The bones of Liberia are rattling because of the many rigorous problems she faces. But as God told His Prophet Ezekiel, these bones, through faith in the love and power of God, WILL RISE AGAIN AND LIVE!
This was the message of St. Stephen Episcopal Church’s Father Augustine Kpehe, when he delivered the fifth Lenten Sunday sermon yesterday.
He took his theme from Ezekiel, chapter 37, in which God promised to breathe into these dry bones, put sinews, flesh and skin upon them, enabling them to rise again.
Fr. Kpehe told parishioners that Liberia today is saddled with plentiful problems, but with faith in God, we shall rise again.
The preacher did not elaborate on these problems. But many Liberians know them. First and foremost among is the continuing problem of corruption, which President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in her first Inaugural Address nine years ago, declared “public enemy number one,” but has herself admitted failure to solve.
The public, for three reasons, blames the President herself for this failure: first, her failure to successfully prosecute corrupt officials but rather, retain many in positions of power. Second, she has brought back into powerful positions people who in the not too distant past have been caught red-handed in glaring corruption.
Third, she has in three ways played too dangerously and too persistently with corruption’s closest and most powerful ally or twin sister—nepotism: by retaining in powerful positions two of her sons—Charles as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, and Fumba as Director General of the National Security Agency; then, despite public and international outcry against it, by appointing a third, indeed her most powerful son, Robert, as Chairman of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL). For three years, she stoically weathered the storm of persistent criticism, then reluctantly removed him as NOCAL Chair, only to quickly re-appoint him Ambassador to oil-rich Kuwait! That placed him in the strategic position to still call the shots at NOCAL. Next thing we learned, he emerged with a US$14 million Kuwaiti loan, negotiations for which the public was unaware of any involvement by the Foreign or Finance Ministry.
The third way in which the President has, wittingly or unwillingly, fostered nepotism, corruption’s twin sister, is by permitting senior members of her family members to wield powerful behind-the-scene influence in many vital sectors of government, grievously undermining public accountability and giving undue advantage to foreign business interests.
This has led to yet another continuing national crisis: the poverty of Liberians and their consequent SUBSERVIENCE (submissiveness, obedience, acquiescence, passivity) to foreigners in the Liberians’ own country. So whatever happened to Liberia’s sovereignty—or that of its people? No, we are no longer sovereign but subservient in our own country, where almost everything is owned and dominated by foreigners.
The government is free to dismiss these foreboding reflections as the musings of disgruntled elements. But we at the Daily Observer newspaper are NOT disgruntled people. Far from it, we are patriotic people who have striven over the decades to place our country FIRST before ourselves, declining, shying away from and rejecting money, privileges and other perks, choosing instead to stand for truth, justice and fair play and to be the voice of the voiceless in our country.
We cannot be anything less in this rich country, where poverty, deprivation and listlessness are still rampant. We ignore these dangerous, distressing signals at our own peril, and the peril of our nation itself.
We cannot, MUST NOT, lest we become part of the problem. That is why we have never relented in voicing our persistent opposition to the sidelining of a Liberian hotelier in favor of a Lebanese businessman to rebuild the Robertsfield Hotel. Here was a clear case of nepotistic influence by family insiders against Liberian entrepreneurs in favor of foreign businesspeople.
We have long complained about how President Tubman’s Open Door Policy gave the country to foreigners. We cannot and WILL not sit supinely and see the same thing happening all over again, raining tears and crying in the beloved country.
Only last weekend, the wealthy former mayor of a Liberian city called for the “taking back of our country from these people before their time is up.”
We know exactly what that means—another interim government to pillage, plunder and lead us back to war.
The way forward is sit NOW and reason together with the powers that be toward inspiring, hopefully, a change in the national direction and pray that God will grant the rattling and reliving of Liberia’s bones.