People of Pleebo-Sodoken District are not Hunting Kpelleh People

By Menneh Bobokadieh

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
June 13, 2015

                  



 
 
 
 
John Y. Barkemeni
SIFCA Deputy Managing Director

On May 17, 2015, the United Nyanbo Development Association (UNDA) in Harper City had an induction program of its new corps of officers. The keynote speaker of the event was Hon. George H. Prowd, City Mayor of Harper City.  In his keynote address, he revealed to the audience that Marylanders residing in Bong County were being threatened by the Kpelleh people, avenging an alleged hostile attitude toward their kinsmen who are employees of SIFCA investment in Pleebo-Sodoken Statutory District.  The Kpelleh people, according to the speaker, allege that their kinsmen are always targeted in demonstrations staged by Pleebo Youth, particularly during the most recent one against the SIFCA Investment.

Mr. Prowd, who served as head of the Maryland County delegation to the convention of the Constitution Review Committee held in Gbarnga early this year, said he was informed of the threat against Marylanders in Bong County while he was attending the convention. He said a group of Maryland Greboes in Gbarnga had even met with him and reported the anti-Marylander sentiments in Bong County. He said they had appealed to him to advise the people of Pleebo and Marylanders in general to stop attacking Kpelleh residents in Maryland County.

It can be recalled that Hon. George Mulbah, representative of the Jorkorleh District in Bong County, made similar sentiments during the recent demonstration against the operation of SIFCA. It also appears that Hon. Mulbah and the Kpelleh people are not alone. Both Deputy Minister Nagbe of Internal Affairs and Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh hold similar views. Minister Nagbe’s kinsman is SIFCA’s human resource director who is accused of abusing the indigenes of the Nyanboland that the company is using. Nagbe’s report to Monrovia, strongly accuses the indigenous Greboes of xenophobia.

Justice Minister Sannoh had also reacted by sending a strong-worded document, warning and threatening retribution against the indigenous Nyanbo people as well as Nyanbo students at Tubman University. The document leaked to the students and was disseminated on TU campus. Minister Sannoh referred to the students as the “brains” behind the protest against SIFCA’s abusive practices in the Nyanboland.

But the accusation of xenophobia this is far from the truth. We all are aware that the youth demonstration in Pleebo-Sodoken was peaceful and to the point.  It addressed the plight of the people of Pleebo-Sodoken District and Maryland in general concerning the SIFCA investment and was not targeting a particular group of people. I want to dismiss this perception in the strongest terms and inform those who share the perception that it is on the contrary. The people of Pleebo-Sodoken District are not xenophobic, and I want to emphasize that at no time the Pleebo youth targeted the Kpelleh residents of Pleebo during demonstrations. They will never target them! 

The Demands of Pleebo Youth
One of the demands of the youth was that John Y. Barkemini, SIFCA Deputy managing director, must leave Maryland County.  The demand did not include the Kpelleh ethnic group in Maryland or Kpelleh people who happen to be employees of SIFCA. The claim that the youth had asked all Kpelleh residents in Pleebo to leave is not only an over-generation of the demand, but it is also a fear-mongering tactics perpetrated by the so-called Kpelleh Block of the SIFCA Investment. And Barkemeni is the GODFATHER of the Kpelleh Block. His departure will certainly make the Kpelleh interest group vulnerable or even render it asunder.

Ethnic and National Blocks of the SIFCA Investment
There are internal rivalries among the 3 ethnic and 2 national blocks that make up 99% of the workforce of the SIFCA Investment in Maryland County. The blocks are: River Gee Grebo, Maryland Grebo, Kpelleh, Ivorian and French Block. The Kpelleh Block believes that if Barkemeni leaves, the new Liberian Manager may not be a Kpellehman, and as such, it will not enjoy the favorite status that it’s enjoying for now.  So it is buying sentiment. The Kpelleh Block has been the most tactical block: it plans strategies to disable the other blocks and remain powerful.

