The Liberian Dialogue http://theliberiandialogue.org Serving you since 2002. Credible. Compelling. Consistent. Provocative. Tue, 19 Sep 2017 01:53:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 The Kenyan Election Fiasco and Its Implications on Liberia http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/09/19/the-kenyan-election-fiasco-and-its-implications-on-liberia/ http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/09/19/the-kenyan-election-fiasco-and-its-implications-on-liberia/#respond Tue, 19 Sep 2017 01:53:13 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4797 By Paul Jeebah Albert

 


The delegitimization of the contentious presidential election by the Kenyan Supreme Court comes before the season of yet another hotly contested Liberian presidential election that is to be held in October of 2017. The earth-shaking event which has set a new precedent in the modern history of African elections and democracy, should serve as an admonition to the National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia that fraudulent elections are indefensible and they do have dire consequences. https://www.washingtonpost.com/).

The re-ordered Kenyan election brings back a nostalgia of the heated 1985 election debacle in Liberia, when the late Election Chairman Emmett Harmon setup a panel of carefully selected individuals whom he called a “group of concerned citizens at the OAU village to tally the votes.” What was most cynical about the entire episode was that the vote counting procedure lasted for almost a month; moreover, no constitutional provisions stipulated such an activity.

All hell broke loose when the election results were finally announced declaring the late President Samuel K. Doe the winner instead of Jackson F. Doe who was considered as the most favored candidate.

However, Kenya’s judiciary unlike Liberia’s stood firmly this time against the naked aggression and exploitation of the constitutional rights of the Kenyan people by sending a message across the globe that the popular wishes, dreams and aspirations of the African people will not always be subsumed by the greed and personal aggrandizement of unconscionable politicians.

Some prominent individuals and political action groups have already filed several complaints and law suits in court against the NEC concerning various election procedure irregularities. Included amongst the lawsuits have been the one filed by Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh with the headline on the Perspective website that read, “Tipoteh takes Korkoya to court,” wherein he challenges the legality of the chairman of the NEC, Mr. Korkoya’s Liberian citizenship.

Other numerous headlines which foretell ominous signs of things to come are:
“Unfair practices of the NEC”: 2017 annual message delivered by Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh; “NEC Commissioner Jonathan Weedor decries Chairman Korkoya’s scam that will lead to rigged 2017 elections in Liberia”: position statement issued by Commissioner Weedor; “NEC chairman must stop casting blame and deceiving the Liberian people”: written by John H.T. Stewart; “Manipulation hurts, how could Liberia avoid manipulation of the 2017 election”: written by James Thomas Queh; and “NDC takes Jerome G. Korkoya to court”:

A press release issued by NDC Election fraud is not new to Liberia. Its history is replete with numerous instances of fraudulent elections and catastrophic ramifications that ensued. So, the concerns and complaints of the various opposition members should not be taken lightly.

Some universal indicators of troubled elections are: When national election committees are incapable of conducting a transparent election; when journalists are arrested and placed under a state of emergency for expressing themselves; when voters are misinformed on election procedures and how to make the proper choices; when foreign observers and observers at home are expressing some reservations about the illegality of the electoral process; when the margin of victory is so narrow that it clearly shows that the winner does not have a convincing mandate to lead the country; when a state of emergency is invoked and members of opposition parties are harassed, arrested, or incarcerated under a suspended writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum; when cameras and other electronic devices clearly produce evidence of instances of fraudulent voting practices; and when government is clamping down on civil society groups, and the citizens are fearing for their personal safety and wellbeing because they are exercising their constitutional rights and expressing their personal opinion.

Rigged elections often provoke war, social, political, and economic unrest in a country where the leader becomes insecure, unpopular and either despotic or totalitarian. This arises from the fact that since he is unable to rally popular support from the governed, he must derive his power from a henpecked judiciary, a corrupt legislative branch or various repressive military and paramilitary groups. Liberia has been on this path and it cannot afford to revisit it.

Therefore, Liberians in their various voting precincts should rise to the occasion in October and prove to the world that we are a people who are capable of recognizing the humanity of each other; capable of running functional democratic institutions; capable of conducting free and fair elections; and moreover, capable of self-government.

Paul Jeebah Albert resides in Spencer, North Carolina
Jeebah@msn.com (704-636-7868)

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Representative Lester Paye of Bong County is Misusing County Development Funds http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/09/19/4792/ http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/09/19/4792/#respond Tue, 19 Sep 2017 01:25:16 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4792 By George K. Gorneleh

 

Hello Mr. Editor,     

 

My name is George K. Gorneleh, a proud son of Bong County from Moanga village. I have been following and reading your publications regularly since 2013. Thanks for all the great work your online publication is doing by informing and educating the Liberian people. Many thanks for your service to the great people of Liberia. For more information about my village, please go to www.thevillageofmoanga.org.

I’m contacting you today to draw your attention to government waste in District 4, and to investigate why Representative Lester Paye is misusing scarce County Development Funds by building a second community center in my village town where we are already constructing one.

District 4 urgently needs money for all sorts of important projects, including renovating Dolokelen Paye Elementary and Junior High School in Foequelleh where Representative Paye was born. The school like many in my district and around Bong County is in total disrepair. It is also worth mentioning that the school is named after Representative Paye’s late father. To date, nobody knows exactly why Representative Paye has not done anything to improve this school in his backyard. His lack of interest in this situation indicates that education is
not his priority. These days, it seems the only thing on Representative Paye’s mind is running for reelection to save his job. That is why we have several fiscally disciplined and competent candidates campaigning to replace him on October 10, 2017.
The citizens of District 4 deserve far better representation than Representative Paye is providing.

Many years ago, my younger brother and I agree to give back to our village by funding the construction of a community town hall in our late father’s honor. Before the project started, we reached out to the villagers and sought their support in the undertaking. As a result, we received overwhelming support from everyone, which continues to date. The project is managed by Mr. Humphrey Loweal, a highly respected citizen of our village. In fact, Mr. Loweal is presently the Director of Paramedical Training Program at Phebe Hospital in Bong County. Because the hall is still under construction, we have estimated it costs between $3,000 and $3,500 USD.

