By James S. Dahn (August 25th 2005)
"...Cllr. Sherman’s ambition cannot and should not be linked to our period of pains and suffering. Is there any record to show that Cllr. Sherman made any contribution towards the repatriation of thousands of Liberians that came from Ghana or even Guinea? Certainly not!..."
It is worth commending the fourth estate to some extent for conducting interviews with some of the candidates that are in the running for the Liberian presidency. These discussions are very significant in that it gives the voting public the ability to make sound and balance decisions in some instances. Notwithstanding, it is also explicit that we call on some members of the press to keep themselves away from practicing partisan politics and the tactics of black mailing the process for the sake of minimum monetary gains
However, my attention of late has been drawn to the latest interview conducted by the Daily Observers Newspaper with one of the almost 26 standard bearers who happens to be Cllr. Varney Sherman. In the heading, which read: “ Sherman Takes on Critics”, Cllr. Sherman says that his desire to contest the Liberian presidency was based on the Bulk Challenge scenario; something that occurred since April 1996. It has been almost 9 years ago since this incident took place but it was just last year when the lawyer made his intention to contest the Liberian presidency known.
In his response, Cllr. Sherman tells Sando Moore and Abdullai Dukuly of the Daily Observer the following: “I am rising to a challenge”.
From the above passage, there are lots of good reasons why one should challenge Cllr. Sherman declaration for running for the Liberian presidency, especially so at a time when his friend, Transitional Chairman, Gyude Bryant is now at the helm of power.
It is a political understatement for Cllr. Sherman to put the Liberian population under a state of misinformation and charade about his craving to contest the Liberian presidency. There is no constituted basis for his analysis nor there any prominent factor that has driven him for the nation’s highest office. The reasons why one should query the rationalization for Cllr. Sherman’s misgivings are explicit.
Assuming that elections would have been held in October 2003, that is holding all unfolding factors constant and if this is an accepted point for consideration, then the question that begs answer is whether Cllr. Sherman would have thrown in his hat for the presidency?
The thing is that all of those who had interest in the elections of 2003 had already made their intentions known by March of 2003. But, by this time, the Cllr. had not mentioned to anybody or even a passer by that he had any interest whatsoever in the quest for the Liberian presidency. To be more précised, the only known candidate of the Liberia Action Party by then was Dr. Joseph Kortu and if Cllr. Sherman is honest enough, he would agree with me.
Furthermore to this, the Liberia Action Party had informed Dr. Kortu that it was not going to field any presidential candidate for the 2003 elections. However, the Party was quick to inform Dr. Kortu that if he had the financial wherewithal to contest, then it would have no alternative but to support him since in essence he was a bona fide member of the Party.
It is worth noting that during all of these discussions, Cllr. Sherman, Willie Belleh, Harry Greaves, Gyude Bryant and other stalwarts of the Party were present. At that time which was during the first quarter of 2003, the Liberia Action Party signed a Memorandum Of Understanding with the Free Democratic Party, the Unity Party, and the Liberia Unification Party and partly with the New Deal Movement for the purpose of collaborating their efforts at supporting a single presidential candidate for the 2003 elections. By then, the candidates on the listing were, Dr. Joseph Kortu, Charles Brumskine and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. So if Cllr. Sherman had any political ambition during this period, he would have made it known, but instead he rendered his legal services in the preparation of the MOU.
It also should not be stated that Cllr. Sherman’s vigor for the Liberia presidency was predicated or stirred by the Bulk Challenge event of 1996 wherein some of us spent long days on sea without food and no hope of relief in sight. Even during our desperate situation on the high sea, I do not remember the voice of Cllr. Sherman calling on the Ghanaian government to let the Bulk Challenge to dock at their port of entry. Maybe Cllr. Sherman needs to refresh my memory if he ever contributed to the many calls made by well meaning Liberians during such a memorable and life threatening period of our lives.
But more to this, when some of us returned home from Ghana during 1997, we decided to form an organization in reminiscence of our experience on the historic Bulk Challenge. We in our weak ways printed T- shirts with the inscription of Bulk Challenge, but more interestingly, on two occasions, we asked Cllr. Sherman to assist us with a project we intended to undertake as Bulk Challenger and not only did he refused, but could not even allow us to have an audience with him.
So let it be made emphatically and let the Liberian people know that it is unfair to them and especially to us as Bulk Challengers that Cllr. Sherman’s ambition cannot and should not be linked to our period of pains and suffering. Is there any record to show that Cllr. Sherman made any contribution towards the repatriation of thousands of Liberians that came from Ghana or even Guinea? Certainly not!
There are however cynical reasons why Cllr. Sherman hid himself under his legal cocoon during the tyrannical years of Mr. Charles Taylor and there are also reasons why he has decided to join the race for the highest seat.
First it must be noted that Cllr. Sherman became a business partner of former president, Charles Taylor. Cllr. Sherman legal representation of Mr. George Haddad who had been placed on the United Nations sanction list was not based on professional expertise. It was former president Charles Taylor who recommended Cllr. Sherman to serve as Haddad’s lawyer. As an erudite lawyer, Cllr. Sherman managed to redeem Mr. Haddad (the head of the Liberian economy) from the dragnet of the United Nations sanction and because of this, former president Taylor recommended all of his shady business partners to Cllr. Sherman.
