By Martin K. N. Kollie
Jones Nhinson Williams & John S. Morlu, II
The Perspective is one of the most read and reputable news websites that publishes dozens of investigative, informative, educative and thought-provoking articles and analysis on multiplicity of critical issues prevailing in Liberia and across the global spectrum. About a day ago, I read with keen interest an article written by Mrs. Kadiatu Musa-Frantz, a young Liberian businesswoman from Lofa County, who currently resides in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. The article had an interesting caption “A Williams-Morlu II’s ticket in 2017 is the only way to salvage Liberia”. This piece can be found by following this link www.theperspective.org/2015/1209201502.php
As I carefully read through her lines, I had no option, but to immediately pen down this refutation. As our beloved nation proceeds towards 2017, it is entirely prudent for all Liberians to begin projecting possible and plausible political tickets to replace the existing establishment under the stewardship of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. But this exercise of marketing and blending potential candidates must be done with an utmost sense of caution, patriotism and loyalty to nationhood.
Even though politics is a game of interest, but 2017 is a very defining dispensation in our political history. We (Liberians) must do all we can to jealously safeguard this golden moment and make Liberia better once and for all. If we fail to seize this opportunity, we stand to risk a lot. Either we remain with poverty or we embrace prosperity in 2017. Either we help our nation or harm it. Either we choose justice, equality, and transparency or we remain perpetual partners to injustice, inequality, and corruption. Neither rhetoric nor deceit can rescue our nation and its people from the nauseating dungeon of poverty, illiteracy, ignorance and disease.
Liberians in and out of Liberia who probably envision 2017 as a new beginning and a turning point in our body politics must refrain from advertising unrealistic options and ‘hard-to-sell’ tickets to the Liberian populace. The demand for compatible or complementary commodities and inelastic political tickets is gradually becoming high as the clock ticks towards 2017. I guess Liberians are unready and unwilling to purchase an incompatible ticket in 2017. With Mr. Jones Nhinson Williams as Presidential candidate and Mr. John S. Morlu, II. as Vice Presidential candidate (which implies in the caption and entire analysis of Mrs. Musa-Frantz’s article), I can safely conclude that this blending is not only unsuited, but it may even gatecrash before 2017.
Before proffering my counter thesis, I would like to register publicly that I respect the view and choice of this young businesswoman who now lives in the heart of Europe with her family and is so passionate about Liberia’s future. My action is in due accordance with Article 15(a) of the Liberian Constitution and the fundamental principles of democracy. As we envisage a new epoch of political contestation, I hope Liberians from various spheres of our geopolitical climate will embrace tolerance and adopt the culture of non-violence as indispensable elements to foster national unity and peace.
Why I disagree with Kadiatu Musa-Frantz – Williams under the spotlight
With less than 23 months to 2017, the high interest of Mrs. Musa-Frantz in the future of Liberia is welcoming! Certainly, the first paragraph in her piece speaks to the reality that the election of Madam Sirleaf’s successor is very crucial to most of us. Therefore, our words, thoughts, and actions through which this successor will soon be known must be void of sentiment, affiliation, sympathy, and patronage.
What is even intriguing is that Mrs. Musa-Frantz’s assertion in her second paragraph which reads “After much critical observations, I have reached my conclusion: A possible Jones Nhinson Williams and John S. Morlu II’s ticket in 2017 is the heartbeat to salvage Liberia from everything that has and continues to go wrong.” We really want to know how long Mrs. Musa-Frantz has known Jones Nhinson Williams and John S. Morlu, II. How long did her much critical observation take before deriving such conclusion that the Williams-Morlu ticket in 2017 is the heartbeat to salvage Liberia? We are more interested in knowing the step-by-step approach or empirical model used to project such a choice.
