Collateral Damage



By B. J. Samukai



The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
January 6, 2005

The renowned Liberian writer, Dr. Abdoulaye Dukule, in his article “Liberia & Ivory Coast: Two Different Paths to Peace” (, December 30 2004), provided a comparative perspective of the Liberian and Ivorian conflicts and their path to recovery. On the one hand, the Ivorians have undertaken to discuss and fully document (with some degree of biasness depending on which side of their conflict) the full extent of their crisis, the actors, victims, confessions, circumstance of events for understanding their contemporary political history. Across the border in Liberia, without getting together to discuss anything, letting bygones be bygones without truly understanding the full extend of the Liberian crisis through documents, either from victims, actors, confessions, has taken root as a way towards reconciliation. This latter approach is a delusion of faith with a predictable sluggish outcome.

The nature of the Liberian conflict, the actors who facilitated the rebellion and the reverse of expectations when Taylor came to power, was countered by political events in the Ivory Coast after the military coup and the crisis, which has since unfolded. It had seemed logical that mercenaries from Liberia would take advantage of the chaos across the border to enrich themselves and continue their mayhem of death and destruction. Indeed, Liberian mercenaries demonstrated their recklessness when looting and vandalism took hold in the North of Ivory Coast after Charles Taylor sent child soldiers and drugged ridden rebels across the border. Liberian rebels exacerbated the unfolding Ivorian crisis. But the death of Gen. Guei and the unsealed indictment against Charles Taylor provoked a marginal reversal of Liberian mercenaries.

On hindsight, Ivory Coast was the launching pad for the rebellion in Liberia. It was the rear base for the gathering storm of Taylor’s rebellion. It was the primary corridor for the transshipment of destructive weapons for Taylor, as well as the corridor for illegal shipment of contrabands and other resources from Liberia. Ivory Coast was host for the Yamoussoukro Series, and became the boardwalk for Liberians heading into exile. It was the hallway for determining the outcome of the leadership of Cllr. Kpormapkor to the Five Man Council. It became the corridor for igniting the Sierra Leonean crisis; and it was the broad way that produced one of the signatories to the CPA in Accra, MODEL rebels.

The uneven dimension from the fall out of the crisis in both the Ivory Coast and Liberia clearly demonstrate the percentage of illiterate persons misguided by literate persons (should I say functional literate persons), and the remarkable display of misplaced priorities in Liberia. As Dr. Dukule said, with over 16 millions persons, Ivorians have less than a handful of political parties and likely presidential aspirants. Across in Liberia with a doubtful population of about 3 million persons (likely to include those in refugee camps and the greater Diaspora), there are nearly 19 registered political parties and over forty persons who have declared their intentions of becoming presidential candidates in 2005 (indeed an irony of the true essence of democracy interpreted by functional literate persons to govern the largely illiterate population).

The mantle of political leadership under the CPA, chosen by rebels who killed Liberians outside of their overall military objective, is riddled with notorious evidence of the calamity of pretence and perception of “neutrality”. There cannot be neutrality between good and evil, neither can there be neutrality among good and evil people (says Arch Bishop Francis). To tolerate thieves, and congratulate reckless individuals with total disregard for the hope and aspirations of the destitute population is to assume an acquiesce posture against the destitute population. To support arrogant and thoughtless individuals who are keen on enriching themselves before they leave office is to acquiesce to the views and aspirations of such individuals against the population. “Birds of the same feather flock together”.

To prop up individuals who have taken to lead without accountability and transparency, operate outside of agreed budgetary guidelines, hire girl friends as personal assistants and bring them along on official Liberian Delegations, on Liberian tax payers’ money, are all evidence of the tolerant levels of their associates without reference to the struggling population.

How can anyone disassociate himself or herself from the thoughtless leadership of the CPA when CPA Government chose to initiate an astronomical increase in Liberia’s staple food (and as the rumor goes to raise money to support the political party of the CPA leadership)? Even Charles Taylor was not that insensitive to increase the price of Liberia’s staple food.

Under the circumstance, it would be an illusion to assume that Liberian eligible voters will support individuals from the same political party of the CPA leadership with its dismal performance. In a recent article by Dr. Allen, ( December 2004) ridiculed the government and brought into question the credibility and integrity of the CPA Leadership, urging transparency and accountability as resolution for 2005. As time passes, it may be remarkably difficult to convince Liberian voters that “they” were devoid of CPA leadership and thus were “neutral”.

Even though the CPA has determined that the path to peace and recovery in Liberia is through elections 2005, the CPA failed to anticipate the level of dissatisfaction resulting in failed leadership and unpredictable security situation leading to endless strikes, demonstrations, and confrontations (UNMIL Gen Opande, The News Newspaper, 30 December 2004) as well as jeering of CPA leaders. The CPA Government failed to anticipate the reckless and arrogant behavior of themselves through their misplaced priorities.

What a difference it would have been if critically needed social services were provided to the needy population by the CPA Government? What a difference it would have been to see the completion of the tarmac road in Logan Town and elsewhere? What a difference it would have been if the CPA leadership had provided and maintain a reliable generator at maternity Center instead of relying on International Organizations? Indeed, what a difference it would have made if the CPA Leaders had seriously considered paying on time the low salaries of Liberian teacher, and buying chalks and painting black boards in our schools? It takes simple things to make a difference in people lives.

Conversely, how is that the National Port Authority, a leading source of budgetary revenue, is unable to pay its employees? For God Sake, why must the CPA leadership delay in providing funds to the National Elections Commission as requested by the Commission (it is nonsense to hear about budgetary process for the NEC but not budgetary process for reckless expenditure)? How many promises has the leadership of the CPA Government not made about providing electricity, paying salaries on time, no business as usual, press freedom, and rule of law, but yet we see disappointment and feel let down? What a difference it would have been for the CPA Leadership if these failures had been successes?

Liberians are expected to continue to repatriate back home in good numbers prior to elections 2005. UN Agencies are establishing their presence in nearly all of our counties, thus providing reasonable expectations for employment opportunities. The Informal Sector is expected to be rekindled once again. But access by road to all of these areas is a Himalayas nightmare. Road conditions are just bad. Yes, blame it on the 14 years of war and the one-year of the CPA Government.

What if the CPA Government were to purchase some earth moving and road fixing equipment as initial efforts towards farm to market roads, without giving the contract to another George Haddah!!! What if, with these earth moving and road fixing equipment, the CPA leadership was to call for the collective contribution of the population to support in any meaningful way, such as providing fuel and other assistance for the rehabilitation of their own roads without giving the contract to St. Joseph Construction Company or relying on the goodwill of UNMIL Soldiers? What if the CPA Government were to make available earth moving and road fixing equipment to counties, and provide transportation (Four Wheeled Jeeps) to our County Administrators enabling them to travel and rally the energies of county inhabitants, and urge them within a reasonable time frame, to complete elements of their road network prior to the raining season, without blackmailing them to joining the political party of the CPA Leadership? Do you see the collateral effect, or should I say the mutual benefits to be achieved. It does not take a rocket scientist or brain surgeon to figure this out.

Unfortunately, the logic of collateral disposition may have a negative effect on the political association of the CPA leadership. The implications, short of philosophical arguments and semantics, may have a negative effect on the political candidacies of the party/or parties of the CPA leadership. The dismal and disappointing actions of the CPA leadership under Chairman Bryant may have a colossal and monotonous impression on the image of his political association, even if individuals therein are eloquently qualified. Logically therefore, during Elections 2005, it should not surprise anyone when Voters out-rightly reject candidates from political party associated with CPA Leadership under Chairman Bryant. What a sad collateral damage to other well-meaning Liberians.