DURING HIS FIRST STATE OF THE nation address to the Legislature on Monday, January 29, Liberia’s President, George Weah, touched on a thorny issue, one which his predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, after 12 years in office, she did not take any action on, and many Liberians are still skeptical about – citizenship.
SAID PRESIDENT WEAH: “Since the founding of this country in 1847, more than 170 years ago, there have been certain restrictions on citizenship and property ownership that – in my view – have become serious impediments to the development and progress of this country. These restrictions include the limitation of citizenship only to black people, the limitation of property ownership exclusively to citizens, and the non-allowance of dual citizenship.”
HE CONTINUED: “However, here in the 21st century, I am of the view that these threats no longer exist, and that these conditions have changed. In these circumstances, it is my view that keeping such a clause in our constitution is unnecessary, racist, and inappropriate for the place that Liberia occupies today in the comity of nations.
“THE SECOND PROVISION in our Constitution which tends today to impede our progress and stunt our growth and development is the restriction of land ownership only to Liberian citizens [Article 22-a].”
PRESIDENT WEAH MAY sound right to some, however, we which to state to the President that this is very much not the case and a little trip down historical memory lane will prove that citizenship has never been an issue which has stunted the growth and development of this country. And for one who’s governing on a pro poor stance, he might want be meticulous how he treads on this issue.
AS HISTORY REMINDS US, citizenship was never an issue when President Tubman launched his Open Door Policy and the impact thereof saw droves of Foreign Direct Investments, including LAMCO and others into the country.
SUCH WERE THE HEYDAYS and pinnacle of the Liberian economy when its GDP was second to Japan in the world but in reality amounted to nothing but growth which lacked development.
ALL THE MONEY WHICH flowed in the country and the opportunity to become the best country on the continent in terms of education and infrastructure development were lost on our leaders as they were either smoking cigars at high parties with top hats and tail coats.
WERE THEY INSTITUTING POLICIES in the interests of the citizens, save for President Tolbert?
LIBERIA’S PROBLEM APPEARS to be a lack of a nationalist political class that would place the country’s interests well above narrow partisan and selfish interests.
IN WHOSE INTEREST DO WE intend to open the floodgate of our citizenship to? Those who have hoodwinked our government and have strangulated us in our own economy for years why it is looked by idly?
IT IS EASY TO COMPARE the citizenship issue to Ghana but that nation has laws and the implementation thereof which protect its citizens from all sort of dominance by foreigner, INCLUDING Africans.
MR. PRESIDENT, AFTER 170 years of independence, the issues which have befallen this country has never been about citizenship but governance.
GOVERNANCE WHICH YOUR predecessor failed to provide especially as it relates to the issue of corruption which was rampant and could not be stamped out by her.
LET’S GIVE CITIZEN TO those Liberians who lost it due to reason beyond their control but let’s put a cap on the political aspect because of split loyalties.