The first thing is that Jones Nhinson Williams is an unfamiliar name in the political arena of Liberia. These are three major queries that will be used by Liberians as a litmus test for political support of would be candidates:
I am still trying to figure out where does candidate Jones Nhinson Williams fit. In Mrs. Musa-Frantz’s exposition, she failed to highlight genuine impact (concrete development) made so far in Liberia by her Presidential hopeful. She argues that Mr. Williams is patriotic and visionary without providing instances or references to validate this claim. Patriotism must be seen through action and not words. Vision can only be measured by the number of lives one has touched or impacted positively. I challenge Mrs. Musa-Frantz to point to a single project from Montserrado to Maryland that her Presidential hopeful has achieved.
Has Jones Nhinson Williams practically impacted the livelihood of even 150 Liberians out of the 4.1 million population in Liberia? What has been his direct contribution to the reduction of 81.86% poverty rate in Liberia? What has he done to reduce unemployment, hardship, prostitution, illiteracy, inequality, etc? No entity or firm feels satisfy about giving a contract to an unknown bidder. 2017 will be like a bidding process. Liberians will choose a bidder with a proven record of hard work, selflessness, and performance.
Off late, Jones Nhinson Williams have been penning down series of powerful articles and speaking vocally against societal ills in Liberia. Even though his effort is worth commending, but the timing creates serious suspicion about his sincerity. Since 1996 Mr. Williams left Liberia, what has been his rapport with the common people? I am talking about his relationship with slum-dwellers and vulnerable people in West Point, Clara Town, Soniwen, Chicken Soup Factory, Doe Community, Logan Town, Red Light, Plumcor, and New Kru Town. After spending almost 20 years in the United States of America, Mr. Williams has just founded an organization called New Liberia Foundation in 2014 to ‘help’ Liberians. Is it because election is around the corner? Anyone would be right to think in this direction.
Trust based on visible and concrete track records in this upcoming election is fundamental! I have got to understand through the profile of Mr. Williams that he was vocal against the regime of former President Charles Taylor. This interview conducted by The Perspective shows "William Hanson" other side (http://www.theperspective.org/hanson.html). Let Madam Musa-Frantz corrct me: is this not the same Jones Nhinson Williams?
I have got to understand that Mrs. Musa-Frantz’s candidate has a master degree with concentration in International Management, Public Policy and Finance from New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. These are all good qualities to assume the highest seat of our nation, but 2017 will be just more than looking at credentials and profiles. If I am not mistaken, President Sirleaf’s profile was even more attractive and ‘easy to buy’ in 2005 than Mr. Williams. President Sirleaf was even more vocal against the regimes of ex-Presidents Doe and Taylor than Mr. Williams.
President Sirleaf spent over 30 years fighting for ‘CHANGE’ in Liberia. Whether her cause was genuine or not, today’s reality speaks volume. She even worked for international institutions such as Equator Bank, UNDP, AfDB, OAU, UNIFEM, OSIWA, etc. She is a product of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, but Liberia remains backward and poor under her leadership. Before her ascendancy to the Presidency, she was a visiting Professor of Governance at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). I am trying to make all these illustrations to inform your perspective that Liberians were once cajoled by profile and credential. This in no way suggests that I am against candidates with sophisticated profiles and credentials.
Mrs. Musa-Frantz further bragged about how visionary and passionate Mr. Jones Nhinson Williams is to change the existing story of Liberians, but she fell short of informing the public that her preferred choice (Mr. Williams) for presidency just started implementing his ‘vision’ for Liberia in 2014; less than 3 years to election. In the midst of towering illiteracy, Mrs. Musa-Frantz is yet to tell us her candidate’s contribute to quality education in post-war Liberia. Does he have students befitting from scholarships at UL, AMEU, AMEZU, Cuttington, UMU, and other institutions of learning? If yes, we encourage you to please reveal the information!
From an independent lens, I am not too sure that Mrs. Musa-Frantz’s candidate even meets all of the constitutional requirements inscribed in the Liberian Constitution for one to become a President.
According to Article 52 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, No person shall be eligible to hold the office of President or Vice–President, unless that person is:
a) a natural born Liberian citizen of not less than 35 years of age:
b) the owner of unencumbered real property valued at not less than twenty-five thousand dollars; and
c) resident in the Republic ten years prior to his election, provided that the President and the Vice–President shall not come from the same County.
