By Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu (October 31st 2005)
"...Another reason why Mrs. Sirleaf’s supporters want us to elect her is that she has international contacts. Who are these contacts? Certainly, not in the United States government ...”
Dear Fellow Citizens:
This letter is to first express my immense gratitude to the National Elections Commission (NEC), particularly its Chairwoman Mrs. Frances Johnson Morris, for the professionalism with which the NEC handled the collection and reporting of voting data throughout the first round of the elections. The Liberian people have made all of us proud for the grace and tranquility with which they exercised their democratic rights provided by our constitution to select national leaders.
I would also like to use this opportunity to share my life experience with you, my fellow citizens, so that your conscience will be your guide as you cast your individual votes in the second round of this election exercise in determining who will be our next President, a person who will lead us as we turn a page in our history of bloodshed and devastation which characterized the last 30 years of our history.
Together we have learned that justice and democracy are tedious and expensive, but in the long run, they provide the best opportunity for us to share our scarce natural and human resources for the benefit of our common patrimony. We must tolerate each other’s peaceful desires and aspirations if we are to be a part of the civilized world.
During the earlier stages of the electoral process, Mrs. Sirleaf and others advocated the reduction of the number of political parties that should be permitted to take part in these elections. If they had their way, there would not have been a Congress for Democratic Change or a Liberty Party, and maybe more than a half dozen of the parties that graced our illustrious elections on October 11 th would have lost an opportunity to make their cases before the Liberian electorate.
Therefore, from a larger sample of Liberia’s human potential, the people of Liberia have spoken. The world is proud of us; that was said in many press statements and editorials. Tolerance and selflessness as the aspiration of the suffering Liberian masses have prevailed. Let us move forward.
Many of you will remember that recently, I wrote a letter to Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. My letter was very detailed and comprehensive regarding her history of diabolical and radical activities in the past twenty-five years or so. I said that she contributed close to a half million US dollars to the NPFL and she lied about it; she ordered Monrovia leveled; she was responsible for the death of many good men and showed no remorse.
We have been constantly reminded of her acquired sophistication through a Harvard education which she has used as a license to verbally assault her fellow Liberians. One of the examples I gave was her letter to the Wheel Borrow Boys Association in the 1970s which she stamped “BULLSHIT,” as the totality of her response to their plea for protection of the niche they were carving out of the Liberian economy that is mostly controlled by foreigners.
It was the same attitude of academic supremacy that led her to call President Doe and his government officials “fools and idiots.” The list of her verbal contempt for ordinary Liberians is not easily exhausted. She has not denied any of these facts. But she relies on the fact that Liberians will see her aggressive, abrasive and abusive behavior as a symbol of an iron woman and elect her. The question of respect for the common person is one that Madam Johnson-Sirleaf has yet to ponder.
Maybe there was a prototype to this kind of treatment which Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf is trying to emulate. She and her advisors perhaps believe that Taylor was elected even though he said “I killed your mother and I killed your father, forgive me and elect me” and they did. So why not her? She has only bad-mouthed her fellow citizens, double crossed her fellow revolutionaries and funded terrorism. Why not elect her too? That’s what she is thinking. She even called the recent Supreme Court decision that allowed other candidates who were denied participation the permission to be included, a “judicial tyranny” and she branded my open letter to her as “trash.”
Mrs. Sirleaf’s supporters and promoters say that she is the most credible person and has international contacts. That she has a Harvard Education and worked for the World Bank and the United Nations. They say that these attributes make her the best person to get us out of a dire strict which she played a major role in getting the country into.
Let’s talk a bit about Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf’s Harvard education. Did you know that her Master’s degree from Harvard is in Public Administration and not Economics as she has always been portrayed? Has the University of Liberia not graduated enough Public Administrators from its graduate school recently? I really think this so-called Harvard degree or disease is the root of Mrs. Sirleaf’s arrogance, pomposity and intolerance? It is needless to repeat the list of her arrogant and insulting utterances. Does this so-called great Harvard degree give Mrs. Sirleaf the knowledge of the cultural differences between the Sarpo and the Kru, the Lorma and the Mandingo? I do not think so.
Absolutely nothing has been stated by her supporters as an example of credibility. No one has said that when she was Minister of Finance, corruption was zero in Liberia. She was Minister of Finance when the country got into most of the debts that are killing us now. Her own financial disclosure form recently submitted to the National Elections Commission states that she collected $20, 100, 00 from the Government for thirteen months of work which we know she did not performed as head of the Governance Reform Commission. Did the Commission make any useful report under her leadership? No. Where is her credibility?
If previously working for the World Bank should be considered when we are looking for a national leader, then such previous World Bank employees like Ellen should not be considered. She worked for the Government of Liberia when we drowned into this massive debt with the World Bank. She made her breaks (as we say in Liberia) in getting us into this trouble and therefore will not be able to get us out with dignity. Additionally, common sense tells us not to put our creditor’s (World Bank) surrogate over our business (our country). I do not know of any country that is doing very well in the World today because its President is a former World Bank employee. We need the World Bank and the World Bank needs us, but they do not have to run our country.
