By Emmanuel Abalo
When the now erstwhile Sun Times newspaper, in the 1980’s, under the then editorship of the late Rufus Darpoh, during the Doe Administration, carried the front page headline,” Liberians Are Not Stupid” along with the photograph of the bearded Gabriel Baccus Matthews, former Chairman of the United People’s Party, the UPP, it was a bold and noble example by one of the oft brow beaten independent media in reporting a very provocative truism at the risk and expense of their business liscenses, safety and lives of the entire editorial staff. Of course this headline infuriated the government at the time and the newspaper sustained a crackdown.
Again , under pressure from home and abroad, former President Samuel Doe acquiesced to demands for a national referendum for national elections to be held. Liberians did the right thing and voted overwhelmingly in favor of “one man, one vote. Of course, the notoriously rigged national elections 1985 made world history.
In numerous instances and with all due credit to the Liberian people, student and community leaders who were critical of excesses of prior regimes and were vigorously sought for by state security agencies were “shielded ” and cared for surreptitiously in the various communities and boroughs. This was because Liberians knew to always do the right thing and side with the truth and its messengers.
Today, this truism, ” Liberians Are Not Stupid,” is nether diminished nor trivialized as a consequence of the near annihilation of the Liberian people and state as visited upon them by the naked use of violence by wanton, lawless brutes, uncivilized and selfish individuals who initiated a decade plus war in the name of “liberating” the people. I even venture to ask who appointed these warlords as “saviors”?
At a intellectual forum sponsored the Association of Liberian Journalists (ALJA) Maryland, USA, nearly two years ago and attended by some of the current Presidential aspirants, the question was asked of the aspirants whether the violent and unconstitutional removal of an elected government was ever an option in the Liberian theater ever again. Is was quite assuring to hear from all of the aspirants that it was never an option and they committed themselves never to support such inimical actions.
If these statements by the aspirants were just to “position” themselves for the upcoming October elections and curry favor with the electorate for ascension to state power, then God Save the Executive Mansion!
Today the maneuverings of some of the “warlords” and old guard politicians, their new found religion of democracy and inclusiveness, heartfelt apologies, reconciliation and grand plans for rebuilding Liberia are sickening. Was the collusion, collaboration and support for and with prior dictators and their killing machines worth this march to the Executive Mansion? Why should the Liberians who have known naught but degradation, injury, death, humiliation, hunger flight from home and constant fear entrust their hopes, their children and future to some of these re-invented politicians? When does country and the greater good for others ever come first or is it how long and often can I bleed my nation and people?
Don’t get me wrong as I believe that politics is the science of government in our democracy to which we subscribe. Am I giving up on politics and those who practice it? No! But I believe in full accountability which is not an unreasonable stance.
In fact, a good example of the reconfiguration of the political scene in Liberia today is the mass political carpet crossovers of some politicians in an effort to find a “good seat” at the national table again for another round of incompetent governance. In fact a more fatalistic observation was made by a friend over the weekend when he lamented rather disappointingly that “these same guys and their friends” are shaping up again..
I can only hope that some of these “warlords, their functionaries and old guard politicians, tainted by blood, do us all a big favor and demonstrate true apology by renouncing and not pursuing any claim now or in the future to political power. I believe that this challenge would signal their true penance for the wrongs, by association and collaboration, they have visited upon their nation and people. I am not optimistic nor will I hold my breath for such to happen. The wicked people are still all over the place!
And so over a million Liberians have signaled their readiness to change the political landscape by registering to vote. This is true people power and I urge Liberians to fully utilize their vote in this grand opportunity and hold some “people “accountable for their past actions and stewardship of our country’s resources by rejecting their candidacy outright. This is not retribution. It’s called ACCOUNTABILITY.
People of goodwill, Liberians in the Diaspora and the rest of the international community believe that LIBERIANS ARE NOT STUPID and will vote their true consciences for accountability, hope for the future, national and positive regeneration, freedom of speech and all alienable and God given rights come October..
Let us not fail and may God save us as a nation and people.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
The author, Emmanuel Abalo, is a Liberian journalist, former News Director of the erstwhile Catholic owned ELCM Community Radio in Monrovia, former Acting President of the Press Union of Liberia,(PUL) and news anchor Liberian Broadcasting System(LBS).
He currently resides in Pennsylvania, USA and works as an analyst with CITIGROUP