandishing AK-47 assault rifles, shoulder-mounted RPGs and preachingIslamic state, a single person-rule,sharia lawof beheadings and stonings to death, in a state that does not recognize women’s rights;other “trouble spots” on our African continentinclude Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, North Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia,all dominated by demand for Islamic State, Muslims-Islamists.The newest andmost dangerous sensationoperating in Nigeria and Cameroons is BokoHaran – Muslim-Islamist, sectarian violence of abductions, rape and murders.
Liberians, therefore, have reasons to be worried and suspicious of Muslims-Islamists, who, evidently, show no regard for human life!!
What are your thoughts, position and plans on this critical issue?
No doubt that you are aware of the passionate argument, advanced by Liberians in the Diaspora, for legalized adoption of Dual Citizenship in Liberia. You know, also, that dual citizenship is illegal in Liberia.
In his presentation on behalf of a ULAA-led/sponsored Pro-Dual Citizenship Conference held in Washington, D. C., USA., entitled, “Making The Case For Dual Citizenship in Liberia”, December 7-8, 2012, Liberia’s Dr. George K. Kieh, Professor of Political Science and former Dean of the University of West Georgia, USA, argued that “The Political Economy of Liberia(controlled and dominated by dual citizens)provides the context (or bears the major responsibility) for why some Liberians migrated to other countries . . . and acquired (naturalized) citizenship”.
Today, in Liberia, all three branches of government – Legislative, Executive & Judiciary, especially at the senior levels, are dominated bydual citizens or permanent residentsof foreign countries.The ministries and agencies of government, including, possibly,the National Elections Commission and allrevenue-generating, state enterprisesare enclaves of and dominated by former Liberians, now citizens of foreign countries (dual citizens). There are prominent members of the National Legislature who are citizens of foreign countries in flagrant violation of Article 30 of the Constitution. These former Liberians mortgaged-sold their loyalty-allegiance and patriotism to foreign countries.
Indeed, dual citizenship has now become synonymous with economic sabotage (public dishonesty or corruption), beginning with Mr. Charles Taylor during the early 1980s to the now-famous Corkrum-Johnson case, and the recent case of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (“. . . Officials Milk US $300k Japanese Fund”)starringMr. Augustine Nah Nyanplu, Desk Officer & Project Manager of the Department of International Economic Cooperation & Integration (IECI), a Permanent Resident of the United States.
What are your position and plans on Dual Citizenship?
Public/Private Dishonesty – Corruption
A universal phenomenon, Corruption is a vice found in every country, culture and society, irrespective of socio-cultural, economic and political development and level of affluence. Corruption is, apparently, intrinsic in human nature. As such, Liberia and Liberians do not have a monopoly of corruption. It is shown clearly, however, that corruption has been and can be controlled, minimized and, eventually, eradicated, through rational, public policy.
But the Liberian corruption continues to maximize its crippling grip on the nation’s economy, withdeadly incidence greater than ever. Public/private dishonesty or corruption in Liberia has, now, been developedinto a thriving, successful, big business, an industry, so to speak, managed by a corps of MBAs, LLMs. PhDs, well-heeled and well-placed in our government, such that it has become Corruption, Inc., a cancer on the nation’s economy, which may be likened to the Mafia. Moreover, corruption has become, so much, a threat to successful management of our macroeconomic process that many leading, knowledgeable personalities, including the nation’s current President, to declare corruption as “Liberia’s public enemy No.1”.Corruption, Inc. is now financed by massive abuse of government’s innovative, public policy of salary/wage allowance.
What are your plans to deal with this national menace?
Decentralization – Political, Economic & Administrative Power
In a representative democracy, the right to vote, particularly, in the selection of public officials, is regarded not as a privilege, but an inalienable right that inheres to adult citizens by virtue of their citizenship. It is the means of insuring that governments, run by Town & Paramount Chiefs, Mayors of Cities, Superintendents of Counties, etc., are responsive to the wishes of the governed – the citizens.
However, throughout the Nation’s 168-year history, executives or political leaders of the regional, political administrative sub-divisions – the Counties or Provinces – have been and are appointed, and that all power, economic, administrative & political, has been, and is, rigidly centralized in Monrovia and vested in an imperial president, consistent with the doctrine of the Unitary system, written in the Nation’s Constitution.
Moreover, we are told that “Liberia shall remain a unitary state with a system of local government and administration which shall be decentralized with the county as the principal focus of the devolution of power and authority” (Section 1.0, page 2, National Policy on Decentralization & Local Governance, January 2011).
For no other reason, one would think, that any reasonable public administrator or democratic politician answerable to the citizens, would seek change in the light of doing the samething fora century with disastrous results. For, throughout168 years,successive Liberian, Political Leaders held on to the Unitary Structure, while the nation became and becomes a “failed State”. It is in this connection that we provide, hereunder, the critical difference between the two, main, systems of government – Federal and Unitary.
Decentralization – Federal & Unitary
Both Federal and Unitary systems refer to or define “devolution”as decentralizationof power. But there are distinct, important differences and conditions, critical to successful democratic practice, particularly, in the light of Liberia’s turbulent past. In the Federal system, devolution-decentralization is guaranteed by written constitution, with terms and conditions binding upon the central, federal government and its regional, semi-autonomous constituents; whereas, in the Unitary system,devolution-decentralizationis non-constitutional and that the central, unitary government reserves the right to alter, re-arrange or abolish the devolved-decentralized powerswithout consultation and/or consent of the regional constituents, because, unlike federal system, the regional constituents lack constitutional right to exist, in the first place.
What are your plans?
The Liberian Nation, Honorable Candidate for President
The Republic of Liberia Nation of less than 4 million people, was born out of a NEED, an abiding, enduring need – the quest for human freedom, justice and equality; honor and respect for the dignity of the human person, and “the pursuit of happiness” – socio-cultural, economic and political well-being, a profound, human need – which has grown, and grows, with each passing day up to our day and time, of today.
The People, particularly, the overwhelming majority of the nation’s population, Honorable Candidate, are descendants of brave, fabled, legendary fighters – traditional warriors – who fought, diligently, in defense and protection of family and nation and, above all, for freedom, justice, equality and “the pursuit of happiness”. The Liberian citizen was born and bred in our Traditional Society, committed to fair-play, respect for and obedience to the rule of law, constituted authority and the Elders.
For example, although out-planned, out-organized and out-gunned by armed insurgents who invaded our nation, captured and occupied an estimated 75% of the nation’s territorial jurisdiction, during our time, it took the bravery, resilience and, especially, the quest of the patriotic citizens for freedom, justice and determination, to deny and force the superior-armed insurgents to the proverbial “conference table” for peaceful, negotiated resolution of our political differences, rather than the insurgent’s desired “clash of arms” on the battlefield and, finally, drove the insurgent leader out of the country into exile and . . . the rest is known history.
But the Nation is at war . . . with itself
Honorable Presidential Hopeful, it is important that we note that our Republic of Liberia is at war with itself. Liberia, the first self-governing, African Nation on the Continent of our pride, “first among equals”, so to speak, historic fact about which we, rightly, boasted and boast today, beating our chests of “this glorious land of liberty”,is at war with itself. Yes, the socio-cultural, political entity and ancestral home of the Liberian People, is breaking at the seams, due to graft, greed and dishonesty, division, jealousy, rivalry, fear, in-fighting, power-plays, abuse of power, mismanagement, incompetence, and withdrawal among, by and between the people, elected and appointed officials of the Nation. Moreover, there is, apparently, wide-spread antagonism, non-attention to major, priority, public policy issues, absence of coordination/cooperation/consultation, disorganization, etc. at, almost, all levels of our national administration.
Poverty, Hunger, Decease . . .
The majority of the nation’s population, the body politic or voting-age citizens, is un-informed, uneducated, relatively illiterate and lives in poverty & hunger,becausethere are no roads – transport and communication facilities – in the small country of ours, no social and economic services to enable the people to engage, at least, in traditional, subsistence agriculture. Given this prevailing condition, there is no production of rice, the nation’s staple. Traders in the villages and the county capitals do brisk, successful business in rice, cooking oil and several, tropical food items imported from foreign lands, although there is more land in the country than there are people; and there is disease. Some patients die of curable ailments, because nearby or available clinics or hospitals are without approved drugs for diagnosed ailments, poorly-staffed and inefficient/ineffective operations. Besides, transportation to and from the “hospitals” or clinics is a major impediment.
The over-all, painful result has been and is massive migration of residents from the towns and villages, with some to the county capital cities, without the skills necessary for urban survival. This condition created and continues to create a source for recruitment of the unemployed, poor, hungry and angered young people for drug-dealing, abuse and high crime. Other young, able-bodied men and their wives end up in illicit, gold and diamond mining camps in the forests to earn a hand-to-mouth, living-income with children left in the villages with aged parents and grandparents unable to relocate from some of the villages that are, unfortunately, without schools for these children. Therefore, it is highly likely that these children, born in abject poverty, ignorance and disease, will live in abject poverty, ignorance and disease, and will die in abject poverty, ignorance and disease.
Social, economic and political development of a political community begins with transport/communications and education/information. At this time, the nation stands in dire need of all. In order for one to build a clinic, hospital, college or any commercial/industrial complex anywhere in the nation, one must, first, travel to and get there.Transport/communications – all-weather roads/highways (the Premier, multiplier Effect in national economic development) – facilitate not only “getting there” and mass-movement of people, but also effective/efficient production, distribution and exchange of goods and services which, in turn, facilitates industrial and agricultural development, inter-intra-county, national and international trade and commerce. The next is education.But, because of the absence or lack of this necessary infrastructure for national development, there is critical need for priority, public policy attention to the construction of all-weather roads/highways, linking all counties, major cities, towns and villages in the Country. Meanwhile, the Country is, now, faced with rapid population growth, urbanization/migration and consumption without production.
Population Growth & Urbanization
Honorable Candidate for President, the phenomenal, rapid increase in the population of our nation, particularly, with massive, rural-to-urban migration, is a serious, socio-economic and political problem that calls for priority, public policy treatment.
On December 5, 2011, the Front PageAfricanewspaperreported that “Street Sellers” – market men, women, and teen-age boys and girls – within the city of Monrovia and its environs, under threat of forcible removal from street-selling, with a deadline of December 15, 2011, by the Police, responded, “let this new police director leave us alone; where does he want us to go now? . . . his December 15 deadline will not hold, where he has to take us? Let him leave us yah”.
This statement and question raised by the Monrovia Street Merchants are, indeed, loaded and profound, in terms of our national, economic policy-making choices and challenges that we must face in 21st century Liberia.There is little or no meaningful educational and economic development in rural Liberia, home of an overwhelming majority of the nation’s population. Therefore, county dwellers, mainly rural, flock to Monrovia for employment and economic livelihood, although a majority of these rural migrants were and are unprepared to cope with the demands of urban living, in terms of marketable skills necessary for economic survival; hence, street-selling, while others seek educational opportunity for personal development.
Mr. Candidate for President, the questions raised by the Monrovia Street merchants constitute demand andrational, positive answers for action and commitment. Therefore, is it not,now, about time that we create, by rational policy prescription/implementation, the desirable, economic incentives in the Nation’s Regional Political Sub-Divisions (the counties), designed to attract and retain the rural migrants – political or economic – back to their home counties?This includes not only the street sellers, but also doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, economists, business persons, professional technocrats, information technologists, politicians, educators, bankers, etc., etc.
What, indeed, are your Plans?
With Bai M. Gbala, Sr.