Sunday, May 16, 2010

LIBERIANS, WHEN WILL WE TRULY TAKE A STAND?

WHEN WILL WE TRULY TAKE A STAND?


By: Isaac Vah Tukpah, Jr.

Our country is being held hostage by the cadre of perpetrators of war. As we can see, since her state of the nation address, President Ellen Johnsons Sirleaf is pulling no stops in her quest to fulfill her revelation of being a formidable candidate and ensure a second term. She is forming coalitions and bonds with a host of politicians with no principles or backbone. She is making numerous appointments of any person she can co-opt to support her unabated zeal to stay in power. It is truly a disgrace that most of these career politicians spend their entire lives chasing government jobs with no personal standards attached. It really reminds me of the hobo in New York who carries the sign, “I will work for food.” This sort of self prostitution is so prevalent and has been so ingrained in the psyche of the Liberian people, it just seems acceptable or a badge of honor to get a government job, regardless of the attending circumstances.

Very few Liberians can claim a principled stand for refusing a government job. Majority of the opposition politicians make a whole lot of noise, criticize the government every chance they get, and as soon as a bone is thrown their way, they start scrambling and groveling like hungry dogs. An example is Milton Teahjay, a pronounced opposition leader who even stated the impossible (hair would grow in his palms) would happen before Ellen would become president and, he would go into self-exile if she won; but here he is today, working in this government and now has a litany of alleged charges against him. Yes, politics makes strange bedfellows but our definition of “strange” in Liberia has a totally different twist.

Since 2006 when she assumed power, President Sirleaf has recognized the systemic, institutionalized, and rampant corruption prevalent in government but in the totality of her tenure, she has been the PAPER-BAG lady, cocooning and wrapping corruption in her motherly bosom, protecting her appointees, family members, and protégés whenever their names have come up or when they have been accused of corruption. Madam Sirleaf has traversed the gamut of spins in defense of these corrupt individuals with her responses to their various acts, by totally ignoring corrupt activities, relieving her appointees without any definite explanation, announcing their dismissals with every other reason but corruption, and even been overly bold to the point of putting her neck on the chopping board for these folks without letting due process take place. Money has even been wired from her personal computer and her signature has been used in an attempt to get money from the Central Bank and still she has not made a concerted effort to crack down on corruption. It has even gotten to the point where her “hanging buddies”, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Chair of the Anti Corruption Commission have taken a stand on her interference in the investigation and prosecution of her corrupt appointees. When will the real IRON LADY stand up?

I am sure the international community of which she has been a faithful partner is watching and by now should have come to the conclusion that she has been ineffective in her governance and management of our post –war recovery. The consistent violent economic destabilization of our fragile road to economic and infrastructural recovery are too numerous to enumerate. Compound that with the fact that our attention span is so short and we are so inundated with the corruption activities, it seems most Liberians are numb to new information of corruption and have resigned themselves to maintaining this level of corruption as an acceptable national position. It is incomprehensible to me how we as Liberians can be so acceptable to incompetence and abuse but will totally reject change and any experimentation of,or opportunity for, the new. We are all aware that in 2005, the verbiage was “the lesser of two evils” and fast forward to today, the mantra is now “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” Let us be real fellow Liberians, in the last five (5) years, there is only one devil, and that is the government of President Sirleaf, including the appointed and elected officials. We have done the “wink, wink” when it came to the declaration of assets, we have heard Madam President use the baseless corruption excuse that people sold their houses in America and used that money to build their mansions in Liberia. How true is that when the US housing market was basically upside down and some of the folks she is speaking about never sold their houses and some of them never owned houses but lived in apartments.

