‘There Shall Be No Unconstitutional Change of Government in Liberia: We Are Fed Up with Violence’- Dr. Joseph Gbaba Asserts In A Press Statement
Fellow Liberians, members of the Diplomatic Corps and international community, foreign residents and members of the press, distinguished ladies and gentlemen: I bring you revolutionary greetings and blessings from the God of our Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the spirits of our traditional fathers and mothers in the great beyond.
I am issuing this press statement to appeal to all Liberians to remain calm and to give peace a chance to thrive in our post-genocide Liberian society. In addition, I would like to appeal to all Liberians and the international community that there should be no unconstitutional change of government in Liberia because it may create a precedent of violent turn over of power in our homeland. Instead,
anyone who desires to be President of Liberia must wait for the presidential election season to present his or her platform to the Liberian people so that they may make an informed decision regarding who they want to be their next leader to succeed President George Manneh Weah.
Acknowledgement of Protestors’ Rights I also want to humbly acknowledge and respect the rights of all Liberian citizens to freely assemble and/or to protest and express their grievances to those that govern them.
Notwithstanding, the protest must be done in an orderly manner to not disrupt the decorum of the Liberian society. It must be void of intimidation, chaos, and threat to the stability and safety of the state and the people of Liberia. Against this backdrop, we will not tolerate any short cut or forced entry to the Executive Mansion.
Reasons Why I Am Issuing this Press Statement
There are several reasons I am issuing this press statement. One, Liberians are fed up with violence, atrocities, mayhem, and lawlessness in our besieged birthplace. Two, we would like to re-establish genuine rule of law to promote social justice and equality for all Liberians irrespective of their ethnic, social, political, and religious backgrounds, and to help heal our national wounds instead of focusing on divisive and negative politics.
Three, this press statement is in rebuttal to the recent press statement made by His Excellency former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boikai regarding the planned December 30th protest dubbed: “Weah Must Step Down”! I found Ambassador Boikai’s statement very disturbing in that he had the opportunity as Vice President to address these issues as senior statesman in Liberia but he remained mute and allowed the circumstances he now speaks against to mature
into a full blown national political, social, and economic crisis. Therefore, it is too late for casting blame and so Mr. Boikai must be prepared to accept responsibilities for his complacence when he should have taken action to nib corruption and nepotism in the bud from the very beginning.
Reasons Why I Disagree with the Elderly Statesman
There are several reasons I disagree with the elderly statesman. One, I found Mr. Boakai’s remarks about the current alleged corruption in the course of the Weah administration to be very deceitful. In my opinion, Ambassador did so to gain political points by shifting blame. Sadly, during his twelve-year term as Vice President of Liberia, he, Mr. Joseph Boikai, did not make anti-corruption statements in public and/or to speak against the unaccounted-for billions that were donated by the international community during his and Ellen Sirleaf’s twelve-year regime.
Two, Ambassador Boikai played the role of a judge which was out of context for a very fragile political environment. My discontent also stems from the fact that it is no hidden secret billions of dollars’ worth of international assistance that was intended to help rehabilitate our democracy, state apparatus, and provide much needed social, medical, educational, vocational, and technical services for survivors and victims of the Liberian Genocide, disappeared in thin air without a trace under the gavels of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and VP Boakai.
Whereas, if the elderly statesman and Mrs. Sirleaf had provided these much-needed services, Liberians would have gradually recovered from the devastation of the heinous crimes that were planned, financed, and committed against Liberians and humanity by Mrs. Sirleaf for which she has not been held accountable. Also, many Liberian child soldiers and former combatants that were forcibly recruited as child soldiers are now in their late twenties and early thirties and are referred to as “Zoko”.
Further, Liberian youths now called “Zoko” would have had the opportunity to attend vocational and technical institutions, receive mental health and medical treatment and heal from the traumas of the Liberian genocide if vocational and technical services and learning opportunities were provided for them. The abandoned youths would have acquired some basic skills they can use to
reintegrate successfully into mainstream society. In addition, armed robbery, murder, rape, and other forms of crimes and violence that are prevalent in the Liberian society would have been at a minimum as well.
I am also troubled that the elderly statesman who co-piloted the wheel of the Liberian state for twelve consecutive years after the deaths of over 250,000 people, never uttered a word of condemnation about the atrocities committed against our people, nor did he speak up against the gross nepotism and corruption that took place under his watch during his tenure as Vice President. However, I stand corrected if he ever did.
