By Martin K. N. Kollie*Activist, firstname.lastname@example.org*
The soul of Liberia is being wrecked under a deluxe ex-soccer star and integrity is urgently required to salvage Liberians from this nightmare. The cherished ideals of our democracy are being briskly backpedaled. Must we sit back and allow this pervasive misfortune to inhibit our collective destiny and sovereignty?
History affords us only one choice at this critical juncture. And this choice is to speak truth to power – a truth that hurts but also heals – a truth that evokes boldness and not bias. Martin Luther King Jr. was more than right when he said, “Silence is betrayal”. In my opinion, this betrayal does not only pierce one’s conscience, but it also deepens public discontent and emboldens governance failure.
Therefore, criticism must not be considered as a form of censorship but as a form of correction. Self and mutual criticism is an ideological concept of Marxism-Leninism and it nourishes discipline, diligence, and loyalty to nationhood. On this note, I am duty-bound to painstakingly disagree with Senator Abraham Darius Dillon and the post-Brumskine Liberty Party on a number of critical issues.
This critique is out of love and conviction. Permit me to consider just four (4) factors:
- The Dillon Factor
- The Toomey Factor
- The Nyonblee Factor
- The CPP Factor
Let’s delve into it as I implore my readership to always embrace truth and justice as a set of indispensable core values that must preserve our common identity, our common purpose, and our common struggle for a new Liberia.
- Th Dillon Factor
Senator Abe Darius Dillon is not and has not been a Saint. But he has positioned himself as a ‘Moral Compass’ or a ‘Voice of Conscience’ and this distinguishes him from his peers on Capitol Hill. A voice of conscience exudes or radiates integrity at all times and not sometimes. Such a voice is a symbolic representation of sainthood and it must not be stained with sin.
Based on high moral standards which were set forth by Senator Dillon himself, he was overwhelmingly supported and elected two consecutive times by us (The Liberian People). Did we elect him because he gave us money? No. We elected him because he showed us integrity. Like most of you, I too canvassed and even raised money for his campaign. I did not promise to remain silent whenever his deeds and thoughts become a direct opposite of what integrity embodies.
I promised to always speak out. ADD must not backpedal on those values that he once espoused. He stands to lose more than to gain if he does. The LIGHT must shine at all times and everywhere no matter who it shines on. LIGHT and DARKNESS do not cohabitate. When light appears, darkness disappears. The LIGHT must shine on wrongdoings and wrongdoers both in the CDC and the CPP.
The LIGHT cannot only shine on Alex Tyler, Ndubusi Nwadubike, Syrenius Cephus, Emmanuel Shaw, Nathaniel McGill, Bill Tweahway, Samuel Tweah, and George Weah. It must also shine on Musa Bility. The LIGHT appears dim or blur on Mr. Bility who was also banned for 10 years and fined US$500,000 by FIFA for committing indicatable offences (corruption, bribery, and ethical transgression – https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/49095681). FIFA has tagged Bility as an “Internationally convicted criminal”.
I was even stumped and bewildered by Senator Darius Dillon’s unjustified analogy in defense of Mr. Musa Bility. In an effort to shield Bility’s excesses, Dillon likened Bility’s situation to Saul’s story in Acts 9:1– 31. Senator Dillon has not only committed heresy but his comparison was pyretic in my opinion. Mr. Bility is not and cannot be Paul. How could he have even changed from Saul to Paul all of a sudden when he is still under a 10-year FIFA ban?
Before biblical Saul could turn to Paul, he had to undergo these transformational processes through divine encounter according to Acts 9:
- He was struck blind on his way to Damascus;
- He was arraigned, and he later admitted to his wrongdoings and honestly sought forgiveness/clemency;
- He was baptized (sanctification);
- And he was converted.
Has Mr. Bility gone through these transformational processes? Where, when, and how? If no, how then can he be called Paul? In my opinion, this other Saul has missed his way to Damascus. I think he is en route to Jericho. This might just be a cunning political strategy for Bility to infiltrate and weaken the CPP ahead of 2023 polls. The CPP has to be SMART, strategic, and sensitive.
Is Senator Dillon aware that his new party chairman, Musa Bility, cannot even enter a football stadium in Liberia or elsewhere because of FIFA ban? If a tournament among CPP constituent political parties is to be held at SKD or ATS stadium, where will chairman Musa Bility be? Outside. Besides FIFA ban, Bility has been hooked in a number of scandals:
- Tax Evasion (US$368,000.00) https://www.balancingact-africa.com/news/broadcast-en/25414/liberia-govt-takes-media-owner-musa-bility-to-court-for-tax-evasion
- Economic Sabotage and Criminal Conspiracy (Liberia Airport Authority Scandal) https://allafrica.com/stories/201312190945.html
- Bility is inconsistent. He has been to UP, CDC, ALCOP, and LP. Does he have any moral rectitude to lead a constituent political party within the CPP? Can a man who lacks integrity lead an integrity party?
Why isn’t ADD raising these hard questions. The LIGHT (ADD) is now serving as the Vice Chairman of the Liberty Party. This means that he is answerable and subservient to chairman Bility’s gavel. Can LIGHT be answerable to DARKNESS? This baffles me a lot. The Senator is yet to muster any ounce of courage or fortitude to speak out. If he cannot question Mr. Bility, on which ground can he stand to question Alex Tyler, Ndubusi Nwadubike, Nathaniel McGill, Samuel Tweah, etc.
Our collective quest for a new nation must not be derailed by deception and hypocrisy. The Senator is being stained and blotched. This is what happens when a “Saint” becomes stained with sin. And this my real problem with Sen. ADD. The new Liberia that we seek and desire cannot be achieved through political convenience and mere patronage but through boldness and truth-telling. We, the People, voted for Senator Dillon not because of cash but character (integrity). And this character must be maintained and preserved at all times.
I know someone may ask, “Was Senator Dillon the one who elected Mr. Bility?” The answer is yes. He was a major part of this convention and he even defended Mr. Bility’s ascendancy. Assuming but not admitting that he was not the one who elected Mr. Bility, but he still bears greater responsibility as the most popular leader of the Liberty Party (the doctrine of superior respondent). Why didn’t he ask the hard questions? Why didn’t he raise objection or the red flag?
My interest is for ADD to do what is right and serve with integrity. The apologies are becoming too much. After all, we did not elect ADD to keep apologizing but to stay true to his conscience and his country.
- The Toomey Factor:
A young brilliant lawyer, who has been very loyal to the ideals and principles of the Liberty Party, cried foul during a recent convention held in Gbarnga City, Bong County. The voice of Atty. Kla Edward Toomey II pricked me to speak out even more. Why must it be Toomey? A young man who firmly stood with and by Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine even when almost everyone abandoned him. My big sister Charlyne M. Brumskine will agree with me on this.
Toomey had gone to Gbarnga to contest as Secretary General. Because of his opposition to Mr. Bility’s chairmanship, he was viciously purged. This was what he said after boycotting Gbarnga’s Convention, “The process is stage-managed. It defeats the purpose of democracy. Going into such a process that was orchestrated by the political leader will be a clear validation of fraud. Mr. Bility has induced this process with cash. It is a disaster.”
Atty. Toomey’s main contender was Senator Dillon’s Chief of Office Staff, Martin Kollah. Is Mr. Martin Kollah qualified and competent to serve as the Secretary General of the Liberty Party? Yes, he is as qualified as Toomey. In my opinion, Kollah should have stepped aside to give an independent voice like Toomey a chance. This would have created a system of ‘check and balance’ and even prevented the smell of ‘conflict of interest’ since Kollah is an employee of Senator Dillon who is also serving as the Vice Chairman of LP.
But this was never what Toomey opted for. He was simply asking for a chance to freely, fairly, and openly compete or contest. Sadly, he was denied and his legitimate concerns are yet to be amiably addressed. The Political Leader Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and Senator Abe Darius Dillon remain mute on this matter. Sacrificing Kla Toomey may severely affect their political ambition and post-Brumskine LP in time to come.
Toomey would have never been thrown under the bus if Brumskine was alive. LP’s longest-serving SG Jacob Smith and the immediate past chairman Steve Zargo had to back off even before the convention. This is not a good sign for post-Brumskine Liberty Party under the political leadership of madam Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence. The motto of the Liberty Party “We are stronger together” must not lose its morale. Post-Brumskine LP must remain on track and not bow to cash.
Before Mr. Bility could ascend as chairman, LP was the most integrous political party amongst the constituent parties of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP). Pre-Nyonblee Liberty Party was known for its adherence to integrity and the rule of law. But what can we say now under a Bility-led chairmanship?
- The Nyonblee Factor:
As a former student leader at the University of Liberia, I also campaigned for madam Karnga-Lawrence to retain her senatorial seat in Grand Bassa County. She is a good and smart stateswoman but she has a greater task to lead, serve, and unite the Liberty Party.
Nyonblee has stepped into Brumskine’s shoes. The Liberty Party under her watch is becoming fragmented too soon and caution needs to be taken. It was an error on her part to have preferred Mr. Musa Bility as chairman when he still remains a convict of international crimes that were levied against him by FIFA. What can LP say to CDC now about corruption? Can the Liberty Party still beat the drum and sing the song of integrity?
This latest decision requires critical reflection, genuflection, and introspection. I beseech madam Karnga-Lawrence to think about this if her primary desire is to keep Brumskine’s vision alive. Brumskine’s crusade for integrity must never fade or wither because he was an upright man. The Liberty Party must not be stained with sin. I call on Nyonblee to reach out to all disenchanted partisans including Toomey. The party needs to reconcile itself but with integrity at the core of such reconciliation.
- The CPP Factor:
It is a fact that the Liberian people now see the CPP as a viable alternative to assume state power in 2023. Therefore, the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) must be different from CDC. The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has miserably failed because it was never different while in opposition. To date, it is still being led by a demigod in ex-soccer star turned politician George Weah. The CPP must not make any demigod or idol like the CDC has done.
No one should be immune from objective criticism. This is what makes an institution stronger (self and mutual criticism). The young people and the class of intelligentsia within the CPP must not be afraid to speak truth to power. They must muster the courage to speak out when leaders of the CPP are going contrary to the ideals and precepts that the CPP espouses.
As an activist, I have an obligation to objectively criticize and suggest way forward. That’s why in May 2020, I vehemently criticized the CPP Framework. I described it as a “Carte Blanche for Patronage and Protectionism” (Read: https://www.liberianobserver.com/opinion/cpp-framework-is-a-carte-blanche-for-patronage-and-protectionism/). Thankfully, they listened and readjusted their framework.
No one should be made a ‘demigod’ or an ‘idol’ within the CPP. It will be risky to tread this path. The party must be led and controlled by the people. The ultimate interest of the masses must remain at the front, middle, and back of the CPP’s agenda. The CPP, which includes ALP, ANC, LP, and UP, must demonstrate that it is different and it wants to make the difference. But it seems like every constituent political party within the CPP is trying to protect its own thief or devil.
Preferring people who lack the integrity to lead is a mishap and the CPP must be cognizant of this universal reality. Beyond this end, let me emphatically state that the CDC remains a tragic catastrophe. A viable and patriotic alternative to redeem Liberia and Liberians from the CDC is an unavoidable imperative. I am criticizing because I love Liberia more than any Political Party and I will jealously protect its interest above any politician. I will put my pen down for now. This is just a hint..
About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is an exiled Liberian activist and a former student leader at the University of Liberia. He can reached via email@example.com