Midway through Kofi Woods’ inspiring and visionary Armed Forces Day Address last February, the Publisher of the Daily Observer, Kenneth Y. Best, turned to someone sitting next to him and said, “Kofi is doing well, isn’t he?”
The individual replied, “He’s doing well because that’s your son—you trained him.”
Why did the individual say that? He remembered the risks the Daily Observer took during the 1980s when the government of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC), led by Head of State Samuel K. Doe, was up in arms with any progressive elements in the country, including some of the media and the student population, led by those at he University of Liberia.
Indeed, at one point, when Kofi Woods, the newly elected President of the University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU), was on his way to the UL campus for his induction, he was ambushed, and it took hours before he was released to go and take his oath of office. The Daily Observer, to the dismay of the government, frequently reflected in its columns some of the sentiments published by the University Spokesman, under the editorship of James M. Fromayan.
When, at one point in 1981, the Vice Head of State, Thomas Weh Syen, recommended to Commander-in-Chief (CIC) Doe and the PRC that Ezekiel Pajibo, Alaric Tokpa and other UL student leaders be executed the following morning, the Daily Observer in its editorial column, published Psalm 77 from the Holy Bible which began, “I cry aloud, and He hears me. In times of trouble I pray to the Lord; all night I lift my hands in prayer. . .” Later that morning Head of State Doe rescinded (cancelled) the decision. Monrovia’s market women, many of whose sons would have been executed, took to the streets singing, “You ain’t like it, Doe like it,” in a rebuke to Weh Syen.
Mr. Best, himself twice flew into Monrovia from his job at the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) in Nairobi, Kenya, upon the invitation of SUP to address the students. The first was in June 1977, when Conmany Weseh was being installed ULSU President. Mr. Best’s address, thought by sycophants to be controversial, was swiftly dispatched to President W.R. Tolbert, who was then visiting Italy. Fortunately, Mr. Best was not arrested.
The second was on April 14, 1979, when the Liberia National Students Union (LINSU), of which Best is a past President, invited him from Nairobi to deliver the keynote address at LINSU’s re-organizing meeting at Cuttington. It was following that meeting that several LINSU members, including Conmany Weseh and John Jamaina Stewart, were arrested and imprisoned. Mr. Best himself was stopped from traveling that week because the Immigration authorities told him, “We thought you were connected with this thing— the Rice Riots of April 14.”
We give this historical background to remind SUP and its leaders that the Daily Observer has nothing against SUP, except that it has become an organization that is dangerously indulging in “the tyranny of the majority” and has caused the University of Liberia and the entire nation great distress and instability.
We recall how two years ago its leaders rocked the UL campus and the city of Monrovia with their demonstration and the coffin they carried of UL Vice President Wede Brownell, only because she was trying to stop academic corruption at the university.
Now SUP is at it again, disrupting classes because one of its ring leaders, Alvin Wesseh, said to be behind the so-called “militant group,” has been expelled because he was behind the violent demonstration held on the UL campus on October 15.
SUP is demanding that he be reinstated, even though his behavior violated one of the principles in the UL Student Hand Book.
Our first question is this: Is SUP interested in higher education? If it is, then why must SUP always be the one to disrupt classes at UL, even violently? It is alleged that it was this same Alvin Wesseh that ransacked the home of UL Vice President Brownell at Fendal and displayed her underclothes in the open. Is this the kind of person that SUP truly wants to be identified with?
The second question is: Is SUP interested in Liberia’s development? What kind of development can take place in such an anarchic environment?
We call on SUP to stop this tyranny of the majority; otherwise, they will end up giving the government no alternative but to once again close down the university, which is already at an all time academic low due to the corruptive behavior of some of its teachers, administrators AND students.
We further call on the many “Suppists” in government, including Senator Conmany Wisseh, former Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan, former Labor and Public Works Minister Kofi Woods, Small Arms Chairman James Fromayan as well as National Security Advisor Boima Fahnbulleh, who is known to be a SUP sympathizer, to go talk to SUP and advise them to stop this tyranny of the majority. It is not good for UL, for Liberia or for any other country.
We understand that one of the UL administrators behind SUP’s behavior is the Dean of Students, Julius Nelson. When the Daily Observer called him last Saturday to discuss this urgent matter, he told our reporter, “I can’t discuss this matter on the phone. Come to my office on campus during working hours.”
The reporter asked Nelson if he thought himself more important than the President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who everyone knows works 24 hours a day for this country.
This kind of arrogance is a clear indication that Julius Nelson has no business being Dean of Students at the nation’s highest institution of learning.