Saturday, September 4, 2010

Liberia: History Loses a Vital Page

By T. K. Sannah Source:

He is gone forever, leaving Liberians in everlasting wonder for answers that will likely remain unknown to generations yet unborn.
His failure to take charge and fearlessly pronounce the verdict of the five-member Special Military Tribunal decreed by the military junta following the 12 April 1980 coup d'état left Liberians in perpetual darkness about the "actual" verdict sanctioned by that tribunal.
Major-General Frank P. Senkpeni, Judge Advocate General (his sainted memory) of the Armed Forces of Liberia, who chaired the tribunal that hurriedly tried over a dozen cabinet ministers and other top government officials without any legal representation, made no statements before and after the junta ordered 13 officials shot while tied to poles on the Atlantic ocean beach at the military barracks, BTC.
The military junta had tried the officials for "rampant corruption and misuse of power", a cardinal reason amongst others they gave to justify the hitherto bloodbath.
He is no more and left no footprints like diaries, letters, notes, essays or autobiography that could shed light on this vital signature needed to update Liberia's history.
The defendants were arrested or ordered to report at BTC to non-commission officers of the military who had seized power and decreed the top brass of the army powerless and subject to their command.
At all trial sessions, which this reporter actively covered for the official news agency, Liberia News Agency (LINA), the tribunal chair and members cross-examined the defendants at the BTC where legal representation and the anxious public were prohibited.
In the absence of an announcement that the trial of ex-government officials lasting some eight days had concluded, or any verdict given by the tribunal, suddenly Gabriel Q. Nimley first information minister appointed by the junta, swiftly assembled local and foreign journalists on the early afternoon of 22 April 12 in his conference room on Capitol Hill and said this tersely: "You are invited to go to BTC where there will shortly be some executions."
Nimley, who came in sweating from the Executive Mansion, exhibited no list to the press, took no questions, scurried downstairs into his office, slammed the door and left.
The curious journalists quickly collected their equipment and sped out of the conference room and headed for to the BTC where they saw and recorded what the minister had invited them to witness.
A cloudy pall suddenly eclipsed the bright afternoon sun followed by a downpour that pounded Monrovia for nearly two hours only abating shortly before dusk.
Nightfall under curfew brought more mourning and anxiety after 13 former government officials charged with "rampant corruption and misuse of power", amongst others, had been shot by soldiers who appeared abnormal.
Gen. Senkpeni's failure to make any statement about the proceedings and verdict of the tribunal even after the junta replaced him with retired Major-general John Bernard Blamo (his sainted memory) left a vast vacuum in the history of Liberia.
With that missing signature, it is uncertain where researchers can trace records of the tribunal in order to get an insight of what it may have recommended as verdict to the military junta in 1980, if it ever did.
Questions still persist as to who decided whom to be executed since chairman Senkpeni failed to speak on this grave national issue before he died.
ELBC continuity duty announcer, Gabriel Nimley, at the time of the coup, who read the news bulletin at 7 A.M. from the Liberia News agency (LINA) hinting the new dawn in the nation, got the job by coincidence.
Days before the defendants were tried wearing overall prison outfits, junta leader master-sergeant Samuel Doe had read his first speech at the pagoda near the Executive Mansion charging that "rampant corruption and misuse of power", among others, necessitated the coup.
And on his first trip outside the Mansion after the coup, Doe first toured the defence ministry and later Central High Buzzi Quarters where he told principal Robert Kemokai to accompany him for funds to purchase copybooks for students at that school which he is said to have briefly attended.
It was there he made his first independent statement on corruption:
"There are some people, when they receive 25 loaves of bread for the students, they eat 10 and only 15 reach to the students. That is rampant corruption...anyone found doing that will not live to tell the story".
Soon after that 'you will not live to tell the story' became a cliché' in Liberia.
Doe once rebuked his foreign minister H. Boima Fahnbulleh, for urging the military junta not to relent in the surge against corruption, their reason for rise to power.
Dr. Fahnbulleh had accused the junta leaders of having taste for luxurious flashy cars and backpedalling on the fight against corruption, but Doe instead slapped him: "park your car and use bicycle to work".
As the crackdown waned with time while the junta enjoyed the paraphernalia of power, Doe once publicly declared: corruption cannot be completely eradicated, but can be only minimized."
He would only perished in a gorilla rebellion whose masterminds accused him of being dictator engaged in rampant corruption.
And yet corruption is still with us even after President of Ellen Johnson-Sirfleaf attacked the menace during her inaugural speech' as being "public enemy number one".

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

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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