The result of being silent during the passage of the unjust and discriminatory Code of Conduct law.
By: Rufus S. Berry II, MBA
Most Liberians were silent when the Code of Conduct – or as we originally referred to it – ‘The Prevent Dr. Mills Jones from participating in the 2017 Presidential election’ law was enacted into law. Now, the short term vision meant to prevent former Central Bank Governor Mills Jones has now caught Mr. Harrison Karnwea, the vice standard bearer of the Liberty Party (LP), Ambassador Jeremiah Sulunteh, vice standard bearer of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and other members of the executive branch.
The Liberian people shouldn’t shed any tears for NEC’s decision, because our people failed to understand deeply that any injustice committed against a Liberian or group of Liberians, is an injustice committed against all Liberians. They were silent when an unjust law was passed geared towards preventing Dr. Mills Jones from participating in the 2017 presidential election. However, until the current law is changed, those affected should and must be prohibited from actively participating in Liberia’s elections. Perhaps, for the first time in a long time, I’m in total agreement with Senator George Weah in regards to the Code of Conduct – when he said “we must respect the law – the law is the law.” Furthermore, the Liberian people should be thrilled that the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Code of Conduct.
I’m in total agreement with Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, when he said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. The silence and indifference of Liberian political leaders to Liberia’s unjust and discriminatory law against Governor Jones was a blow to all Liberians who cannot accept injustice and unjust behavior from the state that was meant to prevent him from participating in the 2017 elections. Moreover, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said about discrimination against African-Americans in the US, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
The vast majority of the Liberian people are in total agreement that the intent of the Code of Conduct Law was extremely good, and needed at this time in our nation’s history. It was meant to prevent public officials from using pubic resources to run their individual campaigns. This was due to the fact that we shamefully lack the adequate internal control that would have prevented public officials from abusing state resources on their campaigns.
As a Christian, we are taught that Jesus calls us to be His witnesses to Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. He is asking us for more than some quick words and a three-point testimony. He’s asking us to stick our necks out for our brothers and sisters in Liberia and the world. We have a moral duty to go out and address the injustice in front of us, by not being bystanders, but witnesses for the truth and fairness.
It’s clearly evident that Liberia has a long history of corruption, facilitated by citizens that turn a blind eye on the government. Liberia isn’t the only country with individuals running for public office, who are actively serving in government or the Executive branch; therefore, if the government had evidence that Governor Jones or others were using state resources for political gain, the government should have put in place policies, strategies, processes and procedures to prevent possible misuse, fraud and corruption. The government should have followed this by putting the necessary controls in place to ensure compliance with these policies, strategies, processes and procedures.
After the historic presidential election in 2005 when Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became Liberia’s 24th and the first elected female head of state, and also of Africa, Liberians will go to the polls to elect their next leader on October 10, 2017. It is important that all Liberians, with the help of the international community, do everything humanly possible to ensure that the elections are genuinely free and fair. Our common patrimony is now at a crossroads. We are on a journey that could set in motion – transformational leadership, peace, security, prosperity and a better life for all Liberians irrespective of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and creed.
The Liberian people clearly understood and appreciated the fact that certainly amazingly gifted and patriotic Liberians had absolutely no desire to actively participate in the 2017 elections. As a result of their desire not to seek elected office, they didn’t resign their appointed government positions in the two-year period as required by the Code of Conduct Law.
The vast majority of the Liberian people are in total agreement that if an individual had absolutely no political intention, and that amazing call came through – asking you to fully participate in the 2017 election and you knew deep in your heart that you were technically in violation of the Code of Conduct Law, that once in a lifetime request should have been rejected. It should have been rejected because of your love for country and desire to respect the rule of law regardless of the circumstances. With God above our right to prove, we will overall prevail!
The Author can be reached on +231-886-362332, +231-770-301071 or at [email protected]