Monday, 5 February 2018

Corruption Officials must be prosecuted

https://www.liberianobserver.com/news/iab-report-blames-shoniyin-nyanplu-for-loss-of-227140-65-japanese-grant/

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Liberia: Walking in the trappings of Unconstitutional Rule?

Yesterday, H.E. President George Manneh Weah, stated as follows:

“I swore that I would preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of Liberia…The Liberian Constitution, which is the Supreme Law of the Republic, and with which I am intimately familiar, shall be my principal guide for leadership and governance throughout my tenure as President.  Without pretending to be a constitutional scholar, expert, or lawyer, I have found direction, as well as inspiration, from studying it.  I would humbly advise all of you Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen, and indeed – all Liberians -- to study your Constitution well, for I find it to be the most useful and practical guide for those who would govern, and for those who are governed.  My assumption is that not everyone is familiar with the Constitution, as they ought to be. I will now beg your indulgence to allow me to make frequent references to it today as I address you.  In some instances I will read extensively from it.”

The President also said:

 “According to Article 60 of the Constitution, the salaries of the President and the Vice President are established by the Legislature, and cannot be increased or reduced during the period for which they are elected.  However, in view of the very rapidly deteriorating situation of the economy, I am informing you today, with immediate effect, that I will reduce my salary and benefits by 25% and give the proceeds back to the Consolidated Fund for allocation and appropriation as they see fit”.

Judging from the above, I am strongly convinced that President Weah deliberately contravened and breached Article 60 of the Organic Law of the Land (the Constitution). Although his passion to give back 25% of his salary and benefits is laudable, the best he could have done was to say that he will personally give part of his salary and income to the poor or for whatever purpose he would wish. This means he cannot arbitrarily reduce his salary and benefits with immediate effect. This act is totally unconstitutional. I therefore think the President needs very good policy advisers.


Thursday, 28 September 2017

Don't Compromise the Impending Elections in Liberia

                                                                   Be warned:
The National Elections Commission and President Sirleaf must not compromise the 10 October 2017 presidential and legislative elections.

On 17 September 2017, President Sirleaf met with the 19 Magistrates of the National Elections Commission and a select group of members of the Board of Commissioners of NEC including its Chairperson, Cllr. Jerome Kokoya.  At that meeting, the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) who is also the Resident Coordinator of the UN Country Team and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN was present.

Based on our intelligence, one major thing occurred during that meeting. We are reliably informed that the President and team present have committed to give each magistrate twenty thousand United States Dollar ($20,000. US). The reasons for this are for them to sway the elections result in favor of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), and accommodate one thousand (1000) poll supervisors in four of the vote rich counties including Montserrado, Nimba, Bong, Lofa and Grand Bassa.  The One thousand names are said to come from the CDC. Based on our intelligence, an additional 700 names from the CDC have been suggested by Chairman Kokoya to become poll supervisors in the rest of the eleven counties.

It is bad and unacceptable to approach magistrates on such matters. They are being pressured daily to replace elections supervisors that have been recruited with partisans of the CDC. Obviously, the ultimate intent of this is to compromise the outcome of the 10 October 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections. We strongly condemn this malicious maneuvering and wish to send a strong warning to those involved. Any attempt to compromise the results of the impending elections would meet a stiff resistance from the social democratic forces of the Land.

It is also unacceptable for the UN Resident Coordinator to begin having meetings with the President, magistrates and some Board of Commissioners at the private residence of the President. If he has good intentions, he must hold meetings either at UN premises or at the offices of the National Elections Commission.

May God guide our steps as we move to elections day.



Monday, 3 April 2017

For Abusing VP Boakai, NDC Condemns Charles Brumskine


                                              




SPECIAL PRESS STATEMENT
31 MARCH 2017

The National Democratic Coalition (NDC) calls on Liberians everywhere not to be disinformed by Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine and the Liberty Party about the sociopolitical realities of Liberia. In addressing rumors that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf prefers and is quietly supporting Cllr. Brumskine to succeed her as the next President of Liberia, the Liberty Party political leader, Cllr. Brumskine, mischaracterized Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai and wrongly depicted him as someone employing the “Congo–Country divide” in politics in Liberia! Sadly, Cllr. Brumskine, who was once a strong supporter of Charles Taylor whose record is unhidden regarding the destruction of Liberia and his plan to destabilize the sub-region, tacitly likened Vice President Boakai to self-serving individuals who exploit political opportunism, exploit the people, destroy the country, and enrich themselves at the peril of ordinary people, including struggling women, children, and students. Here is what Cllr. Brumskine said, which was reported in the FrontPage Africa newspaper:

