While the regime of the Coalition for Democratic Change prides itself as pro-people, and dispensing state resources never as before in the history of the country, opposition elements think otherwise. Amongst them is one of Liberia’s iconic human rights advocates, Atty Samuel Kofi Woods, who served the previous regime of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Minister of Labor and Minister of Public Works. Woods came to prominence not only as a student leader during the tough days of Samuel K. Doe, but also as a fierce human rights defender during the heydays of former President Charles G. Taylor. He had been quite silent lately but now spread himself on the record as an outstanding critic of the current ruling establishment. Speaking as the Keynote Speaker at the just ended Convention of the opposition Liberty Party in Gbarnga, Bong County over the weekend, Mr. Woods spent much time discrediting the capacity and morality of the CDC government. The Analyst reports.
President George Manneh Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change have come under volleys of attack from a former official of the Sirleaf administration, and a foremost human rights defender, Samuel Kofi Woods.
Mr. Woods, while serving as the keynote speaker at the Convention of the Liberty Party last weekend, told his audience that since 2018, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Government has clearly demonstrated that it lacks the political will to embark upon or undertake the deliberate and radical changes needed to transform our country.
Biting Govt. Criticisms
He said the Government has rather deployed and perpetrated old and poor habits of governance, brazen tactics of rights suppression, glaring incompetence and lack of integrity.
“We have also seen the minimum of reforms undertaken in the past reversed or undermined. The embarrassing disregard for process, predictability, accountability and transparency by the CDC government is in plain sight for Liberians and the world to see,” the former student leader said.
Mr. Woods also spoke of what he called vain indulgence in naked greed, pillaging, wanton and pervasive corruption, injustice, violations of the constitution, and violation of all elementary norms of human decency are making up the record of this government.
Speaking of officials of the CDC, the former Public Works Minister said they shamelessly defend against honest criticisms and justify their mistakes by pointing to the previous government as if their measure of performance is what they perceived as the missteps of the last government.
“The so-called wrongs of the last government cannot be your right. If it was wrong then, it is wrong now,” he said, adding that Liberia can be comforted and take hope in what a famous American diplomat in Liberia once said: “there are more good people in Liberia than bad people; it is time for the good people to win.”
Woods maintained that the Mid-Term Election of December 8, 2020 and the results on the National Referendum in which the President and government personally invested is a testimony to the wisdom of the Liberian Electorates.
“Far from the mistaken belief that they [Liberian voters] are complacent and complicit, they have debunked these assertions and delivered a rebuke to the CDC misadventures of governing the country,” Mr. Woods charged. “They voted with their feet against mediocrity, disdain and arrogance in leadership. Liberians are not Zombies.”
He continued: “You have mocked them. They understand the depths of the challenges, which confront us. They confirmed my view that there’s a LEADERSHIP DEFICIT IN LIBERIA. A national leadership deficit is not about the Presidency alone. It is about all of our national institutions, our civil, religious, social and cultural institutions.”
Woods also called on the Liberty Party conferees to be reminded that there are unanswered questions of billions of dollars in Liberia, the ETON and EBOMAF Loans, three missing boys whose families continue to grieve, the death of four Auditors in eight days; rape, a politically subservient and corrupt judiciary, a dishonorable legislature and the scary image of desperation and creeping tyranny in governance.
He rallied opposition elements to “come together and deal with what now confronts us whether you are an ordinary citizen, a legislator, an official of government, a cleric or just a human being.”
The former Labor Minister said further: “Recent attempts and the unjustifiable desire by the government to place prior restraint on free speech and the Press must be resisted. The case of Radio D-15 and Henry Costa, PUNCH FM and many others is a violation of our constitution, regional and international human rights laws that protect free speech, freedom of expression of the Press.”
“The guarantees thereof maintain that we must all be responsible and only a court of competent jurisdiction can act in ways that set limits but not a paranoia government,” the human rights icon said, calling on D-15 Radio to go ahead and broadcast what they want bearing full responsibility thereof and we will defend your right to do so.
“Don’t cow into submission because the government is intolerant. My advice to our government is our people want you to focus on your real job/task of development, improving basic services and give them life they so deserve rather than get preoccupied with things that do not matter,” Woods said.
He also observed that judgments of the ECOWAS Court and Courts of law must be honored otherwise there will be sanctions.
“Justice for all must be guaranteed otherwise we resort to chaos. Ordinary citizens are suffering from pains and agony everyday because their faith and confidence in our system of justice have been bruised,” he maintained. “We must come together and fight for what is right. No power concedes to cowardice and zombism.”
Word of Advice to Liberty, CPP
The former Catholic Justice and Peace Commission director did not stop at lambasting the CDC Government; he also put the opposition community on the spot.
He said Liberty Party, like the other constituent political parties of the CPP, must take cue and be responsible, act differently but collectively with like-minded parties to give the CDC a one-term presidency and send them packing in 2023.
“One Kpang Movement! This must be your focus and this must be implanted in the minds of every Liberian,” Mr. Woods said, rather than more fragmentation and uncompromising vain ambition.
He wants the opposition to summon the courage to subordinate and negotiate interests and ambitions.
“Our nation will be irreparably damaged if another 6 years is offered to this CDC-led Administration. Liberians will become the real zombies rather than the musical zombies used to mock the citizens of this country by none other than this President.”
To be “the Alternative”, Woods cautioned, “is not being complacent and engaging in juvenile celebrations forgetting about the real tasks ahead. Leadership comes with responsibility and must be taken seriously.
He told the opposition community that being an alternative is not a job to nurse childhood fantasies.
“It is about sacrifices that must be made even if it makes one to lose friends, associates and family in pursuit of the common good. Most of us want to be President, but never plan to be a President. We become President and never recover from the shock of becoming President until our Presidency is over. This is a dis-service to our country.”
“Against this background and in the context of doing things differently and collectively to build on the message of the electorates,” he further said, “the CPP must now, and as a matter of urgency organize a RETREAT for multiple of objectives.
The objectives, according to him, include discuss in more details the framework of collaborating with the goal of ensuring that it can address and identifies indicators for Liberia to succeed; to reflect and Plan for national leadership in 2023; to develop a national plan to reassure Liberians that you are serious about governing.
He said this PLAN must begin by holding a national conversation on where this country must go: Governance, human rights, justice and the rule of law, development with respect to Education, health, agriculture, infrastructure, the Economy, National Reconciliation, Integrity, etc.
Woods also intoned that the objectives of an opposition retreat is to develop a national Legislative Agenda that requires every CPP Legislator to respect the will of the collective and implement the collective legislative plan of action: CPP Legislators must be different in many ways by setting standards for legislators’ conduct by: Declaring assets, ensure that they are truthfully verified by the relevant national institutions and pay your taxes as dutiful citizens; adding value to our national integrity institutions; changing the format for confirmation hearings; stopping 4GS and ‘Brown Envelope Confirmations and ratifications’: to ask objective and ethical questions, which should include, for example, whether or not the nominee is a dutiful citizen and has any conflict of interest that might impede his or her functions.