Where do we stand as Liberians on the way forward? Will we continue to be accepting of the consistent pillaging of our nation’s coffers to the detriment of the general populace or will we take a stand to make a difference in the lives of our people? We are fully aware how recalcitrant the typical Liberian can be, especially those in positions of authority who are on the get rich quick trip. They will make every effort to be unresponsive to information requests, compromise processes and procedures, and flat out refuse to cooperate. When will we ever get a STRONG LEADER who will support the law enforcement and the judicial arms of our nation to ensure good governance? I am asking ALL LIBERIANS to turn over a new leaf today. I am asking you to put Liberia first, family second, and friends third. Let us begin to recognize and expose the corruption of our family and friends. Let us not be accepting and condoning when those we know commit economic crimes. Let’s not aid and abet our friends and family as they drain the meager resources of our country when those funds could be used for meaningful programs that could benefit the poor, the sick, the handicapped, the mentally disabled, and the children. When will we take a meaningful stand that’s morally guided and principle(s) based? The time is now! We must turn over a new leaf and lead the change in our nation’s recovery.

With regards to the TRC, we must be cognizant that it was established and inspired by the principles of Chapter II, Article 5(a) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia. This section of the constitution stresses that the national policies of the Republic shall “aim at strengthening the national integration and unity of the people of Liberia, regardless of ethnic, regional or other differences, into one body politic; and the Legislature shall enact laws promoting national unification and the encouragement of all citizens to participate in government.” Based on these principles and many others relevant to our recovery as a nation, the TRC was enacted on May 12, 2005, by the National Transitional Legislative Assembly. Let the smart ones amongst us not pretend or try to fool our fellow Liberians that the TRC Mandate is unconstitutional because it is not and it was established by the governing legislative body at the time. How can we allow the minority of Liberians who according to the TRC final report “commanded the forces of arms, financed, resourced and provided political and ideological guidance to several warring factions” to manipulate us just so that they can remain in power and continue to have a stranglehold on our recovery. To move beyond this tragic period of our history and achieve true national healing and reconciliation, we cannot simply let bygones be bygones and allow the perpetrators to control our country and our economy. We cannot let these warmongers continue to exist amongst us with impunity while enjoying an elevated level of socio-economic and political stature gained as a result of the atrocities they rained on our people.

At the inauguration of the TRC in February 2006, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf made the following statement: “Our country cannot continue to evade justice and the protection of human rights throughout our land, especially of the kind that restores our historical place among civilized nations. Our Government will ensure that those culpable of the Commission of crimes against humanity will face up to their crimes no matter when, where, or how.” Oh, how wonderful this statement sounded back then! Unfortunately today, she has become oblivious to the commitment she has made. How can she be in such disregard for the oath of office she took? Is it the greed for power that prevents Madam President from ensuring the implementation of the TRC? Is it just that she cannot stand by her words, a la “one term?” Most recently, she appointed Pearl Brown Bull to chair the Independent Panel of Experts responsible for vetting the appointees to the Independent National Human Rights Commission (INHRC). How can she appoint a former TRC Commissioner, one who refused to sign the final report due to “dissenting opinion”, to such a critical position? The conflicting messages such an appointment sends cannot be lost on our Harvard-educated president.

Madam Sirleaf is traveling to the United States! Stand with me and let’s show the United States that the Paper Bag lady’s domestic performance has been abysmal, her approval rating is way below acceptable, and that we need external pressure to get her to do the right thing. Please call the White House at (202) 456-1111 or email the White House at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact and express your dissatisfaction with regards to corruption, implementation of the TRC Final Report, and passing the Threshold Bill to ensure the 2011 elections will take place. Some thoughts to consider for your call are:

1. Ask President Obama to impress upon President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that she needs to stop protecting and begin prosecuting corrupt officials in her government

2. Ask President Obama to call upon President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to implement the TRC Report as required by TRC Act.

3. Ask President Obama to get a commitment from President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that she will ensure passage of the Threshold Bill in a timely fashion to ensure Elections 2011 is a reality.


Note: The author is a Liberian who is passionate about Liberia and wishes the best for Liberia. He is the host for the HOW I C 8 (HOWIC8) online radio show on RadioLib.com. He can be reached at howic8@kendejah.com.

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Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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