The other day someone called the Daily Observer to say that the
people of Nimba County were "war-mongers" and they wanted us to carry
the story as a headline. Of course, we could never do such a thing,
since it would unfairly indict all Nimbaians, many of whom we know to
be among the most peaceful people in the world. Take an humble and
caring young man like Tiawan Gongloe, a lawyer, who goes out of his
way to help people in trouble. Take our own C.Y. Kwanue, who remained
on the ground throughout the war and though he is Gio, effectively
distanced himself from all of Charles Taylor's Gio generals, of which
Kwanue could have definitely become one, had he been interested. But
NO! Kwanue remained faithful to his chosen profession and maintained
his integrity as a journalist.
There are, however, some Nimba people who seem to crave for war. On
such person is Nimba Representative Samuel Gongbene (tall man) Kogar
(you look at me, I look at you). Reacting to President Ellen Johnson
Sirleaf's indication that she would use the Nimba County
Development Funds (CDF) to repair the damage which the violent Nimba
youth recently inflicted on ArcelorMittal's facilities, Kogar accused
the President of failing "to resolve a sensitive situation in the
governance of the state."
Then the Nimba lawmaker issued this threat: "If that's what the
President is telling us, Nimba would be prepared to break away from
Liberia and stand as a country on its own."
Kogar may not have realized what he was saying, but he most certainly
portrayed himself as an extremist who would go to any length to
maintain legislative control over a few dollars in the County
Development Funds, even it meant going to war to break away from
Liberia! For how else does one political subdivision break away from
a country except through a declaration of war?
We would like quickly to remind Mr. Kogar and all who think like him,
of the mineral-rich Katanga Province in The Congo which, led in the
early 1960s by Moise Tshombe, broke away from The Congo. That
immediately ignited a civil war which, of course, Tshombe lost.
Can Nimba stand alone as an independent nation when, despite all her
vast acreage of green vegetation, identical to that of neighboring
Guinea, Nimbaians still import peanuts, plantain and bitter ball
from their neighbor next door?
Yes, Nimba has gold, diamond and iron ore. But are these enough to
sustain an independent state? Or would they have preferred to have
been colonized completely by France–who already seized half of Mount
Nimba? Do they remember what France did to Sekou Toure? After he
said No in 1958 to joining the Federation of French African States,
President Charles De Gaulle stripped the beleaguered country of
everything, including curtains and commodes. President W.V.S. Tubman
and Liberia had to come to Guinea and President Toure's rescue,
sending them emergency aid in rice, money, etc. to help keep this
newest African nation state afloat.
Or do Kogar and other Nimbaians who think like him want to give the
impression that the Nimba youth who violently attacked ArcelorMittal
were right in what they did? Then no wonder some people consider
Nimbaians as they do. But we reject that notion and know that most
Nimbaians are peace-loving people.
Instead of issuing spurious (empty) threats that make their fellow
Nimbaians appear as what they are not, the Nimba politicians clearly
have a way out of this controversy. They should sit with the
country's leaders, House Speaker Alex Tyler, Senate President
Pro-Tempore Gbehonhgar (a man from Gbehzon–a forested area) Findley
and President Sirleaf and discuss all the issues toward finding a
peaceful resolution to all the problems.
Let Nimba politicians NOT give their youth the impression that
violence and war are the way to go. If they do that, then they are
telling investors that Nimba is not ready for investment.
Nimbaians see the very serious controversies in which the people of
Bomi, Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount have had and are still having with
Sam Darby; the Sinoe people with Golden Veroleum; and Marylanders with
Calava River Company and other concessionaires. But these people in
all these counties have chosen patience, civility and negotiation,