A Rejoinder to Mr. Dempster Yallah's Editorial Letter


By: Theodore Hodge



The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 5, 2014

                  


Dr Amos Sawyer

Mr. Dempster Yallah has accused me of "incendiary vitriol". In Liberian parlance, I'm "going 'round cussing people." My people, dat lie yah. I ain't cuss nobody. Backstabber dat not cuss. To be fair, I think it's an apt description of what Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer has become to his benefactor, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Mr. Yallah himself proves me right as we shall see later.

Secondly, Mr. Yallah describes me as a "self-proclaimed venerable Liberian journalist". I've made no such claim. Perhaps Mr. Yallah gets the impression I'm a fine writer; I've been told that, especially lately. But does that make me venerable? Oh boy, don't let the high praise swell my head.

Now to the crux of the matter at hand. I penned an article in which I admitted to getting some information through the grapevine. He disparages me for using the rumor-mill or gossip for the background of an article. He jumps through one hoop after another to rebuke and chastise me. In the end he writes surprisingly: "In the realm of full disclosure Mr. Hodge, I too was on that now 'infamous teleconference' with Dr. Sawyer on Saturday, August 30..."

Were we in a court of law, and I were the prosecuting attorney, I would roast his derriere (that's how the French call buttocks) in front of the jury. A series of questions would begin: Do you now admit that a teleconference was indeed organized and attended by Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer? What was the nature or purpose of the teleconference? Did you (attendees) discuss Dr. Sawyer's role in the Sirleaf administration? Is it true that Dr. Sawyer said his committee (the Good Governance Commission has made many suggestions and recommendations which the Sirleaf administration has failed to implement? Didn't Dr. Sawyer say specifically his recommendations "sit on the president's desk"? Did you in fact discuss some aspects of an interim government and the possible resignation of the president? Several other questions would follow, but you do get the gist. (Bear in mind, others have since surfaced with additional details of the telephone meeting.)

The first person to dispute and dismiss what I wrote is named Sylvester Moses. He claims to have once been a chief security officer to Dr. Sawyer during his tenure as Interim President. He claims both he and his wife had dinner with Dr. Sawyer and his wife at the home of the latter, and that Dr. Sawyer never participated in any teleconference that night. So much so for security; he must eat crow now and I hope he chokes. Mr. Yallah, please tell Mr. Moses that indeed a teleconference was held that evening and Dr. Sawyer did attend. You see, the news from the grapevine tends to be right from time to time; this is one of those times, for the record. (Mr. Moses, your old chief either did not consider you significant enough to invite you, or you deliberately lie to cover him... but the truth comes out as always.)

 

Mr. Yallah vehemently disputes my version of the story yet he does not tell us what the teleconference was all about. Does this not raise some suspicion? If this doesn't reek of a cover-up, then what does? After all, we all know by now that Dr. Sawyer was excused from returning to Liberia immediately along with other officials. Dr. Sawyer was eventually given an exemption for medical reasons. Was the teleconference part of his medical treatment? Was he in fact meeting with his medical specialists and care-givers? In short, again, what was the purpose of the teleconference? Mr. Yallah beats around the bush and dodges the question. We know why.

In the article to which Mr. Yallah pens his rejoinder, I made no mention of VP Boakai's meeting with President Obama. Why is it necessary to discuss it here? As for rumors regarding others who may want to seek the president's resignation, I've given no credence to such a case. Again, one wonders why Mr. Yallah would delve into the matter here. That's because he's trying to cleverly avoid the issue under discussion.

True to their type of scholarly writing, Mr. Yallah uses a lot of pretentious words but like the old saying goes, "He's talking loud and saying nothing". He claims my ambition was to become Information Minister in 2006. Sinister as that may sound, Mr. Yallah may actually be giving me a vote of confidence. He is indirectly saying I'm good enough to have been appointed to the post. Given the number of people who have held that post, including the present holder of the office, I think I compare quite favorable. I would think myself of being a capable candidate for the position. Thank you, Mr. Yallah, for the indirect support. As to what I would have done after winning the position, well, that's a different matter upon which we must differ.

In the end, Mr. Yallah tops his own ludicrousness. He claims I'm President Tubman's son. Kru people say "Chay!" I would have been proud except that this would dishonor my parents, both of whom are deceased. Had my father been alive and this brought to his attention, that Grebo man would have ordered one of his many sons to give you a butt-whipping. No, Mr. Yallah, I had no relation to the president except that we both hailed from Maryland County. The other things you had to say about him violated your claim to deportment. Why you would drag the gentleman through the mud in this particular discussion, just to defend your Lord is laughable. Remember, President Tubman died over forty-three years ago. It is not his administration under discussion but the present one on which your idol might have his eye... trying to stab his benefactor in the back. May the dead rest in peace, yours and mine.

In one of my articles I said clearly that people like the former professors I named made strong impressions on you, their students, during your youth. Psychologically, many of you remain emotionally attached to them forever. You consider them demi-gods. They are your leaders forever and you their followers and disciples. I was right. Dr. Sawyer has such a hold on you that it is impossible to extricate yourself from him; you still think of him as a larger-than-life figure. That's fine, but it blinds you to reality. You came to defend him, but your emotions overwhelmed you. In the end, you did not do yourself justice. I'm sure there will be others lined up to continue the line of attack you started; I await the challenge as I'm confident I can dispatch them as quickly and effectively as I dispatch you now.

One last thing. Tell them to come prepared and not bring a pen-knife to a gun fight. As for you, my friend... and you know we're friends, stick to the social work business. Detroit is going through some tough times now. There should be plenty of work for you there. Leave this fight to others; you've done your part and miserably failed. Thank you.



Anthony Cofrancesco
Thank you Mr. Hodge, you have eloquently laid this man out in quick dispatch.
Anthony Cofrancesco at 07:14AM, 2014/09/05.
Tolo Bonah Corfah
Mr. Hodge,
I have followed and admired some of your writings in the perspective news magazine fora long time now, but I do not see my way clear with this one; how did Dr. Sawyer become a backstabber? I've read the article twice and still don't see how Dr. Sawyer is a backstabber. I've have also read Dr. Sawyer' letter to Frontpage Africa online news organ, but don't see any backstabbing. I didn't attained the teleconference under discussion, but I can not fathom how Dr. Sawyer would one thing at a given telecom fence and say another thing in a letter to a news paper.
Please stop getting your information from the "grapevine", or EL They Say, as you have been objective in most of your writings, just saying
Regards,
Tolo Bonah Corfah
Tolo Bonah Corfah at 09:33AM, 2014/09/05.
Ted Allison


Mr. Tolo Bonah Corfah, you probably missed it. Mr. Dempster Yallah did admit that Dr. Sawyer was at the teleconference, so did Yanqui Zayzay in his new article. Read it. The teleconference did discuss the president's performance in office and the mechanics of a possible regime change. So what else is there to deny?

Mr. Hodge did admit to getting the news tip from the "grapevine", but does that mean he's wrong? He wrote what he was told and it has already been confirmed twice by people who attended the teleconference. Who cares what Sawyer wrote to Front Page Africa? The cat is out of the bag now. Let Sawyer answer the charge. He's a backstabber; I agree with Mr. Hodge.
Ted Allison at 09:59AM, 2014/09/05.
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoejallah
Tolo, don´t tell us you are still the gullible follower you and others were behind the likes of Tipoteh, Sawyer, Dew Mayson, etc in the early seventies when you used to walk from town to LPMC to print propaganda from and for these same crooks especially Tipoteh whom you few years ago referred to as a dictator for which George Klay Kieh, you Wolokollie and others had to walk away from LPP!

How on earth you did not attend the teleconference but still put your neck on the chopping board that Sawyer is not a back stabber!? We did not expect such from you Tolo, considering the fact that you are of age now with some advanced education and not the same as when in the early eighties you were busy recruiting the people children in Bomi Hills for your "TIPO" (and his LPP) as you referred to Tipoteh then.

To make long matter short, stop making small of yourself when you know to your conscience that everything Mr. Hodge is saying here are things you yourself have said both in private and in public about Sawyer for they are simply the truth and nothing but the truth that Sawyer is a back stabber!

Again, Tolo, How on earth you did not attend the teleconference but still put your neck on the chopping board that Sawyer is not a back stabber!? Do you think George Klay Kieh or Dusty Wolokolie would ever defend the likes of Sawyer? No! And you know it.

You are a few years older than Kieh and he would not belittle himself. As for Dusty Wolokolie who and you might be of the same age, you know neither of these selfish hypocrites would ever dream of him Dusty Wolokolie coming to the defense of their notorious back-stabbing nature. So back off!!! Or else....? A hint to the wise is quite....?
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoejallah at 02:05PM, 2014/09/05.
T. Nathaniel Tamba 111
Thank you Mr. Hodge, for proving your case with the required preponderance of evidence and also the proof beyond all reasonable doubt that Sawyer is a back stabber and that Yallah´s interloping is simply the obvious of a disciple who believes his relevance depends on his master - Sawyer the back stabber.
T. Nathaniel Tamba 111 at 02:23PM, 2014/09/05.
Joshua Zoejallah
It is interesting how people spew these silly remarks at others' characters and don't have the temerity to stand by them publicly by attaching their real names to what they say. Little do they realize how we can tell from their dictions exactly who is writing such nonsense. Bunch of Cowards!
Joshua Zoejallah at 03:22PM, 2014/09/05.
Amos Frank
Joshua (even if this is OR not your real name), how can readers confirm that the name you have here is your real name or NOT your real name, or how can you prove that the names you are referring to are not real names? Or should readers upon reading your comment conclude you are a "coward writing such nonsense"? Your empty last line: "Little do they realize how we can tell from their dictions exactly who is writing such nonsense. Bunch of Cowards!" is as useless as the purpose of your comment, for could you "tell" your comment won´t be this useless.
Amos Frank at 03:27PM, 2014/09/07.
Peter Zondo
I am obliged to comment for several reasons. First, I helped to organize the teleconference in question, and took minutes of that conference. Second, I see that the discussions at the conference have been distorted, and as such it is incumbent that I provide clarity.

Let me begin by addressing Mr. Hodge’s inquiry in paragraph four of his August 5, 2014 rejoinder to Mr. Dempster Yallah in which he questioned: “Do you now admit that a teleconference was indeed organized and attended by Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer (Hodge, 2014)? No Mr. Hodge, Dr. Sawyer didn’t organize the conference.

Since January of this year, a number of us who affiliated with the Liberian people’s Party or are still members have been holding discussions on how to reorganize the USA branch of the party. Since the party is a part of an alliance with other parties in Liberia, we have done due diligence to include members or affiliates of some of those parties in our discussions. As a part of this process, we developed the tradition of inviting prominent Liberians to speak to us whenever the opportunity was presented. It was on this premise that we invited Dr. Sawyer to speak to us on current developments in Liberia. Several other political leaders have made presentations to us prior to Dr. Sawyer.

In paragraph five of Mr. Hodge’s rejoinder, he presents two scenarios for which he thinks Dr. Sawyer may have excluded Mr. Sylvester Moses from the teleconference.

1. That Dr. Sawyer may have considered Mr. Moses insignificant to attend
2. That Mr. Moses may have attended, but may be deliberately lying and covering up by stating that he had dinner with Dr. Sawyer that night, and that he (Sawyer) couldn’t have attended a conference call the same night.

I read Mr. Moses’ comments with a different understanding other than Mr. Hodge’s. So let’s juxtapose what Mr. Moses said, and how Mr. Hodge is interpreting it for public scrutiny.

Mr. Moses: “Then without providing any evidential support except to say that a phantom told him, he hisses like a rattlesnake “I have learned that a teleconference was arranged by Dr. Amos Sawyer to put his rebel plan into action…” What is troubling for us about this allegation was that we were, with a female friend, guests of Dr Amos Sawyer and his wife at the Maryland residence of his sister that Saturday, August 30. And the dinner topic of our conversation was containing Ebola, including general ideas of the national security challenges facing Liberia when Unmil leaves after the 2017 presidential elections. Between 1991 and 1994 we served this man as national security advisor during the tenure of the IGNU, and it is wicked to suggest that he would ever think of backstabbing a colleague and boss he has so much regard for; shame on you, Theodore” (Moses, 2014).

Mr. Hodge interprets Moses: “The first person to dispute and dismiss what I wrote is named Sylvester Moses. He claims to have once been a chief security officer to Dr. Sawyer during his tenure as Interim President. He claims both he and his wife had dinner with Dr. Sawyer and his wife at the home of the latter, and that Dr. Sawyer never participated in any teleconference that night. So much so for security; he must eat crow now and I hope he chokes. Mr. Yallah, please tell Mr. Moses that indeed a teleconference was held that evening and Dr. Sawyer did attend. You see, the news from the grapevine tends to be right from time to time; this is one of those times, for the record. (Mr. Moses, your old chief either did not consider you significant enough to invite you, or you deliberately lie to cover him... but the truth comes out as always.)” (Hodge, 2014).
Mr. Moses didn’t say that Dr. Sawyer never participated in a conference call as is being put by Hodge in his third sentence. Also, Mr. Moses didn’t say that they met at the latter’s (Dr. Sawyer) house. Rather, he expressed concern that Mr. Hodge had provided no evidence to substantiate the backstabbing allegation. Further, he states that he was with Dr. Sawyer and his wife at his sister’s house that day, and that they had only discussed Ebola, national security etc. His use of the word “allegation” shows that he was not conclusive on the matter and was yearning for facts.
The teleconference was not a secret meeting as I understand Mr. Hodge to be concluding. We extended invitation to other Liberians/friends as well. I have appended below a copy of the original email invitation, including the individuals who received it. Most of those people will tell you that they are not Sawyer followers. While it is our goal to broaden participation in our discussions, we have had no contact with Mr. Moses, and know nothing regarding his political interest. In my rationalization, Mr. Moses wouldn’t have known about the teleconference if at all his dinner with Dr. Sawyer was before the time of the meeting. One wouldn’t expect Dr. Sawyer to tell all of his friends about every meeting he attends. I would have looked at it this way before deciding whether to brand Mr. Moses a liar.

In paragraph five, Mr. Hodge questions Dr. Sawyer for attending a conference call while on medical leave, and inquired whether the call was a part of consultations with his doctors. Here is my thought for public assessment.

Before Dr. Sawyer became a part of government, he had a political constituent that still exists, though not very active at the moment in Liberian politics. In my view, our constitution accords him the rights to engage with that constituent, as well as other Liberians who desire to affiliate with him, as long as they are not breaking the law. This is a fundamental tenet of the democracy that we so seek. Except we are saying now that when sick government officials talk to their friends or others Liberians about issues affecting the country then that’s enough proof of conspiracy or backstabbing? Nothing in our constitution bars government officials on sick leave from privately discussing about the country.

Mr. Hodge boosts that if he was a prosecuting attorney, he would roast Mr. Yallah’s butt before a judge by asking a number of questions which he (Hodge) lists in paragraph four of his rejoinder.
Again, here is my thought. I respectfully disagree that at that juncture when Mr. Hodge is posing the questions in the imaginary court, he is in essence roasting Mr. Yallah’s butt. All prosecuting attorneys ask questions in court. Those questions don’t merely suffice as roasting the responder’s butt. The responder’s butt is only roasted when he/she fails to adequately answer the questions and bows in shame. Therefore, roast as applied in Mr. Hodge’s context was meant to exaggerate and generate false effects. I believe Mr. Yallah would be adequately armed to answer those questions because he attended the teleconference from start to finish. I believe Mr. Yallah’s initial response was not meant to provide minutes of the conference, but to respond to the specific allegation that it was meant to devise strategies to execute an alleged “rebel plan”.

For the benefit of the reading public, let me summarize the discussions at the teleconference, using Mr. Hodge’s questions as a model. In fact, Dr. Sawyer spoke at the meeting as a private citizen and chose to go with the question and answer format.

The first inquiry was for Dr. Sawyer to comment on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including the West Point incident. In his view, the outbreak overwhelmed the health service capacities of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. He suggested that future outbreaks of viruses such as Ebola could be averted if countries would place more emphasis on preventive health care. On the West Point incident, he opined that such unfortunate clashes between the security forces and people could be a symptom of a lack of goodwill and relationship between the state and the people. He suggested that there was a need to strengthen local governments which are the direct links between the local people and the state.

Mr. Hodge asked as to whether Dr. Sawyer’s role in the current government was discussed at the teleconference, and whether he indicated that the government has failed to implement most of his commission’s report. No, the question had nothing to do with Dr. Sawyer’s role in the government. The question was posed as to why members of the progressive class were not speaking out like they did in the past. He responded by stating that for him specifically, and at his current age, it was imperative to approach national issues with deep reflections and constructiveness; as a statesman and not to resort to the airwaves or internet to insult national leaders as others were doing. He explained that though he is not heard or seen in these fora, his footprints were written all over several national policies, some of which still await the required legislations to be enacted into law. At no time did he say Ellen refused to sign policies that he or the governance commission had proposed.

Finally, Mr. Hodge inquires as follows: “Did you in fact discuss some aspects of an interim government and the possible resignation of the president? Several other questions would follow, but you do get the gist. (Bear in mind, others have since surfaced with additional details of the telephone meeting.)” (Hodge, 2014).

Again, big “No”. Nobody talked about resignation. The only mention of interim government was contained in a question posed by Mr. Yanqui Zaza, Mr. Hodge’s own economic editor. Mr. Zaza inquired from Dr. Sawyer if newspaper and internet stories about his alleged involvement with a plot to form an interim government were true. In response, Dr. Sawyer described the stories as false, and denied any involvement if at all an aorta of truth could be found in the allegation. Furthermore, he pointed out that the formation of an interim government would mean a serious reversal of the current democratization process, a process which has always been a dream of the progressive movement since its inception in the 70s. He declined to be a part of anything that would erode a genuine foundation which he has helped to build.

We have forwarded for publication, a press release to Mr. Hodge’s online news Website. That release contains a link to an audio of Dr. Sawyer’s response to the interim government question. They are charging us $100.00 (One hundred dollars) to publish the press release. Visit www.lppliberia.org to hear Dr. Sawyer’s response to interim government question.

Finally, I believe the practice of well-informed journalism (not speculative) has a dual role in society. It can nurture democracy and build and informed society. We have spoken not out of speculations or news out of the grapevine, but sufficient evidence to substantiate all we have said.

Thank you.

Peter J.O. Zondo
Email: odnos@hotmail.com



























From: Peter Zondo [mailto:odnos@hotmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 5:57 PM
To: dyallah@aol.com; ifmulbah@yahoo.com; jyanqui@aol.com; sykonah@aol.com; tolob@ymail.com; kpannehdoe@live.com; ewrehwilson@edinboro.edu; wetteee9@yahoo.com; newspaper012@yahoo.com; ggflomo12@yahoo.com; tsiklo@aol.com; wilmot.kunney@phila.gov; Moses Vankpanah; nwisseh14@aol.com; ghinawillie2006@yahoo.com; gbeizon@aol.com; edwindennis@yahoo.com; thebotwalla@yahoo.com; jusukarneh@comcast.net; tellewoyan@yahoo.com; kemah1284@yahoo.com; shiwohoriginal@yahoo.com; Philip Jorgu; kamaralouis50@gmail.com; samilytp@gmail.com; bartee.togba@phila.gov; franknimmo@yahoo.com; sackie20122012@yahoo.com; jahpeasley@yahoo.com; gtogba2005@yahoo.com; nahweah@msn.com; ggonpu@gmail.com; gussie.33@hotmail.com; yanquoi_siefa@yahoo.com; rgbolue@yahoo.com

Subject: RE: Conference Call with Dr. Sawyer
Comrades and Friends
We are pleased to invite you all to a special conference call on Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 8:30PM Eastern time.
We will be hosting Professor Dr. Amos C. Sawyer who will be speaking to us on a wide range of topics including the Ebola epidemic and its effects on the economy, political and social developments in Liberia. Also, he may be able to take a few questions from participants.
Please fail not to attend and thanks for your usual inputs.
Conference number: 712-432-1500
Pass Code: 598 302

Peter Zondo at 09:05PM, 2014/09/07.
USA Progressives
Progressives-USA Meeting
Press Release


