By Mardea Johns (June 10th 2005)
"...People have always believed that the Liberian people are so gullible that anything will pass. These people will need to rethink their ideas and perception of the Liberian people. For too long, people have used their education, power, wealth and influence to deceive and suppress the people of Liberian but, like we continue to say, more and more Liberians are beginning to read between the lines and are now sensing the true intent of these people and we will do everything to expose them and bring them to books ..."
I just finished reading the Daily Observer’s piece on Varney Sherman (Guilty Verdict for LAP, Varney Sherman) and it made me reflect on several of the things that are said about Liberian politicians and power seekers. These people will do and say anything just to get to power and then do different things when they do get the power.
The Observer’s story should not only be seen from the headline that, Cllr. Sherman is guilty, has been fined and so what. Some would say that everyone does make mistakes and maybe this is just one of such mistakes. But if you read deeper into the story, you will find that we are about to make a BIG LIAR, the President of our dear country and I do not think that is right.
Let us take an excerpt from the Observer’s piece and analyze it a bit:
“When the question was posed to Cllr. Sherman as to whether or not he owned a website, he said no. Consistent with 1LCLR 25.2, the Commission took recourse to the Internet. Contrary to Cllr. Sherman ’s claim that he did not own a website. Cllr. Sherman has a website with the address:http://www.varneyshermanforpresident.org/ and on that website appeared political broadcast, statements and political messages”
Did you see his answer to the question about the website? The man looked his fellow men in the eyes and said: “NO. I don’t have a website.” I am sure he continued with an even stronger defense, using his legal genius, that he does not have a website. I think that this is pure dishonesty and it is not one of those values that we look for in our next president. I am sure that we do not want a president who is a petty liar. Varney Sherman, you know it would not take anytime for the folks to go on the Internet and get the information so why did you not just admit that you did? Instead, you chose to lie and defend your lies. Anyway, the world knows that you are Harvard-trained lawyer and it is your job to be dishonest. People of Liberia , Partisans of LAP, is this the kind of President we are looking for? But I warned LAP against a person like Sherman in my May 13 th 2005 article titled: “LAP, PLEASE DON’T GIVE US VARNEY SHERMAN: REFLECT BEFORE YOU VOTE”; but of course, Sherman’s advocates had already done everything to ensure that the May 13 convention produced Varney Sherman. I think this is a sad mistake for our Party and our country.
What is wrong with admitting and then saying that I am sorry? Some people amongst us are just too BIG to say I made a mistake and I am sorry. They would rather LIE or JUSTIFY it and Cllr. Sherman is one of those people. You have used the very website to say all the positive things about yourself but when it comes to admitting that you own it, you then come out to the world and say NO. Are you ashamed of it? Did you not see what the George Weah team did when their website came under fire for publishing information about George Weah? The team came out clearly and defended that it was their website and everything posted there is fully backed by Weah himself. It may not have been the BEST thing to do, but it was the RIGHT and HONEST thing to do. If you own the site, why not admit and take responsibilities for what is wrong, just as you take credit for whatever is good? People like Varney Sherman should learn to take responsibility, apologize and move on. According to Alexander Pope: “to err is human, only to forgive is Divine”.
Let us visit the Observer again and expose the sanity or insanity of this man:
Cllr. Sherman also told the Commission that since campaigning will begin September 1, 2005, he and his party (LAP) had to begin the production of their campaign and promotional materials early enough, especially so when he believes that there is no law against producing and distributing them.
Did you notice the level of insanity being displayed here? The NEC says no campaigning outside of the official campaign period (September 1 – October 10, 2005 ) but then the learned lawyer says that it is okay for him to produce and distribute campaign and promotional materials because he believes that there is no law against it. I am confused here, so can somebody please clarify for me: if one can produce and distribute their campaign materials anytime they want, is that not campaigning? You can produce it. That is okay! But, distribute it? How can this be any different from campaigning? Is the lawyer insane or what? Does he feel that his person is so immune to the laws of Liberia that he will hang on and do anything to carry him across? Look, we may not be students of jurisprudence but we have some common sense. No campaigning means, amongst other things, that no candidate or party should engage in the distribution of any materials that has to do with campaigning or proportioning a candidate for elected office. Period. Is that simple, clear and understandable? What is wrong with Sherman ?
Fellow countrymen, these are just few of the signs;many more will come. People have always believed that the Liberian people are so gullible that anything will pass. These people will need to rethink their ideas and perception of the Liberian people. For too long, people have used their education, power, wealth and influence to deceive and suppress the people of Liberian but, like we continue to say, more and more Liberians are beginning to read between the lines and are now sensing the true intent of these people and we will do everything to expose them and bring them to books.
No one can refute the fact that Varney Sherman probably had some secret guarantees that made him start production of campaign and promotional materials since February 20, 2004 , long before the LAP convention. I know that people can be optimistic but to begin actual printing of materials that say VOTE VARNEY SHERMAN for PRESIDENT, even before he got the LAP nomination? This is a scary thought. Normally, candidates would find the money and identify the vendors or even begin the design process, but to order actual printing for which funds are non-refundable and materials have no alternate use, you must be banking on something and it has to be a pretty strong “something” other than the “I have faith” or “I am optimistic” notions. Both in New York and in Minnesota , I have spoken with contacts who indicate to me that there are tens of thousands of dollars in printing cost that Cllr. Sherman has already committed. I mean printing that says VOTE SHERMAN for President, not SHERMAN for Standard Bearer of LAP. In Varney’s mind, he passed that bridge long time and was only waiting for time to justify it. Dr. Korto was only wasting his time until May 10 when he finally saw the light and resigned. And you know what Sheba Brown told the good Doctor? “We will address your concern after the Convention.”
Everyone knows that Varney Sherman has being promised the Presidency and so he is doing everything to demonstrate that. Sherman considers himself an incumbent and everyone knows in Africa that incumbents never lose elections. This is the guarantee that Varney Sherman has. He is right for believing that he is the de facto incumbent but, October 11 will definitely prove that he is wrong for believing, for the slightest moment, that he could win elections. The Liberian people have grown smarter and know what they should expect from a leader; There more conscientious men, like those from PAC (Progressive Action for Change) who are doing everything within their reach (both the law and their resources) to begin the correction process. This is a preamble to demonstrate that we are now becoming an enlightened society that will be questioning our so-called incumbents and putting their powers in check.
Some of the things we will never know from this ruling is that: if it had being Brumskine or Tubman or Weah, would the penalty have been a mere US$2,500 and US$500.00 for the party and candidate respectively? We might never know but, one thing that is clear is that, when it comes to Varney Sherman, the NEC will always take the weakest position, no matter what.
The writer, Mardea Johns, Coordinator of the Concerned Group of Liberian Commentators Worldwide (CGLCW) can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org