The work is meant to give an introspective analysis of the initiatives and efforts made so far to retrack Liberia on a peaceful path. Since 1979, the foundation of peace in Liberia has been shaky. Hence, an in-depth analysis of efforts in post war Liberia is logical for the purpose of history.
No one living in Liberia during its best days of peace and progressive development in the 1960s and 1970s would have believed that we could wreck our own country. But it did happen. Great enmity befell us; we were torn apart, gnashing our teeth at one another and flexing our muscles and swords at one another. Indeed, “Things Fell Apart”. Warring factions sprang up, wicked war lords were born and destructions upon vivid destructions raged. In the end, we reached the never-promised land of divisions and animosities.
And so, great and tireless efforts have to be made to mend our broken pieces. Periscoping these efforts, reviewing their methods and results, with the view of learning and pointing out our mistakes and building new frontiers and methods of peace are the aims of this work.
For definition, a periscope is a telescopic instrument mounted on vessels and ships for viewing their environments of travel. As for us Liberians, our eyes, ears and minds as well as the situations of life we find ourselves in post-war Liberia make us an instrument of viewing our fragile peace.
And this work discusses five major components of the peace we have carved. The stakeholders have been both local and international actors. There may be other minor components, but we believe that they can be interwoven in these major ones.
True Justice is never based on race, color or tribe – it is by laws and statutes. Sometimes it is by historical and cultural practices because man is the product of history and culture.
Justice must never be delayed or postponed. It must be speedy and timely in accordance with laws and statutes. Remember that Socrates said that we cannot do the same thing over and again and expect different result. If the ugly practices of injustices of the past are repeated, our peace can never be guaranteed. Anger and discontent will arise when we reflect on our twenty-four years of senseless destruction. The wars will then have had no meaning and purpose.
If we are to maintain our fragile peace and transform it into genuine peace, then those who corrupt must be brought to book; those who kill must be killed as Tolbert did in the 1970’s. The courts must not be for a selected class; the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission must not be a tooth-less cobra, it must bite those who steal our money. The Government or fraternity should not cover or protect them.
Today, the biggest question of justice that hangs over our peace is what will happen to those who ruined and wrecked our country for twenty-four years – from 1980 to 2014? For now, there are two schools of thought, namely, forgive and let by-gone be by-gone and those who advocate for the “World Crime Court”. And much have been said and debated on each side.
As for us, we crave what was formerly done and how it was so well done. Although, we all want to see justice; therefore, as such, our choice must air at peace. And peace that results from injustice is never guaranteed. Note that we have already selected the road to injustice. For example, the TRC “Final Report” or “Volume II: Consolidated Final Report” of June 30, 2009 made a lot of recommendations aimed at justice and peace. It lists and recommends some high profile individuals for prosecutions and other forms of punishment. But nothing has been done about that.
On page 370 of the document, it highlights twenty-six (26) persons to face prosecution for what it calls “Economic Crimes”. Will that ever happen?
Added to this list, forty-nine (49) persons are spot-lighted and recommended to be excluded from public office for thirty (30) years beginning July 1, 2009. But a good number of them have served or are currently serving in public offices. They are riding on a ruling from the Supreme Court filed against the TRC and financed by the same people. Where is the justice?
Among the ten (10) “Notorious War Lords” who wrecked our country and killed our people, two have died, one is in prison for financing and abetting another war; but we ourselves have elected into public offices almost the rest of the seven (7) lords. They have added more to their ill-gotten wealth and have become more powerful and entrenched. What a grievous mistake! And now we are calling for “War Crime Court”. Are we mad? We have already violated the logical law of order and sequence – “doing first thing first”.
On page three hundred and twenty (320) of the same document, there are one hundred and sixteen (116) persons highlighted as the “Most Notorious Perpetrators” of war crimes including rape and massacre. But the irony is that most of these individuals are serving in the three branches of the Liberian Government. And they are masquerading as prophets and heroes around the country. Can we bring them to book now? Too late, too soon.
Pages three hundred and seventy-two (372) and three hundred and seventy-four374 look at corporations and institutions (some are still functioning well today) and other persons recommended for “further investigations” but all of them are gold – breaking as if to say to us, “To hell with them”.
Will all of the above persons be truly brought to book and prosecuted? The true is, we have made quite a lot of mistakes that will impair our quest for truth justice. Firstly, we should have set up the war crime court during the Interim Government of Mr. Bryant. That was the right time. Secondly, we should have never elected these same people to state power. By not arresting them earlier, we have already set them free; that is why we have appointed and elected them to state power. And by electing and appointing them, we have further enriched and entrenched them. And if we expect those in the “House” to pass Ellen’s “War Crime Court” bill into law, then we are building our next capital on Mars. They are the same people who will never willingly hang themselves.
We have already rewarded them good for the evils they did; as they are wealthier to buy their justice; they are more entrenched in fraternal societies that will give them safe passage. And now we are calling for War Crime Court. Logically then, we will never get the true justice we deserve. Like Esau, we have already sold our birth-right to cunning Jacob and his wicked mother. Thinking about justice now is like shaking huge stingers net; we will be heavily stung.
Calling for justice through the War Crime Court now is opening up old wounds and as a result, that will bleed more blood than the real sore. Let the sleeping wicked dog lie; we should not trouble that trouble. We cannot do it alone and those we may be relying on have many troubles on their hands. They also have their own varying interests so they will never input the full and true justice we need in Liberia. Since we have enriched and powerfully entrenched them more and more let them fly and sail freely. Justice is now very, very difficult. And if you want more frustrations and pains, try it.
