By Joshua Sackie, Jr.
Visionary and Founding Father of CDC
Former First National Youth League Chairman/CDC
Former First Elected National Vice Chairman for Administration/CDC
Former First Acting National Chairman/CDC
Cell No: 0886-588-227, 0776-244-090
Email: [email protected]
GREETINGS TO ALL CDCians: Now, as a CDCian, for the very first time, I, Joshua Sackie, Jr., want to publicly and officially inform you all and the Liberian people wherever you may be that I am the only man on this our planet we all call earth, especially here in Liberia, who under the Liberian Citizens Movement for George Weah’s Presidency brought together Liberians from all walks of life 14 years and seven months ago at the Monrovia City Hall to discuss about Ambassador George Manneh Weah becoming President of Liberia.
Because of that single action I undertook, Ambassador George Weah was encouraged and convinced to enter politics and he has run two times, in 2005 and 2017 to be president of Liberia. By entering politics, George Weah achieved two other remarkable feats for himself. George Weah went back to school and completed his high school education in the United States, entered college and graduated with a bachelor and masters degrees, and later on, 2014, he became a senator and, in 2017, Senator George Manneh Weah was elected as President of Liberia.
Besides, I was the first National Youth League Chairman when the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) was being formed in 2004. Then, in 2005, I became elected as the first National Vice Chairman for Administration and after the 2005 presidential and legislative elections, I was the first Acting National Chairman of the party for over two years after J. Cole Bangalu resigned as chairman. Also, worthy of mentioning is that I was a member of a 3-person high-power CDC delegation along with former Chairman Orishall L. Gould and the late Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, who returned to Monrovia from Accra with Ambassador Weah to respond to the call of the Liberian people to run to be President of Liberia.
In essence, I have had the opportunity to serve CDC in more positions than any other CDCEAN has ever done or will ever do.
So, I am the real and indisputable founding father of CDC, whose work for the party imposes on me a great and special moral duty and, in some way, the political authority and justification to engage in discussions and matters relating to CDC and the government of President George Manneh Weah.
Because I am the visionary and founding father of CDC and former national executive committee member, the problems, successes and perhaps weaknesses and even failures of the government of President Weah are also my problems, failures and successes, even though I have no job in the CDC government led by President Weah.
In 2004, when the Late Emmanuel Davies, Tubman T. Saywon, others and myself started mobilizing the Liberian people for George Weah to run to be president, Weah was not looking in the direction of wanting to be president of Liberia. As I learned later, George Weah’s desire at that time was to run to be the president of the Liberia Football Association when Madam Izetta Wesley was already president of the LFA. Weah’s intention was squashed by the LFA authority. However, because it was destined that George Manneh Weah will be President of Liberia, a man with a group of Liberians from nowhere and without any prior relationship and discussion with Ambassador Weah or any of his associates caused Ambassador Weah to accept to run to be President of Liberia. Thus, George Weah’s entry into the politics of Liberia and the contest for the Liberian presidency became extraordinary and exciting.
When we started the George Weah campaign for president, I personally took a public service announcement on Ambassador Weah’s King’s FM radio station, to invite Liberians for a meeting on September 15, 2004 at the Monrovia City Hall. I paid for the announcement to be aired for five days.
After two days airing of the announcement, the announcement was stopped and I returned to the radio station and inquired why. I was told that George Weah had not said to anyone he wanted to be president, hence, a call from his house ordered that the announcement be stopped, and it was stopped and my money for the remaining three days for not airing the announcement was offered back to me. However, I refused to accept the balance money in good faith, because the two days of airing the announcement had done the job of informing Liberians about the Monrovia City Hall meeting and the turnout was excellent.
Then a friend of mine took me along with him on the night of September 14, 2004 to Weah’s house for a party and, as I arrived at the party, the crowd shifted its focus on me when someone introduced me as the man who was spearheading the Weah for President campaign and was inviting Liberians at the Monrovia City Hall for a meeting. I remembered someone said to me, “you are in Ambassador Weah’s yard; do you want to meet him?” I replied negative. “Not tonight,” I said. “I am here for a party. Tomorrow, September 15, 2004 is the meeting at the Monrovia City Hall and, if Ambassador Weah comes, I will meet him.”
Accordingly, on September 15, 2004, over 800 Liberians from all over Liberia, including Sylvester Williams (commonly known as Carica), at the time Weah’s best buddy, led a horde of Weah’s friends to the Monrovia City Hall meeting. Weah’s radio station, which stopped airing the announcement, turned out for the meeting. During the meeting, I said to the Liberian people and the world that George Weah will be president. Within few days, CDC was founded immediately and Liberians began to work for George Weah to become President of the Republic of Liberia, a task that has been accomplished.
