The Bumpy Road to Democracy Continues
By Theodore T. Hodge
September 2, 2004
In a recent article published on this website, “Liberia’s Bumpy Road to Democracy: Past and Present”, I lamented the unfortunate state of the Liberian nation: The tendency for the citizens to revert to lawlessness willfully. I wrote, “However, what concerns and bothers me is the extent to which the citizens of the new Liberia are willing to flex their newly-discovered political muscles. I guess there is a thin line between demanding political rights in a society and challenging authorities with the intent to destabilize and create chaos. Liberians, in exercising their newly found freedom must be mindful that there are those who would like to see the country descend into chaos so they can capitalize on the ensuing statelessness”.
To demonstrate the point, I cited several examples of citizens retrogressing to insubordination, leading to unlawful and undisciplined behavior. For example, the students of the premiere university, the University of Liberia, attempted to physically accost the Chairman of the NTGL (virtually the president of the nation) because they disagreed with his economic priorities.
Taking a cue from their older siblings, high school and elementary students went on a violent demonstration to protest and demand their teachers’ unpaid salaries. They went as far as attacking other students who were unwilling to participate in these demonstrations.
I also commented on reports about some citizens of Bong and Bassa Counties respectively, who were presenting petitions to the Chairman opposing candidates he had chosen to serve as superintendents in their counties. These concerned citizens, as they referred to themselves, were in effect challenging the chairman’s right to unilaterally appoint officials without consulting with them.
In the interest of fairness and objectivity, I feel compelled to react to a similar development, this time involving my home county, Maryland. In a recent news article published by The Inquirer (of Monrovia, Liberia) and relayed by The Perspective, under the title, “Two Maryland Lawmakers Express Concerns”, some disturbing comments are attributed to Representatives Samuel Wilson and Adolphus Wallace.
With all due respect to The Inquirer, I think the headline was misleading. A more appropriate headline would have been, “Two Maryland Lawmakers Threaten to Incite Violence”. Ridiculous as this headline may have been, that is exactly what the so-called lawmakers expressed, according to the story.
Here is a direct quote: “Two Maryland County NTLA lawmakers have warned that any attempt to assign law enforcement officers in the county outside of their recommendations, will provoke a mob action by the citizens”. Commenting further, they said, “we will mobilize our people and apply violence if anyone challenges us. We will take to the streets and make the county uncomfortable for those appointees”.
As if threatening to incite violence among the populace is not provocative enough by the lawmakers, they degenerated to bigotry and tribalism by publicly declaring that they will not allow “a Krahn man to occupy any seat in the county”. The lawmakers were quoted as saying; “People will not continue to carry non-Marylanders to our county to occupy positions while our people clap for them as though we do not have competent people in our county”. After the terrible experiences with war over the past several years, is it advisable to make such outlandish remarks about tribal affiliations? The emphasis on re-building Liberia should be on the qualifications of the participants, not their tribal origins. The sons and daughters of Maryland County should put themselves above such bigotry.
So many questions come to mind. Are these lawmakers insinuating that national law enforcement officers have a duty to consult with them before making official appointments? Why does such authority fall under their jurisdiction? Are these lawmakers quite comfortable to incite violence just to make a point? Are they satisfied to lead by such examples? Isn’t there a distinct difference between being a lawmaker and an outlaw? A recent news article published by another newspaper claims that the lack of medical facilities in the Southeast, including Maryland County, compels residents to transport sick relatives to the Ivory Coast by canoe. What if a team of Krahn, Gio or Vai medical experts were sent to the area, should they be denied the right and privilege to save patients because they are not Marylanders? Do you have qualified medical doctors and practioners in Harper, Pleebo and Gedetarbo to care for patients? Where is this pool of qualified Marylanders to which you referred?
The most important question that comes to mind now is, what have Representatives Wilson and Wallace done about the armed insurgents (MODEL) that are said to be roaming the county? According to various reports, the rebel faction called MODEL has openly operated in the county; harassing, intimidating and harming the citizens of Maryland County. Have the representatives called for armed rebellion against them? Does it make more sense to violently rally against legal appointees while you allow armed bandits to roam about freely?
As for Representative Wilson, it is interesting to note
that not too long ago, he was in the hot seat upon his election to
the national assembly. A December 2003 article carried by The Inquirer
said a group known as The Concerned Youth of Maryland County “opposed
the election of Mr. Wilson” because “his nomination was
done outside of political participation of the four nominating districts
of that county: Harper, Pleebo, Karluway, and Barrobo districts”.
Please see: http://www.theperspective.org/inquirer/marylandyouth.html
According to reports, “Mr. Wilson was rather imposed on the unarmed people of the county by few commissioners and town chiefs with the acquiescence of the Movement of Democracy in Liberia (MODEL)”. Now it seems Mr. Wilson is opposed to the presence of Krahn people in Maryland County after he became a beneficiary of their intervention. My warning to the two representatives is: Be careful, the people of Maryland deserve better. Let’s lay our differences aside and fight to improve the people’s conditions. No more wars, no more conflicts. Our people are one people, one nation. Let’s have a positive and unified vision or our people will perish.