Liberia May Be Heading For Its Worst Crisis Ever


By Charles B. Russell

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 20, 2014



I may be wrong and stand to be corrected, but I have never heard of a country in Africa or any other continent where a group of indigenous lawmakers will come out to organize a political party with the desire to field an indigenous presidential candidate in an election. Only in Liberia can anything happen! If these lawmakers are separating from parties that elected them in order to field a candidate, most likely Indigenous Speaker Alex Tyler, we may be heading for the worst political and economic crisis ever in Liberia.

Fellow Liberians, we have consistently accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of uncontrollable corruption in her government. But, with Alex Tyler’s government in power, we will be compelled to praise EJS for her leadership by comparison. Notwithstanding, we can see the greed for more power and more money by these crooked lawmakers who are playing a major role in corrupting the entire country.

I thought the indigenous lawmakers would remember where they came from to fight poverty and corruption. But they are worse than the so-called Congo man who marginalized the indigenous people until 1980 when a man with an indigenous background, Samuel K. Doe, brutally took power outside of the constitution. The indigenous people bitterly argued that the constitution was more a symbol of democracy than a guide for action. This argument provided their justification for removing the so-called Congo people out of power and opening the door for abuse of power and rampant corruption. The abuse of power and corruption have become the foundation on which this indigenous government is functioning. Our lawmakers continue to advance their dirty political agenda on the bare backs of a suffering people whom they claim to represent.
Speaker Tyler of the House of Representatives and Pro-Temp Gbezongar Findley officiated the fixing of their and other “honorable” members’ gigantic salaries, allowances and other corrupt benefits, signing of bogus concession agreements overnight. Now these morally bankrupt legislators are pointing fingers at the president for not fighting corruption. This is why addressing the problem of corruption strategically and comprehensively is of paramount importance as a development priority for Liberia. What is most appalling nowadays are the defensive mechanisms employed by these legislators to grab $73 million in the name of district development when they are actually demanding campaign money to promote their greed for power. They should be ashamed of themselves with little to no program of actions and no commitment to ideologies and vision for the country. While I strongly agreed with Indigenous Senator Henry Yallah that this government is corrupt, in truth, these indigenous members of the legislature are the embodiment of corruption. They have no moral authority to accuse this government of failing the downtrodden masses when they are sitting comfortably and impeding Liberia’s growth and development. They have compromised principle over self-interest by accepting cold water (bribes) to place incompetent executive appointees in government. Here’s one example: Robert Kilby, who was nominated by EJS to take over an integrity institution, presented fake credentials and lied during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee and was rejected.

They did the same thing in the case of Madam Angelique Weeks, changing their decision overnight after accepting cold water. They knowingly confirmed a fake credential holder, Kilby, to become the most corrupt Auditor General in the history of Liberia, succeeding John Morlu, who stood alone as an anti-corruption crusader to fight and expose unethical government officials without fear or favor. Unfortunately for the downtrodden masses, his involuntary departure was a great relief for those who entered government to steal all they can steal. Because of the unscrupulous behavior of these rags-to-wealthy lawmakers, it is no surprise that they have lost the respect of the Liberian people and the dignity of the office they hold. What a shame! Our lawmakers gave the Minister of Health, Dr. Walter Gwenigale, 72 hours to reinstate the two ring leaders of the health workers after the workers’ strike came to an end, and he deliberately refused to honor the lawmakers’ ultimatum. The lawmakers did not earn respect from General Mary Broh, serving as acting mayor for Monrovia. We all may have differences with her leadership style, but wherever she went, Ms. Broh was productive and demonstrated competency in the performance of her duty, far better than the so-called lawmakers. Nevertheless, her work ethic did not sit well with the lawmakers, who refused to confirm her as Monrovia’s mayor.

These reprobate lawmakers are now masquerading as Gabriel the Archangel to bring hope to the hopeless by organizing a political party referred to as the “People’s Unification Party” (PUP) to elect an “indigenous president who will emancipate our country from official acts of thievery and despicable public service." This statement was shamelessly uttered by Senator Yallah of Bong County, who is now chairman for PUP. What a miscarriage of judgment on the part of this indigenous senator, who is grabbing all he can in a government infested with indigenous crooks. Since many Liberians died to achieve a multiparty system, political parties have been surfacing with poor, indigenous representatives who we believe understand the condition of the poverty-stricken indigenous people they elected to represent. Unfortunately, the condition of the indigenous people continues to worsen.  It is a reality today in Liberia that indigenous and inexperienced political leaders turn out to be corrupt to the core. Liberians believed that the multi-party system would allow them to elect honest people to represent their interests.  Since 1985, Liberia has had many heads of state, with virtually different teams of indigenous political leaders, but each administration has been marred by uncontrollable corruption, abuse of public office and official incompetence. Our political leaders have repeatedly failed to improve the conditions of the people, but they take interest in accumulating wealth at the detriment of the citizens they elected to represent. You see them in the most expensive cars with tinted windows, building gigantic mansions in Monrovia and taking foreign pleasure trips.