Strangely, while the hall was under construction, Representative Paye rushed to our village and presented his own plan to build a second community center in the village, which duplicated our efforts. Without much input from the citizens, he ordered the construction of the center with money from the County Development Funds. To this day, some citizens wonder why a village of less than 35 houses with barely 300 residents would need two community centers.

You can see from our website, www.thevillageofmoanga.org, which I developed in 2013 for the village where everyone is taking part in the groundbreaking ceremony our town hall. So, rather than Representative Paye supporting our self-help project, he decided to duplicate our efforts by unwisely spending County Development Funds on a center that was not needed in the first place.

Barely weeks ago, I visited my village to inspect our town hall. While there, a man who gave me a tour of the village pointed at the community center Representative Paye built.

I followed up with our project manager, Mr. Loweal and learned that Representative Paye had excluded him and other citizens from discussions about building a second community center in the village. Mr. Loweal believes Representative Paye imposed the community center upon them without soliciting their input. Mr. Loweal rightfully explained that the fund used on the second center could have been put into better use by expanding and improving the exciting elementary school he (Mr. Loweal) built in the village for preschoolers to attend to prevent them from walking nearly two miles each way to school in Foequelleh Town. I believe Representative Paye intentionally built the center to undermine our self-help efforts. And that is simply a disgrace and an affront to the great people of District 4 who deserve a better representative.

According to Mr. Loweal, the citizens do not even know the true cost of the center Representative Paye built. For this reason, I’m challenging Representative Paye to do the honorable thing by going on Radio Gbarnga to explain the true costs of the community center he built in my village and state why he built it in the first place when one was already under construction. Citizens of District 4 and Bong County need to hear Representative Paye’s rationale for misusing their County Development Funds.

That being said, I strongly recommend an investigation to determine the full costs of this unnecessary community center and uncover, if any other wasteful spending by the Representative. Bong County should petition the House of Representatives to demand Representative Paye to reimburse the citizens of District 4 the full costs for this foolish project.

There are three important reasons why Representative Paye built the community center in my village when we were already constructing one there.

First, he built it out of vendetta against me for calling him out in 2013 for
overstepping his legislative duties when he unwisely interfered into a private civil dispute involving me and some relatives.

Second, it is because I wrote a complaint against him in the Liberian Dialogue
website on January 24, 2013 about his misconduct as described above. People say that he is constantly complaining about that article.

Third, Representative Paye is thin-skinned and temperamental, which highlights major weaknesses on his part.

Frankly, no thin-skinned and temperamental person should be in the business of  representing the great people of District 4. So, if Representative Paye cannot stand the heat, he should drop out of the race so fiscally disciplined and competent individuals can contest. 

Contact George K. Gorneleh at www.thevillageofmoanga.org

 

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Congratulations, Dr. Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh! http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/09/16/congratulations-dr-tewroh-wehtoe-sungbeh/ http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/09/16/congratulations-dr-tewroh-wehtoe-sungbeh/#respond Sat, 16 Sep 2017 13:54:17 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4789 Good evening facebook friends!         
It is with great honor and pride that I am shouting out loud that my outspoken, well-respected and beloved friend, Mr. Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh was officially awarded his doctorate yesterday (09/13/17). From this day forward it will be my honor to acknowledge Mr. Sungbeh as Dr. Sungbeh.
Dr. Sungbeh I salute you, your hard work, diligence, loyalty and service. You have worked hard and now it is time to reap the rewards.
With much respect and adoration,
– Stephanie Settro

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Breaking The Political Odds: The Massive Participation of the Fulani in 2017 http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/09/05/breaking-the-political-odds-the-massive-participation-of-the-fulani-in-2017/ http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/09/05/breaking-the-political-odds-the-massive-participation-of-the-fulani-in-2017/#respond Tue, 05 Sep 2017 15:33:30 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4783 By Mohammed Salue Sy       

 

The late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. said it right that the “greatest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of moral conflict.” Rip Van Winkle, the Dutch villager is a victim of this widely quoted adage. There are fundamental points which at times serve as drivers behind neutrality, one of which is the inferiority complex.

The other might be the lack of gust to build self-confidence amidst whatever prevailing socio-economic and political sequence of events. But the bold truth is to call a spade a spade.

The case is with the Fulani ethnic group of Liberia. History has a
fascinating way of bringing memories to the present. An invocation of
previous events can truly lay the pathway for the future. On the contrary,
it becomes a tragedy if it is not religiously and rightfully followed. It
even tends to be the same pursuit to be ignored for bias decision making in
a society. Interestingly, Liberia could be cited as an appropriate instance
where the latter of this historical analogy unfolds.

In the minds of so many, the Fulani are considered to be a strange tribe in
Liberia. This label is a result of multiple reasoning permeating
from an unsubstantial fact that the Fulani are not part of the sixteen
tribes.

Two: The Fulani’s complete absence in the political activities of Liberia.

Three: Their concentration in commerce and no symptom of
inter-marriage towards the widely known sixteen tribes.

Another salient argument proffered by scores of intellectuals is premised on the mere fact that their voices are not heard at all in the public discourse; thus
clearly defining them as ‘strangers in the Land.’

Are these reasons genuine to be used as yardsticks against the Fulani as new comers in Liberia? Perhaps, it could be to a larger extent a germane justifications of branding them as new comers.

There are several accounts that are heralded by some Liberian historians. Joseph Saye Guannu’s and George Boley’s writings never mentioned the Fulani in their books.

What remains very plain is that these tribes migrated from somewhere in
Africa. For example, the vai and Lorma came from the Mali Empire, the Bassa
from Cameroon, the Kpelle, from Guinea, the Kisi too also have a root
there. The Mende from Sierra Leone, the Krahn from La Cote d’ Ivoire.

