A top commentator on the Daily Observer web site, Ansu Dualu, after reading last Wednesday’s banner headline on the new Iron Ore Discovery in Grand Cape Mount County, made an ominous (gloomy), one-line comment, “The curse continues.”
Why would he say a thing like that when ALL resources the good Lord bestows are meant for good, not for evil? In the 1960s the eminent Liberian theologian, Canon Burgess Carr, once preached a sermon of hope. He quoted one of the minor prophets who once told the worrying Israelites, “I know the plan I have for you—a plan not for evil, but for good: to give you a future and a hope.”
Well, is this not the whole purpose of God’s innumerable blessings bestowed on humankind, to give us a future and a hope?
Alas! Ansu, in his brief but menacing (frightening) comment, was reflecting on Liberia’s grievous past, when so many of our natural resources, iron ore in particular, benefitted only a handful of people—the concessions and a few well connected government officials. The rest of us were sidelined to the wilderness of poverty, deprivation and hopelessness. It was, alas, that hopelessness that caused the common people to willingly join in the total destruction of the country during the civil conflict that resulted from decades of mismanagement, misuse and squandering of the nation’s natural resources.
Yet that was not what Canon Carr predicted in his sermon of hope in the 1960s. But during that period, right before his very eyes, the Liberia Mining Company (LMC) in Bomi Hills and LAMCO in Nimba were exploiting Liberian iron ore, followed by Bong Mines. By 1990 when the war came and they were all gone, the people in those communities—Bomi, Bong and Nimba—remained and still are, in abject poverty and destitution.
Remember, too, that the Nimba people, beginning in 1964, experienced another blessing-turned-curse—the gold rush in Sanniquellie and its surroundings, from which other people—not the Nimbaians—got rich.
To her credit, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, since she assumed office in 2006, took a more enlightened approach to the concessions mining these resources. She made sure that the local people directly benefitted from these mineral resources, beginning with County Development Funds (CDFs).
But even in this more hopeful season, the “curse” continues, with our Legislators in many instances taking complete control of the CDFs and squandering them! For starts, ask the people of Montserrado, Bong and Nimba.
And now, nearly a half century following 1964, in 2012 and 13, the curse raised its venomous (poisonous) head again, this time in Grand Cape Mount County—how? Elenilto, the company created by scrap dealers from Israel, posing as iron ore experts, “won” the infamous (bad, wicked) “bid” to mine iron ore in the so-called Western Cluster.”
This newspaper, quoting credible local and international sources, pleaded with government NOT to grant Elenilto the concession because it had no experience, indeed absolutely no track record in the sector. They were pure speculators. But the government, which came into office swearing to fight corruption, went ahead and granted Elenilto the concession. But before they even concluded the deal, Elenilto sold 49% off to an Indian company, Sesa Goa! The Liberian government shamelessly ignored the insult to injury that Elenilto added: within a few months they sold the remaining shares to Sesa Goa, a company the government did not know and had never negotiated with. The deal was between it Sesa Goa and Elenilto, not Sesa Goa and GOL.
Shortly after commencing its operation of the Western Cluster, Sesa Goa came up with the totally preposterous (ridiculous, absurd) request to GOL: to transport iron ore to the Free Port of Monrovia through the already heavily congested Duala-Monrovia corridor!
But again, this newspaper joined many in vehemently opposing the move and it was abandoned.
It is our hope and prayer that GOL will handle this new iron ore discovery in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County with utmost prudence (care, discretion) in the highest interest of Cape Mount and Liberia.
God does not mean it for evil. He means it for good!