By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh
According to most Liberians, Prince Y. Johnson is a notorious killer who murdered innocent Liberians during the civil war. Yet, Mr. Johnson was elected senator of Nimba County. Prince Yormie Johnson is reportedly a kingmaker and the most feared and controversial politician in the country.
It is said that in order for any politician to carry Nimba County in any national elections, the pundits assert, one has to get the political blessings of Mr. Johnson, who reportedly wields enormous power and influence in vote-rich Nimba County.
The intimidating Prince Johnson who embraced the image of a strongman for his war past has been mentioned as a presidential candidate in 2017.
Since the civil war ended and Mr. Taylor was subsequently arrested and imprisoned far away from the shores of Liberia for war crimes, former warlords and a prominent financier of the civil war are roaming the country as if they did nothing wrong.
Some even occupied prominent positions in government. Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who famously financed the civil war or raised the funds that provided the fuels for the war, ran for office and was elected President of Liberia twice.
The problem is, Madame Sirleaf set the bar very low and created a comfortable atmosphere that violators didn’t think they should be held accountable for war crimes, when the President of Liberia who played a major role in the civil war ignored the overwhelming pains and cries of the Liberian people and ran for political office anyway.
George Oppong Manneh Weah? Well, he’s just there waiting in the wing for his coronation. Mr. Weah who relies heavily on his popularity and the football exploits that made him rich and famous, thinks the Liberian presidency is an inheritance.
It will be a damn shame to elect Mr. Weah, who hasn’t put forth any discernible policy or platform, President of Liberia.
What has Mr. Weah done for Montserrado County since he was elected senator in 2014? Mr. Weah’s ever-present and outrageously violent CDC partisans often tout their “First Partisan” for what he is, but cannot pinpoint exactly what he stands for and what he will do for a country that needs serious and visionary leaders to transform Liberia into a safe and livable country.
Benoni Urey served the Taylor administration as commissioner of the lucrative maritime program only to become a rich man after he left maritime in 2003. Mr. Urey is a presidential candidate in 2017.
For his visible wartime role (arms procurement for the war), and his association with the disgraced Charles Taylor whom he served dutifully during that period, Mr. Urey, who is reportedly on a UN no-fly list (or is not on a UN no-fly list), seemed not to be concerned about his war past and is vigorously pursuing the Liberian presidency.
Since his tenure ended at maritime, there hasn’t been any independent audit of Mr. Urey that I know of that clears his name of any wrongdoing in the handling of the nation’s maritime funds. There are no calls for hearings from the legislative branch or any branch of government.
There are political whispers in some quarters and some are even encouraging the activist, Kofi Woods, to run as the running mate of the current Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party, who is running for the presidency in 2017.
How can it be, and what is the rationale behind Mr. Wood’s decision for a possible vice presidential run?
How can Kofi Woods, the political activist who once railed against the political excesses of previous administrations, and later the Sirleaf administration, be a running mate to the vice president of the political party that he once claimed to have a problem with?
With a 2017 presidential run in sight, Mills Jones conveniently embarked on a micro loan (financing) program at the Central Bank of Liberia that he headed at the time.
Unknown to most Liberians when he was appointed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, the taciturn Mills Jones cleverly embarked on the barely-implemented but popular micro loan program to separate himself from the troves of Liberians vying for the singular presidency.
To those who got a piece of the micro loan pie that made Mills Jones a household name, Mr. Jones became a modern day Liberian Robin Hood who stole from the politically rich, powerful and privileged to give to the suffering poor.
Mr. Jones did things his way when he cleverly took away from the corrupt Liberian political class what was never theirs in the first place and gave it to those that deserve it the most, the Liberian people.
Had Mills Jones not done what he did, those Liberians wouldn’t have gotten a micro loan financing or any credible loan to do business, or resuscitate their crumbling farms and businesses.
Any sane Liberian should commend Mr. Jones for such a bold effort, at least for God’s sake. I commend Mr. Jones for getting out of the box that was once sealed or halfway sealed for such a long time by the Liberian corrupt and visionless political ruling class. The box that was sealed for so long deprived some and even certain Liberians the opportunity to be empowered and be self-sufficient.
However, is this a qualifier for the Liberian presidency? Do we measure the competence of a presidential candidate when the individual embarks on a one-man policy journey to make a name for himself even as he sets his sight on a future run for the Liberian presidency?
If the micro loan program was already on the books intended to help Liberian farmers, businessmen and women to get on their feet, why not strengthen its implementation to be effective across the board?
There are other wannabe presidential candidates I would like to feature; however, because of the lack of space I am unable to go any further.
However, the problem I have with Mills Jones and most Liberian politicians is the raw fact that they are missing in action when they are not running for president.
The presidential candidates are not discussing corruption, nepotism, developmental issues such as bad roads or no roads in rural Liberia, the erosion crisis in the country that has since destroyed homes and taken away a chunk of New Kru Town (D-Twe High School), Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, Greenville, Sinoe County (coastal Liberia in general), the anti-democratic tendencies of the Sirleaf administration, and the jailing of journalists.
Where are the presidential candidates when we need them the most?
This behavior has elevated the criticism of the presidential candidates that they believe in a delusional way that they, or an individual can do for Liberia only when the person is president.
And as soon as the 2017 presidential election is over, these individuals will run into hiding, preferably to the United States as some have done throughout the decades never to come to Liberia in a non-election year to do for their country and people.
Where are the policy papers, vision for the country, platforms, ideas, projects, and the giving and volunteer spirits of the presidential candidates?
Where is patriotism?