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When Greed and Desperation Overshadows Rationality; A Response to Opposition Political Parties Declaration of Support for Jerome Korkoya

Liberians are anxious to see how a CDC Government will project itself at the helm of governance and how it will take steps towards achieving critical policy and law enforcement issues when it takes state power in 2018, with specific reference on clamping down on criminals who will violate our laws when CDC and its leadership have remained blatantly inconsistent on critical national issues that have the potential to and continue to harm the progress of our country and people.

The recent action by the CDC and other political stooges who congregated and proffered a resolution in support of the NEC Chairman, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya on his alleged citizenship on reasons of delegitimizing the gains made by Mr. Korkoya if made to resign are not only repugnant, they are  irresponsible, baseless and the highest degree of stupidity. 

If any of these individuals-driven political parties who concocted this resolution while skewing historical facts are privileged to take state power, Liberia will not only digress from its forward-march traction towards achieving national development and progress, its laws will be disparaged and will put the country in a  long haul towards national recovery.  

I am not only troubled by the backing of Korkoya by this group of political nuisance, I am sickened by the fact that people who claimed to be “so-called” politicians and agents of change are misleading our people.

Nowhere in the world have laws, policies or regulations formulated and put in place by an official of government were ever delegitimized when that official was removed from office for acts of incompatibility and actions that circumvented and violated the laws of that country. Except Mr. Mulbah Morlu and his misguided politicians can prove me wrong, they are a disgrace to Liberia’s progress and democracy. Here are the facts.

In October 2011, the Congress for Democratic Change, or CDC, accused James Fromayan (then Chairman of the NEC) of manipulating the vote in favor of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and said it would not take part in a November 8 runoff, if Fromayan continued to head the electoral commission.

When the chairman of Liberia’s electoral commission resigned Sunday of October 2011, he did so not mainly as a result of threats by the country’s leading opposition party to boycott November’s Presidential runoff, it was also the result of public outcry and citizens’ pressure that Mr. Fromoyan committed a crime that was deemed to have violated our elections laws. Even though Fromoyan resigned, that did not delegitimize the elections results as Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was declared winner.

When US Senator, Larry E. Craig, Republican of Idaho (Washington Post, 2007), was arrested in June by an undercover police officer in a men’s bathroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in the case three weeks ago.

According to records, Mr. Craig has served the US Congress for 18 years (1991-2009). Since his arrest and forced resignation, nowhere are there records that Mr. Craig’s sponsored and co-sponsored legislations were delegitimized as a result of that “disorderly conduct”, a crime considered misdemeanor.

Richard Nixon was President of the US from 1969-1974. During his presidency, President instituted many policies and reforms amongst which are the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Affirmative Action Program, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the civil rights reform, etc., etc.

When Nixon was forced to resign as a result of the Watergate Scandal, nowhere in history have those policies and reforms he instituted were delegitimized or are to be delegitimized.  In fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity or EOE continues to be the hallmark of employment by many multimillion dollars corporations including states and federal governments.

Let us bring the argument to base

The late President Samuel Kanyan Doe can be credited for the 1986 Constitution which replaced the old-aged 133 years settlers’ constitution. Even though Samuel Doe was accused of and committed egregious criminal offenses of human rights abuse, summary execution of perceived enemies, slaughtering of innocent people and rampant corruption which precipitated the 1989 rebel invasion, the ousting and slaughtering of President in 1990 has not produce any records in our history that the 1986 Constitution has been delegitimized nor has our history delegitimized that fact that Samuel K. Doe was Liberia’s 21st President.

In 2003 when Charles was ousted, arrested and tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity, nowhere in our history or any legislative document (both 53rd, & 54th  legislative sitting ) that a bill has been proffered to delegitimize Mr. Taylor’s policies and/or to delegitimize him as the 22nd President of Liberia.

