(In simple English)

                                                   By D. Garkpe Gedepoh

                                                        January 7, 2012

What is the purpose of an opposition party? Why would anyone oppose the ruling party in a country? Well, one might think that when the government steers the country in the wrong direction, embezzle or mismanage state coffers, practice nepotism, consistently render injustices, or lack the ability to govern, then the opposition leaders would lash out at the rulings, decisions, or in short, the unscrupulous activities of said government in the interest of the state; and that the opposition would not only hammer out in objection, but spell out the errors, make appropriate suggestions, or simply take the sitting government to task. In any case, the opposition would intercede between the haves and the have-nots. But this certainly is not the case in the Republic of Liberia where leadership institutions lack the ability to function properly and individuals constantly appear out of the woodwork, spend few dollars on a handful of struggling masses in an attempt to stand on the political pedestal and then claim to have the solutions to the plight of the suffering masses.

The New Schemes

It appears that some politicians in contemporary Liberia have become political hackers, finding it difficult to articulate their own platforms to the masses. These hackers are apparently taking advantage of the high unemployment crisis in the country by spending few dollars on some less fortunate people and pretending to be concern about the well being of the masses. Moreover, they are aware that the civil war has left the nation with a serious brain drain and a high illiteracy rate; and that the destitute masses are unmotivated to question their political schemes. It is from these trouble waters that the hackers cast their nets to pull ashore some hungry masses that care less about platforms but are in search for food to survive.

The hackers also seize the opportunity to pay traditional musicians and dancers who entertain amidst lots of cane juice and sounds of horns, thereby attracting the attention of local dwellers. They then make announcements that another leader is born and will save the suppressed masses from the suppressors or the oligarchy.

Some of these hackers even go on to form social clubs, and then register their clubs under persuasive names as political parties with the National Elections Commission. They even compensate some less fortunate Liberians to put their voter registration numbers on their party rosters indicating that they represent the political interest of the masses. Many of them do not even follow the democratic process of having a real convention as is done in party politicking the world over, but they arrive at the end of the day as the candidate who is unopposed or unchallenged to represent their party. The amazing thing is that these hackers also have connections with local dailies or media outlets which herald their rhetorics through the help of karto journalists. Interestingly, their agendas are not hidden; everyone knows that these hackers will not get to the height of the political landscape because they usually do not make any impact on local communities prior to canvassing; and their purpose of forming political alliances is to get government jobs. This is the political behavior in contemporary Liberia!

The Elephant Meat Story

Politics in contemporary Liberia reminds one of the elephant meat scenario. In this scenario a “selected” head hunter agrees to share some elephant meat with a second hunter and the sling shot shooters. The sling shot shooters want everyone to believe that they would have succeeded in taking the elephant down with one sling shot.

Now, everyone knew the date, time, and even the road that the elephant was going to take to come to town. So the hunters gathered for a meeting and decided to choose a referee for the hunting match. But nobody suspected at the time that the selected head hunter and the referee were good friends. Moreover, the referee accepted the task and wasted no time in issuing shooting corners to the hunters. Then the big day came and the hunters took their respective shooting positions to aim at the elephant. But the second hunter discovered that his standing area has been desecrated, and he suspected the selected head hunter to be the mastermind behind the sabotage. So he cried foul, and then requested that the referee allow him some extra time to clear the obstacles from his shooting corner. Even sling shot shooters attested that the second hunter’s area was indeed desecrated, but the referee ignored the request to delay the game and allowed it to go on as scheduled.

Then came the elephant, and once again, the second hunter requested the referee to have the town folks stall the elephant until his shooting corner was cleared of the obstacles, but this time the referee shouted, “THERE WILL BE NO CHANGING OF THE RULES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GAME”. So the second hunter got upset, unloaded his gun while crying foul play, and walked away from his corner. Now, this was the opportunity that the selected head hunter had been waiting for, because he immediately abandoned his shooting position and rushed to the tree top – shooting the elephant straight in the head or better say, “BULLS EYES”.

