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A Memo To Fellow Liberians - It’s About Our Country’s Future

By Joseph G. Bartuah (November 1st 2005)  

"... what Oppong is currently doing in Liberia is a reckless adventure intended to dump Liberia in the sea of oblivion. Just imagine a scenario where Liberia is qualified for the World Cup and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who has never played football before, insists that she wants to be the captain of the Lone Star football team! Will you agree to make her the captain?..”

Tuesday, October 11th was Liberia’s day of decision, but Tuesday, November 8, 2005 will certainly be Liberia’s ultimate date of destiny, as hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic voters are expected to cast their votes in the run-off presidential election involving footballer George Oppong Weah and topnotch economist, public administration expert, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Indeed, the November 8th balloting will definitely be epochal because the result of that election will determine whether Liberia leaps to the promising plain of the 21st century, or tumbles to the ignoble abyss of a dark age.

Unlike the October 11th marathon which was overcrowded with 22 runners on a narrow road, this time around, the two choices are starkly cogent: we either be prudent to elect an experienced leader, a capable administrator with a proven capacity to sanitize, stabilize the situation and build a credible foundation for democratic growth, or be unprecedentedly reckless and elect a fanciful youth whose inordinate ambition for power supersonically exceeds his intellectual limitation and sheer incompetence. It is against this backdrop that I am today solemnly dispatching this MEMORANDUM OF FORESIGHT to my fellow compatriots around the globe, most especially Registered Voters in Liberia who will be collectively deciding the fate of this generation on November 8, 2005

To the Youth
As a politically active youth of Liberia, you people have demonstrated your democratic potency by fully participating in the first round of the electoral process. By your very action in the ongoing political process, the whole world now knows that you want to be active participants rather than passive spectators in the national decision-making process of our dear country. However, your robust political deeds ought to be translated into socio-economic development for your generation. You must graduate from the valley of existence to the mountain of life. You ought to live a meaningful life rather than merely existing; you deserve grandiose opportunities to enable you optimize your potentials.

However, you can’t achieve such lofty dreams by following someone who clearly has no answer to your problem. Life is not just about dancing in the streets all day. Liberian youth have to be prudent by casting their lot with a leader that will help them improve their condition. We all know that it is very difficult for a blind person to lead another blind person.

It is in this vein that I am humbly asking you, the Young People of Liberia, to cast your votes for Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in the November 8th presidential election. After all, what’s more than a mother’s love? After frenzily dancing in the streets, when emotions and illusions fizzle out, honestly look the two candidates and carefully read their respective profiles: which of them do you think has the capacity to deliver? Which of them is already known to the whole world as a capable administrator? Is it not Ellen?

Youth of Liberia, what Oppong is currently doing in Liberia is a reckless adventure intended to dump Liberia in the sea of oblivion. Just imagine a scenario where Liberia is qualified for the World Cup and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who has never played football before, insists that she wants to be the captain of the Lone Star football team! Will you agree to make her the captain? Certainly, no! We all know that Ellen can’t even be a substitute player for Lone Star!

It is the similar situation with Oppong; he has no idea about politics, he does not know what democracy means and has never prepared himself for such herculean task. Oppong’s initial ambition in life was to become “a telephone operator”, as he once told some international journalists in an interview.
And so as a youth, when you go to cast your vote next week Tuesday, think about your mother’s love during your tender age, because it is the same love Ellen has for this country. Ellen has wielded enormous power on the global stage and now she wants to serve you, to build a bright future for you. Give this exceptional mother a chance and you’ll definitely get the care you deserve.

To The Liberian Women
Even if you don’t like Ellen, just imagine how close you women have come to the corridors of power for the first time in the 158-year history of our country. As a registered female voter, you now have the destiny of this country in your hands! Historically, women have proved to be better managers or administrators than men, partly because women are more intuitive and their intuition has a solid exponential honesty. Female managers are generally less extravagant, especially in the African context; they tend to be socially conservative than men. Let me put it plainly: elect a qualified, competent and capable woman as president and she won’t have a plethora of “boy friends” or “God-sons” to excessively squander public funds on them as is almost always in the case of most contemporary Liberian male leaders and rulers.
Because our society has no culture of accountability, we tend to overlook it, but a fleet of “presidential girlfriends” is one of the major sources of endemic corruption in Liberia. The more the presidential girlfriends, the more pubic funds that would have otherwise been used for development are wasted while our dear country lies desolate. As a result, there is no electricity, no pipe-borne water, no reliable telephone system and other necessities of life.

