ULAA Sinks to a New Low

Posted September 25, 2023
by Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh

“Due to the cancellation of general elections by the National President Hon. J. Shiwoh Kamara at the end of his tenure, the Union is without a leadership. In the interest of continuity of the Union’s business, the national Board of Directors will exercise the affairs of the Union of Liberian Associations in Americas until the Board appoints an interim leadership.” ULAA Board of Directors, 2023.

This is an excerpt from a ULAA Press Release, to be exact, from the office of the Chairman, Alfred Sieh, and signed by Rev. James Barclay, who serves as Secretary General of the Board of Directors of this very troubled organization.

The call for interim leadership did not come from a post-coup military junta that craves legitimacy from the public but from a group, ULAA (Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas), that believes it has the legitimacy to be a key player in the Liberian public space only to fall flat as it struggles to reach its full potential as a credible organization.
It can be said with a straight face that ULAA was founded nearly 50 years ago with the best of intentions but has become a painful nightmare by not winning the public debate about the legitimacy of its existence in the face of self-flagellation amid countless distractions, even as ULAA engages in dry-face public relations campaigns that failed to produce useful results.

For things to fall apart so incredibly during a national convention without a heartfelt resolution of the conflict after some members left their jobs, and their families, traveled afar, and gathered to elect new national leaders and to discuss topical issues affecting ULAA, Liberia, and (I guess) Liberians in the diaspora only to watch in real time the firing or resignation or whatever you want to call it of national President J. Shiwoh Kamara is a disconnection.

If what I was told by a convention goer is true that part of the commotion stemmed from a non-due-paying member, a non-Liberian who hardly attends a meeting in her chapter, who wanted to settle a grudge match, went to the convention with the explosive allegation that the list of possible voters that the leadership from her State presented to vote were fake names not eligible to vote, is a sad narrative.

Of course, this is not the only problem that derailed this year’s convention. I am sure there are other issues. For the sake of space, I would rather not go into them.

However, instead of letting this conflict get out of control, ULAA’s leadership team should have activated its conflict resolution team – if there is any - to address the thorny issue of a fake voters’ list which in itself is an illegal way to win an election but is nothing new in Liberian organizations in the United States.

Elections in ULAA and elections in community associations across the United States are times when national conventions and community associations are jammed-packed with legal (due-paying members), and non-legal, (non-due paying voters), and their spouses and friends who are encouraged to show up and are transported to the election sites to vote for their candidates once these individuals pay their dues in full.

So, to say that this practice is new to cause a convention to get out of control and a national president to be dismissed and potentially replaced by an interim administration is disingenuous.

Whenever a delegation from a state’s community association travels out of town, the President, Executive Director, or the highest official in the organization’s hierarchy becomes the leader of the delegation.

Whenever a conflict creeps up like this one, the head of the delegation is the one who becomes the go-to person to address the matter at stake, not another person who is not a designated leader of the group.

For ULAA or anyone in ULAA to kick the elected leader of a community association and or leader of the delegation to a convention by the side and defer to another person who is not in good financial standing with her chapter, does not attend meetings, and is not even a Liberian citizen to be given such a huge platform that impacts a national convention is a new low.

There is an urgent need for ULAA to be revamped and reorganized with a new and credible body, a new face minus the political party hopping and fealty to a Liberian president that we see so shamelessly occurring in modern-day ULAA, a new ULAA that genuinely cares about Liberians in the diaspora and the Liberian people.

Anything short of this suggestion is a waste of time, energy, and resources.



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