The recent violence by Nimba County youth against Arcelor Mittal was a reprehensible act that deserves the condemnation of not the President and the Nimba Legislative Caucus, but all Liberians.The whole matter should be thoroughly investigated, and the perpetrators brought to justice. The government has to set an example this time and make it unmistakably clear that violence in the settlement of disagreements will not be tolerated and will be punished.Surely, not only Nimba youth, but all Nimbaians and most Liberians, are not happy with Arcelor Mittal’s handling of its concession agreement.The company has been accused of not faithfully executing the full agreement. Several months ago when Nimba youth occupied the railway in Nimba, preventing the shipment of ore, this newspaper, the Daily Observer, called the attention of the nation to what aroused the youth’s anger. We mentioned the accusation that not much is happening at the center of Arcelor’s operations, Yekepa, where there is hardly any evidence of development taking place there, but only the rush to get the iron ore out. Even the first-class hospital which LAMCO operated is still in disrepair, several years after Arcelor took over the operations. There were also complaints of joblessness, even though we acknowledge that many of the youth lack the technical skills the company requires. There is also the issue of the Ganta-Yekepa road that the company agreed to pave. But several Dry Seasons have passed and we see no action there.So there is a lot to complain about against Arcelor Mittal. In our editorial, we warned the company, as we have done with most concessionaires, including China Union in Bong Mines and Golden Veroleum in Sinoe County, that it is one thing to sign a concession agreement with government, and another to WORK WITH THE PEOPLE ON THE GROUND. These LOCAL PEOPLE, not the bureaucrats in Monrovia who signed the agreement, are the first to feel the impact of the agreement. The company must, therefore, work with the local people for the sake of peace and progress. One concessionaire which has finally learned this critical lesson is Golden Veroleum. In the beginning and for some time, there were constant and intense quarrels between the company and the Sinoe people. But the company finally came to realize that in any work environment, peaceful coexistence is crucial, otherwise the work will be impeded. Today Golden Veroleum and Sinonians people are working harmoniously together and things are smoothly progressing on the oil palm plantation.China Union, too, seems to have learned this lesson. They have considerably eased the tension between themselves and the local people in the Fauma Chiefdom by making serious progress on the Kakata-Bong Mine-Haindii highway, and despite other remaining issues, the people are reasonably pleased. We cannot, unfortunately, say the same thing about Arcelor Mittal. Is it Indian stubbornness, mean-spiritedness, or what? Why is this company so impervious to people’s legitimate complaints? Why can‘t this multibillion-dollar enterprise take care of the minimal concerns of the people whose resources they have come here to exploit. Did this company really do no research to find the truth of what happened in Yekepa in the 1960s through the 1980s—how the Nimba and the Liberian people got very little out of LAMCO, which departed with billions of dollars from our iron ore, leaving Nimbaians— Liberians—impoverished?Surely, the public saw Arcelor Mittal’s impressive and colorful spread in yesterday’s newspaper; but nothing of the Ganta-Yekepa road, nor did the photo of the hospital repair tell much.Yet the Liberian government is especially good and kind to Arcelor Mittal. Recently the government, in return for US$75 millilon, gave it mining rights also to Mount Tokadi in Nimba.Arcelor Mittal must, therefore, understand that the Liberian government is serious about doing business with her. By the same token, the company must realize that it HAS TO WORK WITH THE LOCAL PEOPLE, and engender peaceful coexistence in their area of operations—and with all Liberians.Let us be unmistakably clear, however, that as much as we criticize the Indians in Yekepa, we also unreservedly and emphatically condemn the violence perpetrated by the Nimba youth and urge the Liberian government to set an example this time.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Special Statement to the Nation by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Delivered Sunday, November 16, 2014 My fellow Liberians: Even as we continue to combat the Ebola virus and strive to achieve our national objective of zero-new-cases by Christmas, we must also attend to what will be a difficult job of recovery – recovery to the health care system so that we deliver health care services all across the country and are better prepared for any epidemic of the size and scale of Ebola; recovery to the economy so that we are repositioned to produce more opportunities and afford decent and better living conditions for all our people; recovery to governance so that notwithstanding the superficial differences which haunt the body politic, we can still remain enjoined behind the common purpose of national healing and reconstruction. This requires a team that is adaptable, responsive, disciplined, loyal, and focused – a team that is understanding of the prevailing challenges, and are resolved to respond by taking appropriate risks to get things done on time. It is my job to continuously vet and ready such a team for the challenges we currently face and those that lie ahead. And so today, I announce a number of changes to the Executive Branch of the Government. A few are transferred or reassigned, signifying our recognition of their capabilities and performance. Others are dropped from where they served, but will be given appropriate opportunities to continue to serve the country. I am deeply grateful for the services and contribution of all of those we who have served or continue to serve. We are not short on expectation that going forward, each working day – indeed each working hour – will be spent not only on catching up and continuing with the transformational agenda of the country but also to exploring creative new approaches by which we deliver on the agenda within the limited time of