In conclusion, it is important to warn that peace and constitutional democracy in Liberia are both under threat given the increasingly poor, shallow and arbitrary manner the government has been handling issues of  governance, politics, economy, education, security, rights of law-abiding citizens and health care. Liberians are tired of disconnected and disorganized policies and incoherent actions. We must play the politics of ideas and issues, the politics of the welfare and well-being of our people, and not the politics of corruption and bribery, deceit and breach of trust, impunity and intolerance. The development of our state’s economy, education and politics and the enhancement of our people’s welfare and well-being are constitutional rights and not privileges. Our elected officials who cannot guarantee these rights have no moral right to remain in office, and we have the constitutional power to vote them out of power. It is evident that our elected representatives have failed to guarantee these rights, and in fact, have proven incapable of guaranteeing them. The government of Liberia cannot run a non-performing and utterly inept government and expect patriotic citizens to act as cheerleaders. I will not relent in honestly discussing the evils carried out by those in authority. And to those who are happy with how this government is functioning, may God run your lives exactly the way Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the lawmakers have been running Liberia for nine consecutive years.

“If talking made muscles and nerve, the Republic of Liberia would rule the world.” (p. 76) He did not say the region, but THE WORLD.

- Liberia, The Inside Story by Luther Lemley, 1963.
(Note: Tubman banned the circulation of this book in Liberia, and sent the author back to the USA.)

In the 1970s, we had a group of "talkers" in the persons of the late Barcus, Tipoteh, Mason, Fahnbulleh, the college professor, etc. When given their chance to rule, nothing good happened.

Today, we have any number of "talkers," vying for prominence.
Efessayf at 05:55AM, 2014/07/22.
Theodore Hodge
Please accept my congratulations for the issues you raise in your article. It is pretty clear that the article contains a good message, but allow me to interject a critical viewpoint:

The use of the word "indigenous" makes the reading of this article sound like listening to a broken record. In Liberia we used to say, "DJ, the record scratching, o." I counted up to fifteen and lost count.

It is unfortunate that the good message was drowned by what on the surface seems like an attack on the various groups of people who are not Americo-Liberian or Congo. The author of the article is sending a bad message, whether he realizes it or not. He refers several times to leading officials by using the preface "indigenous" before their titles. Why did he not refer to the previous governments as "Congo" governments?

I think there is a lot to criticize about the present leadership in Liberia. We have a great deal of work to do to get an effective and functioning state. But I don't want to believe that we should dump our present leaders only to go back to the tiny group of oligarchs that held the country hostage for over a hundred years. We have a responsibility to find the best among the people, no matter their ethnicity or tribal backgrounds.

Liberia belongs to its indigenous people, and that includes the grand and great-grand children of the settlers, commonly referred to as "Americo-Liberians" or "Congos". If your parents were born on Liberian soil and you yourself were born on Liberian soil, you are an indigenous of Liberia. According to the dictionary, the antonyms of the word indigenous are "foreign" and "alien".

I don't know about you, Mr. Russell, but I'd always prefer to see Liberia run by its indigenous than to be run by foreigners or aliens.

Please accept my congratulations for the article.
Theodore Hodge at 10:01AM, 2014/07/22.
Sylvester Moses
Thanks, Mr. Charles Russell, you were on the money to decry the so - called “natives party”, and no semantic sleight - of - hand can change the expressed fundamental purpose of this group. Which is to counter - balance the perceived domination of political power in Liberia by the “grand and great - grandchildren of the settlers“. And that’s pissing in the wind, if you ask us.

We disavow this perception because since 1986 power in the Legislature has been in the hands of “natives”, who also have very significant sway in the executive branch. A party, therefore, that intends to target a segment of the society is stoking ethnic strife. Like Writer Thomas L. Friedman said in a similar context, “they are trying to bury the future with the past and divide people”.

Going forward, the best political path for Liberia is one of alliances and coalitions that go across ethnicities, boundaries and classes. But any attempt by a political party to use ethnicity as a rallying cry for power would be fraught with danger. Matter of factually, to be even discussing about “natives party” when we should be reconciling is exceedingly inexcusable.
Sylvester Moses at 04:09PM, 2014/07/22.
stephen ballah
The fact of the matter in Liberia are the conflict has not truly ended. there has not been reconciliation and an investigation into crimes that were committed during the war. the same people and their supporter are holding state power. It means that any group can garther money and arms and fight them because there is no justic. And what will make it worst in the comming years are the oil money. there must be a war crime court to settle the war disputes. United Nations peacekeeping cannot be in Liberia forever, what we have in Liberia is peacekeeping not peace. we really have to work for peace through the courtjustice system.
stephen ballah at 04:48AM, 2014/07/23.
Sylvester Moses
You said it best, Stephen Ballah; the crux of the matter is how we balance the desire for reconciliation with the need to hold others accountable for genocidal crimes, which ought to serve as deterrence to future terrorists. And our view is that in the final analysis, we should lean toward forgiveness in most cases to give reconciliation, and the sustainable peace you referenced a chance
Sylvester Moses at 10:24AM, 2014/07/23.

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