Thursday, October 21, 2010

AFL 'Widows' On Rampage

H. McCarey Marshall

Women claiming to be widows of officers, enlisted men, and wartime recruits of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) yesterday crowded the interception of Benson and Lynch Streets, in demand of the benefits of their spouses reportedly acknowledged by Defense Ministry authorities as missing in action.

The demonstration staged by the women caused traffic jam between the two streets, prompting fear-stricken shop owners to shut down in expectation of more trouble.

But riot police arrived onto the scene as the traffic jam caused widespread frenzy across the city and as the queues of commuters lengthened at bus stops.

As some of the so-called widow demonstrators prostrated before riot police and lamented their plight and their inability to go to school, others confronted the police, raining insults and threatening violence if any attempt was made to disperse them.

The police however managed to keep the riot from expanding and attracting other belligerent groups, which was the fear of many.

It may be recalled that this is not the first time the so-called AFL "widows" have taken to the streets in demand of incentives for missing spouses.

But eyewitness said the 'widows'' demand this time around was absurd. "The women were demanding that the government give them US $5,000 each in order to compensate for the loss of their spouses," said one businesswoman who said she was forced to flee the area for fear of the rioters turning on her. "You know I sell food," she said.

In a recent reaction to rumors that the widows would take to the streets in demand of incentives, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai stated categorically that the government does not owe the widows a cent and that the Defense Ministry was in no position to entertain such demands.

Min. Samukai also said at the time that the widows refused to accept a scholarship scheme, which the Ministry of Defense established to help them obtain some marketable skills and for their children to benefit up to college level.

This is the second refusal of the widows to accept the scholarships thereby depriving their children of acquiring higher education and making impact in the society, observers say.

A lady, who asked not to be named, said she was one of the ring leaders behind the demonstration said they were compared to return to the streets in demands of incentives because the government appeared not interested in putting an end to the matter by paying them off.

She said contrary to Min. Samukai statement, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recently in a letter promised to complete the payment of their benefits upon the passage of the national budget.

According to her, the group was compelled to demonstrate upon realizing that the budget had since been passed, but that no one seemed to show interest as regard their demands.

She further disclosed that the group visited the office of the President on the 3rd of October where she promised to give the benefits in scholarships and businesses, something she said they refused and told the President that they needed the cash.

The source further said that their refusal to accept the option of President Sirleaf was based on what she termed as the reality that they were too old to comprehend and benefit from academic education or skill training were they to accept the scholarships.

She added that they were promised to be looked after but that the President has failed to live up to her promise.

The widow's ringleader said they would do everything possible to draw the attention of the international community, adding that the government was already on record for bad human right practices. In finding a remedy to the solution, the ringleaders of the group were sent for at the office of the Director of Police, Mark Ambulah for a dialogue.

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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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