‘Da -Country man business the people will eat; will that help market women and men to move from market stalls into stores?’ ‘Da -Country man business that will help the poor people children to get into good schools? ‘Da Kongo-Country man business that will take healthcare to Liberians who live in the country side, so that pregnant women will not continue to die in child birth? ‘Da Kongo-Country- man business that will help our farmers grow bigger farms?
NDC sees Cllr. Brumskine’s comments as ill-advised and as an outburst of emotion bordered on fear of the Vice President. It has become clear that VP Boakai has emerged as the hope and unifying statesman for ordinary Liberians and as such has become a threat and obstacle to the interest of the relics of the establishment class in its desperate political desire to maintain the old political statusquo after Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s tenure expires in January 2018. NDC believes that ordinary Liberians across the lengths and breadths of the country prefer the Vice President because they believe he is a well-experienced, educated, mature, and sober indigenous leader capable of addressing the fundamental ills of the country, including the “Country-Congo” divide through genuine reconciliation, equitable distribution of the national wealth, promotion of education and health as an outcome of huge investment in infrastructural development in the truest sense of the word.

NDC calls on Cllr. Brumskine and his Liberty Party not to present and use the Vice President as a scapegoat for Liberia’s intractable sociopolitical, economic, and historical problems. The 1847 Liberian State of ex-slaves was established and run for more than a century on the doctrine of social exclusion. Despite the 1980 Coup that dislocated the settler hegemony and promised fundamental changes for our common good as a nation, we are yet to see basic sociopolitical and economic changes in Liberia.  

The brutal civil war we suffered was never about liberating and uniting Liberians; it was more about self-serving individuals arrogating unto themselves the right to wage war so that they could grab political power for plunder, self-enrichment, and vengeance. Unlike Vice President Boakai who did not support and benefit from the war, Cllr. Brumskine did support and benefit from the brutal civil war in Liberia.

Moreover, arguably, nothing has fundamentally changed in 14 years of so-called peacebuilding in post-war Liberia.  The arrogance and the lack of remorsefulness on the part of remnants of the old order remains entrenched.  Brumskine and the class he belongs to believe they are the only ones that should preside over the state and control economic power while the vast majority of the population remains poor farmers and house boys and girls.

Can Cllr. Brumskine reconcile Liberia? Is he oblivious of the Country-Congo divide in Liberia?  Can he tell us which leader in the history of Liberia that has solved the Country-Congo divide whether by reconciliation or far-reaching reforms?

NDC thinks when Cllr. Brumskine talks about the native-settler divide in such a flimsy and careless manner, it means he is naïve, and has not understood the actual reality of Liberia’s political, social, and economic problems. Any leader failing to admit the problems in Liberia and who pretends that the settlers versus the indigenous majority problem has ceased to exist, such a person is either a fake leader or a downright political demagogue, undeserving of leading.

The NDC likes to note that it is not sufficient to handpick someone from the indigenous group as a vice presidential running mate. Addressing the “native-settler” divide in Liberia requires genuine actions, which Cllr. Brumskine has not demonstrated over the years. We saw Charles Taylor, to whom Cllr. Brumskine served as a legal advisor, slaughter many indigenous political leaders under the pretext of war.  He killed Jackson F. Doe, Gabriel Kpolleh, David Dwanyan, Stephen Yekerson, Sam Dokie and his family, Vice President Enoch Dogolea, John Yomie, Prof. Isaac Vaye, and many others, primarily because of the “Country-Congo” divide. What was Cllr. Brumskine’s stance on these killings?

Today, the people of Nimba are asking Harrison Karnweah about the sons of Nimba who were slaughtered in cold blood. In fact, Mr. Karnweah must account to the people of Liberia for his role in gun running and arms trade in the South-Eastern region where he was undeservingly awarded the operation of the Cavalla Rubber Plantation during Mr. Taylor’s rebel war. The arms he supplied to rebels in the South-Eastern region led to the countless deaths of our compatriots. The best place for Brumskine and his running mate is a Special Criminal Tribunal, not the Executive Mansion. 

Cllr. Brumskine, in his comments, further claimed that VP Boakai is an elite who has accumulated wealth over the years, and should not be considered as a poor man, or as someone from the grassroots. Here is what the LP political leader said:

‘Today, the supporters of H.E. Joseph N. Boakai present him as a poor man from Lofa, and that he would understand the plight of poor people. But don’t be fooled, Joseph N Boakai is not poor like you or even as me. As Vice President, his office receives more money from the government budget than any other Vice President has received in Liberia’s history.’
‘He has enjoyed some of the best and most lucrative government jobs — Minister of Agriculture, Ambassador, Managing Director of the LPMC, at the time when LPMC had money, and several other positions. Vice President Boakai might have been poor a long ago, but today he is among the richest one percent of Liberians who are enjoying the best of this country.’
‘While the Office of the Vice President has received nearly US$9 million from the 2014 fiscal year to now, the total spending on health institutions in Lofa, his home county, for the same three-year period was only US$3,406,881. Only US$1,350,000 is proposed for Lofa health institutions for the 2017/2018 fiscal year.’
NDC takes delight in the fact that Cllr. Brumskine seems to know more about the VP and is educating the public. Quite interesting. What is even more interesting is the fact that at one point in time Cllr. Brumskine described VP Boakai as being “weak” and as a “sleeping” Vice President! How can someone who is “weak” continue to enjoy “some of the best and most lucrative government jobs” in Liberia?  Isn’t it counter-intuitive for a “sleeping” Vice President to assist in steering the ship of national affairs without a civil war like the one Cllr. Brumskine supported during the Charles Taylor’s era?

As the Legal Counsel for Mittel Steel and LAC, can Cllr. Brumskine tell the Liberian people the annual net profits of these foreign companies?  Can he also tell us his annual legal retainer fees from LAC and Mittel Steel?  Can Cllr. Brumskine tell the Liberian people how much his boss Charles Taylor made annually as President? Can he tell the Liberian people exactly how much Charles Taylor stole from Liberia? Can he disclose how much Charles Taylor and the NPFL paid him when he argued against the presence of the international peacekeeping force (ECOMOG) in Liberia vis-à-vis the status of forces agreement (SOFA)? These are questions the NDC would like for the Liberty Party Leader to answer publicly for the benefit of Liberians everywhere. In addition, can Cllr. Brumskine tell the Liberian people if Charles Taylor had anything called annual budget, and was there a difference between the Central Bank of Liberia and his White Flower Residence in Congo town? Brumskine needs to answer these questions also because he brags about being a President Pro-Tempore.

On the issue of Cllr. Brumskine’s assertion that ‘He (Boakai) has enjoyed some of the best and most lucrative government jobs — Minister of Agriculture, Ambassador, Managing Director of the LPMC, at the time when LPMC had money, and several other positions; this brings us to the critical area of the corrupt, patronage and neo-patrimonial attitude Liberia’s ruling class brings to public sector governance.  What Cllr. Brumskine insinuates is that the running of government is not and should not be about service, but about the grab of “lucrative government jobs”. By extension of this shameful attitude about government, Cllr. Brumskine’s desperate desire to become president of Liberia is all about to grab a “lucrative government job”.

The fundamental issue on good and democratic governance that Cllr. Brumskine fails to address is one that borders on CONFLICT O INTEREST, which the current Code of Conduct should have but deliberately failed to address. He is legal advisor for major trans-national and multi-national corporations in Liberia (LAC, Mittel Steel, etc.) while running for the highest seat of government.  How does he address this critical governance issue?  Where does his loyalty lie?  Which of these, LAC and Mittal Steel, on the one hand, and the Liberian State and people, on the other? 

Is he prepared to serve?  Under the True Whig Party, Tubman and Richard Henries, for example, while serving as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively, simultaneously served as lawyers for Firestone and LAMCO Companies. They used their public positions to protect the interests of private companies and suppress local people and trade unions. These are the issues Cllr. Brumskine should address, and not distract from the fundamental issues.

