A Response to “Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr. is in line to become the next Deputy Managing Director for the Liberian Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC)”

By Dr. J. Marsilius Flumo

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
January 8, 2010


The purpose of this paper is two-fold. First, I would like to respond to Messrs. Nat Nyuan Bayjay and M. Welemongai Ciapha, II’s article “Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr. is in line to become the next Deputy Managing Director for the Liberian Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC).” Their article appeared in the online magazine FrontpageAfrica.com on Monday December 21, 2009. I will show how Messrs. Bayjay and Ciapha failed to uphold the journalistic code of ethics and why their action was a great disservice to our country. Second, I would like to address some of the important issues they, in my judgment, raised not to inform the public but to obscure their lack of journalistic rigor and, more importantly, their unfair treatment of Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr. These issues include the phenomenon of “Imported Liberians,” public corruption, and the apportionment of blame for the hardships in Liberia.

For the purposes of full disclosure, Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr. and I are both Nimbaians. Moreover, we graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Sanniquellie, Nimba County. I do not believe that it is unreasonable for anyone, by virtue of such relationships, to be chagrined by an article like Messrs. Bayjay and Ciapha’s. Indeed I was taken aback after reading their article. However, I intend to go beyond my consternation and show how and why they did a great disservice to our country.

The saying “The pen is mightier than the sword” is a reference to the good or harm a writer can do or inflict with his or her pen. Messrs. Bayjay and Ciapha’s article about Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr. focused on irrelevant, unrelated, and sensational issues. Sensationalism takes away from true journalism—the quest to seek truth—because it is tilted toward the harm a writer can do. Moreover, sensationalism can be costly; it can unnecessarily harm other people’s reputations and careers. In my judgment, their article did not seek or provide any truth germane to the issue they sought to discuss; rather, it was patently sensational.

First, Messrs. Bayjay and Ciapha suggested that they learned from a reliable source that “Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr. is in line to become the next Deputy Managing Director for the Liberian Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC).” In that light, would the responsible course to take not have been to research the job description, qualifications, and Mr. Doe’s credentials and lay them side-by-side for the reading public to make its own judgment? Instead, they did what a dear friend of mine calls “Doing the obvious,” that is, doing what an uncritical mind expects. How much energy would it have required to distinguish Hon. Jackson F. Doe, Sr. who ran for President of Liberia in 1985 and Jackson F. Doe, Jr., who graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Sanniquellie, came to the United States, and struggled to obtain his education?

Had Messrs. Bayjay and Ciapha taken the time to research Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr.’s fitness for the job, they would have discovered that he is the President, CEO, and Founder of TOPFLIGHT, Inc., a Chicago, Illinois-based company where his major roles include interviewing, hiring, and training; preparing annual budgets; and working with customers. Indeed, had they taken their cellular phones and called around, they would have gathered that Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr. honed his skills as a research analyst while in graduate school at DePaul University. Moreover, they would have also discovered a laundry list of careers Mr. Doe, Jr. has had including Call Center Personnel Manager with Conway-Milliken in Chicago where he designed performance appraisal systems and also interviewed, hired, and trained employees. Even a google search on Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr. would have netted information about his employment with Developmental Services of Illinois in Chicago where his responsibilities covered accounts receivable and payable, reconciling bank statements, and preparing bi-weekly payrolls and financial reports.

Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr. possesses skills in leadership, training, strategic planning, personnel management, research, accounting, budgeting, and financial management. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois (1991), a Master of Public Administration from the University of Illinois (1994), and a Master of Business Administration from DePaul University (2001).

On the question of what sets Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr. apart, Messrs. Bayjay and Ciapha’s 1985 presidential election saga reminder was instructive, although they conveniently ignored dimensions of Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr.’s life that have relevance to his ability to lead. For one thing, all peace-loving Liberians, let alone the Doe family, have yet to come to terms with the tragic and wanton taking of Hon. Jackson F. Doe, Sr.’s life during the Liberian Civil War by those who felt that he would be an obstacle to their rise to power.

On that agonizing note, it is important to note that many Liberians did more than take their rage on their fellow citizens during the Civil War. They went on to rip the country into complete ashes. Unlike these vengeful Liberians, grief-stricken Jackson F. Doe, Jr. believed that Liberia could rise above the hate and carnage and live its true meaning of liberty and prosperity for all of its citizens. Moreover, he turned his pain into pursuing an education and engaging in productive enterprises in preparation for a time he would have an opportunity to help make Liberia work for all of its citizens. Isn’t that kind of resolve a relevant measure of the kind of leadership Liberia needs at the helms of its institutions?

I think it is remarkable that Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr. forged ahead and blazed his own trail in spite of the gaping wound that those who summarily ended his father’s life left in his heart. I consider it a moment for reflection when an accomplished Liberian who overcame a tragedy of such magnitude stands poised to accept a presidential offer to help fulfill dreams of prosperity for all Liberians. In truth, it was unfortunate that, in the pending hours of Jackson F. Doe, Jr.’s moment, Messrs. Bayjay and Ciapha chose to put a damper on what could be a celebration for all aspiring young Liberians by reporting the shrill voices of those who, as they alleged, not only refused to be identified but also called him an “Imported Liberian.”

