Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Liberia: Bribery, Intimidation Claims Shut Down UL Graduate Course

Source: allAfrica.com

When influential politicians and decision-makers, along with businessmen armed with money and connections, sit before a university lecturer uncertain of his protection, academics take the backseat while influence runs ahead.

This is the story of a young University of Liberia lecturer, Mr. Romeo Gbartea, contracted to teach aspirants for MBA degrees. He soon discovered the uniqueness of Liberia, where politics prevails over all things.

Amongst his students is the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Edwin Snowe, who graduated Summa Cum Laude from the university in 2009. Another student is a Lebanese businessman, Nicholas Fayad, once jailed at the Monrovia Central Prison for attempting to give Chief Justice Johnnie Lewis, a carton of Johnny Walker whiskey.

They all want the respectability that they believe a graduate degree bestows, except that, according to their professor, they have no time for the luxury and discipline of studying or listening to the lecturer. "If you mess with me, you will never have a job in this country," the lecturer quoted Mr. Snowe as once threatening him.

"Snowe is a very indisciplined student. He eats in class and is constantly on the phone," the young lecturer said.

Efforts to contact Mr. Snowe on the issue for comments were unsuccessful.

But Mr. Snowe is not alone and this is not unusual. The Lebanese businessman, the lecturer said, threw test papers back at him with blanks, saying he had no time for test because the President, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was sending him on a mission.

When this paper contacted the Lebanese man, he said he has been warned by the UL authorities not to comment on the issue.

This is not surprising because, according to the lecturer, the Lebanese man claimed he failed the exam for not offering the lecturer a bribe, claims disputed with the blank test paper as part of the evidence. But even with the blank test paper as proof, university authorities still went ahead and cancelled the course.

Frustrated, the lecturer struck back, he told reporters at a press conference: "The University of Liberia Educational Reform in Post Conflict Liberia is not by talking, but by sincere implementation of programs. Let the record go straight that Nicholas Fayad, Edwin Snowe, Satta A.M. Mckay and other disrespectful students were seriously disciplined in compliance with the Handbook of the University of Liberia (and) nothing more than that. I will always discipline, monitor & evaluate my students properly so that they can be good future leaders. I have done no educational wrong to train students of the University of Liberia. When Politics takes the course of academic issue on this matter, then the state education system is in trouble.

"Whatever the case may be, it will always encourage my students to study well, and be disciplined at all times. Let me tell the Faculty Senate of the University of Liberia that I will always make the right academic decision for the betterment of our education system," the professor said.

The professor explained that students Fayad, Snowe and others are indisciplined students who intend to tamper with his good character, saying, "Student Nicholas Fayad with I.D. No. 51052, commonly known as 'COUSIN', who claims to be a Lebanese business merchant, could not write a word or make presentation in any of the PADM-648 class activities, but preferred to get an 'A' as a passing grade."

He said student Fayad always gave excuses that he was on errands for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He said he recorded "I" for Student Fayad because he scored zero on a test recorded over 75%, and because he also did not complete the 25% requirement of the course which is in conformity with the University of Liberia Handbook.

Mr. Gbartea said he informed student Fayad to repeat the course this semester, but he refused on ground that he has been appointed to some position somewhere by the President of Liberia; therefore, he needed a quick assignment to ensure him pass the course before traveling to where the President of Liberia has appointed him.

The lecturer said Fayad asked some personalities of the University to beg him, but he told them that there was no compromise.

Meanwhile, Student Fayad is not the only student to repeat the course.

There are four other students repeating the course, but Lecturer Gbartea refused to identified them due to ethical reasons, posing a series of questions: "Why has the University of Liberia Faculty Senate taken this anonymous release so serious against my decent character? Why did the author refuse to write a formal communication? Why did they refuse to call me for questioning when I signed a contract with them for the semester? Why has the Faculty Senate of the University of Liberia reduce academic matters to politics? Are you sure that the President of Liberia will ever support any academic fraud?"

The lecturer also revealed that Student Snowe insulted him and threatened that he would ensure his ejection from the university and that there would be no one to rescue him.

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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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