Saturday, 19 March 2011

Sirleaf’s Diaspora Policy is Long Overdue

The Editor,

When Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became president she traveled the world,
especially across the United States encouraging Diaspora Liberians to
come home with their skills and money to help develop their country
a good idea one would think. With the exuberance of a new political
dispensation obtaining in Liberia, many Liberians took up the
president's offer; sold their homes, packed up and moved to Liberia to
live their dreams. I think people naively believed that the system of
corruption would disappear overnight hence the election of a
no-nonsense, anticorruption president. But to the surprise of many it
would be their worst decision ever, perhaps a nightmare. The vampires
within the corrupt government bureaucracies awaited these
unsuspecting, exuberant homecoming Liberians.

By the time you were done paying numerous bribes and going through
onerous red tape to get anything accomplished, one was almost out of
money. For many it meant selling their personal belongings at a huge
financial loss and then returning to the United States to start life
all over again. In fact a director in Customs at the Ministry of
Finance complained that many Liberians were coming, taking advantage
of duty free privilege only to sell their belongings and returning to
the United States. Well he may have been right on both issues but
there were good reasons why people were doing that. Notwithstanding
the government failed to find out the root cause of people returning
to the United States after going through so much to make the journey
home. Some brave souls shared their epic stories online detailing the
hideous corrupt bureaucracy at the Freeport and other government
agencies. Some were simply too embarrassed to tell their stories
The mistake Sirleaf made was that unlike Rwanda or a handful of
African countries that have systems in place for returning Diasporas,
no system were put in place to accommodate these homecoming Liberians.
Consequently people were left to the vices of the corrupt bureaucracy
which robbed them of their hard earned cash before they even had a
chance to settle in Liberia. That was a lost opportunity for the
country and a failure of government to cease an opportunity which
would have contributed to socio- economic development of the country.
So when I read a recent article on FrontPage Reconnect with Homeland:
Sirleaf Tells Visiting Diaspora Liberians I thought why did it take
five years for her to address this important issue? I am sure she had
over the past five years heard complaints from many Liberians when she
visited the United States. However, it is better late than never but
now she must deliver a real solution. I am encouraged by her plan to
speed-up the dual-citizenship law. Secondly, any Diaspora program put
in place must be directed from the President's office to give it the
credibility it deserves otherwise people will have doubts. The
nightmarish stories are still fresh in the minds of many across the
Once the program is up and running there should be a link on the
Executive Mansion website where people can go to learn about the
program. On the website there should be a means to send and receive
emails. In other words one should be able to interact with staff
running the program. People should be able to ask questions and get
answers in a timely manner - within a couple of business days, not
weeks or months, or never. All these things will give the program the
credibility it deservers otherwise Diaspora Liberians will not have
the confidence to risk relocating to or investing in Liberia.
Philemon George,


Political Massaging in Ivory Coast

The Editor,
Was it a political Massaging or the West African bloc is speaking
straight from the heart? The recent suspension of Ivory coast from the
ECOWAS regional bloc sent a strong message across the borders that
political landscape had changed for the better and it had come to stay
forever. However, the leaders, too need to be very careful because
their pronouncement should not be influenced by UN. For example, since
the conduct of the election,the regional bloc had not given out their
own assessment reports why they think Mr. Quattara wins off front
besides reports from the UN only. Why ECOWAS thinks that those who
voted in Ouattara's controlled areas did it without fear. The red flag
now is Ouattara had appointed a former rebel, Guillaum Soro as Prime
Minister. Does that sound familiar or rings bell? Similar thing
happens in Liberia when Taylor wins, it was the same International
community that says, Liberians voted in fear that why Taylor won.
While it's truth that we had chosen election not war, democracy over
old orders, we should not act like cowards or give an emotional
response to our people. Ask Uncle Sam whether isolation really works?
anyway, CUBA still going strong after every administration in America.
If we really love our people, we should not sell them to devil,
Menker Casey
Worcester, MA.


