Friday, October 22, 2010

Sassywood or Not? Cabinet Retreat in Buchanan

By: Dr. Abdoulaye Dukule’ (Buchanan, Grand Bassa)

Source: The Liberian Journal

The Chief of the Traditional Council, Chief Zanzan Kanwor took the microphone and after greeting the crowd, said, “we the traditional people have our ways. Last month, a group of young men went in the bush. When they returned home, one of them was missing. After a few days and the parents’ complain, we took them to the police and they locked them up. The CID came and investigated more than one week. Nothing. Then we asked permission to bring sassywood. By the end of the day, the boys admitted killing their friends and we turned them to the police for trial. We want our sassywood, you people can keep your CID.”

When he ended, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said that sassywood was made illegal longtime ago because people thought it was taking us back and was not reliable. The Chief was adamant and said, “what you do and what we do can go side by side. You don’t have to stop what we do.” Although it was said at the beginning that people should refrain from clapping, there was thunderous applause as the Chief walked back to his seat, waving his cowtail.

This argument had started when the Minister of Justice Christina Tah said there was a need to discuss the issue of traditional justice. She said many people in the society believe in traditional means of justice and have very little faith in the modern justice system. She said this was not just a phenomenon of the countryside and gave the example of some of her personal well educated friends in Monrovia who called sassywood to settle a dispute about a lost wallet. They brought sassywood, applied it to all six people who were in the room and none was caught. Just as they pondered how it was possible that a wallet could be lost and nobody stole it, a phone call came from the restaurant where the man had forgotten his wallet. The story had been reported to Minister of justice Tah by one of the people involved in the incident, now a convert to sassywood.

Chief Justice Johnnie Lewis intervened and said that the item should be discussed in group session. Then someone suggested that people run to traditional system because the modern judiciary was weak. Minister of Labor Tiawon Gongloe said that the low level of training of the magistrates was a serious predicament and Chief Justice Lewis challenged him to name one such magistrate.

Then came the issue of schools in rural areas. President Sirleaf said that everywhere she goes, people ask for more schools. “These are usually communities of 5 to 6 families who live just three or four miles from another small community…” Someone in the audience suggested that people be encouraged to live in bigger towns if they want to send their children to school. The Minister of Internal Affairs cited the example of Sinoe County where Superintendent Milton Teahjay was able to convince small communities to move closer to Unification Town where schools and health centers were built and so far it had worked. The Superintendent t of Bong County R. Jackson said the issue of small communities has to do with land security. “People are afraid that if they move, someone would come and take ownership of their land.” A suggestion was put forward to have government survey land at no cost and protect the ownership of those who want to move closer to bigger towns. The Superintendent of Cape Mount said they have tried to resolve the problem by building dormitories around large schools and parents provide feeding. She said the pilot project is so far working.

Earlier, there was a back-and-forth between Minister of Finance Ngafuan and President Sirleaf about the issue of expenditures. Minister Kofi Woods of Public Works had complained that the slow pace in obtaining funds from the Ministry of Finance had a negative effect on the implementation of quick impact projects. Minister Ngafuan blamed it on the procurement system, which he said, needed to be improved. The President intervened and said that the Ministry of Finance should ensure that the budget is fully expended by the end of the fiscal year. “ We cannot have projects stalled because Finance is slow in making payment.”

Ellen Loj, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General said that government should try to deploy police in the leeward counties. US Ambassador Linda Greenfield said that the police should be capacited and said that her government had helped to train the ERU (Emergency Response Unit) that has been very effective so far in the city of Monrovia.

The open forum was chaired by President Sirleaf and there were about 400 people from government agencies, corporations, development partners, traditional chiefs and people from various sectors.

Earlier, the audience gave a standing ovation to the Bassa Choir after they sang the National Anthem in Bassa. In the afternoon, the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) Special Retreat broke into 16 working groups, covering every aspect of governance.

Discussion groups will continue until tomorrow afternoon.

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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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