After the elephant dropped dead the referee declared “victory” for the selected head hunter. However, the sling shot shooters felt cheated and joined the second hunter to complain about the shooting match. They requested a dialogue to find some meaningful settlement to the matter. But while they were discussing the matter regarding sporting irregularities, the “selected” head hunter wasted no time in sharing the elephant meat. Now, the head hunter’s friends are pondering why the head hunter wants to share the elephant meat with the second hunter as well as the sling shot shooters – They claimed that the referee has declared a winner to the hunting match and that the game is over. But sling shot shooter shouted, “because it was BAD sportsmanship”!

This is the kind of politics we called CIC or CHOP I CHOP; or the African underworld parlance, “CHOP MAKE I CHOP”. Good for sharing the real elephant meat as is done in contemporary Liberia, but a BAD way to govern the nation!

The analogy here is that the 1985 elections somersaulted in 2011 with one candidate crying foul. In 1985, Jackson F. Doe of the Liberia Action Party cried foul when the chairman of the then Special Elections Commission (SECOM) Emmett Harmon declared MSgt. Samuel K. Doe of the National Democratic Party of Liberia the winner with a land slide victory. Whereas in 2011 the Nation Elections Commission delivered the “victory” or better say “all-hands-down-victory” to Ellen Sirleaf of the Unity Party because she was the only candidate in the race. Wow! How sweet is it to be the only candidate in the race? Like the 1985 election, the 2011 election results lack credibility and has been recorded in the nation’s book of chronicles. History will forever remember the Liberian Presidential Elections of 2011 and 1985 because they both produced fraudulent results – much like the 1926 Presidential Elections.

The Plantation Mentality

Liberia has been struggling with social and economic injustices for a very long time. However, the solutions to the country’s predicaments could be as simple as revisiting the laws or the constitution of the republic, because the framers of the Liberian constitution did not make provisions for the establishment of requisite leadership institutions.

In Liberia, county leaders are appointed as superintendents. So, tell me who is a superintendent? The answer is very simple. By definition, a superintendent is a caretaker; an overseer; like on the plantation, one who is sent by the head master or the plantation owner to look after the area. This is a typical slave mentality introduced by the framers only because they were former slaves and that’s what they understood, SLAVERY.

The plantation mentality that was introduced suffocated the growth of leadership institutions in the country. And though it may have worked well for the framers when they established the republic, however, this undemocratic style of leadership or plantation leadership has crippled the nation, producing failed leaders in the homeland and in the Diaspora. The country has become a failed state and squeezed in a compromising position to accept anyone recommended by the plantation owners who are still actively involve in Liberia under the disguise of the ICGL, ICC, or better say, “The International Community”. The framers may have been freed from physical slavery, but the style of leadership they introduced in the country tells us that they were still chained and buried deep into MENTAL SLAVERY, and that Liberia needs to be emancipated!

Could you imagine that after 164 years the oppressed legacy of the framers continues to hunt contemporary Liberia? Like her predecessors, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf sees nothing wrong with plantation mentality. She claims that she believes in the election of county leaders but appoints city mayors in the counties. What a contradiction? No wonder why a corporate business is still operating in Liberia after 100 years with no modification to its plantation style system or name. The business continues to bear the trade name, “Firestone Rubber PLANTATION Company”, and treats line level employees or tapers no different from what was done in the United States some 200 years ago? Very little improvements were made thus far. Maybe the owner of Firestone might think well of the workers and provide better incentives if the plantation mentality adopted was discontinued and the word “Plantation” removed from its trade name. I think Firestone Rubber Company sounds better than Firestone Rubber Plantation Company. What do you think?

Congress for Democratic Change and the Unity Party

It appears that the political field in the country has pretty much narrow down to two major political parties; the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and the Unity Party (UP). The other political parties barely made impact in capturing electoral votes in the country. Some of them had no senatorial candidates or representatives registered to participate in the just ended elections but yet claimed to be certified by the National Elections Commission. It’s time for them to either consolidate their ideas and resources to form a third political heavy weight or dissolve their social clubs by abandoning the political hackers mentality. 

