Government as A Criminal Enterprise
By Abdoulaye W. Dukule
February 25, 2002
On March 14/15, 2002, Liberian political leaders will again meet in Nigeria for another round of our never-ending peace process. They will talk and talk and talk and go home with promises. And a few years down the road, another Nigerian leader, after so many others, will call another Liberian peace meeting until they get tired of us and tell us that we have a serious problem to resolve, a structural problem. And that problem has a face and a name.
As times go, it is becoming harder and harder to find anything in the Taylor government that would make it look like anything but a criminal enterprise, created and maintained for the sole sadistic pleasure of a few men and women, who have long lost any sense of decency and respect towards their fellow humans.
The concept that a government would create chaos and cause the displacement of tens of thousands of its own people may seem difficult for many to accept. But looking at the underlying psychological pattern of behavior of the Taylor government, where it came from, where it is headed, the conclusion becomes obvious.
In a matter of weeks, with its usual erratic behavior, the NPFL went on rampage. ATU and former fighters returning from Sierra Leone got into a fight, displacing thousands of people, looting entire villages and led to a situation of panic. LURD was accused and took credit for the mayhem. Opposition politicians had their pictures stamped on government newspapers and websites. Journalists were thrown in jail and a state of emergency was put in place to create more panic. Meanwhile, it is believed that soldiers who were guarding the airport shot down a government plane bringing arms. Nobody had taken the time to inform them that another planeload of guns and RPG were coming that night. That’s what happens when so many layers of security run a small country.
A year ago, thugs of the ATU invaded the offices of CEDE and almost killed a former president and his aides. The police chief came in and stood by, almost disappointed that the “job had not been completed.” A few scapegoats were arrested and later released. Yesterday, it was the turn of the Former Chief Frances Johnson Morris to be arrested, manhandled and thrown in a jail-cell with hardened common criminals by the Chief of Police. The Former Deputy Speaker Sam Dokie was beheaded, burned to ashes after being sodomized with the rest of his family. The police director himself arrested journalists who dared to question why so much money was spent to entertain the Party while the country was in a state of panic.
The people arrested and molested by the NPFL were all prominent people in our recent history and held the highest offices in the three branches of government: Dr. Sawyer in the Executive, Sam Dokie the Legislature and Frances Johnson Morris in the Judiciary. These acts are a deliberate attempt to symbolically “behead” the state as a legal entity and go to the root cause of the problems Liberia faces: the people who have inherited the political power at the end of the war are not capable of respecting or upholding law and order. It is engrained in their personality. They cannot respect dignity of other humans because they have no respect for themselves. Their tendency to berate honorable men and women, to humiliate them and strip them off of their dignity is an attempt to bring others to their own level.
The NPFL has been swimming in a pool of crime and impunity since its inception. The fact that a group of people can preside over the total destruction of a country, killing 10% of its entire population while ravaging the lands of their neighbors and still be rewarded with custody of the government has consequences that Liberians are now paying. The behavior of arrogance derives from that belief: they can get away with anything. At the end of the day, Liberians will forgive and forget, because justice and accountability are not part of our political culture.
Governance is based on a social contract whereby the people of a nation entrust certain people with the power to make decisions and ensure the welfare of the population. In the case of Liberia, there is no such think as a social contract. The NPFL owes its ascension to power to brute power and the same logic is used to maintain it in power. Government agencies are used as personal business and rights of other people are confiscated as life goes on. This is how it began and this is how it shall end.
The lack of respect for state office is shown also through the many lies and deceptions carried out by various officers of the government over the years and most recently during the past week and that culminated in the imposition of the state of emergency, displacement of thousands and more deaths. Cover-ups over the so-called rebel invasion, false accusations against opposition members and their associates as well as are all part of a pattern of behavior of people who have no respect for the authority vested in them. The same disrespect is shown through the high level of corruption that goes on unabated every day in every state office.
It gets to the point when some may reasonably tend to revert to armed violence to end the regime. They would point to the fact that people who have turned the government into a criminal enterprise will never allow a fair game where everyone has a chance to win and would resort to any trick in the book to stay in power. The great majority of Liberians are close to reaching the same conclusion.
The behavior and characters of people in power in Monrovia makes any negotiations almost useless. They have no respect for the given word, they have no respect for state office and they have no respect for the dignity and sanctity of human life and finally they take the power entrusted in them by the people as a God given right. How can one expect people like that to negotiate in good faith?
Those who are headed for Abuja and Monrovia for so called “national conference of reconciliation” have a great task ahead of them. They are going to sit across the table and negotiate with people whom they know will never respect whatever they put on paper or sign. They must however do so because it is the only way to salvage the country from banditry and ensure that the seeds of a new political system based on the respect of state office, respect for life and dignity are upheld for future generations.
Triumphing over evil without resorting to evil ways will require creativity and patriotism. Those planning to attend the next talks with the NPFL must arm themselves with both and not be distracted by the blackmail, insults and false accusations of the past weeks. Liberia needs to close the cycle of violence.
Will the Crusade give Liberia to the angels of peace?