And talking about presidential girlfriends, as a Liberian woman deeply think on what real love Oppong has for Liberian girls. If he really has love for Liberian girls, why he didn’t marry one of you? Was he a virgin when he went to play professional football in the ‘80s? I am sure he had a Liberian girlfriend before becoming a mega-star footballer, but after getting all his money, what happened next? Didn’t he marry a Jamaican woman? Now the same man who condemned Liberian women in the past has turned to you people, begging for your votes so that you people will make him president and the result: his Jamaican wife will be First Lady while Liberian girls will be mere girlfriends.

It is against this reality check that I urge you all, the Women of Liberia--Mothers of the Nation--to promptly rise to the occasion and gallantly stand by your sister, your aunt, your cousin, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as she strives to give competent leadership to our dear country, for to do otherwise is to repudiate the globally acclaimed notion that women are better managers.

Liberian women must not unwisely succumb to the chauvinistic caprices of a few myopic men in the November 8th election. Some of these men would prefer running into the lion’s den than seeing a woman become president. A lot of them still hold the Stone Age belief that the only viable enterprise for a woman is kitchen! Ridiculous! Do you agree with them that the only role for a woman at the Executive Mansion is to be a “First Lady”, whatever that label connotes?

If you see most of the defeated presidential candidates desperately scurrying to footballer Oppong Weah, it’s not because they believe in his capacity to effectively govern; it’s simply because some of them are pathologically opposed to a woman’s leadership, however well-learned such a woman may be.
Mothers of Liberia, you are the courageous souls of the nation; its is you and your children who usually bear the brunt of the senselessness when adventurous men’s bravado eventually leads to chaos and turmoil. The precious fruits of your wombs are usually sacrificed in inferno ignited by reckless men. You are the ones who sincerely strive for peace while many men crave for power, but when peace finally comes, supercilious men want to sideline you.

Women of Courage, as the true conscience of the nation, don’t let a few shortsighted men keep you in a psychological shackle that women are naturally inferior for the presidency. In the November 8th run-off, if you don’t vote for Ellen, you’ll be inadvertently chorusing a few conservative men’s self-centered serenade. Some of them are against Ellen because they want the status quo to remain as it is; they don’t want Liberia to make progress because they thrive in chaos and corruption.

Liberian women ought to unite and harness their expertise at this point in time for the common good of the country. We, men have been leading violent “revolutions” in the past; it is the women’s turn to usher in a peaceful revolution. As so as you cast your ballot on November 8th, make sure to give Ellen a chance. As a mother, if your children try to convince you otherwise, tell them that Ellen—this exceptional mother deserves a chance.

As a wife if your husband tries to distract you, remind him that in the past 158 years, 22 men had been given their chances and therefore, this woman deserves a chance too. As a sister if your bother tries to sway you to the footballer’s camp, tell him that Ellen is also a sister and she too, deserves a chance. As a husband if your wife tries to convince you to vote otherwise, tell her that 22 husbands had been given similar chances; it’s now time to try this capable wife.

To My Fellow Men
Fellow compatriots, as the sages of Africa, you must choose between maturity over futility, merit over mediocrity. This is the time for farsighted Liberian men to convince the world that we are the true custodians of the nation. I respectfully disagree with Varney Sherman and a very few men who claim that “educated people” have failed Liberia. If I agree with Varney, I’ll be condemning Professor Jackson Fiah Doe, founding standard bearer of LAP; Teacher William Gabriel Kpolleh, founding standard bearer of LUP and other resilient “educated people” who blazed the trail for Sherman and others. Both men were classroom teachers who made tremendous contributions to the education of Liberian youth.

I therefore urge you men of conscience, to choose excellence over sentiment in the November 8th election. We need a president that we all can be proud of. Everybody, including Oppong himself, knows that the young man can’t do the job. Why employ a man that you are convinced has no qualification for the job?
Just imagine a scenario where you are on a long distant overseas trip. What if you were asked to choose between a flight student who’s on the very first day of his orientation and a veteran pilot with s 35-year experience to pilot your plane? Which of the two would you choose? The flight student who has not even sat in a class? That would be foolhardy!

Obviously, you’ll choose the veteran pilot. That’s a perfect analogy of the crucial decision before us on November 8th. I urge you to choose the veteran pilot so that the passenger called LIBERIA can safely reach her destination, not the infantile student who will definitely crash the plane and heap disaster on us.

Men of Liberia, you must prove to the world that you are selfless statesmen imbued with a profound sense of nationalism, not parochial power manias ensnared by cynicism. For 158 years the women have ably stood with us in our trials and tribulations as we cruised the ship of state. We all know that Ellen is qualified, capable, competent and committed than Oppong. In the ensuing November 8th election, if you selfishly disregard the larger interest of Liberia and condemn Ellen just because she’s a woman, you’ll be equally condemning your sister, your aunt, your mother and the future of Liberia. A hint to the wise is quite sufficient.

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