Also, historical accounts remind us that the first groups of people that came to Liberia are the Gbabo and Gblewe ethnic groups. The citation of these avalanche of historical facts is to demystify the false narratives of few people who believe in their little thinking that they are more owners of the land than any other tribe.

Historically, the Fulani are amongst the first group of Africans that came
to Liberia.

A typical reference for this is the Famous: “Prince Amongst Slaves”. This
book narrates the story about Prince Abdul Rahim Sori. A Fulani that
escaped the bondage of slavery in the Americas. Upon his search of land, he
landed in Liberia and had many children in the 1820s.

Should we still brand them as foreigners? They are not. We keep calling the
Fulani foreigners each time their names are mentioned.

This is absolutely wrong!!

In one gathering I remember when a Fulani was denied access to a
local scholarship, eventhough he met all of the requirements. One of the
criteria set forth was for the applicant to be a Liberian citizen.

The nationality of this Liberian was questioned by the vetting committee on
grounds that he was a Fulani. According to them a “Fula man is not a
Liberian.”

What a sad and heart breaking moment for me!

It really behooves me that the constant characterization of these people as
foreigners are even heard from the educated ones.

These divisive sentiments are heard in school yards, at the work place, and at public gatherings of high-profile personalities, which is based on prejudice and ignorance of history and the law.

The 1986 amended Constitution of the Republic of Liberia is clear about who is a citizen of Liberia.

Chapter IV of the 1986 Constitution, Article 27 sections A, B, and C as well as Article 28 reads:

“All persons who, on the coming into force of this constitution were
lawfully citizens of Liberia shall continue to be Liberian Citizens.
In order to preserve, foster and maintain the positive Liberian Culture,
values and character, only persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent
shall qualify by birth or by naturalization to be citizens of Liberia.
The legislature shall, adhering to the above standard, prescribe such other
qualification criteria for the procedures by which naturalization may be
obtained.”
Article 28
“Any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of the person
birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia, provided that any such person
reaching the age of maturity renounce any other citizenship acquired by the
virtue of one parent being a citizen of another country. No citizen of the
Republic of Liberia shall be deprived citizenship or nationality except as
provided by law; and no person shall be denied the right to change
citizenship or nationality.”

Even though I am not a lawyer, the explicitness of these articles can be deduced that a Negro descent can be a citizen either by naturalization or by birth. The Fulani are Negroes. Besides, one can also be a citizen of Liberia in the case where both parents were born in Liberia.

These two articles – 27 and 28 validates the argument set forth in my earlier
contention. So, the conversation of the Fulani not being a citizen must go
beyond the mere fact of the sixteen tribes.

In these times at which Liberia is at a crossroad, the Fulani has been
massively participating in Liberian politics, and have publicly endorsed the
three-top presidential candidates in these elections, in the persons of Vice President Joseph Nyumai Boakai, Montserrado County Senator George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change, and Liberty party, Charles Walker Brumskine.

Prior to the latest two endorsements, the first of which was welcomed with so much criticisms as the public wrongly insinuated that the entire Fulani community are lining their support to Joseph Nyumai Boakai.

Fulani-Liberians contributed significantly to the economic growth of our country, and the democracy we enjoyed in Liberia today. The 14-year civil upheaval did not link any Fulani national to the killings and destruction of Liberia.

Yet, few Liberians have vehemently refused to rise from the pool of ignorance and their little sophistry of branding the Fula man as a foreigner in their country. Should the man still be discriminated against as a foreigner when he is actively contesting for public office in the Land?

A laundry list of candidates include Ambassador Ruguie Barry, a die-hard stalwart of Liberty Party, District 1, El- Hadji Bella Diallo of the Liberian People’s Party, Aliou V. Bah, a former staunch supporter of the Coalition For Democratic Change now of the Liberian People’s Party.

The massive participation of these individuals in the Liberian Democracy movement is not only limited to these contested positions, but is just a validation to those divisive elements that they are not foreigners as propagated by the divisive rhetoric.

Moreover, there are fulani who also continued to champion national debates
in Liberia. Are we not fully convince that they are as citizens as you are? Certainly they are.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa is right to have said that if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not be neutral.

In essence, the Fulani for too long have allowed the elephant to have its foot on him; but now he remains firm to break the foot of the elephant no matter how tough the circumstances.

The days of his neurality are over and so he now moves vigorously with the
“BADGE .”

I pledge allegiance to the flag of Liberia and to the republic for
which it stands, one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

 Mohammed Salue Sy is a student at the University of Liberia studying economics. Mr.Sy is a 2016 graduate of the Young Political Leadership School of NAYMOTE, a lecturer at Educate the Future Liberia(ETF Liberia), and the Chairman on Press and propaganda of the Indomitable Student Integration Movement. Contact mohammedsy952@gmail.com

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Charles Brumskine is Wrong to Embrace Lahai Lasanah  (From our Archives) http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/08/29/charles-brumskine-is-wrong-to-embrace-lahai-lasanah-from-our-archives/ http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/08/29/charles-brumskine-is-wrong-to-embrace-lahai-lasanah-from-our-archives/#respond Tue, 29 Aug 2017 02:20:24 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4777 From Our Archives

Saturday, November 25, 2008

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh             

 

I must confess I am one of those people who applauded the Liberian Legislature months ago when that body garnered the courage to suspend one of its own in the person of Isaac Nyenabo, then-President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate.

Mr. Nyenabo was ‘punished’ by his colleagues for constantly siding with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, when the body did not agree with the president on key national issues.

It is one of the few times in the history of the Liberian nation that a president or leader of the Senate has ever been challenged or suspended for his close political ties to a sitting president.

That is because the Liberian presidency is so powerful that members of the Legislative branch or any branch of government better be careful how they deal with the president, else, somebody will either go to prison or lose that much-needed job he or she cannot afford to lose.

In a time of uncertainty and confusion in Liberia, the last thing a person wants to be known for is to disagree with a sitting president who is seen as doing her best to bring stability to a dying nation; to improve the lives of her people after a crippling civil war that almost took Liberia off the map.