Further, Mr. Boakah throughout his twelve-year reign as Vice President of Liberia and President of the Liberian Senate, he sat supinely and never spoke up for the implementation of the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. Consequently, as a senior citizen and a learned and experienced statesman in the National Legislature, VP Boakai helped to kill the will of the Liberian people that is embedded in the TRC Report. He helped to trash the TRC Report in dust bins on Capitol Hill.
Therefore, Mr. Boakai is obligated to give account of those twelve years he served as President of the Liberian Senate when the mandate of the Liberian people demanding that august body was and is still being glaringly ignored. Therefore, it is my understanding that the Liberian people and I would like to know what prevented him or still prevents Honorable Boikai from addressing these pertinent national issues other than only coming up to speak on an upcoming protest.
Was that what his recent compromise with Mrs. Sirleaf was all about at the Unity Party headquarters?
Additionally, As Vice President of the Republic of Liberia and President of the Liberian Senate, Mr. Boakai was an accomplice to the formation and implementation of the huge salary structures that were designed and passed into law. Mind you, this was done under the auspices of a Harvard-trained economist as President of Liberia.
The primary reason this salary scheme was determined was to buy the National Legislature so that they would not approve the TRC Report. Another reason for the huge salary increase was to prevent Mrs. Sirleaf from being prosecuted
for her role in the planning, financing, and implementation of the Liberian Genocide. Today the entire Liberian nation is bleeding from the fatal blow dealt the Liberian economy and the entire infrastructure of Liberia as a result of the huge salaries Liberian lawmakers earn.
Is Mr. Boakai saying he is innocent about the root of the financial crisis in the country today? Did he not have a part to play in its genesis and implementation? VP Boikai owes the Liberian people and the international donors an explanation.
Furthermore, Mr. Boikai was selected as Vice President by Mrs. Sirleaf not because he may have been innocent of the plans that toppled the Doe Government and brought Sirleaf to power. Our public records show the honorable held high positions of public trust in the Tolbert and Doe governments and benefitted from the gravy of the Tolbert and Doe governments.
Also, as you and I know, Ellen would have never brought Boikai closer to serve as her Vice President if she and Boikai did not have a close relationship. Therefore, it is safe to say, or it is likely Mrs. Sirleaf chose Mr. Boikai because he had been in constant communication and in cohort with Mrs. Sirleaf, to gain Mrs. Sirleaf’s confidence and receive her endorsement.
Besides, it is also worthy to note, that over the twelve-year period Joseph Boikah and Mrs. Sirleaf ruled Liberia they deliberately provided a “messy education” for the youths of Liberia. By forcibly conscripting Liberian children and youths to become child soldiers and combatants.
Subsequently, they deprived our children access to equality of efficient educational opportunities. Accordingly, this created a huge increase in the illiteracy rate in Liberia. I listened to the honorable statesman talk about high student dropout rate. He meticulously narrated the suffering Liberian families are going through. He explained the inability of parents to pay their children’s tuition.
Therefore, my question is, did Mr. Boikai not realize all these deplorable conditions of Liberian genocide victims when he approved the huge and unrealistic salary scale that he enjoyed for twelve unbroken years in the Liberian National Legislature? Did Ambassador Boikai not realize that such unreasonable salary structure would put the lives of all Liberians at risk, including himself?
Also, apart from previous decades of serving in the Liberian government at varying levels of high public trust, here is a statesman from Lofa County that cannot travel freely by motor vehicle to his native land because of the bad road condition and due to utter neglect of the needs of his own people. What efforts did Mr. Boikai make to bring relief to the people of Lofa County and/or the people of Liberia in general during his tenure as Vice President? I think these are issues the elderly statesman should clarify to the Liberian people instead of playing blame game.
Mrs. Sirleaf Set the Liberian Nation up for Failure and Unabated Chaos!
Fellow Liberians, what you may not realize is that the election of President Weah or should I say Mrs. Sirleaf’s preference of Weah over her VP who religiously served her for twelve unbroken years was a set up for failure and unabated chaos in Liberia. Therefore, the episodes that took place and the ones we are now facing in Liberia were/are well calculated and orchestrated by Mrs. Sirleaf.
I make this assertion because as a well-educated Harvard graduate, she knew fully well that if someone with some depth of statecraft and education such as Boikai had succeeded her, Boakai would have outshined her and brought her wicked deeds to light. So, to set her clandestine motive in action, Mrs. Sirleaf chose Oppong over her own Vice President who religiously served her for twelve unbroken years.
In this unique case, whoever does this during a crucial political transition period when there was genocide in a country that lost more than a quarter million people and where the need for an experienced statesman to succeed an outgoing president was most acute? Only Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf!