In concluding, the NDC would like to comment on Cllr. Burmskine’s claim that the President of Liberia has not given Liberty Party any support in cash or kind, and that she is not supporting his candidacy. The NDC considers this as highly laughable, untrue, and misleading. Don’t be fooled, Liberians. As Americans often say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Here are circumstantial pieces of evidence to support the preferential treatment provided by President Sirleaf to the Cllr. Brumskine and top officials of his Liberty Party:

a.       The appointment of a former Chairman of the LP, Mr. Israel Akinsiah, at the lucrative National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) as Vice President for Public Relations;

b.      The submission of Cllr. Brumskine’s credential to ECOWAS as Liberia’s representative to that regional body; albeit he was rejected, and Dr. Toga Gayweah MCcintosh was preferred to him (Brumskine)’;

c.       The political influence brought to bear to have Mittel Steel legal retainer ship with the Sherman and Sherman Law Firm abrogated and transferred to the Brumskine Law Firm, from which Cllr. Brumskine makes more than US$500,000.00 per annum. In this capacity, Mr. Brumskine has trumpeted the interest of a multinational cooperation over the interest of the impoverished people of Nimba and Bassa counties that are virtually living in slavery under Mittel Steel.

d.      The appointment of the sitting Chairman of the Liberty Chairman as Minister of State without Portfolio in the Office of the President. While serving in that office, the LP official also serves as “Special Prosecutor” and has been used to get at perceived political foes of President Sirleaf. Two victims of such political vengeance include Senator Varney Sherman and former Speaker Alex Tyler.

e.       The Brumskine Law Firm also provides legal retainer ship to the Liberian Agricultural Company (LAC) under which the people of Grand Bassa have lost many lives and continue to suffer forceful removal from their traditional land. Providing legal retainer ship for these lucrative transnational and multi-national corporations requires the blessing of the presidency;

f.        A surrogate of President Sirleaf and the former Chair of the LP, now “Special Prosecutor” jointly share a law firm through which thousands of dollars have been siphoned to support the Presidential bid of Mr. Brumskine

g.      There are many other shady deals currently taking place between the political leader of the LP and cronies of President Sirleaf in the direction of strengthening Cllr. Brumskine’s chances in the 2017 Elections, including the political cross over from the Unity Party to the LP by staunch cronies of President Sirleaf (the LFA boss, Mr. Musa Bility, the tax invader; and the former FDA boss and now vice running mate of the political leader of the LP).

If these counts do not represent tacit and substantial political support by Madam Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, to the LP, then we just don’t know what else support can be described.

Lastly, we should note that Cllr. Brumskine did not understand what VP Boakai said, to which he tried to respond but, either consciously or subconsciously, distorted. Vice President Boakai did not ‘say that President Sirleaf supports the Liberty Party’. What the Vice President said was that ‘the people are saying that the President supports the Liberty Party. Therefore, the NDC is convinced that Brumkine’s attack on the Vice President is a gross display of arrogance, contemptuous, unwarranted, baseless, flimsy, and unfounded. The NDC thinks Brumskine is frustrated because, after President Sirleaf has made frantic effort three different times to persuade the Vice President to take Charles Brumskine as a running mate, he now reverts to distortion and attacks on the Vice President.

The NDC wishes to emphasize, that Joseph N. Boakai, the standard bearer of the Unity Party is the Presidential Candidate of the Coalition representing Liberia’s social democratic tendency.  As such, any attack on Vice President Boakai will be responded to appropriately.
Forward march Africa! Liberia First!

PUBLISHED BY DIRECTIVE OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE NDC.

Signed______________________________________
                            Ciapha S. Gbollie
       VICE CHAIRMAN FOR ADMINISTRATION

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Vice President Boakai on the move...