Now, the Congress for Democratic Change consists of the grass rooters; the youth majority that is constantly ignored because it lacks organizational structure; and is also being exploited by some political hackers to smoothly transition to legislative seats; underestimated by Liberia so-called educated derelicts for having the majority of poor young Liberians with less education, and hardly any managerial or international experiences; and underrated by the powerful corporate powerbrokers playing the cards stamped as “The International Community”. 

The Unity Party on the other hand seems to consist mainly of remnants from the old oligarchy; the so-called educated class or educated derelicts, and some economic parasitic gangsters whose goal is “self aggrandizement”; the principal warlords who fear prosecutions; the chief architects and the financier of the Liberian civil war, and few Liberians who believe that men brought war so women have to fix it. But they have forgotten so quickly that it was a woman, their standard bearer who bankrolled the war. 

There has been consistent political struggle between the CDC and UP mainly because Liberia has a high unemployment rate, and the majority of CDC partisans are unskilled and therefore unemployed. UP partisans on the other hand are more relaxed and enjoying a higher salary increase than any other government employees ever in the history of the nation. The Unity Party designed the entire electoral system to their advantage, and placed their supporters in charge. They worked diligently in painting a negative picture that CDC does not have the requisite brainwork to manage the Liberian Plantation on behalf of the masters. UP leaders are constantly playing in the country’s coffers, making it easy for them to pay demonstrators and recruit other strategic agitators from the oppositions who want to cross carpet for the purpose of seeking greener pastures.

No wonder why the youth majority has become a problem for the Unity Party Government. Unity Party partisans must remember that their leader was the chief architect who designed the Liberian civil war of 1989, and that these were the little children who were abused, conscripted to become child soldiers, and that this UP Government has ignored their plight instead of rehabilitating and educating the abused for a brighter future. Frankly, these young adults were robbed of their childhood in order for Ellen Sirleaf and her lieutenants in UP to claim entitlement to all the elephants in Liberia or to squander state coffers. So, these children will continue to be thorns in the flesh until the UP-led Government design and implement essential programs to rejuvenate their minds, and provide technical trades, enabling these young Liberians to become productive citizens. Sirleaf needs to do the right thing by rebuilding the lives of the survivals of her civil war or give up the mantel. We need to understand that these children are not CDC citizens but Liberian citizens. So whatever good we do for them will in the long run benefit the nation.   

Time to Change 

In January 2012, Ellen will get to spend more money on the vote of no confidence inauguration; maybe we want to focus on really amending the constitution to make provisions for the elections of county leaders among others, even though the fiasco inaugural festivities will only be putting old wine in new wine skin.

There’re lots of discrepancies in the laws of this nation and we are only looking at the tip of the problems. What will happen when Liberians who were forced to flee doing the civil war crisis and the 1980 coup decide to return home with their children? Would we call them FOREIGNERS? How dare we even think that? When a mass exodus of Liberians return home and their children are not accepted as Liberian citizens, what would happen to Liberia, another crisis? NO MORE CRISIS, but we need pragmatic solutions, and it’s time to start thinking of them.

In 1968, after the overthrow of Ghanaian President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who was believed to be the son of Liberian, Liberian citizens in Ghana were sent home in ship loads. Upon arrival at the Free Port of Monrovia, they were not called foreigners but recognized as Liberians and settled in West Point, Clara Town, Sayon Town, Logan Town, and the New Kru Town areas. But I tell you, that was nothing compared to the amount that fled the Liberian crisis of 1980 and 1989. So, we should be mindful that they will return one day. And when that day comes, let us be ready to welcome them back home as was done in the late 1960s. It’s about time our constitution reflects all that so as not to create confusion when it happens, because it will. The laws must work for everyone so our nation can harmonize itself peacefully.

