Who Is Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu?
By J. Jaye Larblah
Varney Sherman (L), Tom Woewiyu (R)
For some time now, I have been following your publications concerning key national issues in Liberia. The most recent of such publications is the quoted letter of caution said to have been written by Mr. Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu to the incoming members of the upper house of the Country's first branch of government on Capitol Hill.
The letter advises the honorable men and women as to what caliber of person to elect as the next Pro Tempo of the Liberian senate, among other things. As this debate seems to have gone viral and touches the very foundation of our democracy’s stability, peace and development, I have decided to join by sharing my opinion on the subject matter.
The Crab Mentality
There is common analogy usually drawn in Liberia on issues of polarized opinions termed "the crab mentality". If you place a bunch of crabs in a pan or basket, all of them will want to climb out at the same time. As a result, many times none ends up being successful.
This is typical of many of our Liberian brothers and sisters. They want to always be the only star, even if they have no light to shine. Where they miserably fail, they go at any length to prevent another person from succeeding.
Who Is Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu?
The Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu I know is that once powerful and very militant spokesman of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), the rebel group that was led by former Liberian President, Charles Taylor. When the NPFL was committing atrocities beyond human imagination in every part of their controlled areas, it was the Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu that I know who either justified the men's actions or denied that any such thing ever happened.
At the time he was enjoying tremendous amount of state power and influence, and serving as Minister of Labor, it was Mr. Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu who disappointingly could do nothing to rescue the former Bong Mining Company (BMC) employees from labor injustices suffered at the hands of a government he was an influential member.
Had it not been Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman and his team of lawyers who ably and successfully came to the rescue of the former BMC employees through Cllr. Frederick Cherue, even the portion of our money we got from our severance benefits would not have been possible. It has been disappointing that as sensitive as the former BMC employees' money business is, there is persistent rumor that Mr. Woewiyu is one of those who falsely accuse Cllr. Sherman that he (Cllr. Sherman) ate the BMC employees' money. No sober minded former BMC employee would want to believe such rumor, knowing how Mr. Woewiyu and those at the helm of power at the time failed us.
I am briefly digging into history to show that Mr. Woewiyu should not be the one advising lawmakers how to go about their acts of governance. He had glorious opportunity to set right some of the crooked things he sees enshrined in our laws when he paraded the corridor of power.
The issue of someone using his high academic and professional credentials to defend multinational companies, or lawmakers being "double standard" by operating both in the legislature and the judiciary is not the making of lawyers who's only role is to interprete laws already made by the legislature. He should have advocated for the repeal of those laws and not blame lawyers for only defending their clients by the legitimate laws of the Country.
The Fear Of Skeleton
It is understandable that a lot of things has happened in our country, and many times role players get jittery when mention is made of some. But I think the way to get out of our mess is not by further mudding the water so fish can eat fish. We need to take a new course by facing our past squarely and taking responsibility for them so that our next generation can tread a new path and not follow our footsteps that will cause them to stumble.
The posture taken by my senior brother would suggest the presence of skeleton in one's cupboard. What is there about Cllr. Sherman in particular that is feared so much that a lot of physical and mental energies are being wasted on just to stop him from rising to the President Pro Tempo position?
Word of Advice
The 14 years of senseless civil war fought in Liberia deprived us of many of our best minds. Let's put aside our personal feelings, interests and fears and look at Liberia as the biggest picture. The world has got more sophisticated and every country is looking for its best minds to steer its own affairs.
After all, there is no perfect system anywhere in the world. Even here in the United States of America there exists a lot of flaws. The only difference is that they allow the system to work. They vigorously enforce their laws against violators, irrespective of who you are. That is what is lacking and that is what we should be pondering on improving and not picking on one another.
There are Men and there are Hustlemen and Scoundrels: The Case of Tom Woewiyu