Indeed, Messrs. Bayjay and Ciapha collaborated with those who, as they claimed, wore masks and cast aspersions on Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr. As they are members of the fourth estate, one is led to wonder what happened to the journalistic code of ethics, that is, what happened to truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, fairness, and public accountability? While the position of Deputy Managing Director of LPRC is not equivalent to the presidency, ironically, I sense that the ultimate end of this level of partial reporting is to visit upon Mr. Jackson Doe, Jr. the same fate dealt his father in 1985 when the presidency was stolen from him. For this reason, I refuse to sit supinely and participate in the culture of silence for the THIRD time around.

Second, I understand that through the prisms of their conditions of hardship some Liberians focus exclusively on reasons for presidential appointments that appear propitiatory and disregard others. For this reason, I do not believe that it is journalists’ responsibility to convince such people. However, the least the public expects of journalists is to research and provide truthful, accurate, and objective information.

Make no mistake; I think the debate in Liberia about public corruption is absolutely necessary. In proceeding, however, we need to pause and ask why, after over 150 years of independence, does Liberia look the way it does? Every Liberian has the right to raise legitimate issues about the abuse of public trust by anybody including the president of Liberia. By the same token, no matter whether the court of public opinion or the court of law decides, the evidence against the accused must be overwhelming. For this reason, the Liberian people also expect members of the fourth estate to uphold the public trust by providing truthful, accurate, and objective information. This is a necessary condition not only because the court of public opinion operates on the basis of information in the public domain but also because peace and our fledgling democracy depend on it.

Third and finally, too many Liberians are either unemployed or underemployed. The economic challenges in Liberia also have implications for long-term peace and our fledgling democracy. Amid these dismal economic circumstances, it is quite unfortunate that some of our fellow Liberians who returned home to contribute to reconstruction efforts have adopted an attitude of insensitivity and hubris by flaunting their superior economic circumstances. In this respect, rather than painting all Liberians who return home to work with a bad brush by calling them “Imported Liberians,” I think Liberians of all stripes must muster the courage and condemn hubris no matter where it originates. The phenomenon of “Imported Liberians” requires the undivided attention of every well-meaning Liberian because it is hurtful and divisive. It is even more unfortunate that demagogues in Liberia see it as an issue to be exploited for political gains.

Honestly, I want my fellow citizens at home to know that Liberians abroad are not responsible for the hardships in Liberia. In fact, during the dark days of the Civil War, they labored diligently and remitted funds to their families at home and, by so doing, kept the country afloat. There are, however, several factors responsible for the hardships in Liberia and I intend, for the sake of brevity, to discuss only three.

The forces of evil—the first factor—planned their grand experiment in the deserts of North Africa. Under the auspices of an unelected dictator, Col. Moamar Gadhafi, they were nurtured and financed by Libyan oil wealth. With their collaborators in every corner of Liberia, they promised milk and honey but failed to deliver. The only thing Liberians got out of their experiment was untold deaths and the turning of the country into complete ashes. Essentially, they presided over the undoing of Liberia from December 24, 1989 through October 14, 2003.

The Liberian people elected their representatives and senators—the second factor—to make laws to protect the interests of all Liberians including Liberian professionals. Instead, some senators and representatives, in pursuit of personal gains, have supported adoption of investment codes and ratified contracts that have little or no provisions to protect or provide opportunities for Liberian professionals. For example, some foreign construction companies operating in Liberia even go as far as bringing laborers from their home countries, not to mention engineers and other professionals. It was not “Imported Liberians” who overlooked, for example, qualified, unemployed or underemployed Liberian engineers and allowed foreign engineers to come to Liberia to work. We saw little or no investigative journalism at work to unearth and publicize flaws in those investment codes and contracts when our senators and representatives were planning to adopt and ratify them. No one looked out for Liberian professionals and Liberians as a whole—it was “business as usual.” The alleged grumblers, again in Liberian parlance, are scapegoating innocent Liberians abroad “for nothing!”

Liberian professionals—the third and final factor—are responsible for the hardships in Liberia. Individual Liberian professionals seem to be “enjoying the gravy,” “feathering their nests,” and ignoring the Liberian adage “One tree cannot make a bush.” One is led to wonder where the Liberian professional organizations are. I mean the Liberia Medical Association, Association of Liberian Engineers, Teachers’ Union, Nurses Association, Association of Liberian Accountants, Liberian Bar Association, Association of Liberian Traders, etc. One is also led to wonder where their leaders, agendas for the country and the professionals they represent are. Where are they when major policies affecting their professions, the economic viability and future of the country are being discussed and adopted? These leaders of professional organizations were around when the nation was literally being sold overnight for pick-up trucks and envelopes stuffed with cash. Today, as Liberians abroad are not only being scapegoated for the economic woes of the country but also being called “Imported Liberians,” the usual culture of silence reigns.

There are no such things as “Resident Liberians” and “Imported Liberians.” Let’s be honest! Which Liberians stayed in Liberia during the civil crisis simply, or even primarily because of love of country? Nobody in Liberia had an opportunity to leave and, for example, come to the United States and, instead, stayed to endure the carnage and suffering just to demonstrate their love for Liberia. We who live abroad also love our country just like anybody else.

Mr. Jackson F. Doe, Jr. possesses the requisite qualifications for the position he is slated to be asked to accept. Moreover, as a bona fide Liberian, he deserves an opportunity not only to contribute to the development of his home country but also to prove himself. We know from history and past experiences that successive Liberian presidents have often neither sought the best talents nor pursued meaningful diversity in presidential appointments. In good faith, and against that background, it is still the president’s prerogative to select whomever he or she prefers.

Happy New Year and God bless Liberia.

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