Mind you, the Godfather's method of operation is the divide and rule strategy to cause chaos.  He will then sit back and watch. He will later appear on the scene as a savior.  He has mastered the divide and rule strategy and always uses it as his major weapon. Though the divide and rule strategy has been one of the root causes of strike action against SIFCA, the strategy has continued unabated. The recent cow-slaughtering and photo-opportunity event held recently in Sodoken, observers believe, was masterminded by Barkemeni.  This is one of the typical examples of the divide and rule mentality, where few chiefs are given crumbs to go against the will of the indigenous people of the district. At the end, Barkemeni becomes famous to SIFCA Board of Directors.  He was considered unwelcome by the youth, but within a space of one month, he has given two cows to the few chiefs who represent a minute portion land under SIFCA operation.

Asamie Bienvenue, former Manager of MOPP, and  Fredrick Libvrier, former Plantation Manager of CRC, both of the Ivorian and the French Blocks respectively, were expelled from the plantations on similar demands and nobody accused the people of Pleebo-Sodoken and Maryland County in general of hunting a particular group of people. The Kpelleh did not complain because it made room for more Kpellehs to be brought in by Barkemeni to replace the Ivorian and French national. 

Barkemeni was never at the plantations during any of the plantation-related strikes but returned after a period of time to the plantations as the Messiah of the investment. So this recent demonstration took him by surprise. The SIFCA Board always accorded him special opportunities including cash to fight investment insecurity on its behalf in this direction making him famous, thereby making his French boss, Managing Director Philip Carte nominal in function over the years. 

He succeeded highly in dictating the course of action for the Investment for a while even at the level of choosing which Liberian to hire to junior/senior staff positions, and don’t ask me which ethnic block is most favored in his hiring practices. He has done everything to build the numerical strength of the Kpelleh Block to keep him powerful, and he has to some extent succeeded in dividing the indigenous people of Pleebo-Sodoken District.

Today the Maryland Grebo block has 2 factions in Pleebo-Sodoken District: the Nelson Neal and the Youady-Blah Scott Factions. The Nelson Neal faction is known for receiving kickbacks and eating cows from the SIFCA Investment. In recent time it has eaten 2 cows. One was eaten in Gbloken for the purpose of traditional ceremony geared toward the indigenous (Nyanbo) people blessing MOPP and giving the company the go ahead to clear their (Nyanbo people's) properties and plant on the portion of the "LIBSUCO land" that was given to the company by GOL as outstanding land according to the concession agreement.  This was also for the indigenous (Nyanbo) people to celebrate, as ridiculous as it may sound, the setting aside of  2,750 hectares of their own land for them for farming purposes.  The second cow was slaughtered just few days ago in Sodoken to welcome Barkemeni back home - since the recent demonstration. The Neal faction includes Twansiebo Clan, Gborlorbo Clan and a fraction of the Klebo Clan (Wetchoken, Golobo and a segment of Sodoken).  It has been alleged that during the recent demonstration, Neal asked the youth of Wetchoken not to get involved because Wetchoken is not within the SIFCA operation.  But when it was time to eat cows to give up land, Mr. Barkemeni turned to the same Town Chief Neal of Wetchoken to be at the forefront.

The Blah Scott faction includes Gedetarbo Clan, Pleebo Clan, Gbolobo Clan and a fraction of Klebo Clan (Gbololu, Gbewien, and New Sodoken).  Majority of the land of SIFCA operation is owned by this faction.  Human rights abuses are meted against those in this group.  Their land has been taken without the involvement of the indigenous people in this faction.  This faction represents about 90% of the people of Pleebo-Sodoken District.  There are series of meetings held by this group in recent weeks about the ill treatment administered to the indigenous people of the district and manner in which Barkemeni returned to the district. Similar meeting is slated for today at an unspecified location. Barkemeni has already made efforts to infiltrate the Scott Faction, through on of the elders, but to no avail.

The other blocks are struggling for emancipation; the Ivorian and the French Blocks have succeeded a little bit to influence the SIFCA Board to reduce the influence of Barkemeni over Investment operation, but will be over happy to see the day Barkemeni is out. Unfortunately, the River Gee Block is venerable because it has lost Matthew Jaye as staunch fixture at SIFCA.