our stewardship. My hope is that this team will take us to the finish line. But make no mistake: As Captain, I will not hesitate to change anyone who fails to meet our expectations. With these remarks, I am pleased to make the following initial appointments, others to follow at a subsequent time: Ministry of Public Works Mr. William Gyude Moore, Minister Mr. Roland Giddings, Deputy Minister for Administration Ministry of Education Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell, Minister Dr. Nancy Freeman, Deputy Minister for Administration Mr. Anthony Nimely, Deputy Minister for Planning, Research and Development National Investment Commission Mrs. Etmonia David Tarpeh, Chairperson Ministry of Health Mr. George Werner, Minister Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection Mrs. Julia Duncan-Cassell, Minister Mr. Peter Roberts, Deputy Minister for Administration Mrs. Sienne Abdul-Baki, Deputy Minister for Gender Mrs. Mardia Martin Wiles, Deputy Minister for Policy, Planning & Technical Services Mrs. Lydia Sherman, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Protection Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Wede Brownell, Deputy Minister for Administration Ms. Albratha Doe, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Ministry of Transport Mr. Bushuben M. Keita, Deputy Minister for Administration Ministry of Commerce & Industry Mr. Cyril Allen, Jr., Deputy Minister for Commerce Mr. Mohammed Turay, Assistant Minister for Industry National AIDS Commission Ms. Candace Eastman, Commissioner (replacing Ms. Wessehdi Sio-Njoh) Ministry of Youth & Sports Mr. Ramses Kumbuyah, Deputy Minister for Administration (replacing Ms. Jacqueline Capehart) Ministry of Lands, Mines & Energy Mr. Zack Sharpe, Deputy Minister for Administration Ministry of Information Mr. Andrew Tehmeh, Deputy Minister for Administration (to replace Norris Tweah who moves on to the University of Liberia) Ministry of Internal Affairs Ms. Gbemie Horace Kollie, Deputy Minister for Operations (replacing Mr. Ranney Jackson) Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications Ms. Margretta Smith-General, Assistant Minister for Administration (replacing Mr. James Cooper) Liberia Broadcasting System Mr. Ledgerhood Rennie, Director General Mr. Patrick Honnah, Deputy Director General for Broadcasting Mr. Christopher Sellee, Deputy Director General for Rural Comms The special word on the change in the Ministry of Health. Dr. Gwenigale will continue to serve as Advisor until his planned retirement in February.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Dear Editor,If the article, “Calls grow for King’s removal”, in regard to a recent correspondence from Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan to Mayor of Georgetown Patricia Chase-Green is accurate, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, I welcome the minister’s wise counsel, and hope Her Worship acquiesces to giving the information the Minister has requested.Editor, while I agree with our subject minister in principle, my only reservation here would be that all the information necessary might not be forthcoming, especially since the very information being sought has the potential of indicting the suppliers.I will not be brash to suggest culpability or complicity by any means on any individual; but what would the reasonable man think?Additionally, while I dare not impugn the noble office of the minister, or his wisdom on such matters, my own humble reading on such delicate issues suggests that no reasonable person would want to incriminate themselves: exposing oneself to an accusation or charge of crime, or bringing oneself in danger of a criminal prosecution.As I have said before Local Government Elections 2016 and subsequently, there is a dire need for an independent, complete financial audit of City Hall. Information indicates that we, the “new” Councillors, inherited $180 million in our city coffers, since that time to now, even with numerous financial injections from Central Government, City Hall records billion-dollar debts currently with no end in sight.The Auditor General’s Report to the National Assembly on the spending of funds of the Georgetown Restoration Programme left little to be desired of the Council’s financial and accounting system. And with the $200 million earmarked for the city in the 2018 Budget, I am not confident the people of our beloved city would feel the full benefit if we put new wine in old wineskins.Editor, I have offered before that we ought to sit down as a Council and construct a business plan for the city, but we need to know where we were, and where we are, before we can know where we ought to be heading. We need, as is said colloquially, to “ketch our bearings”.Having the right information, accurate information, would be a good compass. And this city, with it latent potential to be a real international city, needs a better captain. Let me be clear at this point: I am not interested in the job as much as I am ready to exert more energy at the oars and chart a new course with my fellow Councillors. The potential and promise of City Hall must become performance; must become reality.That our Honourable Minister had to require “a complete list of all contracts, leases, sales, and any other transactions involving assets (real estate, equipment, etc.) under the control of council between the dates of assuming office in April 2016 to the present” tells us of the gravity of the situation, and locates for us where we are.This is a crisis of administration and management. We have a crisis of leadership. When a billion-dollar company is failing, the board does not fire all the workers; it fires the management, and brings in new people to turn things around. It is time!I believe in our Government to understand the fierce urgency of the moment. The Town Clerk has, by his own actions, disqualified himself from playing any meaningful role in the city going forward. We must act.Sherod Avery DuncanCity Councillor
Dear Editor,There has been a lot of language of defiance following the CCJ’s ruling of June 18. Losing a no-confidence vote is not the end of political life. As the CCJ said, a no-confidence vote is an aspect of democratic governance in parliamentary democracies. It is used to hold governments accountable to Parliament and to the voters by way of their representatives. So many regimes (governments) and political leaders lost a no-confidence vote in recent times (including in the UK, Australia, Austria, Greece, Spain, Portugal, etc). Political life goes on. Some make a comeback; others quit. Democracy is strengthened and corruption is lessened. This is how countries get better governance. Rulers become fearful they could lose power if they don’t govern in the best interests of the nation. No one is cheated. All benefit from a no-confidence vote; a country learns from it. So why the defiance?A ruler must not take measures to evade the consequences of a successful no-confidence vote by taking instruction from the elections commission to set a date for elections. The law states that the President has to dissolve Parliament and hold elections within ninety days. Guyana is perhaps the worst case of a government seeking to avoid elections after a no-confidence vote by invoking the name of the elections commission as an excuse. The law does not state that the President must consult with GECOM on its preparedness for elections. The elections commission is supposed to be permanently prepared for elections because a government can fall anytime. In fact, the law states that that the voters’ list must be continuously updated in preparation for elections. There is continuous identity registration of fourteen-year-olds so that eligible voters (attaining 18) would be on the voters’ list. Saying the list is not ready is a lame excuse. Saying that the list has names of the dead and migrants is also a lame excuse; those dead and migrants were also on every voters’ list including the one used last November for the local elections and last May 2015 elections that catapulted the coalition to office.No ruler should be fearful of facing the electorate – the true bosses of the politicians. A ruler can very well win re-election after losing a no-confidence vote or when counted out of the voting ring. Just last month, the Australian PM won re-election when he was all but counted out. The rulers of Austria, Greece, Israel, and several other countries have decided to face the electorate after the Parliament lost confidence in them (even though a formal vote was not taken). The ruler of the United Kingdom decided to step down after failing to get a majority of MPs to back her. We should not forget that former President Donald Ramotar “fired himself” rather than face a no-confidence vote – that is an option of a country and is also an aspect of democracy. Basdeo Panday of Trinidad also fired himself in December 2001 and called elections that he lost rather than face a no-confidence vote.President David Granger is a military man and I am sure he will do the right and honourable thing; he knows what are orders and will subject himself to the orders of the court (CCJ). I am confident the President will dissolve Parliament very soon and begin consultation with the Opposition Leader on the replacement of his unilateral appointee of GECOM Chair.The court was very clear that the appointment of James Patterson violated the Constitution. The President was misadvised that he could act unilaterally in appointing the Chair of GECOM. The court has so informed him that the process he used to appoint Patterson was flawed and a violation of the Constitution. There must be consultation with the Opposition Leader, who will provide six names and the President will choose one as GECOM Chair; there is no way around that process. I think President Granger will act accordingly.Separately, I am disappointed with the incendiary language used by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Finance Minister Winston Jordan – “there is going to be war” if there is no house-to-house registration. Both know that the law does not call for house-to-house registration, in fact, the CCJ also made reference to this point. That kind of militant language of violence belongs to a bygone era. As the CCJ judges said, the country can’t go back to the period of Burnhamism or authoritarian rule. The law is very clear that once a government loses a no-confidence vote, it must resign, serve as a caretaker, and hold elections within ninety days. The CCJ will not allow a violation of the Constitution, having drawn heavily from the language in the Constitution in rendering the unanimous judgment in favour of the no-confidence vote.Even the court noted that there is no need for house-to-house registration of voters; names not on the list can be added. Those who migrated or the dead, the latter in particular, can’t turn up to vote or can the latter vote as happened in 1968, 1973, 1978, 1980, and 1985.Nagamootoo has had a reputation of championing democracy since his high school days in the 1960s. It would be disingenuous of him to evade democratic practices by threatening violence if Government does not get its way. That is not the result of a no-confidence vote and how the system works. The no-confidence vote allows the polity to cleanse or revitalise itself.All sides must pull back on this talk of violence, desist from advocating delayed elections, and respect the rule of law as clarified by the learned judges of the CCJ – new elections within ninety days from June 24.Yours truly,Dr Vishnu Bisram
The forensic audit conducted into the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) has revealed that the India-based company that was contracted to supply the Government of Guyana with drainage pumps was also supposed to provide several spares, but failed to do so.According to the audit report, compiled by Nigel Hinds, of the US$2.9 million paid to Surendra Engineering Corporation Limited of Mumbai, India, for the acquisition of pumps, some US$126,000 was for the supply of spares.“The spares were never received by NDIA,” the auditor revealed, adding that “consequent upon the non-receipt of spares, the contract was terminated on October 8, 2014”.The monies paid were part of an agreement between the Guyana Government and the Export-Import (Exim) Bank of India on July 26, 2010. The agreement provided for a Line of Credit to the tune of US$4 million for the purpose of acquiring, installing and commissioning fixed and mobile pumps. The contract was awarded to Surendra.Hinds noted that while the NDIA was unable to provide the dollar credit line agreement, from discussions and documents reviewed by his team it was noted that Surendra was contracted in May 2011 to supply and install eight fixed and six mobile drainage pumps. As part of the contract, the company had to also supply spares and provide technical support.The auditor pointed out that a total of US$2,991,147 was disbursed, leaving a balance of US$1,008,853, which they are trying to locate.“We are yet to receive a confirmation from Exim Bank through the Ministry of Finance that this balance exists,” the auditor stated.Moreover, it was pointed out that the then Chief Executive Officer Lionel Wordsworth had indicated that four of the pumps were rejected because of poor quality materials. The report further stated that there were significant delays in the shipments from India as was noted at several Board meetings.“The first batch of (mobile) pumps along with auxiliary components along with engine, radiator and hydraulic hoses arrived in January 2013, the remaining pumps along with engine, radiator and hydraulic hoses arrived in March 2013,” the auditor stated.These complete units are presently installed in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) at Lima Sluice and Three Fields Sluice; at Lusignan, Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica); Pine Ground, Mahaicony in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), and in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) at Rose Hall Town Sea Side and Mibicuri, Black Bush Polder.As it relates to the fixed pumps, they consist of several units including: engine and radiator, power take off or clutch assembly, drive shaft, gear box and pump assembly. Most of these components had arrived with the exception of one piece each in most cases.The 14 pumps supplied by Surendra Limited are located at: Albion; Bengal, Corentyne; Black Bush Polder; Canal No 1; Crab Wood Creek; Eversham and Gangaram, Corentyne; Lima, Essequibo; Number 19 and Number 43, both in Berbice.The other locations for the Surendra pumps are: Paradise/Enterprise; Pine Ground, Mahaicony; Rose Hall and Windsor Forest.Surendra Engineering Company Limited had several other contracts with the Government of Guyana, including one for the construction of the Specialty Hospital; however, that contract was yanked from the Indian firm in 2014 after there were allegations of fraud and financial irregularities.Following this, the other contacts that the company had were terminated including the one for the supply of the pumps. As part of the contract, engineers from Guyana were sent to India to inspect putting together of the drainage pumps that were being acquired for local use.
Local investigators are still pursuing the extradition of former Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) of the Guyana Power and Light Inc, Ash Deonarine, to answer two multimillion-dollar fraud charges.In August last year, Deonarine was sent on administrative leave after he allegedly transferred some .8 million to his personal account without the approval of the Board of Directors. He is also being accused of paying former board member Carvil Duncan, a sum of 8,000 that was not authorised.Following months of investigations, the two former GPL Executives were slapped with conspiracy and simple larceny charges last month. However, Deonarine had left the country since August 2015 and never returned, as such, he was charged in absentia.Wanted: Ash DeonarineAdditionally, when the matter was placed before the courts late last month, an arrest warrant was issued for the former GPL second in command. It is believed that Deonarine fled to Canada.In this regard, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum told reporters on Wednesday that the Police Force is still working on the process to have the former GPL Executive extradited to Guyana to face criminal charges in relation to the alleged unauthorised withdrawal of $27 million from the utility company’s accounts as “back pay”.“Deonarine is still wanted by the Police… Our legal advisors are still in contact with the law enforcement officials overseas and we are trying to prepare extradition documents,” Blanhum stated.After coming into office, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change Administration found that close to $142 million of the PetroCaribe Fund was plugged into the operations of the state-owned GPL. This was realised after Government said it had found an empty PetroCaribe Fund when it took office and later launched an investigation.Based on information gathered, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson had explained that the power company has two DCEOs – one for operations and the other for administration. He said apparently, the operations DCEO was receiving a higher salary than the administration DCEO, and the operations DCEO had been making representations to the Board for there to be parity in the salaries of the two.This, the Minister pointed out, was reportedly disapproved by the previous Board. However, in June 2015, with the signature of Director Duncan, Deonarine made the payment to himself retroactive from January 2013 to June 2015.Patterson further stated that Board Members had made several representations to have Board fees increase from $5000 to $20,000. He noted while the Board had discussed the recommendation, no final decision was made in that regard. Nevertheless, Duncan later went ahead and approved payment to the tune of $948,000 for himself, representing “back pay” for the 48 months that he has been a Board member of GPL.The former GPL Board member was also charged for simple larceny and is currently out on bail as the trial continues.
The Liberia Peace Initiative (LPI) Monday, May 19, hosted the first friendship and reconciliation luncheon to reunite Nimbaians and Grand Geddeans.The luncheon held at a resort in Monrovia brought together Liberia’s international partners, government officials and those from the private sector.According to Liberia Peace Ambassador George M. Weah, the occasion was initiated to officially launch peace dialogue between the neighboring people of Grand Gedeh and Nimba counties.Ambassador Weah recounted that after the 1980 coup, the government of former President Samuel K. Doe was dominated by people from both counties—occasioned the ‘very cordial and special relation that existed between the then Head of State Samuel K. Doe and his Commanding General, the late Thomas Quiwonkpah.’According to Weah, reason leading to the animosity between the two people as to how and why this brotherly friendly between these two sons of Liberia degenerated into animosity for each other remains speculative history—as there are numerous interpretations and versions as what actually went wrong between them.”“We also witnessed how this situation was exploited by third parties, who had their own agenda, because we saw how the 15 counties and all Liberians were sucked into this conflict-resulting into the emergence of several fighting groups based on tribal and social affiliations, and eventually the total collapse of the state.”“With the total breakdown of law and order,” the Liberia Peace Ambassador said, “Liberians were steered into the ugly situation as life in every part of the country became unsociable, horrible, inhuman and dumpy.”He further said that at the time if such pre-conflict peace initiative been “honestly and vigorously embarked upon by peace minded Liberians, and supported by members of the international community, the nearly 15 years civil war would have been avoided.”Under his leadership Weah believes that the LPI would stand in the gap.According to him, in his preliminary talks with opinion leaders of both counties, the hunger for a peaceful coexistence became visible. Therefore, the longing for peace and harmony was glaringHe said citizens of both counties have accepted the need for collective security and acknowledge agreed that their individual and collective dreams for a prosperous future will not be hunted by the divide and differences that obtained between the late Doe and the late Quiwonkpah.Additionally, he said, both counties seem to be resolved to let history remain history and that the future be built upon mutual respect, tolerance and cooperation.“We are encouraged by these initial findings and determined to embark on the second phase; which involves traditional leaders, women groups, youth groups and other stakeholders from the two counties.”The Peace Ambassador, however, cautioned citizens of both counties to come together to change the trajectory of Liberia towards a unified and a prosperous country.For her part, American Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac urged Liberians to work together to assure that Liberia’s peace remains stable.“As we have envisioned a violent-free Liberia, we must put aside our personal animosity where everyone has a role to play in the peace process,” Amb. Malac said.She urged all parties involved to include women in the process, “because without one group of Liberia, the country cannot reach its goal of sustainable peace.” Ambassador Malac reassured Liberians that the U.S Government and partners are committed to playing a positive role in the process of reuniting both counties.“We are ready to play our role and we must be told our roles in re-solving this issue. But we as a government cannot determine what the future has to offer. However, we are ready to work with the Liberian people.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Dear Editor,By any measure, democracy can be described as a governing system in which the central power is vested with the voting population. In such a political system, government, and the officials that make up such a government, are legally and morally obligated to attend to the needs of its citizens. By extension, in a democratic system, supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by the people or by their elected representatives under a free and fair electoral system. Since our independence in May 1966, Guyanese have not really had a chance to experience a prolonged period of stable democratic government. The PNC, when in power, abolished the basic elements of democracy in its quest to build the Burnhamite dictatorship.The PPP came into office amid a great deal of national and international support in 1992. The expectation was that with the democratic opening that occurred after the 1992 elections, PPP leaders would reconstruct the fragile Guyanese political system to create institutions that would ensure a democratic political order would be established. However, the opportunity to do so was woefully squandered by the ruling PPP, which mimicked in many ways the actions of the dictatorial Burnhamite PNC (now calling itself The Coalition).This authoritarian entity is back in control, many of whose members are from the PPP and PNC. The APNU-AFC coalition is governed by the same undemocratic means that characterized the PNC. Much of the leadership style of the PNC and PPP is guided by a dictatorial desire to centralize political control both at the local and national levels.In reality, the policies of the PPP, PNC and AFC have served to benefit a small group of loyalists and party elite, while the majority of the Guyanese people still live in poverty.The AFC has become an abysmal failure. They came onto the scene promising to be an objective broker and they won the confidence of a healthy cross-section of the Guyanese support, both locally and from the Diaspora. However, they have now merged into the PNC apparatus and have completely lost all of their independent objectivity. Their supporters are at a loss as to where they now stand. The acceptable notion is that the only AFC members left are those currently in parliament.The failure of the PPP, PNC to build a sustainable democracy in Guyana is compounded by a number of factors, all of which have contributed to the erosion of a democratic tradition in this young nation. Included among these factors are preferential treatment for loyal party supporters, the widening gap between rich and poor, a failed education system, the out migration of skilled people, an increased drug trafficking and money laundering, widespread corruption, and a very vindictive government that considers all non-supporters as enemies of the ruling party.Democracy cannot be institutionalized in Guyana unless there is respect for democratic principles and some sharing of power. The PPP was removed from office because of its arrogance and corruption, among other unacceptable behaviours.Corruption has not stopped under the coalition government. The situation continues to look hopeless under this regime with crime spiralling out of control and people being removed from their job on account of their race and political affiliation. This government has let down the population.Guyana needs a government that can provide hope for the future, trust in its people and stability in government. It is only then that we can begin to establish a system that will work towards securing the social, political and economic interests of ALL Guyanese.The United Republican Party (URP) has been appealing for a national unity government that will serve the interests of all. The URP will work with any political party to build and establish stronger democratic institutions; establishments which will serve the interests of all of Guyana’s citizens. The URP is committed to working with other local and regional organizations, international organizations, support groups and sympathetic governments to help keep Guyana on a democratic path.We need to have a clear democratic system which will create conditions in our society that will enable all Guyanese to help transform our society. It is time we recognize the great potential of our citizens. More importantly, the URP will continue to work with its grass-roots supporters to build such a system from the bottom up, thereby creating a fair and no-discriminatory system.Yours truly,Dr Vishnu BandhuLeader URP
PART IIIPurposeThe work is meant to give an introspective analysis of the initiatives and efforts made so far to retrack Liberia on a peaceful path. Since 1979, the foundation of peace in Liberia has been shaky. Hence, an in-depth analysis of efforts in post war Liberia is logical for the purpose of history.IntroductionNo one living in Liberia during its best days of peace and progressive development in the 1960s and 1970s would have believed that we could wreck our own country. But it did happen. Great enmity befell us; we were torn apart, gnashing our teeth at one another and flexing our muscles and swords at one another. Indeed, “Things Fell Apart”. Warring factions sprang up, wicked war lords were born and destructions upon vivid destructions raged. In the end, we reached the never-promised land of divisions and animosities. And so, great and tireless efforts have to be made to mend our broken pieces. Periscoping these efforts, reviewing their methods and results, with the view of learning and pointing out our mistakes and building new frontiers and methods of peace are the aims of this work.For definition, a periscope is a telescopic instrument mounted on vessels and ships for viewing their environments of travel. As for us Liberians, our eyes, ears and minds as well as the situations of life we find ourselves in post-war Liberia make us an instrument of viewing our fragile peace.And this work discusses five major components of the peace we have carved. The stakeholders have been both local and international actors. There may be other minor components, but we believe that they can be interwoven in these major ones.True Justice is never based on race, color or tribe – it is by laws and statutes. Sometimes it is by historical and cultural practices because man is the product of history and culture.Justice must never be delayed or postponed. It must be speedy and timely in accordance with laws and statutes. Remember that Socrates said that we cannot do the same thing over and again and expect different result. If the ugly practices of injustices of the past are repeated, our peace can never be guaranteed. Anger and discontent will arise when we reflect on our twenty-four years of senseless destruction. The wars will then have had no meaning and purpose.If we are to maintain our fragile peace and transform it into genuine peace, then those who corrupt must be brought to book; those who kill must be killed as Tolbert did in the 1970’s. The courts must not be for a selected class; the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission must not be a tooth-less cobra, it must bite those who steal our money. The Government or fraternity should not cover or protect them. Today, the biggest question of justice that hangs over our peace is what will happen to those who ruined and wrecked our country for twenty-four years – from 1980 to 2014? For now, there are two schools of thought, namely, forgive and let by-gone be by-gone and those who advocate for the “World Crime Court”. And much have been said and debated on each side. As for us, we crave what was formerly done and how it was so well done. Although, we all want to see justice; therefore, as such, our choice must air at peace. And peace that results from injustice is never guaranteed. Note that we have already selected the road to injustice. For example, the TRC “Final Report” or “Volume II: Consolidated Final Report” of June 30, 2009 made a lot of recommendations aimed at justice and peace. It lists and recommends some high profile individuals for prosecutions and other forms of punishment. But nothing has been done about that. On page 370 of the document, it highlights twenty-six (26) persons to face prosecution for what it calls “Economic Crimes”. Will that ever happen? Added to this list, forty-nine (49) persons are spot-lighted and recommended to be excluded from public office for thirty (30) years beginning July 1, 2009. But a good number of them have served or are currently serving in public offices. They are riding on a ruling from the Supreme Court filed against the TRC and financed by the same people. Where is the justice?Among the ten (10) “Notorious War Lords” who wrecked our country and killed our people, two have died, one is in prison for financing and abetting another war; but we ourselves have elected into public offices almost the rest of the seven (7) lords. They have added more to their ill-gotten wealth and have become more powerful and entrenched. What a grievous mistake! And now we are calling for “War Crime Court”. Are we mad? We have already violated the logical law of order and sequence – “doing first thing first”. On page three hundred and twenty (320) of the same document, there are one hundred and sixteen (116) persons highlighted as the “Most Notorious Perpetrators” of war crimes including rape and massacre. But the irony is that most of these individuals are serving in the three branches of the Liberian Government. And they are masquerading as prophets and heroes around the country. Can we bring them to book now? Too late, too soon. Pages three hundred and seventy-two (372) and three hundred and seventy-four374 look at corporations and institutions (some are still functioning well today) and other persons recommended for “further investigations” but all of them are gold – breaking as if to say to us, “To hell with them”.Will all of the above persons be truly brought to book and prosecuted? The true is, we have made quite a lot of mistakes that will impair our quest for truth justice. Firstly, we should have set up the war crime court during the Interim Government of Mr. Bryant. That was the right time. Secondly, we should have never elected these same people to state power. By not arresting them earlier, we have already set them free; that is why we have appointed and elected them to state power. And by electing and appointing them, we have further enriched and entrenched them. And if we expect those in the “House” to pass Ellen’s “War Crime Court” bill into law, then we are building our next capital on Mars. They are the same people who will never willingly hang themselves.We have already rewarded them good for the evils they did; as they are wealthier to buy their justice; they are more entrenched in fraternal societies that will give them safe passage. And now we are calling for War Crime Court. Logically then, we will never get the true justice we deserve. Like Esau, we have already sold our birth-right to cunning Jacob and his wicked mother. Thinking about justice now is like shaking huge stingers net; we will be heavily stung. Calling for justice through the War Crime Court now is opening up old wounds and as a result, that will bleed more blood than the real sore. Let the sleeping wicked dog lie; we should not trouble that trouble. We cannot do it alone and those we may be relying on have many troubles on their hands. They also have their own varying interests so they will never input the full and true justice we need in Liberia. Since we have enriched and powerfully entrenched them more and more let them fly and sail freely. Justice is now very, very difficult. And if you want more frustrations and pains, try it. V. National Agenda for TransformationConflict is part of humanity. That is why we are endowed with the intellect to resolve it as it comes. After the resolution, we then put into place programs, policies and values that will put the conflict behind us and set the pace for transformation.Thus, our best choice now is to do those things that will quickly impact our lives for now and those that will transform our future. To do that, we need to know what the problems are. And as we identify the problems we equally find the solution with the envisioned solution, as we carve the determination and resolve to solve the problems.It is not fair to say that such agendas have never been planned and discussed. Many of such national planning have come but to no avail. For example, President Tubman put forth the “Open Door Policy” agenda. Later, he introduced the “National Unification Policy”. President Tolbert laid the “Total Involvement for Higher Heights” national programmes. It was also co-named “From Mats to Mattresses”. And after our civil crises, Mr. Taylor came with “Vision 2014”. Lastly, Ma Ellen put forth “Vision 2030”. It goes without saying then that for us Liberians, there has never been the shortage of ideas.Our problems have been The Lack of Nationalism, Greed imbedded with Corruption and Integrity. With these vices, no amount of “National Agenda for Transformation” can ever hold. And so as we now periscope our peace initiative, we think that fighting these vices should constitute our new “Agenda for National Transformation”. They have been our impediments to growth and development. If they are not fought vigorously, we will always remain an under developed country. This is not a curse, but a fact.As an analogy, nationalism is as a mother’s feeling for an only child. Her love and feelings are centralized and focused on her only child. She thinks about him day and night and equally works for his growth and development; for he is her future.Nationalism is a mind centered Phenomenon. It is built in one’s mind by education and enlightenment. It is a reality of attitude, but not a flimsy theory. For instance, we know that the Americans are nationalistic because we see their love for their only country in practice. They believe in their country; they live and work for America; they die for their only mother land. If they are corrupt, then they corrupt others to build America.We can fight “Lack of Nationalism” as we fight AIDS and Ebola by awareness and education. We need to teach nationalism in our schools. In our schools at all levels, we need to teach the love of our national anthem, our flag, our history and even the love of our money or currency. We must love and treat our fellow Liberians as Liberians. On the contrary, we love and better treat aliens and foreigners than we treat Liberians. We need a Liberian mindset and change to maintain our peace. Indeed, only constant education can affect that “love of country.” At the core of our new agenda for national transformation is the determined and joint fight against greed and corruption. In China, corrupt public officials are executed. In other countries, their properties are confiscated and turned into national ownership. Yet in other lands, they are imprisoned for lifetime if there are no properties to be seized. But in Liberia, we only pay lip services to it because it is one of our cultural practices. And the big guys oversee the practice.One of the major reasons for our civil wars was corruption. Tolbert opened our eyes against corruption and spoke against it; yet the military claimed to overthrow him because of “Rampant Corruption”. In contrast, many voices including Mr. Taylor spoke against corruption of the Doe Regime. The Taylor Regime of “no financial accountability” was even worse. And even more so the factional interim leaderships were the most dangerous ones including the Bryant Regime. However, John Morlu when he was at the GAC said, the “Ellen led government is even ten times more corrupt than the Bryant led interim leadership”. We could catalog volumes of corruption stones in Liberia. For example, elections have been rigged to favor the unelected; the Ministry of Finance has been burned to avoid and cover up audit reports; national development funds have been diverted to individuals by senior state actors with impunity. And in recent time, a senior whistle blower was secretly murdered in cold blood with fictitious stories. And furthermore, high profile concession agreements have been signed in many fraudulent ways.Greed and corruption must be discussed as weapons of mass destruction against our development programmes. They must be combined and destroyed. Laws must be enacted against corrupt public officials and their ill-gotten wealth. This will guarantee our peace. If Ellen’s “Number One Public Enemy” is not an agenda item for discussion, legislation and destruction, then our people died for nothing in cold blood and our country was destroyed in vain by greedy war lords. And this is not healthy for our fragile peace.The last agenda item for our future transformation is INTEGRITY. Integrity means behaving in accordance with Public Laws and Oath; it is “saying what you mean and meaning what you say” as defined by a respectable American Preacher. It is speaking truth, not lies; it is upholding the values of our constitution, laws and statutes; but it is not living in contravention to the values of public offices.Those who lie under oath, lack integrity; those who steal public funds lack integrity; and those who sign dubious concession contracts lack integrity. Since the lack of integrity is one of our major problems, it must be part of our discussions for national transformation.Integrity is conscience driven and so those who lack it are living – dead beings who do and defend evil as good. As we periscope our peace initiatives and plan our agenda for future transformation, integrity must be a highlighted triumph card that will replace evil with good.For us, the best recipe for highlighting integrity is to expose men of greed, evil and corruption. We must bring them to public disgrace and ridicule. When we hide their evils behind fraternity and bigshoptism, we throw integrity into darkness. Each time we cover people with family blanket and tribal shield, we bury integrity. We ought to enact an integrity law against public indecency. It must be part of our “Good Governance” laws.Having sustained our fragile peace for ten (10) years, we need to do all we can to maintain it. To do so, we need to periscope those cardinal components we have reviewed in order to guarantee our peace. Let’s meditate on them day and night. Besides, we need to work on them in practice if we want to maintain our peace and make it more really genuine.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Amazing fashion style was the dress code that stole the night at the just ended West Africa Fashion Award (WAFA), with Lofa Magazine and Tekay Design emerging as winners out of 12 Liberian nominations that made the final list.The astonishing fashion design on display at the event at Oriental Hotel in Lagos March 24, 2016 recognized, inspired and promoted the wealth of fashion talents from within West Africa, highlighting the potential role the industry can play in the region’s economic development. Lofa Magazine, an online fashion magazine, won the Fashion Media of the Year, and renowned fashion brand Tekay Designs walked away with the Women’s Wear Designer of the Year.In addition, renowned publicist Junda Morris-Kennedy was honored with the Fashion Recognition Award for her major contributions to the fashion industry over the years from the Dispora.Liberian fashion practitioners received 14 nominations out of the 21 categories. Twelve made the cut after voting.WAFA President, Adewole Olanrewaju, said the event organizers were excited that this year’s event featured several high profile nominations, noting that the journey to success was not an easy task.“We did everything possible to make sure that the competition was free and fair,” he explained. “This is the reason no one has complained about cheating. While we acknowledge the fact that there were losers, we believe that everyone that got nominated are all winners.“This year may not be yours, but keep on working. Your time will come,” Mr. Olanrewaju encouraged the nominees.The head of WAFA nominations for Liberia, Junda Morris-Kennedy, noted that she wished all of Liberia’s nominations had won, but said she was happy for all of the winners.“I believe that this is the beginning of more regional and international recognitions that will soon come to those that are working hard,” she said.Check out the full winners list below:Fashion Stylist of the YearDieudonne Senato (Ivory Coast)Make Up Artist of the YearPriscilla Nyarko of Glam Faces (Ghana)Female Model of the YearLucky Favour (Nigeria)Male Model of the YearStephen Owusu (Ghana)Pageant of the YearMiss Tourism (Nigeria)Modeling Agency of the YearFew Model Management (Nigeria)Fashionable West African Celebrity FemaleZainab Sheriff (Sierra Leone)Fashionable West African Celebrity MaleBryan Okwara (Nigeria)West African Fashion Entrepreneur of the YearToyin Lawani – Tiannah styling (Nigeria)Model Search of the YearNigeria’s Next Super Model (Nigeria)Urban Wear Designer / Accessory Designer of the YearADU Amani Klodin, VAAD Style (Ghana)Fast Rising / Next Rated Fashion EntrepreneursUchenna Okwudima (creative director ECOWAS Fashion Week / International fashion week)Next rated fashion entrepreneursHerty Twens (Gold TV / Gold Modeling Agency)Fashion Photographer of the YearEmmanuel Bobbie of Bob Pixel Photography (Ghana)Fashion Media of the YearLofa Magazine (Liberia)Online Fashion Media of the YearFashion Ghana (Ghana)Fast Rising EntrepreneursBiola Orimolade (Black and Bold Fashion House)West African Fashion Event of the YearAfrik Fashion Show (Ivory Coast)Men’s Wear Designer of the YearOzwald Boateng (Ghana)Women’s Wear Designer of the YearTekay Designs (Liberia)West Africa Fashion Academy of the YearZaris Fashion & Style Academy (Nigeria)Fashion Recognition AwardJunda Morris-Kennedy (Liberia)Shola Oyebade (Nigeria)Mrs. Funmi Ajila Ladipo (Nigeria)Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)