However, when a president is wrong about corruption, is seen as loyal and protective of corrupt officials in her administration at a time when the average Liberian citizen cannot afford to purchase a bag or cup of rice to eat or support a family, when national issues of the day are being ignored while the leader of the Senate is seen as protecting the president and trying to turn the clock back to the painful and undemocratic dark days when Liberian presidents ruled by iron-clad, then it is right for those on the other side of the aisle to oppose the president on those issues.

Also, when a leader of the legislative body is believed to constantly side with the president amid opposition from his colleagues on important issues, a feeling of anger and frustration sets in for members who took the drastic step of removing Nyenabo from his leadership position; especially when his colleagues think Isaac Nyenabo’s behavior was motivated by greed and the financial payoffs he allegedly received from the president.

Isaac Nyenabo was suspended August 2008 for six months from his Senate Pro Temporo duties as a way of sending a clear message to others that being an heretic in this modern day Liberian congress is unacceptable, and individuals who are seen as violating the rules and the trust of their colleagues will be punished for betraying those guiding principles, which is a way of instilling discipline in a fragile coalition comprised of opposition political parties and individuals with selfish interests and divided loyalties.

According to news reports from Liberia, Lahai Lasanah then-member of the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) was elected interim President Pro-Temporo of the Liberian Senate by his colleagues to replace the embattled Isaac Nyenabo of the same political party.

Nyenabo refused to swallow this national humiliation and took his case to the Supreme Court – the highest court of the land, which rendered a resounding victory in his favor by clearing the way for his immediate reinstatement to his former position as President Pro-Temporo of the Liberian Senate.

Lahai Lasanah who wants to be a national leader refused to even honor the ruling of the highest court of the land, but allowed his twisted ego and selfish interest to get the best of him as he hid behind such nonsense excuse that the “Senate was already on Agriculture break” as his reason for refusing to abide by the unanimous ruling of the Supreme Court.

This tells me that Lahai Lasanah is not ready to even work as a dog handler. Period!

Because being a leader requires making and accepting tough decisions that affects not only you, but people. Being a national leader also requires abiding by and respecting national decisions that could potentially affect national security.

So, for Lahai Lasanah to jump ship to Charles Brumskine’s Liberty Party because his former party, the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) did not support his quest to hijack the democratic political process is one of the cheapest reasons I have ever heard for switching to another political party.

“I have resigned today from the NDPL so that I can continue fighting my battle alone given that the party that I have trusted and cherished so much has unbelievably continued to fight against me at the highest court in the land – the Supreme Court,” Lasanah said.

Which battle is this idiot fighting?

How can he be so silly and completely out of touch with reality to reach such illogical conclusion?

The Supreme Court of Liberia already fought a unanimous battle against you, Mr. Lasanah in favor of Mr. Nyenabo, which paved the way for Nyenabo to resume his official duties as President Pro-Temporo of the Senate. And the best way to save face, Lahai Lasanah is to drop your contention for the position and let justice prevail.

With those silly comments coming out of the mouth of Lahai Lasanah, one would think opposition leader, Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party, being a lawyer, would have acted quickly to either distance himself from Mr. Lasanah or urge his new friend to honor the ruling of the court before his membership in the Liberty Party can be accepted.

Instead, Charles Brumskine and his Liberty Party swallowed the bait and accepted the membership of a man who refuses to abide by the ruling of the highest court of the land.

Brumskine’s reaction defines his judgment and decision-making skills.

“The presence of Senator Lassana to the Liberty Party signals a positive step for the new day for democracy in Liberia,” quipped Chairman Israel Akinsaya. Also, “as Acting President Pro-Temporo of the Liberian senate, Senator Lassana will be bringing to the Liberty Party worth of experience and strategies in the workings of the party,” Mr. Akinsaya said.

Charles Brumskine, who did not want to be outshined by the remarks of his party’s chairman said; his party is “honored to welcome a senior Liberian senator into its fold.”
Mr. Brumskine, as a party leader and future presidential candidate, are you honored to welcome into your party one like Lahai Lasanah, a rule breaker who will not abide the ruling of the Supreme Court of Liberia, which could potentially set up a power struggle and a disastrous national crisis?

Are you setting a good example, Mr. Brumskine? That anybody can disrespect a ruling of the Supreme Court of Liberia when a decision does not favor the individual?

This is the wrong way, Mr. Brumskine, which most definitely will haunt you as Liberians will now begin to question your judgment and decision-making skills in your quest for the presidency in 2011.

Lahai Lasanah failed the Liberian people by flaunting the decision of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

Liberty Party leader and future presidential candidate Charles Brumskine, failed the Liberian people that he wants to lead when he did not act wisely like the legal scholar and statesman he is to stop the insanity.

Lahai Lasanah put his personal interest over the nation’s interest.

Charles Brumskine also put his political interests over the nation’s interest. Both men are national leaders?

I really want to know.

Editor’s Note:

Mr. Charles Brumskine is the 2017 presidential candidate of the Liberty Party.

 

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Did the Liberian Presidential Candidates Discuss Any Issues During the Debate Worthy of Our Attention? http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/08/27/did-the-liberian-presidential-candidates-discuss-any-issues-during-the-debates-worthy-of-our-attention/ http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/08/27/did-the-liberian-presidential-candidates-discuss-any-issues-during-the-debates-worthy-of-our-attention/#respond Sun, 27 Aug 2017 16:04:15 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4774 By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh        

 

“The Liberian presidential debate was like a baby taking his or her first step as a human being,” said the caller who couldn’t wait to discuss his observation of the debate.

“Really?” I asked him as I listened attentively to the ‘political analyst,’ one of many in the Liberian political sphere who believes “we are getting there.”

“Of course, we are getting there,” I said; and there is a reason to be optimistic about future Liberian elections.

“To fulfill our electoral aspirations, however, we need to do more,” I told the caller.

For a country that wants to break away from its once bloody, controversial and primordial electoral past, debating the issues that affects the people and the country, is a way to build trust and confidence in the electoral process.

