The Liberian Politicians And Civil Society Have Done It Again

By Jesse B. Ghoah

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

September 26, 2003

The self-anointed representatives of the Liberian people, who assembled in Ghana for the so-called peace talks to end the terrorism, which was inflicted on the Liberian people, by barbarians and evil men, have done it again. They have replaced one war criminal and a low down common thief, with several criminals and potential thieves. It seems as if the biggest problem with Liberians is that they do not learn from past mistakes. Does anybody remember what the 4 previous chairpersons of the various interim governments of Liberia accomplished during their tenure in office? Is there any reason to believe that Mr. Gyude Bryant, someone with no experience in government, no critical decision making experience, or leadership capability, will take over an interim government and in two years make it work? Is this not asking the young man to perform miracles?

Why was it necessary to give LURD and MODEL electoral power to select the interim government chairperson? Was that the only way to get those war criminals to negotiate for peace? Here is a question for anybody who may have an answer: by selecting Bryant as chairperson for the interim government, be an incentive for Liberians living abroad to pack up their belongings and rush back to Liberia? Will the selection of Mr. Bryant be enough to encourage investors to rush to Liberia with their money to invest in the country? What is so different about Mr. Bryant from the rest of the Liberians that we have experimented with in the past?

Let me assure the Liberian people that I have nothing against Mr. Gyude Bryant personally. I don’t even know the man. I am only basing my cynicism on the past. Incidentally, I understand that Mr. Bryant is a businessman, a devout Christian. Are these the criteria upon which he was selected? Does anybody know if Mr. Bryant has a clue how he is going to tackle the many problems in Liberia?

There is no money in the country, no natural resources left, just who is going to give us the money needed to repair our infrastructure? Has Mr. Gyude Bryant, as a businessman, ever had any past dealings with financial people in Washington, Paris, London, Tokyo, Berlin or any of the developed countries? How much is his business worth in terms of $$$? How much is Mr. Bryant worth, himself financially? The various people who have been awarded lucrative jobs in the new government, will their financial background be made public? How many Liberians did Mr. Bryant employ in his business? Just what were the criteria used in selecting Mr. Bryant? It seems to me clearly, and I pray I am wrong about this, that a deal was struck; whereby if LURD and MODEL selected Mr. Bryant chairperson of the Interim government, in turn, Mr. Bryant would not hold the two rebel groups accountable for any crimes they committed against the Liberian people.

Does anybody doubt this? Anybody who has answers to these question, please send them to ‘The Perspective’ for printing. I understand that Mr. Bryant has not returned to Liberia from Ghana since his selection as chairperson for the interim government because he doesn’t have anywhere to live for somebody in his position. Is that true? I think that the Liberian people need to know the answers to these questions, because two years hence when we gather again in Ghana, Nigeria or another African country to select another interim government, somebody might remember my asking these questions.

I cannot find words strong enough to express my anger, frustration, embarrassment, and shame, to the handful of Liberians who went to Ghana and sold the masses of the Liberian people “down the river.” What mandate, and from whom, did these people have to mortgage the future of Liberia by signing onto a stupid, unimaginative, immoral, and dishonest, at best, a so-called peace agreement in the name of the Liberian people? By the way, why is it that whenever there is a problem amongst us (Liberians) the places we try to run to first are Ghana, Nigeria, or some other African country? Can it be that we (Liberians) think these countries have our best interests at heart than we do ourselves? As far as I am concerned, I think absolutely not. It is clear to me that these two countries try to divert attentions from their own leadership failures to their people. As long as international attention is focused on Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, or the Ivory Coast, these countries tend to mask their own problems by pretending to broker peace agreements, and to send soldiers to keep the peace.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. In late 1979, my family and I visited several countries on the West Coast of Africa, including Ghana and Nigeria. Boy, were we in for a shocker! we were surprised at some of the things we saw. We were shocked to see, in Lagos, the Capital of Nigeria then, that there were more vehicles in the city than they had streets for. Almost every household had two or three cars in its garage. To lessen that burden of traffic jams, the authorities initiated a two registration tag number systems: one tag had even numbers and the other had odd numbers. The even number tag vehicles were driven on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. The odd number tag vehicles were driven on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Sundays, I guess everybody was for himself. We were also shocked to see that there were opened canals with raw sewage running in them in the city. At nights, one part of the city would have electricity while the other part would be in darkness.

There were bridges built to nowhere. They would build the bridges to a point and stop, because there was no money to continue. The exchange rate, while we were there, was 1 Naira = $1.15. Guess what it is today, my friends. The Naira is less than one-cent American money. It is now 129 Nairas to $1.00. The Same situation was in Ghana. When we were in Ghana, the Cedi (Ghana currency), the rate of exchange was 7 Cedi to the $1.00. Today, it is 8,500 Cedi to $1.00. Now, can anybody who is sane expect these two countries, whose leaders have mismanaged their economic affairs so badly, to want to see any other country in West Africa succeed? How can we forget the saying that “misery likes company”?