Liberia will need to re-examine the Election Laws or the Guidelines when it comes to the forming of a political party. Instead of having 500 eligible or registered voters in 12 of the 15 counties, a higher percentage should be required to minimize the cushion so political hackers can refrain from masquerading social clubs as political parties. Furthermore, the same process should be applied to the office of independent candidates so as not to have a huge overflow of political hackers.

Liberia is a relatively small country but has many political actors and actresses who do little or nothing about contributing to our contemporary political dialogues that are necessary for harmonizing the state, prosecuting corrupt officials, establishing a sound educational system, and building a stable economy. Also, the Justice System has a long way to recovery if it has to be done the “JOHNNY LEWIS WAY”. If Lewis himself is known for carrying out injustices in Liberia and nothing is done to stop this man, not even the so-called “International Community” or the United Nations representative can even muzzle and harness the BALLS to speak against the miscarriage of justice dished out by another human rights abuser masquerading as Chief Justice of Liberia, how are we supposed to think or even believe that the “selection” of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf by this so-called powerbroker will bring peace to the nation? The peace will always be fragile as long as Ellen is around, because as chief financier of the civil war, she lacks the moral high ground to implement social justice. Has anyone seen peace anywhere in the world in the absence of social justice? Now, if your answer is not a resounding “NO” then you need to be on another planet. Maybe one day, we might want to consider bringing Lewis to court for human rights abuses.

The little peace Liberia is enjoying today is termed, “fragile peace” meaning the air of hostility has not left completely and that the peace is not stable. So, the word fragile means UNSTABLE. Nothing is stable in Liberia due to the war. Who sponsored the Liberian civil war? ELLEN. Who is responsible for the country’s peace being unstable? ELLEN. That is why Ellen Sirleaf can not rule without the peace keepers by her side.

Now, to set the records straight, for those who wish to tell a story that Ellen Sirleaf brought peace to Liberia, let’s get this correctly said, she brought “fragile peace” meaning unstable peace. When we have peace in the country, then foreign military forces will not be in Liberia as “Peace Keeping Forces”. They are here because the peace in the country is not stable. Peace can not and will not be stable in the absence of social justice and a credible justice system to maintain law and order. And that system, the “Liberia Judiciary System” wouldn’t be examined in the international court of dialogue if the first branch of government was managed by a scrupulous mind.

Peace will be still in Liberia, Peace will be still, but not at the detriment of social justice. And certainly not at the expense of Liberia Top Human Rights Abuser who’s making a mockery of the justice system, or should I tremble to call his name like what he told the press that if they dare misspell his name they will be incarcerated (locked up). Could you imagine if this boozer was god what would happen to Liberians? People blasphemed against GOD everyday and HE doesn’t send lightening rods from Heaven to strike them dead, but this man, Lewis, threatened to incarcerate members of the news media for misspelling his name. This man my people is President Sirleaf key player number one who is supposed to repair the broken Liberian Judiciary System. Ellen has to be joking with Liberia. Let me be the first to say Good Bye Johnny. And if Sirleaf thinks she has a corruption plan for Liberia with Lewis on her side then they both need to go down to Biafra Bar and take a drink, because the incoming administration that will be installed in January of 2012 will have a tough time governing the nation.

It would have been better for the sake of credibility had the entire electoral process been delayed than to be carried out on a time table basis amidst transparent fraud. And the refusal on the part of the National Elections Commission to allowed local press to monitor the second round of voting speaks volumes about the fraudulent electoral process of 2011. And so regardless of which side of the rope Liberians are pulling, the nation has been robbed of a democratic process and the leadership to be installed lacks credibility. Moreover, a fraudulent leadership is not capable of minimizing corruption, restructuring the justice system, or implementing the rule of law because the leadership is deemed illegal and therefore lacks the mandate to govern the republic.

D. Garkpe Gedepoh is the Publisher/CEO of African Panorama