But how do you get a thorough and comprehensive presidential debate when George Weah who supposedly is a leading contender, failed to appear; or when economist Mills Jones and political newcomer MacDonald Wento, also didn’t care to show up for that crucial debate? Or, when some of the issues were left out of the debate.

I want to know Mills Jones’ position on the economy because of his former job as governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, especially when portion of the debate focused on the nation’s deficit.

I also want to know UPP’s McDonald Wento’s views about the separation of church and state, and his respect or no respect of other religions, and for those who are not members of his Christian faith.

Mr. Wento spoke recently when he explicitly referenced Liberia as a ‘Christian Nation,’ which of course threatens peace and Liberia’s existing relationship with diverse religions and people with diverse views.

Interestingly, candidate Charles Brumskine responded to a question about the nation’s deficit crisis as unimportant to require his attention.

Electoral debates are about bringing a candidate’s views up-close to the electorates, which helps a voter measure and determine the competence, judgment, character, trustworthiness, compassion, and the seriousness of a candidate.

After all, elections are about enfranchising the citizenry and involving them in the process.

And a better way to know the hearts and souls and toughness of a candidate is to parade the candidate before the electorates, to know what he or she thinks about the people and country that the individual wants to govern, which is unheard of in the long history of the Liberian nation.

While I must admit that I am a bit optimistic about the future of Liberian elections after the first-ever (August 17) presidential debate that ever occurred in my lifetime, I am also disappointed about few things.

The debate needed a respected and seasoned moderator- a proven professional who has passion for politics and knows and understands Liberian politics from top to bottom.

Working at a radio station and having a ‘good’ voice and a political science or a mass communication degree is not a qualification to be a moderator.

A good and seasoned moderator sets the tone of a debate; is a good listener and thinker, can articulate the issues, and is fast on his or her feet. When a moderator struggles like the candidates, is a recipe for disaster.

Anyway, I did not hear a question about funding, or a solution about sea erosion in coastal Liberia – and sea erosion in Monrovia that threatens D-Twe High School and the Borough of New Kru Town and surrounding areas.

How are the candidates going to deal with the sea erosion crisis in coastal Liberia?

I did not hear a question or questions about healthcare and the issues of affordability and accessibility.

Privileged Liberians and well-connected politicians including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, often seeks health care treatments in the United States and elsewhere; while indigent Liberians died daily from diabetes, high blood pressure and other treatable diseases, because they don’t have the money and access to see a doctor and other health care professionals.

Education?

I did not hear a question about education and the urgent need to increase the pay for teachers.

The education tragedy of 2013, when 25,000 Liberian students failed the university entrance exam, should be a reminder and a reason to discuss education and how to find practical solutions to such burning national issue of salary increase for teachers, tuition reduction or zero tuition for students, modern labs, computers, electricity, etc.

Any transportation policy?

I did not hear any plan to relieve traffic congestions in Monrovia and surrounding areas, and finding the funds – the money to build Liberia’s bad highways and rural roads. 

How about the postal systems? Any plan?
How about water and sewer?
Any serious policy? Where is the raw sewer going?

“Pupu factory?” to continue to make Liberians sick and kill them?

I did not hear any question about the future of the bankrupt national oil company, NOCAL, after the Sirleaf administration told the Liberian people that it was being restructured and reorganized.

Are the presidential candidates willing to discuss possible indictments of those that bankrupt NOCAL?

Any discussion about a war crimes court? How about the TRC report?

The Liberian people are craving for presidential debates. They are not interested in a ‘teaser’ debate – a comedy hour that makes it look like they are stupid enough to sit around and listen to comedians masquerading as presidential candidates.

I am optimistic; but I am not stupid either.

 

 

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Primary Education: A Wise Investment for Government, Partners and Parents http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/08/22/primary-education-the-wisest-investment-for-government-partners-and-parents/ Tue, 22 Aug 2017 00:06:58 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4770 By Martin K. N. Kollie                  

 

A speech delivered by Martin K. N. Kollie at the graduation ceremony of the Belenie Christian Foundation School System, 72nd Junction, Somalia Drive, Paynesville City.  

I bring you profound compliments from my family, my party (Student Unification Party), conscious students of the University of Liberia where I currently study Economics, and the masses of our people including thousands of vulnerable children across our nation who have no opportunity to access quality primary education. I am grateful to the management team of this great institution for inviting me as this year’s speaker on a graduation program such as this. In the midst of tight schedule, I just could not turn down this invitation because it has to do with our nation’s precious jewels – THE LEADERS OF TOMORROW.

As I go through my message, I am very optimistic that the Belenie Christian Foundation School System shall continue to demonstrate unyielding dedication and allegiance to Liberia by molding the minds of our ones – the ones I usually refer to as ‘THE FORTUNE’ of our nation. BCFSS must continue to shine and make the difference in Paynesville city. Even in the midst of prevailing challenges, this institution must preserve those fundamental values and academic virtues upon which it was given birth to.

BCFSS must do all it can to remain on the path of academic excellence in order to breed Liberia’s best brains. It is not impossible at all for the next President, Vice President, Speaker and Chief Justice to come from this great institution. It is not impossible at all for some of Liberia’s best economists, doctors, engineers, geologists, computer scientists, accountants, managers, journalists, statisticians, public administrators, environmentalists and teachers to come from BCFSS. I see a bright future for these graduates and surely they are stepping into it with self-confidence and self-assurance.

Madam principal, from what I have seen so far through the brilliant performances of these students and future leaders, I encourage you to maintain this momentum and even increase your effort to academically shepherd these young minds. Thank you Madam Principal and your industrious team for successfully completing yet another academic year and producing these bright brains in whose honor we have assembled in this hall this afternoon. I have come to encourage and inspire us never to abandon this genuine cause. By doing so, we will be neglecting not only our future, but the future of our nation. Never must we choose this route – never must we forsake our duty to instruct, discipline and mentor. There is always a reward at the end of the tunnel especially for those who choose to demonstrate hard work, dedication and loyalty to nationhood.

Madam principal, when I received your invitation to serve as guest speaker on this historic program, my inner spirit was immediately provoked by the very low output of our messy educational sector evident by prevailing indicators nationwide in this sector after almost 12 years of democratic rule under Africa’s first female President. As I read through dossier of statistics every day on education in Liberia and even visit some of our schools in urban and rural communities, I usually bleed within as I see our nation’s future drowning.

In Sinoe, Grand Kru, RiverCess, RiverGee, Maryland and Grand Gedeh, our students share classrooms with animals especially goats, cows and pigs. Some of these classrooms have no desks, no text books, leaking roofs, no black boards, no instructional materials, no teachers, etc. I know what I am saying because I have visited some of these mushroom schools mostly in rural communities. The situation is even worse in Gbarpolu, Grand Capemount, Bomi, Bassa and other regions. Even in urban communities, it is not still better! Just imagine for moment, there is no public high school in this country with a science laboratory and modern library. Even the great Tubman High and D. Tweh Memorial we know are lacking these basic academic facilities. If our premier state-run university is yet to have access to even internet facility up to now since 1862, then it speaks to the widening leadership deficit that has engulfed our country. It is time for nationwide reflection, revival, renewal and reformation. It starts with everyone!

But again what hope do we have when a sitting education Minister (George Werner) writes on facebook “Da book we will eat?” Without understanding the scope of the position he occupies, he discounts the value and power of education to accomplish his selfish motive and parochial agenda. In my mind, such a Minister is the most incompetent since 1847. With this minister managing education in our country, Liberia is heading towards a perishable end. This minister needs to understand that education is the ultimate source of wealth, economic equality, social security and national prosperity. As we aggressively pursue a society of more literate citizens, Minister Werner and those who think that education is of no essence must be sent at the back to only follow, and not lead.

As our nation transitions this year, we cannot ignore the fact that there exists a very wide gap in our education system ranging from poor academic facilities, untrained and underpaid teachers to budgetary constraint and academic malpractices, just to name a few. After 170 years, Liberia still has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world. Madam principal and members of the faculty, can we find solution to this sad narrative? Yes I believe so, and the Belenie Christian Foundation School System is treading on the right path. In union strong, we shall triumph one day. This is the hope that continues to keep us aspiring for a glorious height.

With this unshaken desire and patriotic spirit to find genuine solution to our existing dilemma, I have come to revive our hope and re-echo a patriotic call to all of us (The Government, Parents, Guardians, Administrators, Teachers and Partners) to reconsolidate our energy and resources in addressing those pressing challenges facing primary education in Liberia. Sometimes, I find it very difficult to re-examine our nation in terms of its strive towards primary education because it is not just easy to comprehend the sad narrative of primary education in Liberia.

Even though some gains have been made to promote primary education, but the non-gains are even more. The achievements in this sector are far less than the non-achievements. The demerits are more the merits. The challenges far exceed the successes. The dilemmas are even more the non-dilemmas. Yes, I know this for a fact, because I have travelled to almost every region in this country as a youth activist and a patriotic young citizen. Only in Liberia school-going kids would prefer spending 5 hours on the beach on super Friday than spending even 1 hour in the library. The students of today are becoming more addicted to gambling, alcohol and drug abuse than quizzing, debate and spelling competition. Either we change this pattern now or risk a future of societal liabilities and academic handicaps.

Madam principal, members of the faculty, parents, distinguished guests and our brilliant students, this unique occasion affords me yet another opportunity to cautiously share my thoughts about what confronts us as a nation and what we must do now to secure a new future of prosperity for all through social justice, academic freedom and peace. Yes, it is a moment for all of us to genuinely reflect on finding appropriate answers and sustainable remedies to our poor system of education.

I have travelled to the north, west, east and south of this country, and I know what primary students endure – I know how primary schools look like – I know what quality of teachers most of these schools have – I also know the type of academic facilities they have. The hard fact is that access to free, compulsory and quality primary education is yet too far from our shores even though this is a fundamental human right that every child is entitled to according to Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What then can we do to jealously protect this right and secure a brighter future for Liberia and generations yet unborn? What must we do as a people and a nation to guarantee quality primary education for every Liberian child? As these questions run through our minds, they must remind all of us that we have a sacred duty to this country. And this sacred duty is tied to our collective resolve and deep sense of solidarity as nationalists and patriots to act now and salvage the future our nation.

If not now, then when? If we cannot invest now in primary education, then when? If we are unwilling now as parents and guardians to pay our children’s tuition, then when? If our government cannot take concrete steps now to address this prevailing mess confronting primary education, then when? If our teachers, communities, churches, mosques and civil society organizations cannot buttress government’s effort now by promoting academic excellence and instilling discipline in our kids, then when?

If our partners or donors do not increase their support to primary education now, then when? If our students themselves are not willing to study and research for hours, then when? I ask again “Then when will we get rid of this mess” in order to safeguard our nation’s future. All of us have a responsibility one way of the other to get rid of this mess once and for all. The government, partners and parents have a leading role to play. If this tripartite alliance can increase their support to primary education, the desired change we are yearning for can become a reality in this century. This is why I have come for us to briefly consider the theme “Primary Education: The Wisest Investment for Government, Partners and Parents”.

Madam Principal and distinguished guests, I primarily chose to focus on the government, partners and parents because they are like a triangle in terms of investment towards primary education. Without the support of these 3 key groups, the impact of primary education would be infertile. If only these 3 groups can recognize that they are the most significant architects and leading actors of quality primary education, there would be an educational renaissance throughout our nation.

What investment is wiser than quality primary education? What investment is wiser than investing in our children’s future? All through my life, I have not seen any investment more valuable than the investment in quality primary education. Building a strong foundation is more crucial than building a strong roof. After all, there is no roof without foundation. After 170 years, Liberia still has the highest proportion of children missing out on primary education worldwide, 65% of them, according to UNICEF. Though Liberia has an enrollment rate of 1,531,489 students with a total of 5,181 schools and 44,250 teachers, but quality education still remains a major challenge.