But the most venerable block is the Marylander Block which suffers all forms of marginalization and affected by the divide and rule mentality masterminded by Barkemeni. Decoris destroyed the properties of some of the people of the Scott Faction in the 1980s, but the Liberian Government and SIFCA have not paid the people for their damaged properties.  When will the Marylanders and other Liberians see their sons and daughters graduating from SIFCA Vocational Institutions?  When will SIFCA rehabilitate the roads within the district (including roads leading to Gbloken and Sodoken where Barkemeni and his groupies ate the cows)?   

SIFCA JOB PLACEMENT TEST
The intent of the recently carved job placement test administered by SIFCA is manifestation of the marginalization of Marylanders. Since the onset of the SIFCA operation, The SIFCA companies have not administered tests to qualify people for hiring purposes.  But as soon as the youth requested hiring preference for the children of the indigenous people whose land, their brokerage rights, has been taken away, Barkemeni and company quickly carved some subjective tests to perpetuate the exclusion of the people from the area.

The fact remains, none of Liberians who are in top management of SIFCA fostering the idea of test, can sit a test and pass.   They were not required to take test for the positions they occupy. So Marylanders see this as a clever attempt by Barkemeni and SIFCA to deny qualified Marylanders the opportunities out of fear since many of those supporting the test idea are not qualified.  One of such so-called Managers is currently a freshman at the William V. S. Tubman University, and critics put it that he’s a high school degenerate.  He is just street smart to imitate others’ speeches and paraphrase articles.      

Since 2011 June the SIFCA Investment committed itself, in the concession agreements, to opening vocational institutions to train Marylanders and Liberians to fit its job quest, but that has not happened. Sixty thousand dollars was also allotted for scholarships to Tubman University and forty thousand dollars to the Methodist Agriculture College of Sinoe (for whatever reason), but that has not happened. SIFCA promised to purchase a bus to transport students from Pleebo to Tubman University, but that has not happened. At the onset, SIFCA promised to hire indigenes of the area to managerial positions, but that too has not happened.

The Scott Faction is bitter about the company’s breach of the concession agreements (CRC and MOPP agreements) and the human rights and environmental law violations under the watchful eye of John Y. Barkemeni. 

Barkemeni’s Hiring Preferences:

CRC Top Managers and Jr.  Managers

 

Name

Position

Department

Nationality/ County / or District

Philip Carty

Managing Director MD

Administration

French National

John Y. Barkemeni

Deputy Managing Director DMD

Administration

Bong County

Oliver Lezou

Chief Financial  Officer  CFO

Finance

Ivorian

Lusien Toure

Manager

Procurement Department

Ivorian

Danny Wilson

Manager

Human Resource 

Barrobo/District

Samuel Tetee

Manager

Project/ Plantation

Ghanaian

Richard  Quimeni

Manager

Development

Bong County

Allaie- Allaie Jwule

Manager

Business Controller

Ivorian

Richand Conneh

Acting Manager

Factory

Bong County

Johnson Mabollah

Chief Accountant

Finance

Bong County

Vivian Dollo

Administrator

Hospital

Bong County

Mr. Patrick

Manager

Technical

French National

Theo Kama

Manager

Production

River Gee

Julwe Thomas

Manager

Sustainable

Harper District

Martin Nyeka

Manager

Community & Public Relations

G. Kru

 

MOPP Top Managers and Jr. Managers

 

