Liberian Presidency Transfer: “Who Owns Papa’s Land?”

By J. Yanqui Zaza

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 26, 2017


Hopefully, the Liberian Presidency will be transferred on October 10, 2017 to a Native person or a Congo person. Appropriately, he or she will receive all of the emoluments of the presidency; twenty-one gun salute, speaking and negotiating on behalf of the Nation-State, attending and visiting official nations and conferences, etc. The question is will the new President have the will power to get a reasonable share of the revenue from “Papa’s Land” in the form of government revenue to finance infrastructure, education, social programs, etc. similar to the kinds of benefits Botswana government gives to its citizens. Alternatively, will the new president allow a few elites to accumulate more wealth at the expense of society, an economic arrangement that pits the haves against the have-nots, according to Eduardo Porter? (NY Times, 7/11/17).

This table, under the outgoing President, shows the elites own “Papa’s Land.”  


Econ. Function




1) 68 Agreements

Lucrative Asset


62 bad agreements

CPA Firm 2013

2) Bribes offering

Bribe for bad deal

Big business

Steal cash yearly

T. Mbeki Report

3) Land use in Lib.

Agri., min., for.


75% for bus.

 GGC 3/14/17

4) Small Business

Import/Ex., Pet.



GGC 1/16/2016

5) 13 companies





6) 89 Companies

Diamond & Gold




7) 13 Companies

Iron ore




8) 28 Forestry





9) 4 Oil companies





10) Liberia’s debt

$790 Million


Impede Progress

Sirleaf’s Speech

11) Bank of Lib.

Keeps Gov. money


Gov. owes money

12) Bank of Lib.

 Reserves: $189M


Not Accounted For

BK Annual Report

13) Bank of Lib.

Bank’s Revenue

Gov.’s taxes

Gov. is Bankrupt

BK Annual Report

14) Rented Build

Gov. offices

Rent Inflated

 Price Gouging

15) Insurance


Sirleaf’s former Partnership

16) ITC/ Int.  Bank

Leading Bank: Lends money

Sirleaf’s former Partnership

Equity higher than the Gov. Bank’s


President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and leaders of other countries argued that the implied interpretation in the lyrics of the song called “Who Owns “Papa’s Land” was not about the physical possession or real ownership, rather the idea of the prudent management of lucrative assets. This means that society should find the best managers that would generate higher profits, rather than worry over ownership, even if those owner-managers produce lower profits. Therefore, Liberia awarded lucrative assets to investors, Japan increased de facto owners’ cash (lucrative assets) by reducing its business tax rate from 75% to 35%, and the state of Israel increased de facto owners’ assets by privatizing its state-owned entities because non-government managers do produce higher profits for both society and de facto owners, a win-win economic arrangement, they asserted.

Well, the late legendary singer Mr. Sonny Okuson did not question the managerial talents of mankind rather his or her greed, egotism, racism, selfishness, etc. History lessons teach us that the characteristics of mankind have and will never allow those who own and, or manage lucrative assets to voluntarily give back to society a reasonable share of the profits of God’s gifts to humanity. Rightly so, because elites have not trickle down a fairer share of the benefits of “Papa’s Land,” marginalized citizens have and continue to ask for a re-arrangement of the economic system.

In 1917, Russians demanded for more economic benefits. In America, Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted welfare programs, retirement benefits, created jobs, etc. President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana built schools, clinics, Akosombo Dam to create energy and electricity, etc. after taking power from the colonialists, according to Mr. Benedict Wisseh, The late Fidel Castro changed Cubans from being slave-workers to doctors, engineers, etc. after ousting the Fulgencio Batista regime. The Chinese leader, Chairman Mao Zedong changed China from a feudal society to become the third world economic powerhouse. Another son of Africa, Muammar Gaddafi overthrew King Idris in 1969 and carried out the world’s largest irrigation project, and left Libya with $150 billion foreign reserves, etc.

Unlike Libya, etc. the transfer of political power has not benefited a majority of citizens of many countries. For example, the third son of Africa, President Nelson Mandela and the African National Council took political power from the racist apartheid government, but a few elites continue to accumulate more benefits of gold, diamonds, uranium, bauxite, silver, copper, petroleum, tin, limestone, etc. The government failed to shift to society some portion of the revenues from “Papa’s Land” in the form of jobs creation, food production or to finance welfare benefits, etc. In 2016, the Secretary General of the ANC, Mr. Gwede Mantashe mentioned about South Africa’s current economic problem, but failed to say how South Africans will benefit from the enormous minerals of South Africa.

In 2008 and 2012, white Americans swallowed the bitterness of racism and gave the presidency to a black son of Africa, Mr. Barack Obama. They elected him because of the harsh economic conditions as well as foreigners taking over small businesses-Dunkin Donuts-motels-fish markets-gasoline stations-taxicabs. Excluding a few cosmetic changes such as saving the financial industry and the automobile industry, due to the 2008 financial debacle, and the enactment of Obamacare, which is about eight percent of the 319 million Americans, big business and foreigners continue to benefit, according to U.S. Senator, Mr. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority leader. In his (7/24/17 NY Times) article called “A Better Deal For American Workers, he stated that, “We will not repeat the mistakes” of President Obama Eight Years. “This…new vision…” will disallow special interest from writing the rules and to prevent government from making “…things easier for an already-favored few.”  

Across five thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean, America’s stepchild (Liberia) is searching for its own new liberator in 2017 since the first female President of Africa has shifted more benefits of Liberia’s “Land” to the elites. Is it true that government is trying to shift some benefits of “Papa’s Land” to a majority, as indicated by some of the recommendations from the panelists at the March 13, 2017 Conference on Agriculture Concessions? Some panelists explained that communities could get a fairer share of the benefits if they utilize the ECOWAS Laws to protect community’s land rights and privileges since Liberians laws are inadequate or limited in scope.
The disclosure from the Good Governance Conference that Liberian Concessional laws are inadequate along with numerous assertions by U.S. officials that the U.S. economic system, the same economic system that Liberia embraces, is also inadequate, could not have come at a better time. The combined information provides an opportunity for the incoming president to create the necessary environment conducive for the majority of the population to benefit from “Papa’s Land,” since the rich will always fight to accumulate more wealth at the expense of society. If I may remind you, the need for Liberia to increase its revenue, especially from its natural resources, is urgent because donors’ aid is dwindling and Liberia’s debt is approaching $1 billion. Worse, the Central Bank of Liberia cannot account for Liberia’s $189M “Foreign Reserves,” an amount that could be used as a rainy-day fund.



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