A few years ago, a bill for dual citizenship in Liberia was introduced in the Liberian Senate by the President Pro-Temp Cletus Wotorson, Senator of Grand Kru County. Senator Wotorson’s decision for such bill was initially under the influence of a group of United States-based Liberians in the state of Minnesota, who had launched a 10, 000 signature petition drive to urge President Ellen Sirleaf and the Liberian Legislature to embrace the idea of ‘dual citizenship’ in Liberia.
Senator Wotorson, in a Voice of America interview, admonished US-based Liberians opting for such status, to constructively engage or lobby their representatives and senators in Liberia intensely through phone calls and email. The “Wotorson sponsored Dual Citizenship Bill” did not receive the anticipated response, as it was discouraged when introduced before the Senate’s plenary by majority members of the Liberian senate-committing it to ‘political homicide’ the week following their arrival from their ‘annual agriculture break’.
Still determined to pursue their ‘dual citizenship’ dream to the end, the issue was resurrected with more vigor at an “All Liberian Conference” on Dual Citizenship in the US State of Philadelphia from December 12-14, 2012 bringing together Liberians from the Diaspora, following which a resolution evolved to reinforced the campaign.
In Liberian at the moment, a Diaspora delegation is spearheading the campaign to make a case for the passage of the Dual Citizenship Bill still before the Liberian Senate. Despite the explanation of the objectives of the campaign by the Diaspora Delegation, the idea of dual citizenship seems not to be realizing its expected result among Liberians in Liberia. At the University of Liberia where a ‘Town hall’ meeting under the auspices of the Diaspora Liberians was held, the campaign received a setback when some members of the Liberian Legislature, students of the university and others vehemently opposed the idea of dual citizens.
Various radio and television talk shows in Monrovia which hosted the Diaspora delegation could not generate the support necessary to further stimulate the debate, as the issue of loyalty became contentious between callers and the guests.
“We support dual citizenship because we believe it is in the economic interest of Liberia; it is also in the national security interest of Liberia to have dual citizenship. We believe (for) a country emerging from 14 years of civil war, it is important to introduce dual citizenship because it will give Liberians, almost 500,000 who are in the United States and other parts of the world, and who have gained United States citizenship to go back home and contribute to the development of Liberia,” noted the Diaspora Liberian delegation just everywhere they visit as a way of convincing their fellow compatriots on their mission.
While one may be in full agreement with the foregoing, it would also be foolhardy for another to believe that such “words would be turned into deeds” judging from the current experience of Liberians, regarding their relationship with other Diaspora Liberians currently in top decision-making positions in the Ellen Sirleaf Administration. It is no secret that instead of helping the process of national reconstruction, including economic recovery, their basic concern is to support the American economy by remitting all that they work for in Liberia to the United States, where their families and other interests belong.
The frustration currently characterizing the ongoing ‘Dual Citizenship in the country’ campaign under the auspices of the Diaspora Liberian delegation may also be attributed to the “slave master-mentality’ being exercised by some of the Diaspora Liberian officials of the current government against fellow indigenous compatriots could also be a factor responsible for the resistance against the campaign.
Considering that the conditions which may have gravitated the decision of Diaspora Liberians into the nationalities of other nations, including the United States no longer exist, and that their interests are now redirected, is it possible to relinquish such nationalities for the socio-economic, political and infrastructural development of “Mama Liberia?”
With the various academic, technical and economic achievements and advancements of Liberians in the Diaspora, including the United States and their ardent desire to contribute to the reconstruction of their ‘motherland’, could they now give up their respective nationalities or just maintain resident status, and once again become Liberian citizens”? What is actually the big deal with relinquishing a foreign citizenship amid all of the achievements in the Diaspora for the sake of Liberia?
Anyway, Liberia still remains the beacon of hope, but our problem with us as a people (no matter which part of the world we live), will continue to be us because of the lack of sincerity and commitment.