Name

Position

Department

Nationality/ County/District

Philip Carty

Managing Director MD

Administration

French National

John Y. Barkemeni

Deputy Managing Director DMD

Administration

Bong County

Oliver Lezou

Chief Financial  Officer  CFO

Finance

Ivorian

Kouakou Bah

General Manager

Administration

Ivorian

Lusien Toure

Manager

Procurement Department

Ivorian

Danny Wilson

Manager

Human Resource 

Barrobo District

Augustine Barkemeni

Manager

Acting Plantation & Field

Bong County

Hassan S. Johnson

Manager

Road & Bridge

Cape Mount

G. Gbangoryeza Johnson

Manager

Plantation/ Field

Bong County

Shad Massaquoi

Manager

Plantation/ Field

Cape Mount County

Ben Gotomo

Chief for Security

Security

Bong County

Fredrick Mensah

Chief for operation

Security

Ghanaian

Leisa Parsy

Chief Accountant

Finance

Cape Mount County

The above spreadsheet from the Maryland Youth says it all.  Pleebo-Sodoken Statutory District is the most popular district in Southeastern Liberia. The Cavalla Rubber Corporation and Maryland Oil Palm Plantations operate in the district.  But, for job security, Barkemeni feels that none of the children of the district is qualified to occupy a managerial position.  Look on the list and see how many people he has brought from his home county (Bong) to occupy managerial positions.  ¬†Additionally, MOPP and CRC are two separate companies operation in the district, but he and his SIFCA bosses have deliberately refused to have separate offices and managements.  This is a breach of the concession agreements, but government officials live on kickbacks from concessions.  So they, including the Justice Minister, are mute.  So these are just a few of the reasons why the youth staged the demonstration.  It was not against the Kpelleh people.  Marylanders are not xenophobic, they are xenophllic. It is a popular belief of Marylanders that “a guest does not take the house.”¬† But Mr. Barkemeni is an unusual guest who does not only want to take the house, but also bent on taking the whole town.

As Maryland County Development Superintendent Nathaniel Toe correctly put it, "The people of Pleebo Soloke[n] District suffered major marginalization and economic deprivation. About 75% of the land in Pleebo [Soloken District] is being occupied by plantations without just benefit for the people. Decoris occupied about 15,000 acres of land CRC occupied more 15,000 acres; Libsuco occupied more that 10,000 acres. Concession agreements are normally between the central government and the company. There has been no room left for benefit for the people who owned the land for more [than] 200 years. The people of Pleebo Soloke[n] district have no land to farm on. They are reduced to tapping as long as they live as the means of survival. The rental and other taxes go directly to government. Farming is practical impossible in Pleebo [Soloken District]." This is what the youth and the Scott Faction want to change to improve the lives of the people.

Related Articles
Pleebo-Sodoken District Reaffirms its Support to SIFCA Investment Operation in Maryland County
Youth Demonstration Is Underway In Pleebo-Sodoken District, Maryland County - Liberia

Efessayf
A business is in business to MAXIMIZE its wealth. The choice, by a company, to be a good corporate citizen is a CHOICE. If its hiring policy is one other than getting the best qualified employees in the right positions, then the company might as well be a political entity, not seeking wealth but popularity. Unless the people of the county seek to better themselves, they should not be hired to top management positions; otherwise, the company relocates to a place where it can get more qualified human resources.
What appears to be happening is the "wealthy," as usual, hiring half the poor to "kill" the other half.
Efessayf at 07:13PM, 2015/06/14.
John Nyema
The best solution is for the company to pack up and leave Maryland. It is stupidity for anybody to suggest that Maryland County does not have qualified people. For centuries, Maryland has been the learning center of southeastern Liberia. So it is thoughtless on the part of Barkemeni, the Board and the oldma to decide to import high school dropouts instead of hiring qualified Marylanders. We are not against strangers. Maryland people did not go against Harrison Kanweah of Nimba when he was serving as manager of CRC. At one point, Hon. Kanweah was even thinking about running to become senator of Maryland County. He did not import high school dropouts from Nimba County.

It is open secret that what is going on here is supported by the central government and its boss Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Few years ago President Sirleaf was accused by the New Broom newspaper of receiving two million dollars from SIFCA. She can come down to help SIFCA pack and leave the county. When the white people of Firestone people were here they hired people from Maryland to management positions.

Our Representative also accused the President of having shares in SIFCA. How can a president of a nation go to African Development Bank to beg for loan for a private company? According to Rep. Chambers, President Sirleaf has done that.
John Nyema at 06:30AM, 2015/06/16.

Post your comment

You can use following HTML tags: <a><br><strong><b><em><i><blockquote><pre><code><img><ul><ol><li><del>

Confirmation code:

Comments script


© 2015 by The Perspective
E-mail: editor@theperspective.org
To Submit article for publication, go to the following URL: http://www.theperspective.org/submittingarticles.html