Thank you for the space provided in your reputable newspaper for me to write this Open Letter to Counselor Winston A. Tubman.
Since leaving government service over the past five years, I have refrained from making comments on public issues. However, during the ongoing presidential and legislative campaign which will end Sunday, many statements have been made by many individuals, candidates and non-candidates alike. Of all these, I have been particularly struck and outraged by three statements made by Counselor Winston A. Tubman, as follows:
(1) Counselor Tubman was reportedly quoted in some national newspapers as having said that his Congress for Democratic Change “would win the elections unless if they are cheated”. For the specific purpose of this letter, I consider this statement incendiary, injudicious, lacking in leadership, and uncharacteristic of a “Harvard Man” whose desperation for power is such that he would not care less if the entire country is again set aflame if that is what it would take to achieve his ambitions.
(2) On another occasion, Counselor Tubman was reportedly quoted as having said that “civil liberties” would not be accorded priority under a government he would head as president. This statement is revealing and instructive, because Counselor Tubman was Minister of Justice when late Dr. Edward B. Kesselly and late Mr. Jackson Fiah Doe were arrested and bundled off for incarceration at the notorious Belleh Yella Maximum Detention Center where they both were subjected to various forms of torture treatment. So, Liberians, shine your eyes and do all that you can to ensure that our common country does not retrogress into those dark days when Liberians were not free in their own country to from exercise their God-given freedoms and right.
(3) Yet again on, Friday last week, a day that brought Glory to Liberians, Africans in general, and women folk everywhere when the President of Liberia, along with another eminent Liberian lady, was selected to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Counselor Tubman granted a BBC interview in which he angrily, shamefully and to the consternation of the whole world tried to scorn what is clearly a monumental achievement for our President by declaring that the President was undeserving of the award.
(4) I consider Counselor Tubman’s BBC interview as un-Liberian, unpatriotic, petty, envious, and un-statesman-like. That Winston Tubman could not rise above his desperation for power to acknowledge, for Liberia’s sake, the historic significance of the announcement by the Nobel Committee in Oslo, Norway, clearly shows how incapable he is to be a good leader of any country.
(5) Due to his rather politically amateurish and disgraceful outbursts on the BBC over the Nobel Peace Prize announcement, Counselor Winston Tubman failed to see that the award is more than an honor for President Sirleaf personally. Indeed, it was lost on him that by granting the award to the first sitting Head of State ever in Africa, the whole world is saying to Liberia that “we see your comeback; we acknowledge your efforts and your achievements and progress in the restoration of civil liberties, the empowerment and recognition of the role of Liberian women in national leadership and development, improvements in health, education, and infrastructure, peace and good governance, and so we welcome you back to the community of civilized and democratic nations.”
Clearly, Friday, October 7, was Liberia’s day of honor, our day of collective pride and celebration that went beyond President Sirleaf; it was a glorious day and event that goes beyond out individual political differences and calls for collective celebration and appreciation of such a momentous international recognition. Unfortunately and sadly, Counselor Tubman, who has no record of standing up for the interest and rights of the downtrodden over the past several decades, has, by his sour grapes comments on the Peace Prize award, shown once more to the Liberian people, that he does not care for the country. And that all he is interested in only power for power’s sake!
There is a parable that a chicken is hatched the very day it is spotted; or put in another way, a successful wedding is determined by the bachelor’s eve! To the extent that this is so, all right thinking Liberians should now see way ahead of time the kind of terrible and self-centered leadership Winston Tubman would want to establish in our country. A hint to the wise, I am reminded, is sufficient.
This latest gaffe by someone who wants to lead us has deeply offended me as it has many other Liberians across the political spectrum because I know Counselor Tubman personally, and never expected that he would allow himself to sink to such low depths of hate and envy all because he sees President Sirleaf as the obstacle to his insatiable quest for the Presidency. Before now, I always considered Counselor Tubman as an “all Liberian” who could minimally transcend his narrow ambitions to see the bigger picture, but, alas, his Friday BBC interview has completely disabused my mind of any such regard and thoughts for him.
I therefore ask all well-meaning Liberians to join me to ask Counselor Tubman the following: (1) Did you need to stoop so low just to acquire fleeting political power? (2) Is the Liberian presidency so important that you would ruin your standing among right thinking fellow Liberians? (3)Do you despise President Sirleaf so much as to want to deny your country, our country, the one day and the one moment when all of us, regardless of class, political, religions and socio-economic conditions and differences, should have come together to just celebrates? (4) Would you have violated any cardinal personal principle to simply say, “I congratulate you, President Sirleaf and our country”? (5) Was it difficult to sound complimentary and nationalistic in the BBC interview? (6) Did the conspiracy theorists within your party imagine that this was a European plot to “give the presidential election to President Sirleaf”? (7) What do your so-called theorists believe will accrue to Europe with the election of President Sirleaf?(8) What fish, beyond its support for democracy and freedom, would the Nobel Committee have to fry in the outcome of a Liberian election to want to act in a way that skews it in one way or another? (9) Were you afraid that if you did not sound angry and disappointed, your party would see you as a traitor and would not accept you as its leader? (10) Who are your strategists? (11) Were your statements representative of values that you were taught in the prestigious Harvard Law School? (12) Were you opportune to see and hear the gracious, almost humbling concession statement that Senator John McCain delivered on the night he lost to President Barack Obama? (13) Do you still have left in you any democratic credential to compel you to make such a concession statement or would you issue vituperations and then claim, as you have already intimated, that your “party was cheated”? And can Liberians and the international community conclude by this very unpatriotic and thoughtless BBC comments that when you are soon to be heavily defeated in the ensuing elections, you would deny the reality and go berserk? (14) How committed to the continued peace and stability and security of our country? (15) Do you reckon that in this election, one political party is bound to bound to win the presidency and that one of the important factors that will drive victory is not the number of young men and young women you put out in the streets, but how much hope you have inspired in our people; what you leadership agenda and vision are, how hard you worked, your organization not just in Monrovia but throughout the country? Are you therefore endeavoring to give a reality check to the young people who follow your running mate with passion that in elections, there are winners and losers? And (16) is your BBC interview symptomatic of your disposition and your response after the election?
As you can see my good and learned Counselor, this friend is angry and disappointed. I am disappointed by your conduct. And I am disappointed by your utterances both nationally and internationally. There are 16 presidential candidates in this election. However, based on my knowledge hitherto of you, I expected you to provide leadership and adult guidance and supervision, instead of being bitter, envious and grumpy at the success of someone who could have congratulated you if it were you who was awarded this unprecedented prize for a sitting African President. . Indeed, if you cannot stand up now for whom you are, what you are, and what you believe in, how could this nation of nearly four million people expect and trust you to lead it if you were ever elected president?
Frankly, I know you can’t. Do you remember the May 1990 delegation which late President Doe constituted and which you led to the United States to hold discussions with all levels of the United States Government and the Liberian opposition during the early months of the Liberian civil war? Do you remember how you were intimidated and cowed by Selley Diggs Thompson? Do you remember that you could not even muster the courage to bring yourself to write the report of the delegation’s discussion with the simple message that was clearly and repeatedly communicated to us at every meeting we held from the State Department, White House, and to the Congress, which was that there was a “tremendous reservoir of good will in the United States Government for the Liberian people but not for President Doe?”
Do you remember who volunteered to write the report? I did because I owed it to Liberia and to President Doe to let him see and read the unvarnished position of the United States Government. If on small things that border on peace and stability and national honor and war and courage and leadership you could not muster the courage to act, to stand up for principle regardless of consequences, as you have again demonstrated, how can the people of Liberia come to the conclusion that you will provide leadership and open the path of reconciliation in this post conflict and fragile country? Will you just bear the presidential title while others make critical decisions, decisions that could re-launch on the inglorious path of plunder and conflict and suffering?
As you know, I did not attend Harvard, and am therefore unfamiliar with its specific academic culture. But I did attend Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis/St. Paul in Minnesota. I also taught school in the United States and participated in many specialized training programs on the value and culture of American education from pre-nursery to tertiary. I therefore know a little about the common academic culture that characterizes American education: open-mindedness, fairness, democracy and freedom, individualism, enterprise, respect, tolerance, acceptance, hard work, and COUNTRY. This is in fact while when United States of America wins, all Americans celebrate. When the United States of America is attacked, all are outraged and angry and united to fight and defeat the enemy.
Counselor Tubman, Liberty Party and Counselor Charles Brumskine, no less a foe to President Sirleaf than you and your party, albeit reluctantly, issued a statement of congratulations to President Sirleaf. I know it must have been difficult for them to do so. But good politics and love of country and patriotism compelled them. And whether they were being hypocritical or not, they have at least proved that they are politically and morally better positioned than you in the scheme of Liberian politics and leadership.
Originally, I wanted to write just a terse letter to you. However, because of my sense of disappointment, this letter has just seemed to flow. It is written by a friend and fellow Liberian, who believed you were above the pettiness of Liberian politics that you so dramatically portrayed to the whole world on Friday. You have made several blunders in the past several weeks to the point where you certainly are no longer electable even for some of your own party supporters. But this latest outburst on the BBC has made Liberians and the entire world to henceforth see you as irrelevant in Liberia’s reconstruction and reconciliation efforts—despite your tongue in cheek trumpeting of reconciliation as a pillar of your desire for the Liberian presidency. How can you reconcile any people when you do not seem to see any good even at the best of moments?
Counselor Tubman, you tried to spoil our national day of honor and celebration. But let me state categorically that you have failed. Accept that President Sirleaf is God’s and Allah’s child. This is why she is blessed and achieves success in most things she undertakes to do for the nation. This is not the 1970s when politicians repeatedly poured asphalt or coal tar or palm butter on our nation’s moment of triumph and celebration and honor. Liberia refuses to back to the dark periods of our national existence.
Despite your small-minded comments on Friday on a global achievement that our illustrious President and her fellow compatriot have gained for us all, we, the patriotic, true citizens of Mama Liberia massively congratulate Madame President on achieving this historical recognition and honor in recognition and appreciation of her work on behalf of peace, freedom, democracy, women and children all over the world – and good governance.
Yes, Madam President and Madam soon-to-be re-elected President, remains the symbol and representative of our collective aspirations at this point in time; and for that we, the true and freedom-loving citizens of our country are proud of her and will therefore troop to the polls on Tuesday to maintain her in the presidency in order to continue to do the good job we and indeed the international community have recognized her for not only for the past nearly six years, but long before that time. And so, notwithstanding a Winston Tubman’s jealous, envious and mean spirited comments on the Nobel Peace Prize for our First citizen, we appreciate our President and feel very good as Liberians for the international recognition. And Winston Tubman will soon painfully realize how negatively Liberians feel about him, come Tuesday.
Morris M. Dukuly, Sr.
Former Speaker/Transitional Legislative Assembly (TLA)
Former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs/COS to President Sirleaf
Former Minister of Posts & Telecommunications
Member/1990 Tubman Delegation to the United States