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Saturday, 21 May 2016

Remarks by Thomas Kaydor, Jr. at the Retreat held by
The St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Camp Johnson Road
On the importance of ecumenism at the residence of
Bro. Eugene H. Shannon, S.D. Cooper Road, Paynesville
Saturday, 14 May 2016 @ 11:00 A.M.
 I. Introduction
Hon. Eugene H. Shannon, the host of this memorable Men Retreat of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Monrovia, Liberia:
Bro. Solomon Rogers, Chairperson of the Retreat Committee:
Bro. Yilaa Wloti Se, the illustrious President of the Men Department of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church:
Rev. Dr. Canon James B. Sellee, Rector, St. Thomas Episcopal Church:
Delegates and observers present at this retreat; invited guests, distinguished ladies and gentlemen:
I bring you greetings from the Trinity Lutheran Church in New Matadi Estate, Sinkor, Monrovia, Liberia in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I also bring you greetings from my family that has permitted me to spend this time out on a national holiday. I am excited to have been selected by the Men Department of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church to share my ‘doctrinal’ views on the topic: “the relevance of ecumenism in our spiritual relationships and its impact on the integration of the Christian churches”. My reflection here today is fully grounded in the Holy Bible. I will therefore not be too academic, but simply attempt to provide a biblical analysis that befit your chosen topic.
II. What is Ecumenism?
The two terms “ecumenism” and “ecumenical” come from the Greek word οἰκουμένη (oikoumene), which means “the whole inhabited world“. This Greek word was historically used with specific reference to the Roman Empire relative to its conquering move of almost the whole world. Sadly today, the Greeks are embroiled into economic and social crises. I pray that God will see them though these difficult times. Ecumenical vision, as it stands today, comprises both the search for the visible unity of the Church (Ephesians 4:3) and the “whole inhabited earth” (Matthew 24:14) as the concern of all Christians.
Ecumenism is any effort aimed at the integration and unity of Christians throughout the world. The adjective ecumenical applies to any interdenominational initiative that encourages greater cooperation among Christians and their churches, whether or not the specific aim of that effort is full and visible unity.
Simply put, the goal of ecumenism is Christian unity and integration based on believe in the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). This is rooted in the prayer of Jesus Christ “that they all may be one” or “high priestly prayer” in his farewell discourse (John 17:20-26). This is understood as the “ecumenical mandate”: the imperative that all Christians have for working towards Christian unity, even as a pre-requisite for effective evangelization.
There are, however, a variety of different expectations of what Christian unity looks like, how it is brought about, what ecumenical methods ought to be engaged, and what both short- and long-term objectives of the ecumenical movement should be. For some, Christian unity means a clear, visible, and organic unity of sacramental life, worship, and ecclesial structures. For others it is sufficient to share a common Christian faith and to cooperate on certain joint ministries or tasks where beneficial, especially for evangelization and charitable service to humanity, mainly the weak, oppressed, poor and distressed. I belong to the later view.
III. What Ecumenism is not?
Ecumenism does not include efforts at better understanding and cooperation among different religions (i.e., Christianity with Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.). In such cases the appropriate term in my view is ‘Interfaith or Interreligious Dialogue’. The interfaith movement strives for greater mutual respect, tolerance, and co-operation among the world religions. There is no expectation of a unified religion as a result.
Ecumenism is not religious syncretism, “lowest-common-denominator” theology, or an effort to bring about “One World Religion” that is something other than Christianity. Nor is it “False Irenicism” or the “dumbing-down” of doctrine to the point of indifference.
IV. The Protestant Reformation and its implication on Christian Unity
The Protestant Reformation is historically attributed to the entire process through which Martin Luther despised and fought against the Roman Catholic teaching of “Indulgences”. Through this hideous teaching of Rome, it was said that salvation could be bought with money, Gold and Silver which eventually flowed into the Papal treasury. Luther wrote and nailed the 95 theses (points) against the doctrine of indulgences on the door of the castle church of Wittenberg. The points which he raised against indulgences spread throughout Germany within days; and within weeks had spread throughout Christendom. This unleashed the fury of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and Luther was declared a “heretic”.