Here comes the CDC with its outrageous, inconsistent political agenda. First the CDC claimed itself as a “grass-root” political party. The party’s inconsistency, coupled with greed and desperation for power has diverted the “grass-root” philosophy and ideologies to surrounding itself with criminals and economic vampires, the likes of Alex Tyler and Jewel Howard Taylor who recently craved for salary increment when 85% of our people perish in penury.  

In a 2011 Elections Conference to Mitigate Elections Violence, the attendees identified and agreed, amongst many issues that characterized elections violence in Liberia that elections violence were occasioned by the following:

  • Ethnic mobilization
  • Cross border voting
  • Media irresponsibility
  • Political parties’ irresponsibility

We emphasized count 4 of political parties’ irresponsibility as exemplified by the CDC and other political stooges to knowing subject our laws to a “floor-gate” where criminals who violate our laws should go Scott free because according to the CDC and the framers of the resolution, their gains will be delegitimized as in the case of Jerome Korkoya if he Korkoya resigns and is dismissed.

During the same conference, Nathaniel McGill, Chairman of the CDC presented and made the following statement: “the NEC has no respect for leaders of political parties and has therefore lost the trust of the latter”.

McGill accused the NEC of several election malpractices including double voter registration and ballot stuffing. He stressed that the CDC supports the model of accountability and transparency. Accountability and transparency are distinct ingredients to espousing laws.

In the CDC’s assertion, for the NEC to lost trust of political parties leaders, engaged in several election malpractices and other elections “double-dealings” were legitimate election offenses on the one hand but on the other hand the CDC considers it no offense for a criminal, Jerome Korkoya who has violated our aliens and nationality laws, including the elections laws is not a violation and should not be removed because two successive by-elections Mr. Korkoya conducted will delegitimize sitting senators and representatives. What a callous disregards of our laws.  

Mr. Korkoya has violated our laws. He needs to resign or President Sirleaf needs to have him fired. No amount of gibberish and aspersion cast against peaceful citizens as “confusionists” will deter our resolve to request the removal of Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya. He has lost credibility and the trust of the Liberian people to preside over the pending elections.

We call on the civil society organizations, pressure and intellectual groups including the media to galvanize their resolve and join this movement not only against Jerome Korkoya but against those who have violated our laws.

Mr. Korkoya needs to GO! We will proceed with the drafting of the necessary documentation and petitions that will compel the USCIS (United States Citizenship & Immigration Services), through the Freedom of Information Act to avail the names of Liberians who hold American citizenships to ensure that our laws bar them from holding positions of trust in government.

Finally, let me digress and close with this legal scenario: Our laws and that of the he United States forbid polygamy. A man is married to his first wife and moved to another county or state and marries the second.

The relationship with the second produces four children but it was later discovered that the man committed an offense and violated the laws. Now that the law nullifies the second marriage and forces the man to return to status quo ante. Does that delegitimize the four children the man had with the second wife? Are the children not the children of the husband?

Liberia’s Citizenship Debacle JM Cassell

It appears that Jerome Korkoya, the head of the National Elections Commission (NEC), a son of Bong County, born and raised, is now the whipping boy for Liberians against dual citizenship.

The fact that Mr. Korkoya’s citizenship can be challenged brings to the fore the reality that Liberia’s outdated and backwards constitution should be modified to 21st. Century standards.  Whatever citizenship he holds, Mr. Korkoya is a Liberian first and foremost.

At a period wherein Liberia’s neighbors have all embraced dual-citizenship and open their citizenship to all races, Liberia is still fighting a battle from the 1800s when the freed slaves who founded the country decided to weigh down the constitution with verbiage that would ensure freedom from their predatory slave masters; hence the restrictive clause about Negro only citizenship and the clause against the duality of citizenship.

By settling in Liberia from the racist US of the 1800s, the settlers by default had moved into a very hostile environment with the Europeans, mainly British and French, seizing African land in the cause of colonialism, so the safeguards in the Liberian constitution made a lot of sense.

The Treaty of Berlin in 1885 which formalized the partition of African countries by Europeans made the safeguards in the constitution critical to the country’s independence and existence. But that was 1885. In 2017, the age of globalization and open borders, we cannot use the same excuse for a standard of citizenship that was crafted out of a need for survival.

Perhaps, Liberia can learn from the United States, a country which has had 27 amendments to its constitution of 1789; these were amendments designed to right the wrongs of the past, including giving voting rights and citizenship to African-Americans, giving voting rights to women, and the list goes on.

The Americans realize that a constitution is not a document that is cast in stone; it is subject to revisions and modifications to ensure that there is equity for all its citizens, and to align with the times, hence the amendments.

How can a Liberian with a straight face look into the eyes of people of other nationalities and argue the merits of a constitution that is crudely racist, and also tends to revoke the citizenships of their sons and daughters, who in most cases, were forced to flee their country because of the 14 years of bloodletting?

The irony is that the probably tens of thousands of Liberians who took up dual citizenship, along with others in the diaspora, are the ones who are keeping the country functioning with their remittances.

A third of Liberia’s GDP comes from its Diaspora; so it’s a bit difficult to understand the hostility on social media to the Liberian diaspora when the very existence of the country depends on them.

Most Liberians have never heard of Dr. Raj Panjabi and Rima Mehri. Dr. Panjabi is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, while Rima is a staff at Harvard JFK School of Government. Both Dr. Panjabi and Rima were born in Liberia.

Their parents, Indian and Lebanese, fled Liberia during the civil war. Liberia declared them non-citizens because of the clause etched in the constitution nearly 200 years ago that restricted citizenship to Negroes only. 

These Liberian born professionals have done well for themselves, and in the case of Dr. Panjabi, he is still connected with Liberia; he provides medical services to rural Liberians, and brings some of his Harvard doctors to help in the healthcare arena. Rima also visits the place of her birth occasionally.

Both Dr. Panjabi and Rima have written about their citizenship paradox; in Dr. Panjabi’s case, he and his parents were airlifted out of Liberia to the US when he was nine…the only two countries he knows is the country of his birth Liberia, and the country where he entered as a refugee the USA. He knows very little about India…never lived there. His is a case study of the crass discrimination of the Liberian constitution – Watch.

While  there’s a contentious debate in Liberia about the pros and cons of dual citizenship, other African countries  are reaching out to their diaspora,  and in the case of Somalia, even electing a dual-citizen, Somalian-American to the presidency. 

The Somali situation is unique. Of the 24 candidates vying for the Somali presidency this year nine held U.S. passports. Somalians understand that the task of rebuilding their warn-torn country cannot be left to their countrymen and women who stayed in Somalia during their 20 plus years of blood-letting between the various clans. 

If you were born in Somalia, no matter what passport you held…you are a Somalian, thus Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, a Somali-American bureaucrat who worked many years with the Department of Transport in Buffalo, New York ascended to the presidency.

In the 21st Century, during a period of rapid globalization, many African countries are taking another look at their outdated constitutions which were crafted prior to independence and making the necessary modifications that would align with 21st. Century realities.

Embracing dual-citizenship has become the norm in most West African countries; Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun speaks with a heavy north London accent, she was born and bred in the U.K. Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari saw that she was a quick study, whip smart and had skills that he could utilize in government and he brought her into his cabinet.

For many years Hannah Tetteh served as Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs under the last two Ghanaian governments. Hannah Tetteh was born in Hungary to a Hungarian mother and Ghanaian father. Ghanaians embraced her.

There’s even talk of her running for the presidency in the future. The fact is Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Cote D’Ivoire all have dual citizenship and do not discriminate because of race, like their neighbor Liberia. But of course, as one commentator said, election season in Liberia is crazy season, so of course who’s better to pick on than Korkoya, the man whose job is to supervise the upcoming elections in October 2017.

Jappah Maxwell Hooks, Contributing Writer