The Government, Partners and Parent must fix this mess and ensure that Liberia gets back on track even more than its pre-war status. 63% of Liberian girls between the ages 15 and 25 still remain illiterate. What are we doing about this? Vulnerable groups such as the BLIND and the CRIPPLED still have difficulties in accessing our schools due to unfavorable environments. This has to end as well. It is time for our government, partners and parents to rigorously prioritize goal #4 of the SGDs, Article 6 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, Article 26 of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11 of the 1979 African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Article 28 of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 2011 Children’s Law of Liberia.

If these provisions are patriotically pursued, I am very sure that a messy education system in Liberia would be a story of the past. The need for our government and partners to increase support to public and private institutions in Liberia cannot be overemphasized. I call for increment in the budgetary allotment of primary education in Liberia. Madam Principal and our distinguished audience, having said all of these, we want to congratulate these graduates for moving a step further in their academic sojourn. This journey may seem long or rocky at some point, but you must never give up. There is a crown at the end for every one of you. Hard work, discipline, humility and perseverance can get you there.

I want to encourage the parents of these students to never stop paying their fees. Surely, the investment you are making today will pay off tomorrow and give you a decent retirement package. All of us today must keep in mind that primary education is the wisest investment of all. Madam Principal, I want to extend my earnest gratitude to you and your hard working team for inviting me and may God continue to bless this great institution and make it the LIGHT in this time of darkness. May God bless our nation and its people as we look forward to a new era of prosperity for all. Thank you very much…..

 Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth and student activist, a columnist and an emerging economist who hails from Bong County. He currently studies Economics at the University of Liberia and is a Lux-in-Tenebris Scholar. He can be reached at: martinkerkula1989@yahoo.com

 

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The Elliptical Political Journey of Rev. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/08/05/the-elliptical-political-journey-of-rev-samuel-b-reeves-jr/ Sat, 05 Aug 2017 23:58:00 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4765 By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh      

 

I don’t know much about Rev. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr., the vice-presidential candidate who is on the ticket of presidential candidate Mills Jones of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE).

I got to know a little about Rev. Reeves just recently after his protective brother, Joe Reeves, (a former die-hard supporter of presidential candidate Joseph Boakai (Unity Party), who has since jumped ship to join his brother’s elliptical vice presidential bid), inboxed me the ‘profile’ of his brother.

How can an individual who was once a dedicated, passionate, early supporter and defender of the presidential candidate of the ruling Unity Party – long before his relative was ever chosen to be on a ticket drop his candidate and any allegiance to the candidate for a relative’s campaign; is perhaps an issue I need to thoroughly look at in a future article.

If I ever should do a future piece on this issue, I will take a look at the lack of loyalty, commitment, betrayal, opportunism in (Liberian politics), and the family ties that served conveniently as a magnet that drew Joe Reeves to his brother’s camp in the 2017 Liberian legislative and presidential elections.

 For now, I want to focus on Rev. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr.

 According to his profile, Rev. Reeves is an “inspiring man with a hope-filled vision of faith, a powerful community leader, a theological scholar and a transformational pastor.” He is also “a family man who enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and extended family and friends.”

Those are warm and fascinating qualities about a man of God who wants to be the next vice president of Liberia – a “transformational pastor” who could be the next President of Liberia in his own right.

If those qualities about Rev. Reeves are true, they are worthy of our collective attention and adulation because of the compelling nature of his story, which shouldn’t be told only when he’s running for a political office totally and completely different from his ecclesiastical role at the holy pulpit.

I want to hear more of those stories, inspiring stories about Rev. Reeves and other Liberians whom I believe are good and decent God-fearing people residing in the Liberian orbit, whom we don’t often get to know or hear about (except for the legendary Togba-Nah Tipoteh), whose trademark decency and uncorrupt public life has riveted our collective imagination.

So where has Rev. Reeves been all these years when the Liberian people needed him?

 Again, according to his profile, Rev. Reeves “has been serving for the past 12 years,” and “has made Providence {Baptist Church} one of the most social and politically conscious churches in Liberia.”

Rev. Reeves has made Providence one of the most “social and politically conscious churches in Liberia?”

“Politically conscious?”

Really? When?

Rev. Reeves was politically conscious during his 12 years at Providence Baptist Church during the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration?

On the issue of social consciousness, Rev. Reeves’ LEAD (Liberian Entrepreneurial and Asset Development, Inc), according to his profile “established strategic plans of extending his vision of Christian Education to other regions of Liberia,” which has offices in seven counties.

Rev. Reeves’ profile mentions that he is in the “process of building a homeless second-chances model center for Ebola orphans, with vision of senior house complexes. Rev. Reeves “has built the DeVos Village, comprising of Medical Center, a high school, an IT Center, a water company, a farm, and housing units, located in Bo-Waterside region.”

Are these facilities in Bo, Sierra Leone or Liberia? If yes, why Sierra Leone and not in Liberia?

Truth is I follow Liberian politics a whole lot and I never heard anything about Rev. Reeves’ “politically conscious” activities in Liberian during the Sirleaf administration, or in any administration.

 With a profile as rich in everything positive about Rev. Reeves circulating everywhere, I would think his profiler would include and specify the Rev’s “politically conscious” activities in a country (Liberia), and a government that experienced over the years slews of political killings, rampant corruption, abject poverty, hunger, underdevelopment, high unemployment, nepotism, armed robberies and a whole lot of other criminal activities, in the nearly 12 years of the Sirleaf administration.

History tells us that the Liberian people are not too kind to preachers-turned politicians, and are not kind either to a quasi-theocratic republic as it was superficially during the Tubman-Tolbert autocratic regime and the Tolbert-Warner-Greene period.

Can the Liberian people handle another preacher as vice president or president?
Do you all remember what happened in 1980 and after? Is he ready for the incoming political storms? Can Rev. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr. handle the heat in the political kitchen?

