When we wanted to reply the “No Name Diaspora Liberian Group” which accused Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh of being on the Wrong Side of history for his stance in support of ‘Single Liberian Citizenship, we were advised not to because it is a hot button issue.
Anyway, we’re going ahead – opposing views are what make a democracy works. We believe it would’ve been in the interest of us all had the group members identified themselves so that readers would know their motivation and purpose regarding a topic of concern to many Liberians. Instead, they chose to engage in “hide and seek”, or what is referred to in Liberia as – ‘throw rocks and hide your hand’.
Disagreement is healthy! To which David L. Bender (“Central America: Opposing Viewpoints) added the following:
“The pitfall to avoid [in an argument] is that of closing one’s ears to the opinions of those with whom one disagrees.
The best way to approach a dialogue is to make it a primary purpose of understanding the mind and arguments of the other person, and not just enlightening him or her with one – sided solutions. … Such awareness is important in an emerging democracy like ours where people enter public debate to determine the common good.
Those with whom we disagree should not be regarded as enemies, but people who suggest different paths to a common goal.”
Dr. Tipoteh is not anti “Dual Citizenship”, instead he seems to suggest that either the constitutional hurdle is jumped through a referendum, or a Liberian holding foreign citizenship should adjust his or her immigration status when returning home for good.
Which shouldn’t be an unreasonable point of view to hold, considering the perception of animus toward the huge salaries and perks paid to Liberians from the Diaspora, while hundreds of thousands of very poor jobless young adults are roaming the streets dangerously.
For further clarification on this issue, we’re providing below excerpts of the press statement issued by his office on the matter:
“… Dr. Tipoteh, when you oppose Dual Citizenship now, you are telling the Diaspora relatives of those that died supporting your ‘progressive activities’ of the past that they no longer deserve to be Liberians”.
In the first place, Dr. Tipoteh said, in his response, that any Liberian always deserves to be a Liberian but not to be a Liberian and a citizen of any other country at the same time.
Dr. Tipoteh reminded us all that he continues to support Single Citizenship for all Liberians, as found in the Constitution of Liberia.
Dr. Tipoteh went on to say that the door remains open to any Liberian who went abroad because of any circumstance, became a citizen of another country and wants to return to Liberia and reclaim his or her Liberian citizenship, but he or she only has to put his or her other citizenship aside.
“However, according to Dr. Tipoteh, the Constitution of Liberia has a way out for those who want to become dual citizens and that way out is [are] to push for the dual citizenship provision to be placed in the Constitution through a referendum.
Dr. Tipoteh said in his Statement that he continues to defend the right of any Liberian, including those with Dual Citizenship concerns, to change the Constitution through the referendum method, as provided for in the Constitution of Liberia.
“Dr. Tipoteh recalled how he has been a Champion for encouraging Liberians to return to Liberia and reclaim their Liberian citizenship and Liberians continue to return to Liberia, through his encouragement, and they are not looking back, despite the difficulties in Liberia.
“Dr. Tipoteh concluded by stressing that in the struggle to build sustainable democracy in Liberia so that justice, peace and progress will prevail for all Liberians, the views of the majority of Liberians, while respecting the views of the minority, determine what must be done.
If a referendum were to take place in Liberia now or in the near future on the question of Dual Citizenship, asserted Dr. Tipoteh, the vast majority of Liberians would not support Dual Citizenship but they would support Single Citizenship.
Lastly, Dr. Tipoteh said that he remains a Servant of the People of Liberia in the struggle to build sustainable democracy in Liberia so that justice, peace and progress will prevail for all Liberians”.
Moreover, in his foreword to Kofi Buenor Hadjor (1987) book titled: “On Transforming Africa: Discourse with Africa’s Leaders”, Dr. Tipoteh gave a glimpse of his concern for the lot of the continent and its peoples:
“…Those Africans interested in transforming [Africa] were either thrown aside or turned into window-dressing critics.
In the end, governing became a euphemism for technical administration and politicians adopted the language and mannerisms of superior civil servants. In most places inertia and complacency exhausted the vocabulary of politics, while the masses suffered and were robbed of their rights to participation in decision-making…”
That’s the person a ‘No name Diaspora Group’ asserts is on the wrong side of history. Guess what! He was awarded a Humanitarian Award for his enormous contributions to the Liberian people.
Unsurprisingly, expressions of gratitude for his services to the nation came from all strata of society, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who according to FrontPageAfrica “praised him for his consistency, courage and commitment as he was never deterred by people’s perception about him in doing the right thing”.
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