And because President Weah has become president through an action I started more than 14 years ago, then, I, Joshua Sackie, Jr., cannot and will not continue to sit back any longer and as a mere spectator and hearer of the barrage of criticisms, accusations and allegations from the press and some Liberian people against the policies and actions of President Weah and his government; likewise, from the government of President Weah against the press and act like I know absolutely nothing about how CDC was founded and how Ambassador Senator George Manneh Weah became President.
So, to you, the Liberian people and the press, I have heard almost all of your concerns, the alleged corruption and scandal regarding the missing 16 billion Liberian dollars and the USD 25 million for clearing excess Liberian dollars from the market; the high prices of goods and cost of living; the general mismanagement of the Liberian economy and the violations of the constitution and laws of Liberia; as well as President Weah and his officials’ acquisition of properties in the midst of all these allegations and accusations, especially, during these tough times of economic hardship.
In any case, this is what I have to say as the founding father of CDC.
With regards to the 16 billion dollars report, the CDC-led government under President Weah accepts fully the report and will hopefully act as the report requires. But, let us understand that in the business of government, every government will experience a major crisis either created by the government itself or there will occur unpredictable, unforeseen and unavoidable crisis and such crisis could occur either at the beginning, middle or end of the life span of a government. The Weah-led government has encountered its first major and national financial crisis and is still dealing with the results of the crisis and, perhaps, another crisis could just be around the corner. Who knows what next? No one knows — such is life and the business of governance, but, the better is always hoped for and preferred.
For example, in 1979, the late President William R. Tolbert, Jr. and his government were grabbed by the infamous April 14, rice crisis and defeated by the crisis which led to the subsequent overthrow of the Tolbert government and Tolbert’s death.
Similarly, Samuel K. Doe and his government were faced with the crisis of alleged attempted coups and invasions and such led to Doe’s subsequent removal from office and his brutal death. Also, Taylor and his government were faced with the crisis of the failure to realize when to stop acting as a rebel leader and act as the democratically elected president he had become. Yet he, too, was removed from office undemocratically and forced into exile in Nigeria and presently Taylor is spending the rest of his life in a prison in London, while his oldest son, Chuckie, is also spending the rest of his life in jail in America for crimes against humanity.
Only former President Sirleaf and her government’s share of national crisis, the 2014 Ebola virus crisis, did not result in her removal from office. However, the Ebola crisis did not spare the Liberian people and government. Ebola victimized the Liberian people so much that over 4000 persons died and it disgraced the Liberian health sector by exposing the inefficiencies and weaknesses of the health sector. It also caused Liberia to be quarantined and disconnected from the rest of the world and the Liberian economy was thrown into trouble, decline and hardship. To date, the Liberian economy is still trying to recoup from the negative effects of the crisis.
Even, the great United States of America had the credit crunch and housing crisis not too long ago.
And so, President Weah and his government have had the 16 billion dollar financial crisis and many Liberians had wished President Weah would have been negatively implicated in the report. However, President Weah said truthfully he knew nothing about the financial scandal and the report has proven him to be right, as he said the truth.
The Government, the Press and Peace
The government of President Weah and the press have been at each other’s throats for a while. As such, I would like to say that no matter what the criticisms, allegations and accusations and wherever they are coming from, one thing is now very clear, our country’s dear peace and stability the United Nations and the Liberian people fought to restore and preserve over the last 15 years are once more under serious threat. That is less than two years since UNMIL left Liberia and the responsibility to protect, preserve and sustain the peace has come to be more on the shoulders of the government than any other organization, as well as Liberian citizens.
Only the government was elected and is paid to keep the country peaceful and stable. The press and the Liberian people, who are not rewarded financially, are generally facilitators and all they desire from their government officials who are paid to keep the peace is at least peace itself, and not nervousness or high blood pressure. If any government cannot give its people total peace, then of what good is the government?
But, to keep the peace, there must be respect for the constitution and the rule of law and no strong president; no bad or weak president; no strong government and no strong-man business as usual. Only mutual respect and understanding are required between the government and the press, because the government and the press are inseparable. Understandably, teeth and tongue can make palaver.
We have seen how our negative idea or view of a strong president or strong government has kept our country in conflict, backward, destroyed and underdeveloped and Liberians and their past presidents killed, especially, Presidents Tolbert and Doe who were killed like rats living on the dump site and their dead bodies buried without graves and their mansions were abandoned, looted, destroyed and, in the worst case scenario, burnt.
Almost in similar manner, we saw how President Taylor was forced into exile in Nigeria and returned to Liberia in handcuffs like an orphan and flown into prison in Great Britain to spend the rest of life. And like his colleagues before him, former President Taylor’s properties and belongings have undergone the same fate like theirs. Worst of all, where are their families and monies, today?
With such consideration and experiences, only the life and living of the Liberian people must be the highest matter of concern, for now, for any president.