Secondly, had Gyude Bryant not become Transitional Head, Cllr. Sherman would not have announced his intention to contest the Liberian presidency. It is so simple to see between the lines how the Liberian Action Party continues to grow in wealth and not popularity at the expense of the impoverished and undernourished people of Liberia. Not only is it a guilt by association but an attempt to transfer power to someone who will not allow for those who are pillaging the state resources to face prosecution in the nearest future.
The distance between Cllr. Sherman’s Bulk Challenge motivation and the 2005 elections is too wide for any rationale Liberian to accept. If Cllr. Sherman were so moved by passion for the Liberian people, he would have at least identified with the displaced people during the late 90s and even during the end of the war in 2003. It must be noted again that Cllr. Sherman has just embarked upon his humanitarian mission during the early period of 2004. So it cannot be said that Cllr. Sherman has ever been moved by passion for the Liberian people but rather has been vigorously campaigning against the interest of the poor people as a big shot lawyers.
Is it possible for the former workers of Toyata garage to accept Cllr. Sherman’s passion to lead this country when he introduced what he referred to as “temporary redundancy” without pay? Yes Cllr. Sherman has been right all the time when he says: I am representing my clients and my job as a corporate lawyer is to make sure that their interests are protected”. That is true, but unfortunately, their interest (elites) have always been protected against that of the ordinary, the peasant, the low- income NGO worker, the poverty stricken pensioners of Bong Mines, the latex- bucket toting employees of Firestone, those made homeless by the Liberia Agriculture Company and the temporary redundant mechanics with no severance pay. But who are those that are going to vote that are so different from those listed above?
In short, the first time I ever heard Cllr. Sherman talked about his ambition for the presidency was when he said that he was been encouraged by one Mr. Sam Cooper and another fellow known as Mr. Kabba and that was during an interview with Power TV. Yet today, we hear him say that he was motivated by the Bulk Challenge experience. But for many, the only reason that best explains why Cllr. Varney Sherman joined the presidential race is simple: Because his friend, Gyude Bryant is now the Chairman of the corruption infested Transitional Government. So Cllr. Sherman, please do not use our near death experience on the vessel Bulk Challenge for entering the race for the presidency. I think it about time that you put up a brave face and desist from hiding under all sort of shades.
Dr. Gwenigale explanation about the conduct of the LUP convention left more rooms for questions than answers. He said that prior to the convention, the Party’s leadership told them (he and Dr. Beedoe) that no matter the outcome of the convention, LUP has already committed itself with working with the Liberia Action Party. So whether anyone wins or not, the Party was forming an alliance with LAP without regards to anyone. Dr. Gwenigale had his disagreement and it cost him a whole lot. But just before my ink dried on LUP, news has it that its standard bearer, Dr. Beedoe has reluctantly and with a mournful and heavy heart accepted not to contest against Cllr. Sherman for the standard bearer-ship of COTOL.
The True Whig Party (TWP )
After the Accra Peace Talks, the former chairman of the Party, Cllr. Rudolph Sherman said that he was going to contest the Liberian Presidency. A year later, he like Cletus Wortorson and few others changed his mind and before the ink could seal the alliance, TWP jumped on board. And together, there are about four political parties on board COTOL. Maybe more will get on board as the elections date draw closer.
TWP is Liberia’s oldest political party and for sure, the Party has nothing to offer the Liberian people. Even to find a piece of cloth with the inscription of TWP is difficult. The demise of the Old Order sent the TWP into total blocked out. So except for the E. J. Roye building where it has a patched but leaking office, there is no semblance of the TWP. They too, like the PDPL joined the alliance with no agenda and no standard bearer.
The Liberia Action Party (LAP)
Varney Sherman, the lone candidate of LAP is yet to demonstrate to the Liberian people that his Party has not received a red penny from Gyude Bryant. The flamboyancy of the Party has also allowed for the blind to point accusing fingers at Chairman Bryant. Yet still LAP, besides its huge spending and the distribution of rice and cars has not found a place among the serious minded political parties.
In his acceptance speech as the lone standard bearer of LAP, Cllr. Sherman stated that LAP would not do business with any of the so-called political parties in Liberia. According to him, the old parties were responsible for the failure of the Liberian state. However, one does not only see the contradiction in Sherman analysis but rather a big hole that he will not cover until after elections.
What’s about the True Whig Party that ruled Liberia for more than a century? Why has Cllr. Sherman agreed to do business with the TWP when in fact he stated that LAP was not going to do business with any old party? Anyway, Cllr. Sherman has once again proven his political inconsistency something that can only be borne out of political immaturity. In 2003, he served as Chairman Bryant’s special envoy but months later he denied when he decided to contest the Liberian presidency. This is just one of his many inconsistencies.
