Effort Baptist Men Dept. Holds 1st Quarter Breakfast -Brainstorm On “Blurring the lines of partisan politics and tribal hegemony in 2023”

MONROVIA – The Men Department of the Effort Baptist Church on Weavers’ Street in Paynesville over the weekend held its First Quarter Breakfast Fellowship where two distinguished speakers, the Pastor of the Church, Rev. Trocon Wilfred Langford Sr. and Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, have advanced their thoughts on the criticality of the ensuing 2023 national elections and their anticipations on the kind of change they envisage as the outcome of the pending democratic process.   

Our reporter who attended the Breakfast says both Rev. Langford and Senator Dillon spoke on Saturday, April 8, 2023 when they were deliberating on the topic, “Blurring the lines of partisan politics and tribal hegemony in 2023 AD: Dealing With the Critical Issues of the next generation”, a point of discussion where the quest for quality leadership to put the country on the path for development, prosperity, rule of law and love for country took the center stage. Senator Dillon delivered the keynote address at the occasion.

Commencing his statement, the Senior Pastor of the Church, Rev. Langford said he was cognizant that all members of the Men Department who chose the topic under discussion belong to different political institutions, and noted that in Liberia, Liberians build a culture for themselves whereby they are featured as members of some tribes.

According to him, “… the way we have conducted ourselves as a nation, we need to evaluate as to whether it has worked for us or if it is working or it has laid the foundation for the next generation.” He pointed out that all of these things were reasons for which the men have chosen the topic for their First Quarter Breakfast.

“We need to start to think about tomorrow. Many of you who are members of effort Baptist Church will always hear me ask or make a statement that we are a nation that eats tomorrow’s bread today, asserting, “ We have very critical elections before us.”

Rev. Langford said other developing countries’ electorates have reasons for which they are at ease when they choose which party they want o vote for.  “They vote on fellowship.  Nothing physical about their social life can change when they choose who they put in power; but they choose the fellowship they want to live with; they want to be governed by.”

Says Rev. Langford:  We are not here to make our decision based on how you feel but to some extent yes, what really affects us as a nation is ‘are we voting for character’? If we vote for character, yes, we may not be with the ruling party:  if we vote for characters, yes, we may not get a job.   But it’s much safer that we prepare the nation for our children’s future.

“How many of us are proud to sit on motorbikes to carry us? There is not a great number of us who do want to ride motorbikes to carry us.  How many of us know that the teachers in the interior left the classrooms to go and dig diamond and the students follow them? He wondered.

Discussing what he referred to as the “… critical issues that we must face”, the Baptist preacher  expressed fear that in the next 20 years when this generation shall die off, the next generation may not have the human capacity to rule this nation.

“Sometimes it can look like we [are able to ] buy food or we can pay our children’s school fees [so] we feel all is well – or simply [because] we have a job or we have someone to benefit us in the government [so we think all is well].”

Rev. Langford indicated that he wasn’t saying this simply because “… we are against the government; I am saying this because even with the next government we choose to be replacing this government, will [it not] continue the same policy? I am saying this because I become very conscious that whoever we put into leadership should be basically people that will transform this nation; not just to change the government.”  

He said the elections ahead are not about changing individuals but they are about changing a system, noting that these are the issues we need to start talking about to let our leaders know that we are not just interested in the change of government.

“If the car got a problem you don’t change the driver, and our nation has serious, ethical, moral, cultural issues that must be changed not only with the people that sit up there but ourselves in the way we choose our leaders,” he said.  

Delivering his key note address, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon urged Liberians from every sphere of life to shun tribal and partisan politics by desisting to support people who are not competent for leadership positions as this kind of politics has kept the country in a free fall into drain which can only be rescue if Liberians are sincere with themselves to change the direction of the country with the kind of choices they make in selecting or electing their leaders.

“Let us try to minimize or do away with tribal politics, especially when it is not based on ideas or ideology. If it is just based on love for individual or party, then it is even more dangerous

“If the love for individuals, love for party is based on ideology then we can fight for it. Tribal politics is not good especially when it is based on this person and myself being from the same tribe. It does not allow you to see the positive side of an individual outside of your tribe and because the person is from your tribe or party you shield their incompetence knowing very well that they are not up to the task”, Dillon said.