Critics: Congratulate and Commend President Sirleaf for Efforts Thus Far

Kadiker Rex Dahn, Phd,   

In good faith, President Sirleaf invited a number of Liberians at home and abroad to join her government. What the President did not know was that a number of these invitees would willfully engage in acts that she detests: corruption, mismanagement and embezzlement. Some of these officials with tainted records have been suspended or dismissed from the government and legal actions probably may ensue. Those who audit reports incriminated at an appropriate time also may be on their way to court. It seems to me that critics are asking for too much too soon; it is about time, that they shut their mouths and give the President a chance.
The President is not culpable for the misdeeds of these dismissed corrupt officials. The President is not omnipresent nor is she omniscient. She does not know the secret under workings of her officials; she should not be held liable for their shenanigans. The President alone cannot do all of the jobs in Liberia. To ensure efficiency, she appointed a number of our fellow country men and women to key positions. Some of these appointees let down the President and in doing so, they let down our Country. The President did not know how these suspended or dismissed officials were going to conduct themselves except what each affirmed to her when each took an oath of office: honesty, transparency, responsibility and accountability. Now that she knew, their conducts, she acted by dismissing, suspending and turning some of them over to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution. We must congratulate and commend the President for her decision. Whether living or deceased, no leader in patriarchal Liberia ever approached the issue of corruption like President Sirleaf.
Corruption in our society is ingrained and this is due in part by men who were once our leaders. There was not a single man who held the Presidency of our Country that indeed was a true reformer. These men only preached but failed to live what they preached. Since independence, men who had ruled our country had been self-seeking. Some of these so-called leaders and government officials squandered our resources; embezzled our country’s money, lavished our resources on girl friends, bought luxurious homes in Western countries and sent their sons and daughters to attend some of the best schools the world could offer; while majority of our children, brothers and sisters wandered on the streets. A number of these very recycled politicians and want-to-be presidents, today, are in our midst and many of them are criticizing the President for not moving promptly in dismissing and prosecuting corrupt officials. How sincere are these critics and want-to-be presidents? Since 1847, apart from an interregnum when Senator Ruth Perry served as a Chairlady in one of the transitional governments during the civil war, no woman had had the opportunity to serve as the Chief Executive Officer apart from President Sirleaf. So, from 1847 to 2005, patriarchal leadership corrupted and destroyed our country and from 2006 to 2009, critics want President Sirleaf to immediately address and fix those “cultural liabilities” inherited from years of incompetence and corruption.
In Liberia, we have a social disease that I call cultural dishonesty. By cultural dishonesty, I am speaking in terms of Liberians tendency to lie, cheat, manipulate for selfish gains, corrupt, embezzle and the list goes on. Whenever a person obtains position in a government in Liberia or holds some prestigious position, the tendency is to corrupt and steal. Often, critics criticize when they are not in positions of power, but when the opportunity comes, they become more corrupt. Since independence, from one administration to the next, this has been one of the sad habitual practices in Liberia.
We associate dishonesties, deceptions, lies and corruptions with politicians but in practice, we are known to have been partakers of similar dishonesties. Again because of dishonesty, some of us are not willing to admit the authenticity of my claims.   
Studies on Liberia (Yoder, 2003; Dahn, 2008) indicate that dishonesty in Liberia is a cultural problem. I pointed out in my book that dishonesty in Liberia was a social disease in the form of a cancer and therefore, a radical surgery was need to save our society. We see dishonesty in our schools, ministries of government, ports of entry, streets, homes and obviously, in every fabric of our society. Because of dishonesties, we do not trust to entrust one another with anything; we are apprehensive when we are dealing with one another because of the fear of being outweighed by a con man.
It has been persuasively demonstrated by scholars (Dahn, 2008, Yoder, 2003) that Liberians like to bribe. In fact a number of those in government agencies and corporations, who supposedly collect our bills, routinely, one might argue, convert some of the money into their personal savings accounts for self- aggrandizement. Some officials of government embezzle and misapply public funds for self-enrichment. If these are some of the behaviors of those in power, one must ask, how do we expect our country to prosper?  What kind of society or country do we want to pass to our children and generations to come after them? We do not want to continuously be “cultural thieves” and corrupt government officials; do we? We do not want to continuously “bankrupt” our children’s future; do we? What kind of value do we want to transmit to our children? These acts are “cultural miseducations” culminating in “cultural liabilities” at the detriment of our generation as well as our children.
Dishonesty, my fellow Liberians, drains, destroys and undermines our economy. Again, to accentuate, germane to those problems we face in Liberia is cultural dishonesty.  As stated above, Liberians find it difficult to sincerely trust one another. A nation, in which its people and political leaders lack trust, is destined to face political, socioeconomic, moral and generational problems. This is the type of culture that was inherited by President Sirleaf. While it is true that some of us are praying for an absolute obliteration of these cultural evils from our society, I am sorry to say that it will not evaporate overnight. In the case of weeding out corrupt officials, genuine change needs to be gradual and methodical. It will require perseverance, dismissals, indictments and prosecutions. President Sirleaf has taken these routes and as a society, here and now, we must cease some of the senseless criticisms; instead, we must congratulate and commend the President for her efforts thus far. We must rally around her. In these tumultuous times in the history of our country, let us remain resolute and hopeful. I am convinced this President is a gift to the Liberian people sent from God. Among those present political players in Liberia, I am not certain whether any of them could sincerely deliver on political promises and implement reforms better than President Sirleaf.  Look at the records of those critics. Again, one must ask, are the rhetorical jargons of these critics sincere or simply masquerading to score some cheap political points? You decide!
 Her Excellency, do not be deterred. You have “fought a good fight.” Keep the momentum.  The Country is on your side. In fullness of time, your critics will acknowledge your achievements and will cross over to you. Pragmatically, the present is promising and the future is brighter. The struggle continues!

About the author: Kadiker Rex Dahn holds a PhD in Education. He is Deputy Minister of Education for Planning, Research, and Development. Contact: