Patriot’s Reflections



By Bai M. Gbala, Sr.  

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
December 28, 2014

                  



 
Bai M. Gbala, Sr.  

On wishing you a merry Christmas & New Year 2015:
We, the Kwia Gbala Family of the Town of Meabloh, Grand Gedeh Count
y, wish for you all, our fellow Compatriots, now in those United States of America, a very merry, joyful and meaningful Christmas, happy and prosperous New Year (2015), with good health and long life throughout the coming years.

We wish, also, that the day will come when you will return home to the land of your birth; for, “there is no place like home”. We know that there is agony, with yearning, the desire and hope to return to the embrace of loved ones, youthful memories of lifetime friends and associates.

Apart from these, you miss nothing in your country. On the ground, here, in Liberia nothing positive has changed throughout the 167-year history of our country, in terms of meaningful socio-economic and political reform/transformation for the overwhelming majority of the nation’s population – poverty, un-information, hunger, disease, etc. The Decentralization of Political Power In Liberia about which we wrote in 1998 and published in 2004, although acceptable and the talk of the nation, it is still in the works. Indeed, there is nothing, really, to make merry about, other than our historic resilience, the very life and breath that we breathe, and the soup & rice that some are lucky and able to provide for the family.  

For these we must give thanks to the Great Arbiter of human eventsand damn the successive, political leaders of our country, since 1847.

Those who brought hell here on earth mind-boggling, historic plunder, destruction, human suffering and death – upon the villages, towns and cities of this nation, under the banner of “freedom fighters”, but, in fact and reality, freedom killers, have been, and are being, today, awarded the conventional, traditionally-earned title of “Honorable” and recognized as the “socio-economic and political leaders” of the nation; they control and dish out their brand of law enforcement – the police, prosecution, the courts, you name it.

These “Honorables” are the wealthy, Liberian millionaires of the day, personalities who stole from the public treasury, capitalized and founded what is now “corporate Liberia” (the facts and records are available and will catch up with them as it did with former President Taylor); they are the few, wealthy, Liberian political class who dominate Liberia’s economy and in an unholy alliance (or cahoots) with “none-black, non-African nationals (foreigners) who wield social, economic and political power in Liberia”, according to Miss Robtel  Pailey (Pailey, Commentary, FPA, October 22, 2012, on Liberian Negro clause, Article 27b of the Liberian Constitution).    

Most of them were, then as now, the political class, the ruling group that dominated then, and dominate today, the political economy of Liberia; they bear responsibility for the massive fight of Liberians into far away, foreign lands as refugees, with some forced to take up foreign naturalization.

 

Today, Liberia, the land of your nativity, is caught “with its pants down” in the deadly grip of the Ebola Epidemic, a disease that threatens the very existence, indeed, the survival of the nation, because of conscious neglect, failure, greed and ethnic/tribal bigotry of our successive, political leadership, up to the present.

Since the onset of the Ebola Epidemic in our West African Sub-Region of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberiain March of this year, medical experts and scientists tracking the Epidemic reported that the disease is transmitted, rapidly, by infected, human activities – transport/people, movement, public gatherings, meetings, assemblies, touching and/or coming in contact with the infected, unprotected burial of infected dead. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization advised the Liberian Government to pay strict attention to, and avoid, these activities.

However, rather than postpone the scheduled, senatorial elections to a later date, in response to this critical, medical advice, in order to devote undivided attention to contain-and-prevent the reported, rapid spread or transmission of the deadly, Ebola virus, with several deaths and infected, already, in the  country, the Government of Liberia Legislative, Executive and the Judiciary– approved and gave instructions for the holding of the elections, despite the proven, known fact that most of electoral programs/activities contain and are the very same acts against which the Ebola experts advised.

In carrying out these orders, the National Elections Commission (NEC) will be, and was, under obligation to undertake several of the very activities that are, in fact, pre-requisites to conducting elections, including the 2014, senatorial elections. These are, and include, the deployment of its electoral staff and policy workers nationwide; authorization of political parties and independents for campaigns, rallies, public gatherings and public assembly, to take place, and did take place during this period of the rapid spread of the Ebola virus, nationwide, with the risk of infection and instant death, due to the Ebola Epidemic.

