By Togba-Nah Tipoteh
On Saturday, April 10, 2021, I had the honor of launching the Monsignor Dr. Robert Tikpor Peace and Justice Leadership Award. During the Season of Ramadan, it was very good to launch an Award in honor of a Christian who is a Servant to All, including the large Muslim population in Liberia. To the Muslims, we say Ramadan Mubarak. Realizing that All Persons, regardless of religious affiliations, have the same Creator, who loves All Persons, Monsignor Tikpor lives a life of Service to All Persons and he has been doing so from maturity to his present 94 years of age. In teaching schools, he does not pick and choose. In building schools, he does so for All Students to enter. This character of Monsignor Tikpor was well brought out in the Keynote Address by Dr. George Kieh from his present base in Texas, United States of America (USA). The present state of technology globally made it possible for Dr. Kieh to be in the USA and be seen and heard addressing the Audience in Liberia at the Award Launching Program.
The persons who were honored at the Award Program are all working in Grand Bassa County, The Grassroots Agency for Social Services (GRASS) which organized the Program is based in Grand Bassa County. GRASS launched the Program with the honorees from Grand Bassa County. But as GRASS is a national organization, its Annual Award Program will have honorees from various parts of Liberia. The persons honored were:
1. Pastor Olivia Weah of Rescue Misssion;
2. Mr. Aloha Bah of the Journalist Association of Grand Bassa County;
3. Cllr. Joseph Barkon, Circuit Court Judge;
4. Dr. Anthony Tucker, Former County Health Officer. and
5. Rev. Emmert Cooper of the Grand Bass County Ministerial Association.
There is this longstanding and widespread wrong view that Peace is the Absence of War. In this view, generally, people continue to say “thank God for the Peace in Liberia”. This same expression was widely used at the time of the departure of ECOMOG only to have the second phase of the Civil War begin and ended with the Accra “Peace” Accord in 2003. Peace is the Presence of Justice rather than the Absence of War. The longstanding and widespread reality of poverty in Liberia became the pretext for the Civil War. More greedy persons criticized the government for being corrupt and poverty generating, stirring up the people to be misused in the violent overthrow of the government. Upon becoming the government, these more greedy persons had nothing better to offer, as the situation got worse because these persons had no good records, records of helping the poor to help themselves to get out of poverty.
The more greedy persons had raised the expectations of the poor by making a lot of promises to improve the living conditions of the poor. As these conditions became worse, the frustrations of poor increased. More greedy persons in the non-ruling political parties played on the worsening conditions with promises of better days and raised expectations even more, laying the basis for violence and change for the worse. However, some Liberians who love Liberia continue their awareness raising activities which have resulted in the voting out of legislative offices most of the Legislators in the 52nd and 53rd Legislatures who wanted to be re-elected.
The best way to stop the bad governance of the greedy State managers is for people who love Liberia, like Monsignor Tikpor, to continue working together to make the National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia operational constitutionally so that good persons can get elected to install the good governance system in which there will be Justice for All, the only ingredient that brings Lasting Peace. To change the electoral system from an Unfair one to a Fair one, the following action must be taken non-violently through the Rule of Law, based on the Constitution of Liberia:
1. The appointment of Liberians with good records as NEC Commissioners;
2. The cleaning of the Voter Registration Roll;
3. The use of only good voter registration machines;
4. The prevention of the busing of Liberians and foreigners to vote illegally;
5. The prevention of operational differences among the NEC Registrars, NEC voting Center Representatives and NEC Commissioners, and
6. The raising of mass awareness about electoral issues, especially Referendum items and the prevention of government officials from violating the Constitution of Liberia by telling voters who and what to vote for.