By Siahyonkron Nyanseor
Last weekend was interesting and rewarding! I attended an inspiring event organized by a group of serious-minded, patriotic Liberians who gathered around a table to hang heads about Liberia, our troubled nation. Isaac Settro, a young comrade, hosted the meeting in Lawrenceville, Georgia on behalf of Prof Alaric Tokpa, one of contemporary Liberia’s indefatigable revolutionaries. Prof Tokpa had been touring the United States to share his vision with Diaspora Liberians. He is a forerunner for the Liberian senate seat of Gbarpolu County in the mid-term elections slated for October 2014.
Following brief introductory remarks by comrade Settro, we individually introduced ourselves. Then rose Prof Tokpa, the guest of honor telling us about his mission in the U.S while updating us on events in Liberia. He challenged those of us in the Diaspora to return to the days when our contributions made valuable impact on Liberia. He pointed out that Diaspora Liberians have masterminded both positive and negative changes in our country, including multi-party democracy and the devastating civil war. The somewhat violent struggle for democracy and the 14-year internecine war were the direct results of the intractable political, social and economic conditions that have existed in our country for nearly two centuries. They have had to confront these conditions head on.
After listening to this perspicacious Liberian and having passionate exchanges with him, I woke up on Saturday morning and turned on my computer only to find an e-mail captioned: “Photo of the Week”. The e-mail was flaunting $4,014.00 raised in South California to support ULAA’s Dual Citizenship Fund.
My day got ruined! The current leadership of ULAA has grossly failed to have its priorities together. It “puts all of its eggs in one basket”. The leadership is so obsessed with this Dual Citizenship thing that it is paying deaf ear to the current mismanagement of our nation’s resources by individuals who do not care for the ordinary people.
Patriotic Liberians must give their undivided attention to the current state of our nation. Last week, several articles appeared in FrontPageAfrica on line magazine; The Perspective.org on line magazine and The ANALYST magazine highlighting the stark disparities in society. These disparities have the propensity to derail the relative peace and stability in Liberia. A compatriot Jucontee Tom Woewiyu recently spoke to this egregious injustice in an exclusive interview published in The Analyst entitled: “Woewiyu Breaks Silence – Alarms at ‘Extravagant Salaries’” (published by The ANALYST print edition of Monday, March 31, 2014); “IMF Confirms Massive Liberia Budget Shortfall, Probe in $100M Road Works”, “Injustice at Justice: Poorly-Planned Plot to Oust Tah From EJS’ Gov’t” (FrontPageAfrica – Letter to Readers), and the article written by Isaac Vah Tukpah, Jr. that is entitled, “Liberia - How To Avert An Almost Inevitable Implosion (The Perspective.org magazine).
These articles are thought provoking. They have raised serious issues of the injustices in President Johnson-Sirleaf’s Liberia. Yet, in the midst of all of these serious economic, social and political crises at home, ULAA Chapters and its officials are celebrating their “Dual Citizenship” Fund. The question I would like to ask is how can “Dual Citizenship” benefit Liberians in Liberia who barely live on $1.25 per day? Don’t get me wrong! I only want to know the immediate benefits of dual citizenship to the mass of our people at home who barely get enough to eat and to send their children to school.
By the way, what is this Dual Citizenship? The last time I checked, Dual Citizenship is defined as being a citizen of two countries or more. That's exactly what it means! For example, if a parent or parents who are U.S. citizens living and working in Germany, and they gave birth to a child there, that child is legally citizen of both the U.S. and Germany.
Let me cite here examples of what Dual Citizenship means.
Dual Citizenship according to the Unites States
Not too long ago, the White House announced it wanted John M. Klink, who holds dual U.S. and Irish citizenship, to head the U.S. State Department's Population, Refugees, and Migration Bureau. Find below what had to be considered in this case:
… As far as the United States is concerned, you are a citizen of the United States and have the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as any other citizen, but that another country also recognizes you as a citizen of that nation. The U.S. State Department does not track the number of people who hold U.S. and other citizenships. As this State Department Web site points out, while the United States does not prevent dual citizenship, it does not encourage it either because of the potential for conflict in being subject to the laws of more than one nation. For dual citizens the country of residence is generally considered to have the greater claim on allegiance.
