How do you cleanup a mess of 168 years of impunity, corruption, nepotism, underdevelopment and ritualistic killings in a rich country where majority of citizens are dirt poor? Electing brand new or recycled politicians regardless of their academic qualifications to manage a hopelessly corrupt system is not the solution. Change the system. Since its inception in 1847, elections of qualified politicians have failed to bring about change because Liberia’s corrupt system was designed by politicians to benefit the political elites. In order to have guaranteed security, justice and equal opportunities for citizens the following three simple steps must be taken by citizens to create a new system which ensures the supremacy of citizens as masters and relegate politicians to the status of public servants forever.
Step one: Citizens must believe in the supremacy of ordinary citizens, irrespective of their religion, lack of religion, education, ethnicity or their supposed stupidity. Citizens must also believe that public service should never be the means to enrich public servants. Supremacy of citizens is consistent with Article I of the Liberian Constitution: “All power is inherent in the people.”
Step two: Citizens must accept the fact that only ordinary citizens, not politicians can create a new system in the interest of citizens. Article I of the Liberian Constitution empowers only ordinary citizens to change the system: All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require.” Liberian politicians can’t destroy a system they designed and created purposely to enrich themselves.
Why must citizens change the system now? The current system intentionally makes life difficult for ordinary citizens. By design, there is only one office in the entire country to register motor vehicles and obtain drivers licenses. The system, by design, empowers politicians but disenfranchise citizens. For example, the President of Liberia, elected by the citizens, usurps the powers of citizens. Liberian presidents have more powers than the Pope, Queen Elizabeth and Barack Obama by appointing all governors of all political sub divisions, all judges of the Supreme Court, all ministers of government, all heads of all public corporations and all mayors of all towns and cities as well as all chiefs. Anyone aspiring for the presidency in the current corrupt system is doomed once they dive into the pool of a corrupt system. Jesus walked on water but no human can dive into a pool of water and not get wet. It’s not the people, it’s the system!
Similarly, the Honorable members of the House of Representatives in the current system are not representative of their constituency and therefore can never fully represent the best interest of all Liberians. For example, they not only earn outrageous salaries and benefits far higher than the per capital income of citizens residing in their districts, they also earn salaries far higher than law makers in 48 states in America. That is why some Liberians believe these politicians are working primarily in their own interests, not in the interests of the Liberian people. Again, it’s the system, not the people. With a different system created by the people, representatives serving the people will have their salaries and benefits set by the people they serve. Now is the time for change!
Liberian politicians created the current system for one purpose; to profit financially from the corrupt system at the expense of citizens. In Massachusetts, the home of Harvard University, where many Liberian elites were educated, ordinary citizens created the system to benefit the people. Although the state has no crude oil, iron ore, timber, diamond or gold like Liberia, its FY-2015-2016 budget of $38 billion dollars pays its full time lawmakers $62,000 yearly. Unlike lawmakers of impoverished Liberia, Massachusetts lawmakers have no free government cars, no drivers, no body guards etc. Similarly, in neighboring New Hampshire, a state with a population of 1.4 million people and a budget of $11.5 billion dollars, the people designed a system where lawmakers work only part-time and are paid a salary of $200.00USD per two year term lower than the per capital income of their constituency. Compare that to Liberia, where lawmakers have drivers, body guards, free cars, free gas slips and some earn over $120,000.00 yearly. Further, the budget for the Liberian Speaker of the House is $1.2 million dollars. It’s the flawed system that needs to be changed, not the people. Change the people and impunity flows into the ocean of Corruption and instability.
Step three: One by one, citizens must join the change bandwagon and act in unison on their constitutional duty to change the current corrupt system. The Universal Human Rights International (UHRI), an organization with a track record for championing systemic change has launched a citizens’ initiatives movement, inviting ordinary Liberian citizens to take the lead and embrace a master plan with only one goal- making citizens the masters and relegating politicians public to the position of servants forever.
The solution is here! UHRI, October 16, 2015 launched a national civic education aimed at educating citizens who believe systemic change is necessary. UHRI is recruiting, training and multiplying new civic leaders committed to public service and citizens’ supremacy using facebook and cell phones.
Are there precedents of ordinary citizens changing their corrupt system of government? While the history of Africa shows violent military coups, civil wars and chaotic uprising with the goal of changing brutal dictators, corrupt presidents, rarely have there been an organized movement to create systemic change. On the other hand, in France, England or the United States, there was a time when rich political elites controlled wealth and power until a new system was created by the people. Although imperfect, the systems put in place by Americans and Europeans have as its goals the superiority of citizens. In 20015, Liberians have better and more peaceful tools for systemic change than the Americans and Europeans had back in the day of their change.
In America, for example, Fredrick Douglass, an African American called on his compatriots to join the struggle for change instead of accepting the status quo. He said. “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
Ordinary citizens, as masters, can and must organize to create a new system, where supremacy of ordinary citizens is the rule. For example, citizens, as masters must reserve their right to determine the salaries of politicians-their public servants and propose laws without the approval or permission of their servants, the president or legislators. Such a system called citizens’ initiatives dates back to the 4th century B.C and currently exists in the European Union, Switzerland and the United States of America. One by one, let us join the Universal Human Rights in organizing for change. Let’s go to work for change, not business as usual in electing another manager of the corrupt system that has lasted 168 years. By joining citizens’ initiatives today, you can ensure that the countdown for the Day of Master has begun!
Torli Krua: A pastor and human rights activist, Torli was instrumental in lobbying with US congressmen and policymakers to increase the quota of refugees from Africa being allowed into the US. He has also worked tirelessly in the New England region and beyond to champion the rights of refugees and immigrants. His organization, Universal Human Rights International, worked with thousands of immigrants from 38 different countries over the span of 20 years. He has been honored by the National Peace Corps Association and the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.