V. National Agenda for Transformation
Conflict is part of humanity. That is why we are endowed with the intellect to resolve it as it comes. After the resolution, we then put into place programs, policies and values that will put the conflict behind us and set the pace for transformation.
Thus, our best choice now is to do those things that will quickly impact our lives for now and those that will transform our future. To do that, we need to know what the problems are. And as we identify the problems we equally find the solution with the envisioned solution, as we carve the determination and resolve to solve the problems.
It is not fair to say that such agendas have never been planned and discussed. Many of such national planning have come but to no avail. For example, President Tubman put forth the “Open Door Policy” agenda. Later, he introduced the “National Unification Policy”.
President Tolbert laid the “Total Involvement for Higher Heights” national programmes. It was also co-named “From Mats to Mattresses”. And after our civil crises, Mr. Taylor came with “Vision 2014”. Lastly, Ma Ellen put forth “Vision 2030”. It goes without saying then that for us Liberians, there has never been the shortage of ideas.
Our problems have been The Lack of Nationalism, Greed imbedded with Corruption and Integrity. With these vices, no amount of “National Agenda for Transformation” can ever hold. And so as we now periscope our peace initiative, we think that fighting these vices should constitute our new “Agenda for National Transformation”. They have been our impediments to growth and development. If they are not fought vigorously, we will always remain an under developed country. This is not a curse, but a fact.
As an analogy, nationalism is as a mother’s feeling for an only child. Her love and feelings are centralized and focused on her only child. She thinks about him day and night and equally works for his growth and development; for he is her future.
Nationalism is a mind centered Phenomenon. It is built in one’s mind by education and enlightenment. It is a reality of attitude, but not a flimsy theory. For instance, we know that the Americans are nationalistic because we see their love for their only country in practice.
They believe in their country; they live and work for America; they die for their only mother land. If they are corrupt, then they corrupt others to build America.
We can fight “Lack of Nationalism” as we fight AIDS and Ebola by awareness and education. We need to teach nationalism in our schools. In our schools at all levels, we need to teach the love of our national anthem, our flag, our history and even the love of our money or currency. We must love and treat our fellow Liberians as Liberians. On the contrary, we love and better treat aliens and foreigners than we treat Liberians. We need a Liberian mindset and change to maintain our peace. Indeed, only constant education can affect that “love of country.”
At the core of our new agenda for national transformation is the determined and joint fight against greed and corruption. In China, corrupt public officials are executed. In other countries, their properties are confiscated and turned into national ownership. Yet in other lands, they are imprisoned for lifetime if there are no properties to be seized. But in Liberia, we only pay lip services to it because it is one of our cultural practices. And the big guys oversee the practice.
One of the major reasons for our civil wars was corruption. Tolbert opened our eyes against corruption and spoke against it; yet the military claimed to overthrow him because of “Rampant Corruption”. In contrast, many voices including Mr. Taylor spoke against corruption of the Doe Regime. The Taylor Regime of “no financial accountability” was even worse. And even more so the factional interim leaderships were the most dangerous ones including the Bryant Regime. However, John Morlu when he was at the GAC said, the “Ellen led government is even ten times more corrupt than the Bryant led interim leadership”.
We could catalog volumes of corruption stones in Liberia. For example, elections have been rigged to favor the unelected; the Ministry of Finance has been burned to avoid and cover up audit reports; national development funds have been diverted to individuals by senior state actors with impunity. And in recent time, a senior whistle blower was secretly murdered in cold blood with fictitious stories. And furthermore, high profile concession agreements have been signed in many fraudulent ways.
Greed and corruption must be discussed as weapons of mass destruction against our development programmes. They must be combined and destroyed. Laws must be enacted against corrupt public officials and their ill-gotten wealth. This will guarantee our peace. If Ellen’s “Number One Public Enemy” is not an agenda item for discussion, legislation and destruction, then our people died for nothing in cold blood and our country was destroyed in vain by greedy war lords. And this is not healthy for our fragile peace.
The last agenda item for our future transformation is INTEGRITY. Integrity means behaving in accordance with Public Laws and Oath; it is “saying what you mean and meaning what you say” as defined by a respectable American Preacher. It is speaking truth, not lies; it is upholding the values of our constitution, laws and statutes; but it is not living in contravention to the values of public offices.
Those who lie under oath, lack integrity; those who steal public funds lack integrity; and those who sign dubious concession contracts lack integrity. Since the lack of integrity is one of our major problems, it must be part of our discussions for national transformation.
Integrity is conscience driven and so those who lack it are living – dead beings who do and defend evil as good. As we periscope our peace initiatives and plan our agenda for future transformation, integrity must be a highlighted triumph card that will replace evil with good.
For us, the best recipe for highlighting integrity is to expose men of greed, evil and corruption. We must bring them to public disgrace and ridicule. When we hide their evils behind fraternity and bigshoptism, we throw integrity into darkness. Each time we cover people with family blanket and tribal shield, we bury integrity. We ought to enact an integrity law against public indecency. It must be part of our “Good Governance” laws.
Having sustained our fragile peace for ten (10) years, we need to do all we can to maintain it. To do so, we need to periscope those cardinal components we have reviewed in order to guarantee our peace. Let’s meditate on them day and night. Besides, we need to work on them in practice if we want to maintain our peace and make it more really genuine.