Liberians have been warned against “political hustlers” who are so desperate for power that they will go anywhere, do anything, and negotiate with anyone, as well as encourage any act just to get power.”
Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods was cautioning members of the Student Unification Party (SUP) of the University of Liberia (UL) on the celebration of the Party’s 46th anniversary in Monrovia recently. The former Labor and Public Works Minister said such “political hustlers” have one agenda, which is “to obtain political power to determine what to do after they win.”
“These days, we have regime collaborators, folks posturing to get a place, who have no history of struggle, no history of accompanying our people in their life long journey of securing and protecting the liberties we enjoy today and those we want to enjoy tomorrow,” Atty. Woods said.
Pointing out that such people have no agenda, he warned Liberians to be mindful of the adage that a country “whose leader has no vision, the people will perish.”
Speaking on the topic “What kind of leadership do we need for Liberia?” Woods made reference to the Liberian Constitution that forbids the formation of political parties on tribal, ethnic and religious grounds, and encouraged Liberians to reject any political party that sows seeds that are unconstitutional.
Woods called on Liberians to reject those who attempt to promote tribal bigotry and perpetuate a culture of factions using ethnicity and tribalism to replace armed faction as a way of re-negotiating and re-distributing political power.
“Since we rejected Americo-liberianism or Congoism, then we must equally reject Bassaism, Kpelleism, Nimbaism, Kruism, etc. There should be no time for Bassa people, no time for Kpelle people, no time for Nimba people or any people.
“It is only time for Liberian people. The people of Liberia, specifically the poor majority, must be first, center and last in all our work, our struggle and the choices we make,” he stated.
Woods, a Human Rights lawyer, former standard bearer of SUP and president of the University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU, 1986-1987) said, “We must seek the best leadership for Liberia based on proven track record of integrity, service, and competence.”
He urged Liberians to reject those who pander to international legitimacy rather than the domestic ideals of our people, and all Johnny-come-lately who never experienced the sufferings of the people, never identified with them, never cared. They benefited from the comfort of external indulgence and returned to Liberia only to use government and private coffers to become great visionaries and humanitarians, Woods protested.
Though he did not mention names, he said such people, who are now declaring their interests in running for power, did nothing when their country, Liberia, was burning and therefore such people “have no history, no record of good to our country. You (political hustlers) are not different from those who abused and exploited us and gave us peanuts after eating the wealth of our country,” he criticized.
In a passionate declaration, Woods thundered amid cheers, “We Liberians are not fools. We must reject them! We must also reject those who think that the business of government is for novices and laboratory students.”
Woods, who declared that he was proud to be a militant of the Student Unification Party, said Liberia needs leadership that can address the endemic culture of impunity with consequences for such illegal actions, adding: “those actions impinge on the ability of our people to construct a viable and sustainable future in dignity. They must be grounded in the law without discrimination and manipulation.” He called for the strengthening of integrity institutions such as the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, the General Auditing Commission, among others.
The former student leader ushered in the new ULSU after years under a ban on student democratic activities by the military dictatorship of the late Samuel Kanyon Doe. Woods and many others, including the late Wuo Gabie Tappia and Momolu Lavela, fought to reactivate and re-organize the party.