“No need for AFL"

By Ckewellen Fonigama

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

February 5, 2004

A hungry idiotic looking fellow stood on the dusty road manning a rope crossed-over he called a gate. The idiotic man threatens passengers, delays them and extracts money from drivers plying the deep jungle roads in Liberia’s interior. Here is a man who does not know the meaning of the job he is doing. To him, the gun he totes is his source of livelihood. To him the gun and the uniform he wears are not for the protection of the civil population but an authority invested in him to harass and intimidate anyone at will. Such is the character of the AFL, and that is why Jack Klein was applauded when he called for the total abolishment or suspension of the function of this militia group calling itself National Army.

We need not dwell on evidence of atrocities by the AFL and the ill necessity of maintaining an organization that is overwhelmingly dominated by ethnic bigotry. It is glaring! This is why some of us laugh when some co-conspirator and mentor of this discredited organization try to hide behind the curtain of free speech in foreign countries to cover up their handiwork.

If the execution of thirteen ex-government officials in 1980, the 1985 Nimba raid, the Lutheran Church massacre, and the wiping and raping of thousands of innocent Liberians during the civil war are not enough justification of atrocities and irresponsibility, then we suggest that supporters of the AFL pack their merger belonging and leave the comfort of foreign land and live in an AFL control Voinjama or Bomi hills, they will realize the hell ordinary Liberia go through at the hand of these bandits.

Defenders of the AFL need to ask themselves, "Why would Liberians call for the abolishment of their national army after many years of existence?" We need not go into tedious history to recount, the reason is simply that the Liberian army that participated in peacekeeping mission in Congo in 1960 is not the AFL we have now. That AFL ceases to exist decays ago. What we have now is a drugged militia group that serves no purpose, but the wishes of senior commanders who obtained their ranks and honor not on merits and hard work, but through tribal connection, hegemony and atrocities.

Restructuring is not the solution
One cannot build or reconstruct a house that has been eaten by bugs from floor to top; such is the case of the AFL. It has been corrupt and its reputation has been tinted to the point that many Liberians see it as a tribal army instead of a national army. Reconstructing or building on the present status of the AFL will still have some resembling of tribal dominance and bigotry, and that is what we must avoid.

Education and Standard
We Liberians fail to achieve national goals because we don’t follow standards and procedures. Any organization without standard, control and accountability is doom to be a failure.

The AFL is a failed organization because it has lost discipline and the respect for civil authority, which is the basic principal of a military organization. The army is created out of the civil population for the maintenance of civil law and order. Sadly for us, the AFL is an army of banditry and civil disobedience. And, no good can be expected from robbers and bandits no matter how you structure them.

The AFL is largely composed of, semi-illiterate, high school dropouts, ex-cons and criminals or let say a sanctuary for society outcast. Therefore, trusting the present AFL is like entrusting the key of your home to a habitual robber. He will simply make his way with what he or she likes, period! The whole army needs to be abolished and a re-enlistment requirement of at least a junior high education. College graduates and other professionals with technical education should be encouraged to join the army with promising benefits and incentives. Like that, we can build a responsible national army that will not only tote guns around but also contribute to nation building and provide incredible security for all ill respective of
tribe or creed.

Border Security
This is no 1880s era, so need worry about border incursion. The border between Liberia and it neighbors is fixed, therefore it will be naïve for any one to think that by merely abolishing the army temporary for re-creation will give unnecessary advantage for border incursion. This is sheer nonsense and out of place prediction. Liberia’s border with Sierra Leone, Guinea or Ivory Coast has not been manned for the past ten years. Yet, we have heard about no such incursion by any of these states. Even if the present AFL was manning Liberia’s borders, it will in facts aid smugglers of drugs and other illegal substances instead of deterring them. The war fought in Liberia was not a foreign aggression; it was due to a failed political system fuel by internal tribal animosities.

No money for army
Lastly but not the least, Liberia doesn’t just have enough money to maintain a group of thugs that soon overshadow national politics and plan coup plots. Coup plotters cannot be pay from the national coffer, while they institute sinister plans that lead to national tragedy. What’s the need of keeping 5,000 able-bodied men station at a camp learning about shooting when they could be building houses and making farms that they helped destroy for the past twelve years? No wonder we see some AFL cronies like Arthur Dennis, a former public relation man for the spoil AFL, preaching to maintain this bandit organization. But, we understand why…

The government of Liberia has not paid its army for more than six months, how do you think those gunmen get their livelihood? They harass and intimidate villagers and commuters. This is no army for protection but a bunch of disgruntled militias, and a waste of our merger resources. The AFL must go! This is the best opportunity for us to abolish this spoiled organization while the United Nation peacekeeping force is around. Otherwise, we will see another AFL destructive plan in Liberia. The AFL must go, giving way to the establishment of a new educated, skillful and diversified national army for Liberia. Long live Liberia! Sweet Land liberty!