 

It is important to note that the request for postponement of the election is consistent with the Constitution of Liberia as well as the containment process - population movement, public gatherings, mass meetings and assembly – that transmit the Ebola virus rapidly, according to advice by the Ebola Specialists, US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is, also, important to note that the Executive Branch, the Liberian Senate and friendly political parties, have all fielded candidates for election to the Senate, individuals who are unconcerned about the existence/survival of the nation and the plight of its people, but seeking jobs and the expected, associated benefits – wealth, class, and political power. An example will illustrate:

Written “The Agony of Sorrow, Destruction & Death”, it was and is our sympathetic contribution to theNew Democrat’s “Cape Mount’s Gathering Storm . . .” (New Democrat, December 4, 2014) in the ever-present issues of our nation’s “human condition”, with particular reference to the historic trials & tribulations of Grand Cape Mount County, one of the original, five counties of our nation and home of some of our great leaders.

The County was and is home of the Joneses, Fahnbullehs, Dempsters, Mores (Bai T.), Shermans, Roberts, Simpsons, Shannons, etc., the icons (academic/intellectual, socio-cultural, economic & political) whose vision and courage, with others, shaped the modern destiny of our Nation. It is, also, home of the industrial, intellectual peoples of the Vai, Gola, Mende, our forefathers and their descendants; and yes, it is home of many of Liberia’s traditional, village industries – colorful “Vai” Shirts, Gowns, caps, Lappas, Head-ties, classic, traditional African attire with colorful designs; musical instruments of the Sasas, talking drums; canoes (tree-trunk dug-out) for the fishing industry of the Atlantic and the famous Lake Piso, the scenic beauty of a tourist’s paradise.

However, Grand Cape Mount County had been, and is, neglected, forgotten and in decay, now in addition to the devastating, deadly Ebola Epidemic, although the County is only about an hour’s drive from Monrovia, the seat of government and source of all socio-economic and political power and decision-making. Proximity, unfortunately, did not and does not help, because Lofa County, in the north, dominated north-southwest Liberia, due to its large, geographic territory and population, with Grand Cape Mount County eclipsed. Bomi County, created during the 1980s, replaced Lofa County after Gbarpolu was sliced off for political reasons. North-southwest Liberia, including Grand Cape Mount County, fell and lives in the shadows and under the socio-cultural, economic and political domination of Bomi County, particularly, now that the current President is citizen of Bomi County.

With Counselor-at-Law, the Honorable Varney G. Sherman,a “politically- savy”, and prominent citizen of Grand Cape Mount County as Chairman of the powerful, Ruling Political Party (Unity) of which the current President is Flag Bearer, it is reasonable for one to speculate or, even, conclude that developmental issues of the County would improve; but, apparently, they have not.

Case in point and critical in our wondering or question, is the prevailing, deadly conditions in the County of Venerable Counselor Varney Sherman, the deadly Ebola menace!!

The Counselor, a former candidate for President of Liberia, owns and lives, comfortably, in a mansion on Tubman Boulevard, Congo Town, Montserrado County; he is now standing for the Liberian Senate for Grand Cape Mount County. Counselor Sherman is man of reason, professional competence, long-time prominent on the national stage for socio-cultural, economic and political development. The nagging question: How does the Counselor rationalize and carry out, engage aggressively, a reasonable, political campaign for the Liberian Senate, on behalf of the County, characterized, traditionally, by singing, dancing, eating, drinking and merry-making in an atmosphere of happiness and hope for a better future - in historic Robertsport, the County Capital, cities, towns and villages of Grand Cape Mount County, with all five districts of the County reporting deaths and increasing Ebola infections, in Agony of Sorrow, Destruction & Death, while the Counselor preaches the “Politics of Joy”, a la the late Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, USA?

This illustrates the message of these Reflections. We stated, earlier, that on ground, here, in Liberia, nothing much positive has changed.  There is nothing, really, to be and make merry about, other than our very life and the soup & rice that some are lucky and able to provide for the family food table. For these we said that we must give thanks to the Almighty and forget, ignore the careless, successive, political leaders of our country.

For, during the Ebola Crisis and faced with the immediate problems of the Existence/survival of the Nation and People on the one hand, and the scheduled, Senatorial Elections for October, 2014 on the other (elections with activities against which Ebola experts advised), which one of these policy options – Existence/Survival of the Nation and People or Elections for jobs, wealth, class and political power for the very few?

 This day, December 25 of every year, is a day on which Liberians of all walks of life, with family members, extended relatives and friends gather, together and celebrate, make merry and give thanks and praise to the Almighty God for another year of survival and life of happiness.