I am not too sure that Jones Nhinson Williams meets the last requirement, Article 52(c) in our Constitution considering his prolonged stay in the United States of America for almost 20 years now. Anyway, this too is Liberia!
A glance at John S. Morlu, II.
Unlike Jones Nhinson Williams, the name John S. Morlu, II. is not too strange to the Liberian society and the political arena. For the past 10 years now, this character has been known within the corridors of our body politics and professional sector. In order to further justify my assertion, I did a quick sample survey using 20 Liberians above 18 years to measure the popularity or familiarity of both men. All of these Liberians said they are unfamiliar with the name Jones Nhinson Williams, but familiar with the name John S. Morlu, II. This speaks volume about how irreconcilable the political blending of Mrs. Musa-Frantz is for 2017 general and presidential elections.
The reality is that our people (eligible Liberians) will not trust anyone who has been out of touch with them for more than a decade. There is a common Liberian maxim that says ‘you cannot buy pig in the big’. As such, Liberians will be very uncomfortable to give the nation’s highest seat to someone they have not known and directly benefitted from overtime. This is why I beg to differ with Mrs. Kadiatu Musa-Frantz that her favorite ticket for 2017 is unappealing and would suffer serious setback. I hope my prediction sinks down well!
The case of Jones Nhinson Williams is similar to Cecelia Manjerngie Ndebe of the Liberia Reconstruction Party in 2011 and Margaret Tor-Thompson of the Freedom Alliance Party of Liberia (FAPL) in 2005. These two former presidential candidates spent most of their time abroad, particularly in the USA. They had all of the profiles and credentials, but none of them could even win 1% of the total vote cast. The main reason for their massive defeat is that, two of them were popular political strangers and visitors!
I am one of those who have high regard for Mr. John Sembe Morlu, II. In my evaluation, he is the best Auditor General Liberia has ever produced. The European Union (EU) made no mistake to have recruited him in 2006 to fight public service corruption in Liberia. Certainly, he did a great job that Liberians and International Partners are proud of even today. During his tenure, he produced more than 65 audit reports, including financial, compliance, internal controls, operational and also fraud investigative reports that indicted high profile officials. He is highly credited for sending several Liberians abroad to obtain Master’s degrees and specialized skills during his tenure as Auditor General at GAC. It is no doubt that Morlu is widely respected by many Liberians for his strong resistance to corruption.
However, in my mind, Mrs. Musa-Frantz was dead wrong to have paired an unknown character with a known character. Since election is about the voice of the majority which culminates into numbers, I am sure that Mrs. Musa-Frantz’s choice of electing Morlu as the next Vice President of Liberia would be affected or dampened by unpopular Williams. As things stand, Jones Nhinson Williams has no political constituency in Liberia to rapidly spread his ‘vision’. Additionally, the popularity of John Morlu has not also been tested in any electoral process. But perhaps, he could win some support considering his track record in Liberia. Holding all factors constant, Mrs. Musa-Frantz did not do her audience justice by suggesting Williams-Morlu’s Ticket for 2017. Her analysis fell short of capturing some of the hard facts leading to an empirical juxtaposition. But I do not hold her responsible for proceeding in such error, because her glimpse of prevailing socio-economic and political realities in Liberia is second-handed due to her geographical location (Luxembourg).
One of the key reasons why Ellen-Boakai ticket was easily sold in 2005 is because these two contestants were known by Liberians and they had their respective constituency prior to the election. For us who understand the epistemology and metaphysical analysis of Liberian politics from a firsthand perspective, we have a duty to always provide timely and accurate rebuttal or confutation to such an idealistic piece written by Mrs. Musa-Frantz from Luxembourg. As a young Liberian activist who belongs to no national political party in Liberia or movement, I thought it was necessary to have frankly disagreed with Mrs. Kadiatu Musa-Frantz on this note.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that Williams-Morlu’s Ticket in 2017 is an incompatible blend that might remain unnoticed and unpurchased by the Liberian people.
Martin K. N. Kollie