Luther’s conviction was based on Romans 1:17 which states that “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH”. From this he saw the fallacy of the Roman Catholic teaching of trusting in human works for salvation. His eyes were opened to the delusions of the Papal Church. He therefore proclaimed that Christians should receive no other doctrines than those which rest upon the Sacred Scriptures. These words were to strike at the very heart of the Papal Church, and contained the vital principle of the Protestant reformation. So just as Luther, we must not fight amongst ourselves based on denominational differences, but rather fight against wrong teachings anywhere in any form or manner.
The reality is that the reformation has divided Christians into many denominations. But is that wrong for the purpose of evangelism? I say NO. The division has made Christ known to many; hence ecumenism must now be the basis of us all uniting and integrating not as one denomination under the Episcopal, Lutheran or Catholic denomination, but we must focus on Christ as the redeemer who died on the cross to set us free. It is this message that we must all propagate and build partnership in villages and towns, regions and states, continents and the entire world. The pain, suffering and agony of one Christian anywhere must be the pain, suffering and agony of Christians everywhere. This is what I call ‘true ecumenism’.
V. The Critique
Let me digress a little into some thought provoking ideas. The “Pope prayed for the ‘one human family’ desired by Christ… Marking the 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Jan. 16th 2011, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the “migration experience” of the Church and hoped for a future where all people consider themselves part of “one human family”. (Catholic News Agency, January 16th 2011)
“Pope Francis urged members of all religions and those belonging to no church to unite to defend justice, peace and the environment … Francis, the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, met leaders of non-Catholic Christian religions such as Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans and Methodists, Episcopalians, and others including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus.” (Vatican City, March 20th 2013)
In view of these, others argue: ‘since when did Christ Jesus “desire” the whole world to unite, no matter what they believed? God clearly told His people to “come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17). God also confirmed that “two people CANNOT walk together unless they be agreed” (Amos 3:3). So why establish the inter-faith Council, the “World Council of Churches” and the “National Council of Churches”.
These issues are mind boggling. However, I am here today to remind us all of the following:
Martin Luther said “cursed be that love and unity for whose sake the Word of God must be put to stake”! Also, Huge Latimer said “unity must be according to God’s Holy Word, or else it were better war than peace. We ought never to regard unity so much that we forsake God’s Word for unity’s sake.” (Italics mine)
In view of the above, our focus as Christians must be to preach the word of God, and strive to live according to biblical teachings keeping in mind Romans 3:23; and bear each other’s burden. We must have clear hearts and minds for one another. We must put away envy and destructive competition amongst us. We must stand for each other and pray for one another’s success. This is Ecumenism.
VI. Why Ecumenism is important and relevant in the 21st Century?
Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, then General Secretary, World Council of Churches, in his paper titled ‘New visions and challenges to ecumenism in the 21st century on 17 November 2006 in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, argues that ‘the formation of the World Council of Churches is arguably the most significant development in ecumenical history in the second half of the 20th century. But during the same period the ecclesial landscape changed in other significant ways including the multiplicity and proliferation of denominations and non-denominational churches (especially since the 1980s), the growth of Pentecostal and charismatic movements, and the increase of bilateral ecumenical dialogues’.
So in the 21st Century if ecumenism is the quest for Christian unity, it must be understood what the divisions are which must be overcome. Christianity has not been a monolithic faith since the first century or Apostolic Age. Christianity is the largest religion in the world (making up approximately one-third of the global population) and the various divisions have commonalities and differences in tradition, theology, church government, doctrine, and language. Christians are visibly divided into different communions or denominations, groupings of Christians and their churches that are in full communion with one another, but to some degree exclusive of other Christians.
In view of these, we must overcome the widespread practice of segregating against each other and calling one another all kinds of names. This brings us to one of the key elements in your topic: “how our spiritual relationships can impact the integration of Christian churches”. Can the spirit live in peace in an environment of agony, treachery, greed, poverty and wars? The obvious answer is no.