 However, today, December 25, 2014 and all the “Christmases” after the national tragedy of the civil war, the average Liberians – men, women and children - the majority of the nation’s population, have nothing about which to celebrate and make merry, because:

1. The turbulent, critical challenges of socio-economic and political development that we faced in the past have grown worse and appear un-surmountable.

2. The gap between the average, poor and hungry Liberian on the one hand and the emerged/emerging political class or ruling group, wealthy, government officials on the other or between the proverbial “poor and rich” has widened and continues to grow wider exponentially. Poverty, discontent, no-where-to-turn, helplessness, hopelessness and anger have become the order of the day. Almost all of the young, including 4-5 year-olds (the nation’s future leaders) go to bed every night on empty stomachs, live in sub-standard, unsanitary homes and communities; there little, very poor or non-existent medical facilities, with JFK Memorial Hospital described by a visiting, US medical delegation as “a place one goes to die”.

3. Our Nation has been around for 167 years, yet we had not, and have not, prioritized national, economic development policy – all-weather roads/highways, the Premier, Multiplier Effect in national economic development. One cannot travel, comfortably and safely, between Monrovia and Voinjama, Lofa County; Saniquellie, Nimba County; Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County; and Harper, Maryland County.

4. The unprecedented exodus of refugees from all over the nation into the Capital City of Monrovia, the-then only safe haven, from the brutalities of the civil war, compounded not only the socio-economic constipation of the city, but also rendered it extremely over-crowded, congested by population increase that is far greater than the city can hold, safely, economically and rendered it un-governable.

5. Making matters worse are the city streets and roads built, paved and unpaved, some 50-55 years ago that cannot, now, hold nor facilitate efficient, smooth, safe and orderly flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic, due to the increased number of automobiles, much more than the volume of traffic for which the streets/roads were designed.

6. Apparently, all the motor vehicles imported to Liberia are registered and concentrated in the Monrovia area, with no safe and comfortable streets/roads to ply. Police “traffic control” is, in fact, a “close down of the entire city and business”, without streets/roads to ply with more vehicles and the pehn-pehns, because such “control” is often limited to Liberia’s only 4-lane, paved thoroughfare, the Tubman Blvd., from City Hall to ELWA Junction in Paynesville.

Indeed, we are aware of the nature of our “resource-squeeze” as a strong impediment in pursuing, actively, all of these, very needy, development challenges. But, we know, also, that billions of US dollars that flow into Liberia vanish in thin air, due to public dishonesty, the increasing, national phenomena of Corruption, Inc.  Take, for example, almost all former managing directors of the state enterprise, the Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation (LPRC), built mansions (some with swimming pools) and own businesses.

 

In this scheme of things socio-economic and political, corruption, Inc. has come to be a potent force in Liberian society such that many public officials, led by the current President of the Nation, refer to it, inevitably, as “Liberia’s public enemy No.1”, because of its incidence, with negative impact, on the social, economic and political development of the Liberian nation. Now, corruption has been developed, by a corps of highly-placed government officials – MBAs, MSCs, LLMs, PhDs - into a big business that may be likened to the US/Italian Mafia. Corruption, Inc. has captured control of the corridors of state power and has become a major, dominant political force.

However, it has been shown that corruption can be controlled, minimized and eventually, eradicated. But, this effort requires rational public policy development/prescription, the political will and the commitment/dedication for diligent application/enforcement.

 

The major source and income of Corruption, Inc. has now become the abuse of the lawful, public policy of Salary/Wage Allowance System. This system of salary/wage allowance has been and is extended into such unexplained categories as the following:

ALLOCATED CATEGORIES OF ALLOWANCES
General Allowance
Special Allowance
Salary Allowance
Travel Allowance (Domestic & Foreign)
PERSONAL, UN-EXPLAINED ALLOCATIONS
Rental Expense
Fuel –Vehicles
Fuel – Generator Repairs
Special Services
Operational Expense
Local Scholarship Give-aways
Now Telephone Scratch Cards

Recipients of these dubious allowances are all ministers, their deputies, executives of state enterprises, justices of the Supreme Court, and members of the National Legislature. There may be more.

It is very important to note that the hundreds of millions of US dollars, spent in this way (unexplained, operational expense, special service expense, local scholarship giveaways, newspaper purchase, in addition to all the other dubious allocations) end up in foreign bank accounts held by many of the “allowance recipients” who are, highly likely to be US or citizens of other, foreign countries. Other payments, in billions of US dollars, made to the dealers for these generators, fuel, spare parts and service, including the popular SUVs, parts, service and fuel, also end up, but as revenues (out of Liberia) to the foreign business organizations operating in Liberia.

