Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines stewardship as the “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”
That is precisely what Liberian Immigration Service (LIS) Commissioner Lemuel Reeves did last Wednesday as he and his team of Immigration Officers kept watch at the Bo Waterside border and stopped over a thousand Sierra Leoneans from crossing the border into Liberia without travel documents.
Commissioner Reeves’ men at the Bo Waterside border are especially to be commended for their efficiency and watchfulness. They knew only too well the exact number of Sierra Leoneans residing in Liberia who had crossed the border last week and the previous weekend — 566 — in order to cast their votes in the presidential elections that took place in their country last Wednesday.
These Sierra Leoneans had absolutely no difficulty reentering Liberia, because their passports and other travel documents showed the departure stamp. Yet upon their return, the number surpassed 1000 — most of them women, babies and small children, many of whom had no travel documents.
LIS officials said those with travel documents were admitted, but not those without. It has to be realized that we are living in very dangerous times. There are criminals of all kinds trying to enter the borders of other countries. These include drug dealers and addicts and many who come here intentionally to engage in illicit mining.
Right now there are many Ghanaians, Guineans, Sierra Leoneans and people of other nationalities engaged in illegal mining in the St. Paul River near Haindii in the Fuama Chiefdom of Lower Bong County. This newspaper is trying to find out whether the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (LME) knows anything about these miners.
Is it possible also that some of those who left here to cast their votes may have been attempting to seize the opportunity to bring back with them some of their relatives? This is indeed permissible, but surely they should know that people cannot normally enter anyone’s country without travel documents. Otherwise how would the Immigration authorities know who these travelers actually are, and from what country?
What is the motive of travel without documents? And once children are involved, whose children are they? Are the children being smuggled out of one country into another by traffickers? Surely, even if these children were being accompanied by their parents, the Immigration authorities need to know who is who — whether those accompanying the children are actually their parents.
Or is it possible that those Sierra Leoneans who departed to cast their votes had no connection whatsoever with those who tried to smuggle their way into Liberia, attempting to ride on the coattails of the voter returnees? Whatever the case, we see this as a wakeup call to Liberia.
We need to be eternally vigilant regarding who is entering our borders, how and why. Liberia is a rich country and it is clear that there are many who want to come to, live and prosper in this land of liberty. This is whether or not Liberians love and appreciate their own country. It is indeed possible that it is only we Liberians who do not know that we have a great country—Liberia—which we have far too long taken for granted.
Can we not see that this is the reason others—Lebanese, Indians, Fula, etc., come here in a RUSH to get rich and control our country? If Liberia were not rich, would these foreigners be rich? No, they would be dragging in poverty just like us Liberians, the vast majority of whom are living on the fringes (edges) in our own country, while foreigners are enjoying the lion’s share of the Liberian pie.
How many times has this newspaper, the Daily Observer, not tried to arouse our people into action—to awake and get serious about taking ownership of Liberia, instead of leaving it completely to others to own and control?
Now there are those who, because we Liberians have not taken control of our situation and developed our country—as we alone can—yes, there are those who want to complete the foreign takeover by giving away the land and all the rights and privileges of citizenship.
This, we believe, will COMPLETE the foreign takeover of Liberia. Liberians, we say to you once again, AWAKE!