The political year for Liberians to decide on their next President and Representatives has come and the rhetoric is beginning to mount at a higher peak. Promises without justification and guarantee will soon begin to hit our ears and eyes see people who can hardly be seen on ordinary occasion.
In fact, bags of rice and money will soon begin to flow and stranded university students given lift.
January 31, 2016 was a day of similar event when two of our politicians, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the Liberty Party and Nimba lifetime Senator, Prince Y. Johnson put Liberians under the impression that they can restore among them reconciliation that has not taken place since the civil conflict ended in 2003.
Interestingly, one of the self-proclaimed reconcilers actively participated in the war, and is on record for committing some of the worst human right abuses and atrocities (TRC Report, 2009).
Bringing the two into perspective in their quest to reconcile Liberians, one wonders how realistic they are to achieve such a major national goal when they are the main engines behind tribal division and discrimination in the country.
Charles Brumskine, who dedicated his new party headquarters on January 31, was heard saying, “I agree with the idea of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to have restoration justice instead of retributive justice, because restoration justice will be a better approach for me to reconcile the Liberian people. I am ready to reconcile people of this country.”
Following him was Prince Johnson who also said, “When we have a strong coalition, we will remove the Unity Party led government and Joseph Boakai will not win. We will reconcile this country that has been led by the corrupt Unity Party government for 12 years.”
Contrary to Brumskine’s current political view, it may be recalled that during the 2011 presidential election, he stood in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County on May 1 and told people of the Bassa tribe, “If you Bassa people want development in this country, elect a Bassa man.”
He emphasize that Bassa people are tired of making people of different tribes Presidents in this country, and therefore they should elect a Bassa man. It is against this background that some Bassa people in early 2016 announced that they were campaigning against him because of this divisive tribal ideology.
Additionally, Cllr Charles Walker Brumskine is on record for using religious divide in 2005 to win votes in Nimba County.
Again, while on his campaign trail, he presented himself as the Messiah that God has sent to liberate people who were being affected by religious war. Upon hearing this campaign statement, people of that part of the country many of whom are Christians, had no one to look up to for delivery except this self-style Messiah.
In all these, Brumskine who wants to lead people of diverse backgrounds has not come out a day to reverse these divisive words that have the propensity to revert this country to its bloody past.
Rather, he is aligning his rhetoric with that of President Sirleaf to gain her support and supports of those who committed atrocities in this country and rewarded with public positions.
Can this man defend Article 5© of the Liberian Constitution that compels the state to legislate law that will curb tribalism, sectionalism and discrimination in all forms?
Cllr Brumskine is not only tribal, but he is consistently inconsistent. In an interview with the Daily Observer before the 2011 election, he vowed to resign from politics if among all presidential candidates, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wins.
Following the election in which President Sirleaf won; Brumskine in the same newspaper announced his resignation from politics to live private life, but now we are seeing him resurfacing with another political statement. Does this mean politicians are not truthful?
His political coalition comrade, the unpredictable Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson, is the same as he (Brumskine) is.
In 2005 when he moved from village to village the first and last time to campaign, Prince Y. Johnson frightened the Mano people that the Krahns and Mandingos were still threatening to bring war, and being the killer of Samuel Doe he should be elected to emancipate Nimba in case enemies wage war.
Among members of his own, the Gio tribe, Senator Johnson usually incites them against members of the Mano tribe that they (Mano) have always been in political and other key government positions in the country. He, therefore, advises the Gios to elect a Gio man to plead their cause.
Currently, Senator Johnson’s influence has led to the secret formation of “Gio Union” in the Legislature and student community of Nimba to sensitize members of that tribe to vote only their kinsmen whether qualified or not.
This is done on the basis of perception that Gio population is high and they can dwell on it to dominate legislative positions and perpetuate themselves in power. This negative tribal politics is also leading some elements of the Mano tribe to push for division of Nimba to separate the two tribes that have coexisted for centuries.
Like Brumskine, Prince Johnson has demonstrated inconsistencies throughout the time of war and peace.
He wrote a book titled, “The gun that liberates must not rule,” but today, he is a tyrant. Unless he presides over the Nimba Legislative Caucus as a chairman, there will always be confusion between him and the rest of the lawmakers.
Prince Johnson founded his Nimba party, the National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP) in 2011, but because of his inconsistency and tyrannical leadership, the party is dead and he has launched the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) solely run by him, his immediate families and body guards. Senator Prince Johnson in 2015 told Liberians in Ganta:
“You say in this place that the Congo man should not lead the country, but Governor Mills Jones you see here today is a Congo man giving you loan that you never knew about in this country. Such a person is he that the country needs.”
In 2016, he said in one of his series of political sermons, “If Joseph Boakai does not take an indigenous Liberian as his running mate in the coming election; we indigenes will withdraw our support from him.”
Today, he is cosmetically supporting Charles Brumskine for reason only known to him for now. What moral integrity and principles does Prince Johnson use in his decision making?
Liberia recently held a development conference with international partners, and concerns raised among others were social discrimination and marginalization, corruption, lack of integrity and failure to implement policies and laws.
Considering who these two men are, it is highly unpredictable and impossible that they can lead this country to the best destiny it deserves!
Joaquin Sendolo, Contributing Writer