LIBERIA – HOW TO AVERT AN ALMOST INEVITABLE IMPLOSION
March 26, 2014 - Isaac Vah Tukpah, Jr.
From Whence do we commence? Too many people are giving up. Too many people are at their wit's end. It is that bad!!! When some of the most "your let's leave the people thing" persons I know are calling me to say WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING, I know it's time for well-meaning Liberians to collectively engage in positive actions to avert an almost inevitable implosion.
Just HOW do we begin these series of onerous and unpalatable tasks? I think I should first add some perspective so that we understand some of the emotions and undercurrent behind this article. I was in the company of two friends couple of nights ago. One has been an ardent supporter of Madam Sirleaf over the years and the other a symbolic victim of the system. The Ellenite has washed his hands from Liberia and is only supporting a few kids he feels committed to. He's convinced only bloodshed can cleanse the country. The second is just frustrated like I was in 2003 that we never excluded all the warlords, war strategists, and war financiers from participating in governance. They range from Cyril Allen, Emmanuel Shaw, and Benoni Urey, to Prince Johnson, Alhaji Kromah, Kabinneh Janneh, Adolphus Dolo, Daniel Chea, Tom Woewiyu, to the President Madam Ellen Johnson herself, to name a few. He, like me, feels all these folks should have been thoroughly investigated for their roles in the war, held accountable in 2003, and excluded from participation in subsequent governance if they were guilty of any charges. He decries them walking around town and operating with impunity and wealth while the majority of Liberians are suffering. He wants them identified, investigated and excluded from any governance efforts.
At 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning, I talked to another friend on the ground. He has been an integral part of Liberian politics since the late 1970's. He's of the opinion, like many of the people he has talked to, that the situation on the ground is irreversible with the current leadership. He believes this government and many of those individuals mentioned above and some others not named need to get out of the way in order for Liberia to move forward progressively. He is adamant that he is willing to die if there is a need to kill all of them who fall in that category of inhibiting and/or blocking the progress and development of Liberia. But I reminded him, we are not here to kill our fellow compatriots, are we? We just want to hold them accountable. As an alternative, he's proposing that like-minded Liberians need to consolidate today and bring a hard line voice to the domestic and international table about what direction we need to go.
I spoke to another Liberian on Friday who firmly believes there seems to be no credible political voice on the ground that real speaks to and wants to ameliorate and sustainably improve the current conditions under which the bulk of our compatriots exist. He knows people are hopeless, as in – they have LESS HOPE of things ever changing and improving for the better under this present government. He firmly believes the members of the International community he has dealt with (US Embassy, USAID, EU, IMF, WB, ADB, etc.) are contemptuous of our current leaders but seem stuck with them. We see it from their demands to have their people lead projects and the conditions they are trying to impose on government operations. He believes the government cannot meet the approximate $90 million obligation to contractors that the likes of Victor Smith & Stephen Yekeson have committed the government to under the careless watch of Kofi Woods. He also believes the numerous concessions, i.e. the heralded $16 billion of investment that Eugene Shannon, Richard Tolbert, Madam President and others claimed, that our legislature approved, and Madam Sirleaf signed into law will not generate the expected or promised returns for the Liberian people. He believes the economy is in dire straits and the liquidity problem is here to stay given the heavy migrant concentration, government's inability to pay contractors, contractors' indebtedness to the banks, and banks refusal to lend except in extreme emergencies. Liberian businesses are struggling with no access to capital or even getting business directed to them. He claims many businesses have resorted to begging for gas slips to keep their lights on and get their business going. He believes the recent fire that destroyed 200 acres of Sime Darby's property was an act of deliberate arson. He thinks the land grab is not a winnable or sustainable proposition for Liberia's future. He avers that all these economic issues do not seem to be on the priority list of this government.