The most common routes to dual (or triple or more) citizenship are birth, marriage, or naturalization. For example, if you are born in the United States, you automatically become a citizen here. But if your parents are nationals--citizens--of Mexico, for example, you will also be a Mexican citizen. If your parents are each citizens of different countries, neither of which is the United States, and you are born here, you could have triple citizenship at birth, depending on the laws of your parents' countries. Conversely, if both your parents are Americans who are living abroad when you are born, you will again be considered an American citizen and possibly a citizen of the nation of birth, depending on what their rules are. The laws regarding dual citizenship by birth can get quite filigreed, depending on whether both parents are Americans, if they are married, and which parent is the foreign national.
Some nations confer citizenship if you marry a national of that country. For example, if an American marries a Greek, the American also gets a Greek citizenship. Marriage to an American by a foreign national does not convey citizenship here, just an expedited shot at it. People who become naturalized Americans--that is, they were born citizens of another country but through a legal process become Americans--do not have to give up citizenship of their previous country. In some cases they can't because some nations do not allow people to give up their citizenship, even if they become naturalized citizens of the United States. But the United States expects such naturalized citizens to have primary allegiance to the United States. Dual citizens can, if they want to acknowledge the duality, be issued passports for each country of which they are citizens. But someone with a dual U.S. and other citizenship who gets in trouble abroad, particularly in the country the person holds the additional citizenship in, may not be able to get the same assistance from the U.S. embassy there as an American who has no additional citizenship.
Another potential source of trouble for a dual citizen is getting one's American citizenship revoked. For example, serving as an officer in a foreign military, or having a high-ranking position in a foreign government has the potential to endanger U.S. citizenship. But the ruling principle is that by undertaking these actions one intends to give up American citizenship. It is also possible to voluntarily renounce U.S. citizenship, but simply wanting to stop being an American is not necessarily enough to make it happen. Ask Marc Rich, the fugitive financier who has multiple other citizenships but has not been able to get rid of his U.S one. To start the renunciation procedure, you have to be outside of the United States and swear your oath of renunciation to a U.S. consular officer. If the State Department in Washington grants the request, you are given a certificate of loss of nationality. That decision is irrevocable. That is, you can try to become a U.S. citizen again, but you have no special advantages toward that goal over other foreign nationals. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2001/05/what_does_it_mean_to_have_dual_citizenship.html
Those are the requirements base of the U.S. While out of a sudden Liberians in the Diaspora are preoccupied with this Dual Citizenship? Why?
In a recent edition of the New African magazine I came across the statement that reads:
“Not having been back to Liberia since 2002, New African Editor Baffour Ankomah returned to Monrovia in early February to find a city under renewal. Progress is being made but a lot of challenges still remain, especially defeating corruption in high places and instilling accountability in public officials. Not surprisingly people are yearning for a stern hand in the steering of the ship of state, and the next elections in three years’ time will be a crucible for the candidates who will throw their hats into the ring.”
To which I say why wait for three years? When the fish gets rotten from the head, what do you do with it? You throw it out along with the water it is in. This is what needs to be done in Liberia that is being mismanaged by President Johnson-Sirleaf and her dis-Unity Party government that has become VERY famous throughout the world for its CORRUPTION and UNACCOUNTABILITY by government and elected officials.
Isaac Vah Tukpah, Jr. states it correctly what we in the Diaspora MUST DO. In his recent article, “Liberia - How To Avert An Almost Inevitable Implosion”, published in The Perspective.org reads:
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?