Providence Baptist Church has a history of political consciousness when Rev. E. Toimu A. Reeves pastored the church in the 1970s, during the Tolbert administration.

I know because I listened to Radio Station ELBC that year, (I believe) 1978, when Rev. E. Toimu A. Reeves boldly tote the moral bullhorn to the pulpit and spoke passionately to the conscience of an anxious nation when he challenged President (Rev.) William R. Tolbert, Jr’s. cruel attempt to make what was known as the “age of consent” law legal in Liberia.

The so-called ‘age of consent’ law was meant for 13-year old girls (kids) to legally have sex with grown men.

Had the age of consent law passed, it would have made it legal for grown adult men to molest, rape, ‘marry’ and have sexual intercourse with 13-year-old young girls.

It is one thing to be socially-conscious like Rev. Samuel B. Reeves profile says. It is also spiritually and morally unconscionable for men and women of God to sit by idly and see the children of God suffer at the hands of an uncaring government.

What would Jesus say or do?

I guess Jesus will say, ‘your people are suffering. Speak out like Rev. E. Toimu A. Reeves once did when he rallied the consciousness of a nation and stopped a bad law.”

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“President” J. Emmanuel Nuquay? Lord, Help Liberia and the Liberian People http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/07/31/4761/ Mon, 31 Jul 2017 20:49:23 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4761 By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh          

 

 

J. Emmanuel Nuquay is the current Speaker of the Liberian House of Representatives.

Mr. Nuquay is also the running mate of the current vice president Joseph Boakai, who is running to be the next president of Liberia.

Nuquay could be President of Liberia.

Scary, indeed.

Before his selection as the vice-presidential running mate of the slumberous septuagenarian Boakai, the once obscure Nuquay represented Margibi County in the House, and later became Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Mr. Nuquay became Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2016 after the disgraced Speaker Alex Tyler was removed from office for his sleazy role in the Global Witness Sable Mining investigation, which accused Tyler of receiving a $75,000 bribe.

Anxious and nakedly ambitious to climb the political ladder in a country where only the strong, sleazy and powerful political and non-political hustler can survive, the 48-year old Nuquay once a member of the ruling Unity Party in his previous political life, conveniently resigned from the Unity party and co-founded the People’s Unification Party (PUP).

What became of Nuquay and his People’s Unification Party for him to suddenly and shamelessly become the running mate of Vice President Joseph Boakai and his ruling Unity Party in this year’s electoral fervor to surpass 15 others in the selection process, is left to our speculation.

Because these are two distinct individuals with (I guess) different ideas, beliefs, values and vision for Liberia that supposed to set them apart politically.
They are also from two different political parties (Unity Party and People’s Unification Party), that supposed to have different political values, beliefs, platforms and goals for the country and the Liberian people.

Any political conviction?

Does it matter anyway in Liberian politics when ideas, values, goals, beliefs, vision and political platforms are thrown out the windows to satisfy the opportunistic and self-centered political ambitions of a politician?

A possible answer for this blatant disregard of political norms and convictions on the part of Nuquay, and Mr. Boakai’s selection of Nuquay (as the rumor mill suggests) could be bribery and the payment of $2 million that Nuquay allegedly paid the Boakai camp to get the selection.

As it was with Alex Tyler whom he succeeded as Speaker, Nuquay was embroiled in his own controversies regarding his dubious role in the passage of the 4-G multi-year Farmington Hotel tax break deal, his close and suspicious ties to the powerful Lebanese businessman, Abi Jaoudi, and the insensitive and disjointed rant he made about fellow Liberians after he was chosen by Boakai, raised eyebrows.

“People coming they want job but it’s not our business to give our job to them, to give our birthright to them. So we will never, never ever do that. If they come with rudeness, if they exhibit rudeness; but one thing I have said which I want to reiterate, let them bear in mind that whether it is one month from now, its two years from now, its three years from now, its five years from now, it’s ten years from now, they will pay the price for their rudeness. I’ve said this and I’m saying this consistently and I will do it no matter heaven open, this the time for them to exhibit rudeness? After October 11, it will be our time, from October 11 going, it will be our time,” Nuquay reportedly said.

Is this guy, Nuquay, serious? How did he get to be Speaker or a Vice-Presidential running mate, in the first place?

Really, Liberia?

How low can the bar be?

However, when he was confronted about his suspicious legislative dealings with the Farmington Hotel bill and the Lebanese businessman, Abi Jaoudi, Nuquay said:

“First of all, let me establish that I’m not engaged in any business anywhere or at no point in time have I been engaged in a business venture with any Lebanese; I have never been engaged with any business with a Lebanese either here in Liberia – or in any part of this world.”

Vice President Joseph Boakai’s judgment is an issue here for choosing Nuquay as his running mate amid his volatile comments and his dealings; and he (Boakai) hasn’t demonstrated an intellectual and policy grasp for the office he wants to be elected to in the upcoming elections.

Nuquay, the man he chose as his running mate is completely out of touch, lack intellectual depth, cocky and reckless in his dealings and his utterances like a drunken sailor grasping for air to survive in a stormy sea.

Most Liberian politicians, as is already known, are not politically and emotionally connected to their constituents, and are not even held responsible for what they say or do. As a result, they usually get away with “murder” and not accountable to the voters.

Joseph Boakai is at an age (72 years old) of retirement – or he should have retired by now. Is Mr. Boakai preparing the way for J. Emmanuel Nuquay to be President of Liberia?

Lord, help Liberia and the Liberian people.

There is a serious need for new leaders – serious, respectful, caring, smart and issue-driven/development-driven leaders who are accountable to the Liberian people.

There is also a need for leaders who understands policy and can deliver. Liberia is not the place for apprenticeship, nor a place for cockiness.

We’ve had too many of those already in Liberia’s 170 years as a sovereign nation.

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http://theliberiandialogue.org/2017/07/31/president-j-emmanuel-nuquay-lord-help-liberia-and-the-liberian-people/ Mon, 31 Jul 2017 20:21:51 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4755                 

 

 

 

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