In other words, this is enormous sums of money out of the Liberian economy and out of resource source necessary for national development. It is time to review this scheme in the effort to cut out the fat.

                 

Flahn Momoh Dualu
Until We Liberians are willing to give all to chase these criminals into their proper places, nothing changes.
Flahn Momoh Dualu at 02:27PM, 2014/12/28.
Anthony
Thank you, Mr. Gbala for a detailed reflection of the year 2014 in a country that is manage by a Liberian progressive.I have always admired you as a patriotic son of Liberia.A devoted Liberian as yourself could do very well at the universities in Liberia to mold the young minds to think love of country to be patriotic. Our young children are confused from the ideology of progressives in the past.They incited the students to bring about change and when they took leadership,they disregarded change in the system. It is like new wine in old bottles.

The present President is an example of that.She is preaching love of country and doing something different or allowing something different in her leadership.This is deception and the nation needs answers to the issues you have mentioned. If not I suggest, She must answer to a commission after 2017.

There has to be Precedence for accountability of stewardship. This is a compelling issue that must be addressed to eradicate corruption and negligence in future state leaderships.

She was not the choice of the majority voters in so many elections after the civil war. The so-called progressives went through all lengths to have her elected,but she has demonstrated gross disregard for good leadership.

She has gotten away with lots of abuse inflicted on the people of this nation through the many havoc caused by her and her cronies for state leadership.This time it needs to come to an end in order not to have this nation held hostage for the selfish desire of others for state leadership.

We must demand good Leadership from elected officials or else they must face the full force of the law.
Anthony at 08:23AM, 2014/12/29.
Augustine Kollie
Unless there is another non-violent insurrection to demand the reverse in the status quo, Liberia risks being at the bottom of all civilized nations. This president is one of the worthless presidents in our country's history.

Having gone in bed with Sergeant Doe and later terminated that relation to pursue personal vendetta in the name of social justice, Liberians were made to believe her to be another "messiah". Interestingly, she preyed on the ignorance of the Liberian masses to excel to such heights.

She had no record of being an advocate of social justice in Liberia, but was vehement to settle scores with DOE. Liberians would call her IRON LADY because many hated DOE and wanted him insulted and dead by all means; so those who braced the challenge to stand against Doe earned names and popularities. Many were charlatans, but Liberians are just getting to know.

Today, we are back to an era of the old congau hegemony, an era many died opposing where the president treats the country as his personal farm. Today, Ellen is being being surrounded by her family members raging economic havoc on the Liberian economy. Her son has introduced a strange culture in Liberia. He is sleeping with men and boys in return for positions in government. The country is at the abyss of self-destruction. Corruption is a new norms and there seems no end in sight for the systematic pillaging of vital resources for personal gain. The longanimity of perseverance continues with no hope of redemption.

Unless there is a non-violent insurrection to revolt against the current state of affairs, our country is doomed! Thank You Honorable Bai M. Gbala for stating it as it is...


Augustine Kollie at 10:31AM, 2014/12/29.
guawon siasia
Guys,I have never been a president of a country and I don't think I will become one because one; I don't have the pre-requisites and two; it is a very tough job. A president may want to do good things and development his/her country but those working with him/her do the most damage.

Think about this, was Tolbert a very bad president? Some may say yes but I think he was one of the best presidents Liberia ever had. What about Doe? You may have many things to say about Doe. My only problem with Doe is that his takeover of Liberia started with many deaths and ended with even more deaths. What Did honorable Gbala say when Doe only remedy was to kill those whom he imagined breaks the law? One good thing Doe did in my opinion is that he changed the currency which somehow slow down capital flights? You either do some development in the country or keep your Doe's coin in your ceiling.

Liberia's problem is Liberians themselves. We sit on the internet and able to pinpoint everything that is wrong with our country's leadership and how the issues can be fixed. But wait until you are awarded a position in the government; you will begin to sing a different song.

Until we ordinary citizens change our mindset about how dearly the livelihood of all citizens of Liberia is paramount to a wholesome functioning society as Tolbert said, we will recycle and re-recycle our so-called Liberian leaders and will always end up with the same result. Privilege for a chosen few and hell with the rests culminating into even mass corruption that we can imagine.

In short, it is not the leaders, it is us. We will have to change on many levels. Think about it.
guawon siasia at 04:39PM, 2014/12/30.
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