In addition to his pendulum political nature, Cllr. Sherman has also taken into his Party, a killing machine as a senatorial aspirant for the LAP. So if Cllr. Sherman assertion that his Party would not work with those who committed violence against the Liberian people, then why has he allowed Adolphus Dolo to run on the ticket of his untainted LAP. Does Cllr. not know that the Liberian people know that it was the LAP that brought in the NPFL in 1985 after the elections? I guess he cannot say that he is unaware of how the uniforms were purchased and where some of the coup plotters were staying.
Moreover, is Cllr. Sherman not aware that the TWP and the PDPL were all in the belly of former president Charles Taylor? Or is he just pretending not to be listening to this information? What about the many allegations about his involvement in the LUP crisis? The formation of COTOL explains to the market woman down waterside that indeed Cllr. Sherman was the brain behind the disintegration of LUP. I think there is an imperative need for Cllr. Sherman to tell the Liberian people his stance on making honest statements and living up to it.
The Formation, what Next?
Now that COTOL has been formed, the question that comes to mind is what next? Recently, callers on a talk show told Messrs. Mannah and Torquie that they were just wasting their time because their commercial and prostituted alliance will have no significant bearing on the elections. What was more demeaning is the fact that Mr. Torquie told the Liberian people that his Party does not have any competent person and that was the reason why he was joining the COTOL. What a very sad statement.
From the definition of an alliance, no rational person can conclude that COTOL is a serious alliance of political parties but rather one of seizure for zero reason. Why should one go through the headache of annexing vacuum political parties with no offices anywhere in this country? And lest we forget, it is important for the organizers of this pretense club to understand that the annexing of useless political parties under the charade of a blurred alliance will have no impart on the October elections.
Of late, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Unity Party has been at the center stage of political cross- carpeting. Meaning that she has received and is still receiving membership from other political parties. On the other hand, few persons have also left her Unity Party. In politics, alignment can either promote or undermine the credibility of a party given the characters involve in the crossing over. But for Ellen, it seems that disaster might be her portion if she sit supinely and allow the political leftovers and scholars of demonstration and violence to infiltrate and disorganize her camp.
One of such person who has deflated Ellen spirit happens to be the disgruntled Joseph Colomia of Bong County and according to information gathered, he did not register to vote. Of late, he has been using the airwaves to castigate madam Sirleaf as a vindictive character with war like attributes, one who is obsessed with power and so forth. This has made lots of people to raise their eyebrows at Ellen Sirleaf even in the face of misleading information. But Ellen herself is not mindful. At the moment, she is accepting everybody into her Party and if she is not careful, her efforts will end under the feet of swine.
Madam Sirleaf recently accepted a non- Liberian into her Party and that has given her a negative reflection. Aicha Conneh is not a Liberian and this is something that Ellen knows. More besides, allowing a woman with a rebel reputation, someone who has visibly been involved with the death of thousands of Liberians has made many Liberian women to think twice and wonder as to whether Ellen knows what she is doing. Ellen has to be careful. Remember! Aicha a Guinean was the one who connected her rebel husband, Sekou Conneh to Guinea president, Lassana Conteh.
Secondly, Ellen allows former warlord and blood stained, Prince Johnson into her Party. After the former rebel leader short stay with the Unity Party as an evangelist he prophesized that Ellen was going to win the elections. But shortly after his defeat for the senatorial post in Nimba County, he quickly retracted his vision and now considers Ellen as a devil and a woman and someone who had used the Nimbaians in 1985 and 1990 to destabilize their own country. To worsen the situation, the man who defeated Evangelist Prince Johnson during the elections happened to be another political deflector from the National Patriotic Party (NPP). Yet Ellen has not learnt her lesson in political deception 101.
More to so, and this is something that could seriously undermine her chances, a group of power greed individuals who have been hiding under the shield of “Progressives” has also joined the Ellen shaky political boat. Many Liberians see the likes of Sawyer, Wolokollie, Mayson and Wisseh as men with no virtue and interest in the Liberian people. They are what many Liberians called political troublemakers from the 70s to present and a class of people who represents nothing short of Communistic – Socialism.
The Sawyer regime was characterized by tricks and double-dealing between he and former warlord, Charles Taylor. As for Mr. Wisseh, his greed for power led him to manipulate the Transitional Government where he secured a space in the NTGL at the detriment of the youths of this country. His conspiracy and alleged corrupt practices at the NTGL has also dent his reputation as a “Progressive”. As for Mayson, he is noted to be a shady businessman with lots of scars on his character. As for Dusty Wolokollie, he just cannot be trusted. He is a man with a ruined reputation.
The latest crossing over of Sawyer and others have also raise the question of leadership. Why couldn’t Sawyer and others maintain their Party, the LPP? According to information, Sawyer was the founding chairman of the Liberia People Party and if he cannot take care of his creation, then something must be wrong with the man who bought a house in the state of Maryland a few years ago with our resources.
In all of these things, it is Ellen who is going to suffer the heart attack if she is not mindful of strange bedfellows. The newspapers in Liberia have done enough sensitizations on these political grasshoppers and it is only left with Ellen to shine her eyes or else she could be wiping her eyes in about fifty some more days from now. Ellen not all that glitter is gold and you better mine…
About the author:
James S. Dahn is a Computer Analyst, who lives in Detroit , Michigan, USA.