AFL Day Prayer: Does It Signal Anything?

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February 11 is on Liberia’s calendar as Armed Forces Day to recognize and honor our gallant men and women in uniform to defend Liberia.  Formerly the Liberia Frontier Force (LFF) upon formation in 1908, the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) as it is today, came in 1956 and has been serving as a guard to the nation with the help of the Almighty.

As the 63rd commemoration was ongoing yesterday, there were many exciting activities that were not really new or unusual compared to the past; however, there were some striking things, one of which was the prayer offered by a Muslim after the Christian prayer.

In the prayer, the officer who offered it was emphatic to mention three things the AFL wants to see: “Allah, bring us a better economy; help us to get logistics, and help us to be capacitated to accomplish our mission successfully.”

This post-war AFL is the most intelligent Armed Forces Liberia has ever had.  Unlike the pre-war Armed Forces which members turned to be composed primarily of a particular tribe and were illiterate and belligerent with a poor human rights record, today’s AFL is composed of educated men and women who are conscious of national duty and respect for human rights.

Today’s AFL has proven its potential as a force that is being recognized at the international level.  This is evidenced by the presence of the AFL on peacekeeping missions in Mali, South Sudan and the Sudan Republic.

Since the presence of the Liberian army was felt in Congo Brazzaville in the 1960s, this is the first time it is gaining international recognition.  Had the AFL been like the past, we would be comparing different scenarios by now.

However, as this national first class force keeps up with its ethics and uniform code, there have been complaints rising about welfare and logistics that we were quick to retrospect when the prayer was being offered.

Throughout the existence of the AFL since 2006, officers have complained about the lack of electricity at the Kesselly Barracks where the men and women are camped.  There is no water supply and most of the buildings hosting the officers are in dilapidating condition.

Just recently, we monitored the Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Prince C. Johnson, III and some of his subordinates discussing plans that led to the celebration of Armed Forces Day, and some callers believed to be members of the force were raising issues about poor welfare of the soldiers at the barracks.

In the immediate past administration, the AFL complained a whole lot about deduction of money from their salaries that they claimed could not be accounted for.  As tense as the economic situation in the country has become, the soldiers face the same difficulties as ordinary citizens would encounter.  In fact, a military personnel had disclosed to this paper, the Daily Observer, that officers are anxious to go for a peacekeeping mission in Mali despite the danger because from there they are able to get a pay that it may take them the next 20 years to get in Liberia if they are paid regularly.

Besides the American Government and some others who help the AFL with logistics, the Government of Liberia according to this officer cannot recall when it ever bought a set of uniform for the AFL.  He said even the two military trucks said to have been donated by Qatar as a result of President Weah’s visit in the Middle East some time last year is not true.  According to him, the trucks were bought using money deducted from military personnel serving on peacekeeping mission in Mali.

Prayer, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is an address or honest petition to God in word or thought; an earnest request or wish.  The prayer offered by the AFL officer requesting all of these does not mean that they have and want to add up, but are perhaps lacking and the situation is so difficult that there is a need for intervention.

The prayer offered is meant for the hearing of the government so that the Heavenly Father will endow the leaders with wisdom and caring mind to address the plight of the only national force that is prepared to defend the country against aggression.

The Daily Observer, seeing the need for adequate attention to the security sector, is admonishing the government to see this prayer as a direct request to remind the leadership of its responsibility to address those needs that the soldiers are raising.

In the Ivory Coast right nearby, we witnessed military mutiny about a year ago that disturbed the country because soldiers were not paid or their salaries were not reaching them.  This compelled the government to immediately disburse their salaries and to sack some military heads.

Prevention is better than cure; let the government take cue from this prayer to address concerns being raised by the AFL soldiers to prevent future occurrence that may threaten peace and stability.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Mr. Sendolo, author of this article,

    Allow me to rectify the information on the Ivory Coast. There was NEVER a mutiny in the Ivory Coast due to lack or delayed salary payments. It is an unimaginable thing for salaries to not be paid in this country.
    However, the mutiny was due to promise made to former rebel fighters who were incorporated or not in the army. Those fighters were each promised a villa plus 10 million CFA (About $20,000 US) if they overthrew Laurent GBAGBO.
    They succeeded in their mission, but the government had been playing hide-and-seek game with them and so they had to make their voices heard.

  2. I salute Mr. John Stewart for making a brief prayer that straightforwardly started solemnly with “Allah, bring us a better economy” a sort of moral of the Armed Forces Day’s celebration. Reasons: a), resonating appeal; b), poses threat to national security; and c) a non-alarmist “Beware the Ides of March” warning. I like the way a brief prayer was thematically weaved to underscore public safety significance. Let’s pray that John will carry this commitment to form of his craft onto self-regulating our media space to reflect impartiality, accuracy, fairness, and accountability. I’m rooting for these safeguards of an enduring democracy.

  3. I’m sorry Mr. Sendolo for attributing this take to Mr . John Stewart. Yours is an observation that could’ve only come from a discerning mind, thank you.

  4. Uncle Sylvester,

    Greetings, Sir.

    Do I detect a Love/Hate relationship between between you and Mr. John Stewart? Obsession, perhaps?

  5. Joe Moses

    John Stewart is a compatriot and valued brilliant younger brother who’s uncle of my son Ambray Seyon Moses, local manager of Nippon Construction Company and CEO of PMS. As Liberia’s best practicing journalist and, after the erudite Kenneth Best, inheritor of Albert Porte’s legacy, I expect him to lead our media space towards journalistic ethics. Years of training and service have taught me that every political struggle is a matter of narrative, which makes respected public opinion influencers a force for stability or instability. Governments must remember that and want them impartial, otherwise…

  6. Uncle Sylvester,

    So, there is family connection, which is good. A hint of admiration? Dare I wager that at times your criticisms of Mr. Stewart is unduly harsh? At times, at least.

    Perhaps you need to be a bit gentle with him and, yes, you have every right to scold him, but if you must do so, do so gently, please.

    journalists, like other professionals, must be held to a certain standards, Journalists, more so, because of the pivotal role they play. That’s why they are called “members of the fourth estate”. If the three branches of government fail its citizens, we can depend of the journalists not to sway.

    I would venture to say, in these trying times, we must encourage all to do their jobs well, that no one could it any better, and that include Mr. Stewart.

    Try it sometimes, Sir. it works wonder. Not to coddle him.

    Be safe, Sir.

    Peace

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