To buttress his case against tribal or partisan politics, Dillon said in 2011, he did the honorable thing when he did not support the late Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine, who was a Bassa man and political leader of the Liberty Party (LP), but endorsed and supported former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, because she was the best choice at the time “from where she took the country and to where it was, I believe she needed another term to take the house to a roof level”

The Montserrado County traced the country’s chronic leadership to choices we make during elections with slogans that influenced decisions, stressing “when trouble is ready to come in this country you can see it during election time”

“From 1997, anytime the country is going to get into trouble, you can know: “You kill my pa, you kill my ma, I will vote for you, it is trouble.

“You know book, you don’t know book, I will vote for you, it is trouble

“They sanction you oo, they don’t sanction you oo, I will vote for you, it is trouble”

Dillon further questioned the rationale behind the citizens supporting perverted characters to be elected as lawmakers when at the same time have taken a swipe at the legislature for being corrupt.

“You say the legislature is corrupt, I can’t argue that. But why do you want to put more corrupt people there?

“They are under sanction and you want to put them there and you want the Americans to sanction more people.

“My people and I will continue to say, people who wreck the country, do not reward them,

“You want a war crime court, then you want to put people who are against it in the legislature and then you carry a petition for a war crime court.

The tough talking senator bemoaned the state of affairs especially with the declining living standard where almost everywhere beggars are on the rise because according to him “we have turned the citizens into beggars.

“We have reduced our people to beggars. Some of our people are justifying why we should have plenty of money because people can come and beg us. I disagree. The people beg us because they believe their money is in our pocket.

He slammed the level of insincerity in the government to the extent that officials or institutions of government give conflicting information on the state of the nation, especially the ailing economy that the government continues to give “a false narrative of “, stressing that the reality is clear that the information being provided about the state of the economy cannot be supported by facts.

“If you call the LRA, they tell you revenue is performing. If you call the Deputy Minister of Finance for Expenditure, he says there is no money. If the revenue is performing and there is no money then there should be a problem.

“The country is so bad off that almost everybody is begging,” Senator Dillon noted, says ,“You walked into a supermarket to buy something; the workers there want something from you. You entered an entertainment center; they people you met there who were already drinking will say you should pay their bills; if you to a gas station to buy gas, the person who puts gas in your car want something

“The country is in a free fall and in decline. Civil servants, which are not a strange thing, have not been paid for the last 3 months, Civil servants may not likely get paid for April from where I sit and know.

“Elections commission has not got money for election”, he said.

The senator who is affectionately called “The Light” narrated how challenging it has been with him to the extent that even the government is using him as a quota to speak on integrity and making derogatory statements about his cause to fight corruption and bad governance.

“Who said the light was not on at all because of tribal politics, partisan politics? They said the light has gone dim, some people say fake Chinese light. But if you say light was not on then how it became dim.  If the light is fake, then people want to be in perpetual darkness.

“So we are being used as a quota to prove integrity in the country. When they talk about who collects the $30k, the first question they ask is, did Dillon collect it and if the answer is negative then no issue with it but once the answer is yes, then the whole thing is The Light has gone off…Dillon has collected”

He further told the audience how some of his colleagues and other government officials ran with false presentation of his input with the proposed law on retirement benefits of former lawmakers, where he maintained that the law needed to be reviewed, analyzed and made sense out of it.

“We made our input and the committee which I was a member of submitted its findings on where we think the law should be, that is we reviewed it, made sense out of it so as to save the country some money.

“But surprisingly, they removed the signature page and attached it to the 2003 Act which we sought to review and ran with it, that I signed the bill. Though we voted against it but others voted for it and the records are there about our stand”, he said

Senator Dillon who is a leading voice in the opposition community also took time to speak about the disadvantaged youth otherwise called the zogos in the Liberian parlance and lamented how the government has neglected its responsibility to cater to the needs of its citizens.

As a proponent of the rehabilitation of the zogos, a project he is spearheading with a center in Paynesville for that purpose, Dillon said for every boy or girl lost to being a zogo, it also represents a loss to the productive sector of the population, especially the youth.

“Every citizen called zogo out there is a loss to the productive sector of our population. Any of our brothers and sisters that fall in that category could be a driver, a teacher, a Preacher of the Gospel or Koran, a whole generation is being wiped off and we feel it is okay”, he said.

Senator Dillon thanked the Pastor and members of the Men Department for giving him the opportunity to share his thought on one of the evils that is fast eating in the fabric of the polity, which is tribal and partisan politics urging every citizen to encourage and reward integrity.

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