Waa ho! The brother couldn’t have stated it any better! Count me in; I am with you all the way because ULAA and its officials have failed us miserably in the Diaspora. Recently, a well-placed source in Liberia told me that ULAA gets it marching orders from the Liberian government and the Liberian Embassy in Washington, DC. And based on my observation, it appears to be the case.
In the five parts series: “A Covenant Betrayed: Partisanship within ULAA and its Chapters”, I wrote in 2012 and 2013, I referred to the organization as “A Toothless Bulldog”. That’s what she is! ULAA has placed all of its eggs in the basket of advocating for ONLY “Dual Citizenship” when most our people in Liberia go to bed hungry every night while a select few are paid, US$15,000.00, US$20,000.00 and US$30,000.00 a month. What a travesty of misappropriation of the Liberian people’s money and resources! And to add insult to injury, the Legislature wants Liberians seeking elected office to pay US$7,500.00 as registration fee (pending approval by the Senate and the President); the simple majority rule in elections, signed into law; and not forgetting the 2011 Referendum that was illegally forced upon the Liberian people.
Under Chapter 12 (Amendments) Articles 91 & 92 of the Constitution of Liberia, the Referendum of August 23rd, 2011 was in blatant fraudulent violation of the Liberian Constitution. The requirements of the constitution explicitly states:
• the proposals should be published in the National Gazette and circulated throughout the Republic of Liberia via its information service;
• the referendum must be held not sooner than one year after the action of the Legislature;
The Liberian Constitution’s through its provisions by law dictates an “ORDERLY PROCESS” in the way and manner a referendum “MUST” be held, “How sequences started from beginning to end must be handle”.
However, the process leading to the August 23rd 2011 referendum, sponsored by the Ellen Administration, and shoved down the Liberian people throats unequivocally contradicted the process as laid down by the Liberian Constitution; one did not need to be a Nuclear Physicist to discern it. What was done was in violation of the constitution, and was not done legally; but then this is Liberia! Ellen gets whatever she wants!
In Ellen’s World
In the President’s memoirs, This Child will be Great, our first lady president of Africa, who came to power promising to fix those things that were broken during both Doe’s and Taylor’s administrations, wrote:
He [Doe] speaks of love for a people, but a people who are feeling the brunt of a steady economic decline which has left them impoverished. Unemployment, spiraling cost of living, the lack of medical facilities, inadequately equipped schools, little means of transportation and a depleted national capital stock are common conditions which they face. Even their culture and traditional ways of life are being threatened by wanton environmental degradation.
That what she wrote in her ‘OWN’ book! What a difference six plus years can make. Doe might be turning in his grave, and Taylor in prison saying, “I warned everybody, but no one wanted to listen to me. You didn’t know what I knew about Ellen, now you are seeing and experiencing it for yourselves; it was always only about herself, her son Robert, and her close friends and allies. I told you, you think I’m bad, but Ellen is worse!”
Fellow Liberians, those of us who know the history of this period very well, can speak and write based on our experiences. Where Taylor failed in the 90s to have ULAA revive his failed ‘propaganda war’ in North America, Johnson-Sirleaf has succeeded with ‘flying colors’. Swenju Juah, the author of the article, “ULAA Board at Loggerheads,” quoted in its September 15, 2001 publication - the statement from the New York based Palava Hut magazine the following statement: “The board [ULAA] comprises elements on GOL’s payroll. By making public speeches against the ills of the Taylor regime, Mydea Reeves-Karpeh poses a serious threat to lifestyles of those who receive money from Monrovia.” Is this happening today? Based on ULAA’s inaction regarding the Unity Party government’s treatment our people at home, one could easily reach the conclusion that many of these leaders are on the government’s payroll.
In short, it is safe to say President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has become the PRINCESS of ‘Machiavellian Politics’. She uses the Machiavelli approach cleverly, which is - the “end justifies the means.” In Ellen’s world, one should do “whatever it takes” to achieve their goals no matter who gets hurt or killed.