This is why in 1975, as liberation theology was rising to prominence, M.M. Thomas of India, then Moderator of the World Council of Churches’ Central Committee, spoke of the need for a “spirituality of combat” in confronting the principalities and powers of this life. In the 1980s the WCC-Urban Rural Mission (URM) sought the spirituality that undergirds the community of people engaged in the struggles for transformation of society including the mineral and natural resource rich state of Liberia. In Korea, for example, the Minjung theology was developed which provided the grounding for advocacy work by Christians during a very difficult period in the history of their country.
In Africa, especially in South Africa, Black Theology ‘became the most effective way of conscientizing the oppressed, and inspiring them in their struggles against racism, just as it had been the case with Africans in the diaspora (USA and elsewhere). The Theology of Liberation in Latin America and Caribbean is perhaps the most significant paradigmatic shift in respect to the struggles of the poor and speaking the truth to power. Incarnation as the liberating love, which is both a gift and a task to be fulfilled, informed and influenced theological and hermeneutical discourses in the “Christian world”. God’s preferential option for the poor and oppressed became common language in mainline ecumenical theology. Today Christians in the South and elsewhere are challenged to build on contextual theologies as part of their ecumenical social responsibility in addressing contemporary issues of justice, peace, human rights and reconciliation. What is needed is a spirituality that takes hold of real-world as well as local challenges, and will not let them go unresolved. Fellow men of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church, the time is now that you raise up your voices against the ills in our society.
Such a spirituality may begin in a profound encounter with the self (each and every one of us in here). But from the beginning we must be prepared to move beyond self into close community (our neighborhood, towns, clans, districts and counties), and from there into action in the world God loves (beyond national boundaries). According to Dr. Kobia, “in the solitude of self, we experience a yearning for companionship; in community we find the desire and commitment to help build a more just and caring world community; and, in our interaction with the world and its many people, the Holy Spirit will affirm our identity and give us a place to stand. From that stand, we will develop and nurture ecumenism for our times in the 21st century’.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, your Retreat today provides an opportunity for us to reflect on how Christians in the various denominations, communities, et al. need to unite, and then interact across denominational boundaries. Once such ecumenical spirit gains traction, it will be easier for us (Christians) to tackle and perhaps defeat the many ills in our society. Liberia can only become a better place for all (men, women and children) if we (Christians) in every corner of our land focus on Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and practice His teachings. We must move His teachings beyond congregations, tribes, political parties, et al. The Golden rule must be ‘do unto others as you wish them do unto you’.
Least I forget, what are we (men in Liberia) doing about the 2017 elections as Christians within the confines of ecumenism? Are we looking for candidates who can dig deep into their pockets and satisfy us in the short term, or we are concerned about a brighter future for our children and country? Are we supporting candidates based on parties, denominations, and tribes or we are supporting those with an outstanding track record of reconciling Liberians, and collectively using their talents to build us a great nation? It is about time that we speak out against those candidates that cause Liberia and Liberians the mayhem, pain, suffering, deaths, poverty and agony to gain their wealth. We need justice, not killers, we need God fearing leaders, not rogues, warlords, gays, lesbians, and war sponsors who parade the corridors of power in our country at the detriment of the poor and oppress. We need to therefore elect individuals that come clean of the rotten system. Did I say those without any sin or who have never worked in Government? No. Romans 3:23 puts it clear that ‘we all have fallen short of the Glory of God’… with this caveat, we must look for the lesser of the evils.
VII. Conclusion
As His Holiness Aram I argues: “there is no alternative to a dialogue that challenges all religions to go beyond their institutional and dogmatic boundaries to seek a common ground for living, reflecting and working together. With this understanding and vision, our churches are called to re-engage responsibly in this common adventure’. Given the complex and sensitive nature of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, the engagement of the churches must be constantly reviewed and re-assessed in a critical and realistic manner” (Report of the Moderator to the 2003 WCC Central Committee meeting, p.5).
I therefore call on us all here today and those afar to introspect and overcome selfish barriers, move into communities and build bridges of peace, hope and unity, and move across countries to spread the word of God, bringing peace, justice, freedom to mankind, integrating Christians, and helping the poor get out of abject poverty, and the oppressed get justice. This is our ecumenical calling and charge.
Thank you very much for inviting me.
Questions & Answers!!!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Global Witness Exposes Corruption in Liberia