Thus, in my view, Mrs. Sirleaf purposely manipulated the election of Weah to put Liberians in a dilemma and to pull Oppong by the nose—macro-manage the President. She knew fully well Weah does not have the experience to lead a post-genocide society that is rife with divisiveness she herself nurtured over the decades and subsequently implemented through the execution of a genocide that left a quarter million people dead.
Consequently, the constant protests that are being staged and financed by invisible hands are intended to distract our attention from pursuing legal actions and holding perpetrators like Mrs. Sirleaf accountable for the atrocities and heinous crimes she committed against humanity and Liberians. Therefore, these protests are purposely designed to make us lose our focus to reinstitute genuine rule of law and social justice in post-genocide Liberian society.
The protests are intended to prevent us from pressing criminal and treasonous charges against Mrs. Sirleaf and her cohorts. What We Should Be Focusing on Right Now in Liberia What we should be focusing on right now in Liberia is peacebuilding. My contribution in this area will be through Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. (DATI) and the Kukatonon Peace and Reconciliation Initiative, Inc. (KPRI). We have already begun training Liberian youth mediation and literacy skills so that they may travel around the country to promote peace and reconciliation, cultural awareness and literacy. All we need right now is the support of the government to provide logistical supports to enable DATI Peace Advocates to go on a performance tour in Liberia to promote peace and reconciliation and national unity.
The college youths we recruited from various universities, counties and ethnic groups are very excited to serve their country and people. They are ready to teach those who would like to learn how to read and write and speak English in the various regions of Liberia. Liberian medical practitioners should undertake private initiatives to help our country as well.
In view of the foregoing and to avoid a recurrence of the cycle of violence, atrocities, and mayhem in Liberia, I would like to make the following recommendations:
One, I would like to appeal to all Liberians to assist the present administration of President Weah end his term peacefully. Two, all patriotic Liberians should stop the blame game because we already know what the problem is. We already know Oppong needs help. We already know some of the praise singers around him may not have the expertise and experience to help mend the wounds of our nation and people.
Therefore, in as much as we desperately need political, social, and economic change, the present group of public servants we have in Liberia cannot do it on their own. Please let us all join hands together to save our national ship from sinking. Let us help our captain to sail our ship to safety.
This is my humble plea to you the people.
Three, I also ask Honorable Joseph Boikai, to continue to be our elder and to lend his support tothe peacebuilding process and stop undermining the fragile peace of Liberia. He should look at the bigger picture, Liberia, and what Liberia has done for him. Four, we should stop sitting on the side and criticizing. Let us make a small contribution towards the sustenance of our national heritage.
Let us design development programs that aim at providing the learning needs of the youths, improving our educational system and creating greater opportunities for our youths to learn trades and useful skills to empower them to earn their just livelihood and become law-abiding citizens of Liberia.
Five, we should focus on the genuine reinstitution of the rule of law in a post-genocide society in which no one is above the law. A war crimes court is a must. Oppong, I beg you, please do us a favor. Make the devil shame. Support the formation of the war crimes court to bring an end to impunity and reinstate social justice and rule of law and constitutional democracy in Liberia.
Six, I urge all opposition politicians that are eager to become presidents of Liberia to join in the national efforts to revive our economy, to ensure peace and tranquility within our borders. Please be patient and wait for election period to present your case officially to the Liberian people.
Seven, to organizers of the protest, let me say to you that you have the constitutional right to protest peacefully. I thank you for your bravery and concerns about the well-being of all Liberians. Therefore, I appeal to you to protest within the confines of the laws of the land. Iappeal to the leadership of the protestors to find common grounds with the authorities in the best interest of all Liberians and the Liberian state.
Eight, I appeal to President Weah and members of his administration and supporters to be lawabiding and to respect the rights of the citizens to exercise their freedoms: free speech, movement, equal protection under the law, and to listen to and act appropriately on the demands of the protestors. We can no longer afford another round of instability in Liberia.
Again, you can rest assured of my personal contribution towards the Liberian peace process. I will train Liberian youths to serve as Peace Advocates, train teachers and provide them the skills to educate our children efficiently. DATI and KPRI Peace Advocates will travel around the country and to promote peace and reconciliation through the performing and visual arts and literacy.
Finally, I appeal to all patriotic Liberians to take up private initiatives that will improve our economy, provide learning and job opportunities for our youths and ensure sustainable peace and rule of law in post-genocide Liberian society.
I thank you.
Joseph Tomoonh-Garlodeyh Gbaba, Sr., Ed. D. Executive Director of Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. (DATI) & Chair, Kukatonon Peace & Reconciliation Initiative, Inc. (KPRI)
December 10, 2019