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Special Feature

We Commend Cllr. Sherman For His “Guts”

The Honorable, H. Varney G. Sherman, Esq., Counselor-at-Law, Politician and Chairman of the ruling, Unity Party of which the Nation’s current President is the Flag Bearer, delivered the 166th, Independence Day Oration of our Nation, on July 26, 2013, in the City of Tubmanburg, Bomi County.

For Public “True Confession”, But When Did He Know. . .

Indeed, we applaud and extend deep gratitude to the veteran Counselor/Politician for the forceful, Liberian-history-based Oration, loaded “with food for thought”, on the prevailing issues of our time and the critical challenges that we face for the future.

Yes, we commend Counselor Sherman for his courage and determination (the “guts)” to  whistle-blow, so to speak, or “confess publicly” to the absence of some of the basic, fundamental factors – the failure/refusal to perform with diligence, dedication/commitment, loyalty and transparency in the critical areas of the nation’s socio-economic and political development – with particular reference to and emphasis on his part and the part of his Party/Government’s  failure/refusal to prescribe, implement and achieve those critical, priority/policy plans and programs in areas of national development that he, so eloquently, described/enumerated as “consolidating (national) Peace and Reconciliation for Transformation”.

But, among others, the first question that arises, inevitably, is, when did Cllr. Sherman, Chairman of the Ruling Party Government, know about these non-performances? For, the Liberian people hope and assume that the Honorable, Varney Sherman, as Chairman of the ruling Party, should and/or knows of this prevailing condition today, during the entire period of, approximately, the 8 years that his Party and Government have been in leadership.

Adding, also, that the Honorable, Cllr. Varney Sherman, is not only the Headmaster/Chairman and political strategist/tactician of the ruling, political party of the President; not only the in-house, legal/political counsel to and confidante of the President; and not only the socio-economic and political, public policy prescription Guru of the Administration, but also, that the Counselor is the major,  behind-the-scenes influence in public policy prescription/implementation during, at least, the 8 years of the present Administration.

It is reasonable, then, to speculate that the rationale for the Counselor’s “public confession” about two years into the final, six-year term of his party/government administration could be the desire for positive, historical legacy, when Cllr. Sherman declared that, “. . . if corruption remains on the lips (and minds) of our people the day you (“Madam President”) retire from office in January, 2018 . . . our legacy as a (political) Party which took over the helm of this country after the civil war will be marred forever . . .”. This assessment, perhaps, prompted the Memo to the President (The Analyst, July 31, 2013), thus: “. . . more worrying is when you (President Sirleaf) said if you knew (that Cllr. Sherman has all those governmental non-performance issues/views) you would have selected Cllr. Sherman an Independence Day Orator three years earlier. These reactions of yours give the impression that Sherman’s comments/suggestions . . . have no place in the remaining days of your nation building agenda”.

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While we prepare for a comprehensive response to the Oration, it is not possible to resist posing this question as start-up, when did Cllr. Sherman become aware of the failure/refusal to perform, on his part and the part of his party/ government, in all of the critical areas of national development, necessary to consolidate the nation’s relative, national peace and reconciliation and, above all, transform our nation?

From Decentralization (an issue re-introduced and proposed in July 1998) to the prevailing nightmare of Corruption, Inc., we made several suggestions with many written proposals recently, not criticisms. Other patriotic Liberians, much more learned and experienced, contributed scholarly proposals; but all were and are consciously ignored, due, apparently, to the re-emergence of socio-economic, regional, political and ethnic/tribal discrimination, despite all the fancy talk, on paper, about merit and inclusiveness.

Among the several issues raised and suggestions made in the Oration, the Counselor talked about “relieving the pressure on the capital city of Monrovia”. We held, in an article published recently, entitled what is wrong with Liberians, that basically, this pressure is inevitable because (a), there is little or no meaningful economic (gainful employment) and educational (learning/improvement) activities in rural Liberia; (b), most importantly, there are no roads/highways, the premier, multiplier effect in national, economic development; and (c), add to this, that political, economic and administrative decisions, with little commercial/industrial activities, are rigidly centralized in and dispensed from Monrovia.

The result (d), we held, has been and is that, almost, all able-bodied citizens trek, migrate to Monrovia, followed by the unprecedented exodus of political refugees/migrants that fled from the brutalities of the civil war into the city. Then there is the natural, rapid population growth, migration and urbanization. To resolve all of these multi-faceted challenges of socio-economic and political dimensions, the Counselor is still talking about “formulas”, and some archaic approaches used to protect and preserve the status quo that brought our nation the, inevitable, 1980 Event and the devastating civil war.

According to the Counselor, “decentralization is a process, not an event”.  Indeed, we are quite aware of this maxim; however, there is another maxim, a proverb that says, in effect, that a trip of a thousand miles is begun by a single step. That step, in legal, constitutional terms, it seems to us, is the repeal and/or amendment of the relevant provisions of our constitution (ours is a democracy under the rule of Law), because decentralization has been declared an inevitable, national policy. But the Counselor, also, suggests a “formula”, a “quick fix” of a combination of this and that, including executive orders.

Finally and briefly, we are deeply concerned, in fact, extremely troubled by that which we note in the Counselor’s argument as a flip-flop or selective application/obedience to Law, duly approved and passed. Case in point is the Counselor’s announced support for Dual citizenship as requested by our fellow, Diaspora-based Liberians; this request includes/implies patent violations of our laws in full force and effect. Specifically, many of the hard-cored proponents of dual citizenship are citizens of foreign countries who left Liberia some 15- 25 years ago and became naturalized citizens of those, foreign countries. They seek, by this proposal, to avoid the claws of the law.

On the other hand, the Counselor-at-Law is adamant in his opposition, and selective interpretation/disobedience, to the TRC recommendations for obvious, political, not inherent, competent legal reasons. For now, we withhold analysis of these and other issues raised by the Oration to our comprehensive Response.

However, successful, thriving political communities are those that observe, obey, enforce (without fear or favor), defend and protect the dignity and majesty of the Law, consciously debated, approved and passed.

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