Lest I am remiss, I also got a recent call from a young lady who I see as one of those pure of heart patriots. She's not connected to any political party, but she's committed to Liberia, has a vision for where we should be heading, and is already making head waves and in-roads in that direction. She was clear the WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. Just what, she doesn't know but her heart is heavy and she doesn't believe continuance on this downward spiral is sustainable or can last another three (3) years.
So where do we begin? How do we move forward? If you had a choice to start over from 2003, what would be your suggested path? Do we subscribe to the theory of some who believe "we should have killed our fellow compatriots" who held major responsibility for the war and by their actions have and continue to set back the development of the country? Do we reach out to the US/Congress with a powerful delegation/demonstration that they must preempt the implosion of our country? Are we ready to make the move to save the country or do we still think our current leadership can reverse the level of corruption, crime, grime, infighting, apathy, and gloom & doom rhetoric?
Another theory is that the actions meted out by Madam Sirleaf and her lackeys have been deliberate, brazen acts that can be interpreted as acts designed to move the country into negative action or on the precipice of unrest. These audacious actions by this seasoned political actor and her cast seem to say to the Liberian people, "We are going to hand you all 'dung' to eat, and we dare you say anything about it!" These calculated actions have the tendency to guide the eyes, ears and hands of the masses to a place of no return. A place where with their faces stuck to the ground, they have no option but to rise up and strike back with acts beyond simple civil disobedience, likely driving us back into the abyss of darkness that the early '90s and 2000s brought. This setup will then be used as justification by Madam President and her cronies to present a picture of "poor little chaotic Liberia" to our international friends and partners, in order to up the ante on a status alert of a country gliding back to the brink of war, if not all out war. As a matter of fact we are already seeing that with the Chinese riot troops that were brought in and the new contingent of 700 Nigerian soldiers that are supposedly being deployed to Liberia. Is this in preparation for an April event? ALL of this deliberate manipulation of the country is being masterminded by Madam Sirleaf and her cohorts, so as to have a continued control of the country's resources and add time on their watch beyond 2017, in order to finish what they've started and amass enough wealth by any means necessary.
Well let me propose to you what I think. Given that a very volatile jungle/vigilante justice environment exists on the ground, any civil action could erupt into a violent conflagration, I don't suggest any action on the ground. I propose a non-partisan team of at least 100 persons who are ready to commit to a BETTER LIBERIA and are willing to put their reputation, energy, and commitment on the line to make a positive difference. I propose a minimum 100 person-All Liberian SAVE LIBERIA demonstration at the US Congress, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Union followed by specific delegations having constructive meetings with members of Congress and officials of these international agencies who are willing to hear our cries. I need at least 100 people to stand with me and communicate to the International Community that we appreciate what they have done to date but they must come clean and admit that the Liberian experiment has not worked since 2003 and it NEVER worked since 1822. We need to go back to the drawing board and lay out the road-map of how our country should progress.
I also propose that we work with each other in the Diaspora to flood the White House emails with our letters, flood our Congresspersons lines with daily and sustained calls. In order to contact your Congressperson, visit http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ click on your state. You will be provided with the phone number and email contact of your Congresspersons. Call your respective lawmaker or click on the respective contact form and send them a message. Language to send a consistent message can be constructed collaboratively. We can jointly petition President Obama at https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petitions to help us solve this problem.
We can utilize our voices via the diaspora radios/internet services and via the social networks – Facebook and Twitter especially. We can stand our ground for our brothers and sisters in Liberia who are not at liberty to speak truth to power without being rounded up and arrested on charges of treason or terroristic threats. We can put up joint statements – LIBERIAN DIASPORA COUMMUNITY IN ONE ACCORD – USA, EU, Asia, Australia, and other African countries!
Let's use the freedom we have in this global village to bring the necessary attention to our plight at home before Madam Sirleaf's playbook is fully executed and grows wings beyond our reach. Let's defeat this mammoth monstrosity in its still developing stages and sear off forever the fist of Machiavelli and its enablers!!!!
Who wants to stand by my side as we take this bold step to reclaim our country?