If we are to move forward from here with cleaning up our business with the creditors of our nations such as the World Bank, the African Development, the Paris Club, they and us must do things above board. I am very disappointed with the current don't-care attitude of the World Bank with respect to the criminal disposal of the natural and national resources of our country by the Gyede Bryant interim Administration. Has the World Bank expressed any objection on grounds that Liberians will need these resources in order to restructure their nation’s economy? The Nimba Iron Ore deal with Metal Steel, a United States Company, the Putu Mountain Iron Ore deal, the oil and diamond concessions, to name a few. Even the Firestone contract renewal, which will go for more than another 40 years from now before Liberians will begin to own shares in the World’s single largest rubber plantation, a resource that has been in their country for close to 100 years. The World Bank is in a legal and moral position to stop all this criminal auctions but will not do so for reasons best known to them.
The World Bank, the United States and the World powers know that a people will never be free and at peace unless the wealth of their nation benefits them. Poverty can only be reduced by the spread of the profit produced by the mode of production among the citizenry as it is in America, England, Germany, etc. What is the difference between Bill Gate not being allowed to own, by himself, to the exclusion of other Americans, all the profit enterprises of something he created and Firestone, the Liberian Agriculture Company, Gutridge Plantation, etc. etc, owning these resource in Liberia for 140 years to the total exclusion of the people who own the land? None. Just as Gate’s invention must benefit all Americans, profit from these commercial enterprises in Liberia must spread among its citizens in a capitalistic fashion. Does the World Bank see the need for this as way forward?
Another reason why Mrs. Sirleaf’s supporters want us to elect her is that she has international contacts. Who are these contacts? Certainly, not in the United States government. The nature of the US government is such that every four years, some or all the personnel in the government are changed except for civil servants. Most of Ellen’s age mate, in their 70s like herself have long retired and gone home. Which world leader has endorsed her?
By contrast, let’s look at George Weah’s international contacts: The President of France, leader of a country that is a member of the United Nations Security Council; Prime Minister of Italy, a leader of a country which is a powerful member of the United Nations as well as a benefactor for Liberia’s medical schools; President of Brazil, leader of a South American country on a fast track to becoming a fully industrialized country; the President of South Africa, a powerhouse in sub-Sahara Africa – all these leaders have close association with Weah and most have expressed interest in helping him succeed in Liberia.
The Academic level and statecraft experience of Mr. Weah have been the biggest issues to his enemies. Is it not grossly ironic that those who deprived a whole generation of Liberians of the opportunity to become educated are now trying to deprive them of a similar opportunity to participate in the leadership of their country? Since the mid 70s my generation, led by people like Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf and others, has done nothing but agitate, culminating in twenty-five years of violence and the bloody overthrow of successive governments. Someone like Mr. Weah could have had a Master’s Degree in addition to his profession as a sport star if people like Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf did not interrupt the peace of the country in their greed for power. Don’t get me wrong. I am proud of our mission; but it has been accomplished. Let the next generation take over.
But because of the violent activities of Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf’s generation, George Weah’s generation has been left behind academically. Go to the University of Liberia and see how much teaching and learning materials they have. How many schools did Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf build during the period? If a small fraction of the millions of dollars she has spent on sponsoring wars and instabilities had gone into education, maybe Weah would be as educated as her children who were educated abroad. But if Liberians were to accept a Harvard education which she and her supporters are so proud of, as a prerequisite for leadership in our country, we should expect that after her tenure as President, one of her children, who, as I said, were all educated abroad, would succeed her in the mansion as the beginning of her own political dynasty.
In my view, Mr. Weah has enough education to lead and unite the Liberian people. A government, like a football team, is run by a manger while the actual game is played by professional players. A government is run by technocrats, ministers, civil servants and advisors who are professional at what they do. Clearly, the Liberian people believe, as expressed in their overwhelming support for Mr. Weah, that he will have plenty of technocrats to staff his government. The most important element of Weah’s leadership is confidence and purity of heart. He has the confidence of the people; his heart is pure and his hands are bloodless. No one, absolutely no one, can say this of Weah’s principle opponent, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
In closing, my fellow Liberians, I would like to leave you with a very simple Bassa parable to guide you in these confusing times. It goes like this. “Gaydaipaur yeein gon yeen, yon ne mon or kpa yee,” or “When God gives you “best” (consolation); you don’t ask him for a token.” After more than 25 years of bloody turmoil and devastation in our nation, God has sent us a pair of clean hands to guide us. By adding an extra requirement of super education, we are really asking God for a token. Most of us did not think that Weah would get any votes beyond the votes of those people regarded as “growna boys.” (Street boys). Some people even thought that Weah’s supporters were not even registered voters. But they turned out to be the most disciplined segment of our voting population.
So, God has shown all of us the work of His hands. If we reject Weah’s pure and bloodless hands and follow Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf who is drenched in blood from all the wars she fermented, we will have ourselves to blame for years to come.
God Has given Us a Pair of Clean Hands. Vote for Weah and save our nation!
Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu