Liberia’s Underdevelopment, Fragility Traced to Citizens’ Disloyalty to Pledge of Allegiance -BFF CEO Tells US no Based Global Diaspora Platform, TLV

MONROVIA: The Founder of the Better Future Foundation (BFF), Rev. Augustine S. Arkoi, has traced Liberia’s gross underdevelopment and fragility to citizens’ unloyalty to fully adhere to, and honor the national pledge of allegiance.

The pledge of allegiance, according to Rev. Arkoi, provides the core foundational principles for a healthy and sustainable governance system in Liberia.

The BFF Boss spoke on Sunday, March 31, 2024, when he served as Panelist via a live podcast held by The Liberian View, (TLV), founded and launched by Lucy Wilson Kear, a U.S.-based Diaspora organization, that specializes in grassroots communication and social mobilization, human rights protection, and advocacy, and supporting and empowering marginalized people, including people with disabilities.

TLV concomitantly serves as a bridge to the world’s future through collaborations with Liberians/Africans living in the Diaspora, friends of Liberia, community organizations, politicians, and leaders, primarily throughout the United States, and whose ideas can be honed to build an enduring future for Liberians in particular, and Africans in general.

Sunday’s though-provoking conversation, which brought together erudite Liberian rights activists and other scholars was moderated by TLV Founder, Madam Lucy Wilson Kear, an accomplished public health practitioner, and renowned Liberian activist based in Maryland, United States of America.

The Sunday Episode, according to Madam Lucy Wilson Kear, was a thought-provoking conversation during which the BFF President offers his insight and perspectives on the program’s topic “Foundational Principles for Healthy Systems in Liberia.”

In pledging allegiance to the state, Liberian nationals are constitutionally required to recite as follow: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of Liberia, and to the Republic of which it stands, one Nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

According to Rev. Arkoi, such allegiance pledge “constitutes the foundational principle and recipe for peace, reconciliation, integration and unification.”

The BFF CEO further told the United States based global platform, TLV, that the phrase “Liberty and Justice for All” is a vivid patriotic reminder, obligating every citizen and the state to, at all times, be indiscriminate not only in policy formulation, but also in full application and enforcement of the laws and other statutory provisions of the country.

According to the BFF Boss, ‘Healthy Systems in Liberia’ cannot be achieved or guaranteed in the absence of indiscriminate respect for, and adhering to the rule of law.

He maintains that if the Liberian nation is to attain any success in its peacebuilding and development efforts, the necessary foundational principles as contained in the pledge of allegiance to the national flag and the Republic for which it stands, with one Nation, indivisible with liberty and Justice for All’ must be the core pillar for the governance of the country without any fear or favor.

“The foundational principles of The National Pledge of Allegiance, obligate us to be indiscriminate in the application and enforcement of the rule of law and national governance system without favoritism,” Rev. Arkoi emphasized.

The Liberian civil society activist and educator, however, argues that contrary to the infusion of the allegiance quest to the Liberian flag and the state since 1847, socio-economic and political discrimination and, marginalization were sadly planted by the Americo-Liberian settlers, in the foundation of the country by not integrating the indigenous population into the national governance system, lasting for more than a century.

Rev. Arkoi contended that since 1847, Liberia, as an independent and sovereign nation has had 25 Presidents, all of whom, the BFF CEO said, miserably failed to create a Liberia for all Liberians to have equitable access to basic socio-economic, political and educational opportunities.

The Human Rights Activist expressed regrets that the indigenous regime that seized power through military overthrow in 1980 on the mantle of eradicating corruption, on the contrary committed egregious war crimes, human rights violations and corruption by far surpassing the regime they overthrew.

In this connection, Rev. Arkoi cautioned Liberia’s incumbent President, Joseph Nyuma Boakai Sr. and his government to endeavor in creating a Liberia for all Liberians by ensuring that the socio-economic and political opportunities including the natural resources of the state, equitably benefit all citizens without discrimination; and the dispensation of social justice for all.

Success or failure in national governance, solely, depends on effective policies formulation and its impartial implementation, with focus on commitment and dedication, to enhancing the socio-economic livelihood of all citizens, particularly the underprivileged, the BFF activist told the global forum.

According to the BFF President, as a country, Liberia’s foundational principles which are laid out in the nation’s constitution and the pledge of allegiance must never be compromised in national governance, and the dispensation of justice for all, as well as accountability, transparency and probity.

Accordingly, our insistence on the need to embrace practices such as assets declaration/asset-recovery by Liberian public officials, must not be seen as a witch-hunt, but fulfillment of state and international obligations,” the BFF Civic Activist maintained.

Rev. Arkoi, who is also the Deputy Secretary-General of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia further  asserted that assets declaration which is part of Liberia’s fight against endemic corruption is in line with Chapter IV of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC); Goal 16.4 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; and the Commitment Under the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for Financing for Development, a historic pledge endorsed by Heads of State and Government at the 28th African Union Summit, held on 15 July 2015, aiming to increase Political Will to achieve global and regional goals geared toward accelerating human development.

The BFF Founder stressed during the forum that asset declaration, which by all accounts, supports the Nation’s fight against corruption derived from the desire to fulfill Liberia’s obligations as enshrined in especially Articles 5, C), and Article 7) of the 1986 constitution of Liberia, underpinned by supportive statutes including: i) Section 36.07 of the Model Penal Code of Liberia, ii) Section 9.1 of the National Code of Conduct For All Public Officials And Employees Of The Government Of The Republic Of Liberia, all of which frown on corruption in public service and mandate specific sanctions such as seizure and forfeiture to the State of any property acquired from abuse of public office amongst others.

The BFF CEO also asserted that Asset declaration is consistent with actualizing Liberia’s State’s obligations under Article 5, C), and Article 7) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, and supportive statutes, including Chapter IV of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC); Goal 16.4 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to which Liberia is a signatory.

“We must refrain from discriminating against people who are different from us. We tend to do this in the form of tribalism, favoritism or through the so-called native-congor divides, and political patronage, which are against our foundational principles as clearly amplified in the national pledge of allegiance- Liberty and Justice for All,” Rev. Arkoi outlined, in response to panelist question to identify some barriers to peace and development in Liberia.

Rev. Arkoi stressed that Liberian leaders should desist from using positions of power to deny others fair and equitable access to state resources and other opportunities for their development, protection and happiness, as no Liberian should have special preference over other Liberians.

According to the noted Civil Society Activist, corruption amounts to an abuse of state power to which some of our public officials subscribe, leading to the loss of at least US$4.6 billion of Liberia’s stolen wealth from 1950 to 2012.

Arkoi further stressed that “opportunities and resources should be given based on merit/or via set criteria, rather than based on the personal interest of those in charge of state governance.

“As a nation, it is imperative that we embrace in good faith, the convening of national dialogue to truthfully debate our histories of success and failures, including acts of historical discrimination and marginalization.” “There is a need to constitute a ‘National History Committee’ to review and reconcile our history, with emphasis on deconstructing all false historical narratives, regardless of how unpleasant some may be,” the BFF President recommended.

The BFF President stressed that “until we can admit and document these happenings in an unbiased way, we cannot learn from them to become a healthier, a more unified nation.”

Rev. Arkoi: “So if we are not discriminatory, if we are not betraying our pledge of allegiance, I think our country will be very great”.

The BFF CEO asserted that the Rule of Law is foundational as it also represents the face of the country.

Commenting on the Boakai administration’s asset declaration policy, he asserted that Liberians should not see asset declaration as a witch hunt.

“We should think about the immense benefits of assets declaration in national governance,” he further stated.

Rev. Arkoi: “There are more benefits that come with accountability. We must hold ourselves accountable. This is why we must voluntarily embrace accountability as it will bring much development dividends to the country. If we, as a government and nation demonstrate self-accountability, Liberia will gain more trust among development partners and in the International Community”.

The Theme of the forum “Foundational Principles for Healthy Systems in Liberia” focused on 1. Educating the Public on Human Rights 2. Collaborating with Government and Civil Society 3. Promoting Economic and Social Rights 4. Reporting Abuses to International Bodies: 5. Empowering Marginalized Groups 6. Monitoring Elections and Holding Leaders Accountable 7. Documenting Human Rights Violations.

TLV which organized the forum uses its platform and conferences aimed at ensuring that Liberians at home and abroad contribute to building a better, safer, and more prosperous country.

Other distinguished personalities who also participated in the panel discussion include, Rev. Dr. Edwin Lloyd, Jr. and Mr. Felix Wilson, both based in the United States.

They expressed commitment on behalf of The Liberians View (TLV) to support, and collaborate with Better Future Foundation in bridging the disparity gaps in Liberia through the empowerment of indigenous grassroots women traders, and at- risk-youth, among others, for sustainable peaceful coexistence and development in Liberia.

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