Fortunately, for the goodness of the Liberian people and herself, so far, only former President Sirleaf largely learned from the lessons of the past three presidents before her and about the sweetness and bitterness of the Liberian people and their stirred-up anger and wickedness as her guide and warning until she was able to peacefully end her presidential tenure of 12 years; though carrying out her bite-and-blow pieces of development and regularly paying government workers their monthly salaries.
For those who have eyes to see, let them see, and ears to hear, let them hear and justly and rightly do the Liberian people’s work while there is still some time, for the time has started to run out.
As the government and the press are at loggerheads, the government must understand and accept that the government is like someone living in a glass house; the government cannot throw stones. Even if someone wants to throw stone at the government without a cause, the government must say “hold it and stop, let us talk,” because the press can never be the loser in the game of trading criticisms, accusations and allegations.
However, under the current political atmosphere, a new and strange brand of politics never seen before on the Liberia political landscape is happening. Some members and institutions of the press have been coming together like a strong opposition political force and even calling for a protest or demonstration against a one-year-old government and throwing criticisms and making accusations and allegations, which is of course a part of the goods the press sells. But again, where there is smoke, there is fire. Without the press exercising care and being responsible and truthful about happenings, such could become counterproductive and a major source of conflict which will not be in the best interest of the Liberian people, the Liberian government and the Liberian economy. The press must also remember that “words are also like bullets, they too can destroy and kill”.
Mr. President, if UNIMIL were still in Liberia, they would have engaged all the parties to this looming conflict and found a solution long time ago. But, UNMIL departed Liberia almost a year ago and Liberians are now left all by themselves to solve any conflict we may have.
The United Nations and others international bodies and countries, which worked here in Liberia and struggled for 15 years to restore peace to the country, may be ashamed of Liberia and worried about the level of threats towards Liberia’s democracy, peace and stability. Notwithstanding, Mr. President, Liberians were taught and they learned about conflict resolution and peace-building during the 15 years of solving our own conflict and building our own peace. Therefore, the current conflict between the press and your government is too petty for us as Liberians who obtained peace the hard way, through practical experiences and now have such vast and well-informed knowledge about peace, to sit by idly and allow the current conflict to rise at level 2 and derail our country’s peace and stability.
From my own analysis of all the criticisms, accusations and allegations from the press against your government, the press has good intention if and only if the press is factual and truthful about its desire to keep you alert and awake and help you to succeed; because you have proven over time that you were born to win and succeed, no matter what.
In your lifetime, you have succeeded at almost anything you decided to put your hands on and do. Therefore, you must succeed as president of the Liberian people and the Republic. You cannot and must not fail under your life’s crown as president of the Liberian people.
Even, some members who are thought of as the gurus of the media and the most hardened critics against your government and yourself, have stated publicly again and again that their sole intention, in the face of all the criticisms, allegations and accusations and fuss, is to ensure that you and your government succeed. But, the way to succeed is to work with a broad spectrum of the Liberian people — those who are your close, good and competent friends, as well as those who are not your friends. And when the press has an issue, give the press a little time and a listening ear and do not allow the concerns and issues of the press and their monitoring and evaluation of your government to reach a conflict level, which jitters the Liberian people, before calling for a meeting.
Mr. President, I remember, when the National Election Commission declared former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the winner of the 2005 presidential election, I know for a fact that you were advised and encouraged to declare yourself also as the winner of the 2005 election and president of Liberia and you were told to let the chips fall where they may. But you refused and said, “for peace sake, I accept the result,” and CDC was immediately nicknamed, “accept the result”. I believe, now, that for you and CDC accepting the result for peace sake is one reason why you were made Liberia’s Peace Ambassador in addition to other contributions you made for peace for Liberia.
Furthermore, when you headed CDC as the major opposition political party for twelve years, you were very strategic, important and helpful for the maintenance of peace and stability in Liberia, and in fact, history remembers that you flew and went for the General Assembly Meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, hand in hand with President Sirleaf, to tell and convince the world that Liberia was, at last, at peace.
And so, Mr. President, If, you could do all of that as a unique African opposition political leader who did not incite your followers and call for demonstrations against your opponent, former President Sirleaf and her ruling Unity Party government, for the sake of peace, can you do the same for yourself and your own government? I have no doubt in your abilities and capacity to do the same and even better for your own presidency and your government. Yes, you can!
So, no sacrifice for peace for Liberia can be too great and too hard for you to make for peace to reign and endure in Liberia.
To avoid the current conflict, the time is now, when all our conflict resolution and peace-building experts, scholars, professors, students, stakeholders and members of the government, Youth Empowerment and Engagement Peace Councils for conflict resolution and prevention must come together and engage both the government and the press with the mind to prevent any conflict, protect and sustain our hard-earned and well deserved peace of 15 yrs.
Time is no more our friend — no more excuses that “the government is just one year old, more time is needed.” No, we are now in counting mode, one, two and forward march, no retreat, no surrender, victory is ours!
Change for hope and power to the people. Mr. President, Bravo!