Above All Else, Jobs - Especially GOL jobs!!

James F. Kollie, Jr.

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

December 23, 2003

A few months ago I authored an article on The Perspective web site in which I tried to ask a number questions including Chairman Bryant’s power regarding firing of ministers appointed by warring factions and also the prosecution of people who have plundered our national wealth.

I am not an experienced historian or writer but I have concerns, which I believed could help, in a minute way, shape the destiny of our country. I may not have all the words necessary to describe so eloquently my views, but I believe that I owe it to my conscience and posterity to air my view no matter who is offended.

I read with outer dismay this morning that the three warring groups have formed a marriage of convenience to apparently shut down the government or bring the peace process to a full stop. It doesn’t take any genius to draw this conclusion from their actions.

NPFL, LURD and MODEL now control the only branch of government (Legislative) that is almost completely formed and operating (except for the case of the former ULSU president). This branch has even started confirming executive nominees and I believe will soon start making laws. Their actions of demanding more jobs as stated in the “Monrovia Clarification” of the CAPP, which reports indicate is currently on the Chairman’s desk, sends a very dangerous message and signals that the center may soon fail to hold and off course things will then begin to fall apart.

Since they control the legislative branch, two things I think they could use to strengthen their position or demand: (1) they could decide to stop confirming executive nominees (shut down the government) or (2) Pull out of the entire peace arrangement (bring the peace process to a full stop). Either of which is not healthy for the suffering people of Liberia whom I sincerely believe don’t deserve anything close to this.

What is especially appalling is that if these guys could have such a great level of understanding and cooperation amongst them, then why did our people die in such a number or suffer in ways that we still can’t imagine? Are they really friends now or are they continuing their game plan against the Liberian people in a more sophisticated way?

It is beginning to show that for the past 15 years, the suffering of the Liberia people has all been about jobs. There has been nothing fundamental about all these fighting. In fact, the entire body politics of Liberia has all been about jobs. No politician has been able to differentiate him or herself on the basis of the issues. There is even no debate about issues in Liberian politics. The wars have never been about democracy or about sovereignty or about the masses. It has been about personality; about revenge; about wealth and Above All Else, Jobs- especially, GOL jobs. There has been no policy difference, no issue to debate.

When I asked the question about bringing people to account for national wealth kept in their personal bank accounts, I was attempting to create a disincentive for GOL jobs. I believe that if the Chairman were to announce the setting up of a tribunal to prosecute former GOL officials for wealth they may have taken from the national coffers and kept in their personal bank accounts, this would have sent out a message that Liberians don’t appreciate the looting of what belongs to everybody for the sole use of a select group and their heirs. Maybe using the words ‘tribunal’ and ‘prosecute’ sound harsh but what I really mean is to audit their finances and have them return to the national coffers what rightfully belongs to the Liberian people. This will help us begin to account for the $3 billion dollars of national debt (I am currently investigating this debt burden)

Most of those who go into government have not done so because they want to be public servants. They all believe that in government you can have a free ride. You are never accountable to anyone and you can just grab, get and go. This has to change and maybe this interim period could be just the time to set the tone or pace that we want our new Liberia to take. We need to do this so that the lives of those lost during the 15 years of war can have some meaning; and so that our children will have a responsible society to inherit. When the pages of history are turned, our children will be able to see pre-war Liberia and post-war Liberia. There will be no difficulty in differentiating the two because the postwar would be seen as an accountable and responsible society where punishment for crimes were used as a means of deterrent for future criminals.

Chairman Bryant can put the demands of these thugs to rest by announcing the formation of an Independent Financial Panel to investigate the wealth accumulation of former GOL officials and warlords (the Taylor’s, Urey, Grace Minor, Lewis Brown, George Dweh, Lansana Kromah, Chyee Doe, and the list is far from complete). The list would be very long and task daunting but we will all realize that it would be worth the effort because I am convinced that we will recover a lot of money to pay for the project itself and pay down some of our national debt. I am sure that when the warlords and politicians who know that they are not technically competent to hold GOL offices but want to do so because of the grab, get and go philosophy entrenched in government operations will have a second thought. They would wonder, Is it worth it?? The answer will be a resounding NO. And they would have limited options and definitely relinquish their claims to jobs that they either killed for or bought.