Liberian Progressives-a group comprising of MOJA, LPP, UPP, New Deal Movement etc. in the USA, hosted Dr. Amos C. Sawyer on a conference call on August 30, 2014 at about 9:00 PM Eastern.
The conference call was part of our tradition of engaging our partisans from home whenever they visit the United States for briefing on matters relative to happenings in Liberia. This meeting was called to get an informed assessment of current political, social and economic developments in Liberia.
Dr. Sawyer began the conversation with a candid analysis of the Ebola crisis including its effect on the economic, social and political sectors of the West African sub-region. Particularly, he asserted that while it was true that governments could have done a little more in their initial response to the outbreak, the fact remains that the rapid spread of the virus was beyond the health service capacities of the affected countries in the sub-region. He suggested that an appropriate strategy for curbing future occurrences was to make preventive care a priority in our health care policy.
Dr. Sawyer commented on some key issues that continue to plague Liberia’s political system. He pinpointed the strained relationship between the state and the society as a factor that contributes to persistent disagreements between the two. Also, he suggested the building of strong local governments, human capacity, and decentralization of government as a recipe for preventing a clash of the state and society.
While we do not wish to bore you with the details of our conference with Dr. Sawyer, we cannot conclude this synopsis without addressing the issue respecting the formation of an interim government for Liberia as has been alleged. We believe such allegation is aimed at creating confusion and mistrust among us for the achievement of the usual divide and rule paradigm which is detrimental to the development of our country.
The crux of our discussion with Professor Sawyer was not to strategize and push his alleged ambition to form an interim government to replace the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
We dismissed such baseless categorizations of our meeting, and clearly state that our group will never be a part of such plan if one exists. The fact of the matter is that during our discussions, a fellow progressive, Mr. Yanqui Zaza made reference to several newspaper reports regarding the formation of an interim government, and then inquired from Dr. Sawyer as to whether it was true that he was part of the group vouching for such risky move.
In response, our guest described the stories as false, and denied any involvement if at all an aorta of truth could be found in the allegation. Furthermore, he pointed out that the formation of an interim government would mean a serious reversal of the current democratization process, a process which has always been a dream of the progressive movement since its inception in the 70s. He declined to be a part of anything that would erode a genuine foundation which he has helped to build.
Let it be clear that our intent here is not to respond to the careless, malicious and selfish publications of individuals who are intent on gaining political cloak by spreading misinformation at the expense of the country that they profess to love. Our goal is to provide clarity to well-meaning Liberians who deserve to know the truth about what transpired during our meeting with Dr. Sawyer.
Moreover, we are also aware of the tricks of some among us who never believed that our country could have experienced the level of peace and freedom made possible only through the selfless and relentless effort of men like the late brothers Wuo Tappiah, Wewe Debbah, Boley Ndorbor, Momolu Lavella, etc.
Indeed, Dr. Sawyer whom they intentionally misrepresent in their flawed political machination, Drs. Tipoteh, Fahnbulleh, and many other patriots also fought for our current dispensation under which individuals can now express their views without being arbitrarily incarcerated. Certainly, we agree that the process is a long way from achieving perfection. But in our view, the current arrangement provides us the best platform ever in our history to reach higher heights with political democratization. Therefore, as a people and nation, we must never abuse this opportunity or let it pass by.
We want to make it emphatically clear to leaders of the misinformation campaign that we are marching forward and never backward. This is because Liberian Progressives now have an integrated structure that is working in collaboration with patriotic and hardworking cadres for a greater goal.
Finally, we call on all patriotic Liberians to remain steadfast in the fight against Ebola. The magnitude of this national crisis demands that we do not fall prey to the grand designs of political schemers who are laboring so hard to please their masters.
The audio version of the progressives meeting where Dr. Amos Sawyer dismissed the issue of interim government is at (www.lppliberia.org) (Warning: site under construction, other links not functional, excuse us).
.
Signed: Peter J.O zondo
Secretary, Organizing Committee

Approved: Moses Vankpannah
Chairman, Organizing Committee
Contact us at: info@lppusa.org
USA Progressives at 09:11PM, 2014/09/07.

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