Global Witness exposé released today has uncovered over US$950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments by UK mining firm Sable Mining and its Liberian lawyer, Varney Sherman. Responding to Global Witness’ findings, the government has pledged to investigate and hold those culpable to account.   
The report, The Deceivers (1), shows how in 2010 Sable hired Varney Sherman, Liberia’s best-connected lawyer and current Chairman of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party, in an effort to secure one of Liberia’s last large mining assets, the Wologizi iron ore concession in northern Liberia. Sherman told Sable that in order to obtain the contract the company must first get Liberia’s concessions law changed by bribing senior officials, according to a source familiar with the discussions. The account is backed up by leaked emails and company documents seen by Global Witness. (2)
According to the documents, Sherman then began distributing Sable’s money to some of Liberia’s most important government officials.
“Sable and Sherman paid bribes in order to change Liberia’s law and get their hands on one of its most prized assets, the Wologizi concession,” said Jonathan Gant, Senior Campaigner with Global Witness. “The government must act fast and investigate Sable, Sherman, and the officials they paid.”
The table below details the bribes listed in an account statement by Sable and Varney Sherman’s law firm, Sherman & Sherman:
Sable table
Global Witness uncovered other payments by Sable to officials and unidentified people referred to as “Bigboy 01” and “Bigboy 02.” While it is not clear why the company made these payments, some of those involved are key to approving contracts.
Fombah Sirleaf, son of President Johnson Sirleaf and head of Liberia’s National Security Agency also benefitted from Sable’s largesse. In 2011, Sirleaf went on a US$7,598 hunting trip to South Africa paid for by Sable, spending over US$1,000 in a gun shop alone. There is no evidence that Sirleaf provided Sable with any favours, although he was clearly a useful person to know.
The table below details other questionable payments made by Sable:
Sable Table 2
At the time that these payments were made, Sable Mining was headed by British businessmen Phil Edmonds and Andrew Groves. At the time that these payments were made, Sable Mining was headed by British businessmen Phil Edmonds and Andrew Groves. The Deceivers shows how, in addition to their misadventures in Liberia, the pair have siphoned millions from investors and hired a security agent who spied on and intimidated their business rivals. Details of Edmonds’ wealth are rare, but in 2012 he was reportedly worth some US$14 million. (3)
Despite the company’s corrupt tactics, Sable has not been awarded the Wologizi contract. However, in January 2015, Sable announced that it had received lucrative rights to transport iron ore from its Guinean concession to the Liberian coast on a railroad used by ArcelorMittal. (4) According to Sable the deal will greatly reduce the costs of its Guinean operations. The Liberian government states that it is negotiating with Sable, but has not yet given the company rights to the railroad. (5)
“The Liberian government has pledged to ‘spare no efforts’ investigating Sable’s activities in Liberia and has said it will ‘bring to justice anyone found to be culpable’.” said Gant. “After recent prosecutions of officials for bribery in the oil and forest sectors, it is time for the government to tackle bribery in the country’s biggest sector: mining.”
Sherman, who has represented investors such as Chevron and Firestone, has also benefitted from his dealings with Sable. A $200,000 payout from Sable’s funds labelled ‘political contribution – UP convention’ is dated 22 April 2010, less than three weeks before a Unity Party conference where Sherman was elected party Chairman.
At the same convention, Unity Party members elected Henry Fahnbulleh as Secretary General. Sherman opposed this and publicly demanded Fahnbulleh’s resignation. Documents seen by Global Witness show how, on 24 June, Sable paid out US$25,000, labelled as ‘Political contribution – UP Secretary General resignation.’ Fahnbulleh quit the next day.
If it is found that they broke the law, Liberian government officials should be removed from office and prosecuted, while Sherman should be disbarred and also face criminal charges. For its part, if Sable broke the law Edmonds and Groves should be prosecuted and Sable’s transportation licence should be revoked.
“Edmonds, Groves, Sherman, and the Liberian officials they paid should not be able to profit from corrupt, back-room deals,” said Gant. “Only through these actions will Liberia demonstrate that it is serious in its fight against corruption.”
When asked to comment on Global Witness’s findings, Sable said it conducts its business ‘in a responsible and ethical manner.’ It said it had conducted a review into the payments in 2011, but that no evidence implicating the company’s Board of Directors was found and financial controls were tightened as a result. The payments documented by Global Witness were made by Delta Mining, in which Sable had only a minority interest, the company said. But the payments came from Sable’s account and not Delta’s, a spreadsheet detailing bribe payments shows.
Global Witness attempted to contact those listed as having received payments or gifts. Tolbert, Belleh Kupee and Wotorson all denied taking bribes from Sable. Tolbert, however, did acknowledge accepting payments to the football team. Saytumah, Tyler, ECB Jones and Fombah Sirleaf did not respond to letters hand-delivered to their offices. Sherman declined to comment on grounds of confidentiality, although he acknowledged that his firm made unspecified payments from its Sable client account.

/ ENDS