Sunday, October 28, 2007

An exclusive interview with Rep. Dickson Temo Yarsiah sr

Recently, some Gbarpolu County citizens residing in the Diaspora invited one of their representatives to address the formation of Gbarpolu county Association in the Diaspora and brief them about happenings in the newly created county. Gbarpolu County was created in 2001 and is one of Liberia’s newest counties. Gbarpolu occupies an area of approximately 1,263 square miles, and was estimated to have a population around 131,227 inhabitants before the civil war.
The vast majority of Gbarpolu consist of forest. Mining was the primary economy activity in Gbarpolu prior to the Liberian civil war, in addition to farming. However, the civil war devastated all sectors of the County even before the 2001 legislation that granted legal County status to the newly created County.
Prior to the creation of the county, lack of development was amongst major problems in the area. To date, Gbarpolu is still far behind the current/ongoing development activities in Liberia. Gbarpolu has three electoral districts. There are three representatives and two senators. On August 29, 2007, Gbarpolu County senior senator Samuel Tormite Died in Ghana while undergoing treatments. A by-election to replace the late Senator termite is scheduled to take place on December 4th 2007. While in the U.S. attending the Gbarpolu County Association formation meeting, Sam K Zinnah had an exclusive interview with:
Hon. Dickson Temo Yarsiah Sr.
Representative, Gbarpolu County, Co-Chairman, Ways Means & Finance
Co-Chairman, Planning & Economics Affairs & Member Maritime
Republic of Liberia.


Q. It is almost two years now since your election as Representative of electoral district number three in Gbarpolu County, how would you describe your relationship with your constituent?

Dickson T. Yarsiah: Well, it is cordial, since our election, we’ve made frequent visits to them. We mainly designed those visitations to ask them what their priority needs are and also to work along with them. As you know, as their true representative, we have to work as per amended, so, to ask me about the relationship between us, our relationship is very cordials and transparent.

Q. What are your legislative caucus major development pillars for Gbarpolu County?

D.T.Y: Immediately after our induction into offices, we wrote a five years development package covering four major key focuses, those focuses are: one, road network, two, health, three, education and four, agriculture. We decided to do these as priority because of the fourteen years of destructions our country experienced. As you know, all of our social institutions were destroyed. Roads were locked, right now; most places are not still accessible. This is why we decided to make road network our priority. Next is health, and that’s followed by education, and as we said, four is agriculture so as to make them self sufficient.

Q. According to your county development agenda, the first priority is placed on the rehabilitation of road networks. To date, Bokomu and Gue-nwolala districts are still land-lacked and completely inaccessible to NGOs and other humanitarian institutions that may want to deliver basic social services to residents of the two Districts, what percentage of your priority has been achieved after nearly two years in office?

DTY: Well as you know Sam, a nation on this fate with a little over three hundred and some years when the war came for almost fifteen years and destroy all those institutions, we cannot just build them over night. When it comes to the roads leading from Bopolu to Gue-Ngwolala and Bokomu districts, that includes also Belle District, really Gue-Ngwolala and Bokomu dDistricts have been land-locked since the existing of our country. Belle District had some kind of path roads where some past so-called investors used to only harvest their logs and bring them forth. So, Sam, to be candid with you, this government has done all she could. What we decided to do first was to ensure that we prepare a development agenda or package. Well, now that we’ve prepared the development package, as we speak, we’ve started rehabilitating the roads from Tubmanburg “Bomi County” to Gbarpolu County capitol “Bopolu”. And from there we are going to continue the road rehabilitations as promised by this government. We will also ensure that the road is build between Belle Yalla. That will also touch portion of Bokomu district. We will later be connecting gbarpolu County to Bong County by way of the St. Paul river to palakolleh. We just got a company that has agreed in principal to build the bridge over the St. Paul River. That company will also be extending the bridge construction to the Tuma River in Bokomu. So, this government has just started the implementations of those promises made to our people during the campaign. But the first two years or the first twenty months were designed to prepare ourselves to commence your work. You know you can’t just get up to build roads without studies because it is capital intensive and there are lots of studies you need to do. You first of all need to survey, you need to do assessment, blue print, before you can commence and this is exactly what we are doing.

Q. I understand you (Representative Dickson T. Yarsiah) and Senator Daniel F. Naatahn constructed a five bedroom clinic in kpayeakolleh, Gue-Nwolala district, what are some of the means of maintenance of this clinic since if fact the district is land-lacked?
DTY: Well, that there, after the building of the clinic, infact we build this clinic during the campaign because we believe in positive actions, we believe in results, we told the people before you even elect us, we are going to do this. So, what we did was to construct that clinic in Kpayeakolleh. Immediately after the construction, it was turned over to government. Government is now sending drugs and paying staffs & Nurses. Just the other day in June, when I visited there, I took a generator there so at least at night they can be able to have lights to cater to patients especially in the case of emergency. Government is doing her own possible best and also NGOs around, like the CCC (a local NGO) are helping with drugs.

Q. The chairman and MD of FAPCO “a logging company” Ghazi Bazzi on September 22, 2007 wrote a letter to your honorable office. In his letter, Mr. Bazzi outlined a number of development projects his company is willing to undertake in the county. Does Bazzi’s FAPCO offer meet the requirement of your county standard for investors? If yes, what are some of the procedures your administration has designed to protect the interest of the County “Gbarpolu”?
DTY: Thank you very much for that very good question. Right now Mr. Zinnah, we can assure you all at home and in the Diaspora that we are not doing it hastily to just commit ourselves to any investment companies. What happen to this company “FAPCO”, as you know, they existed in our area from 1988 up to 1990, two years before the war came in Liberia and we know exactly what they did. At the time, they did not care or cater to the needs of our people sufficiently, in fact, not even to count on any development. Lots of commitments were made, so, these commitments as I said earlier, we do not believe in too much promises or rhetoric. What we’ve told them is that we will continue to receive applications from investors and then we will liaise with our people or constituent to decide. These are the people that we represent and these are the same people over 150 years who have really pay taxes for those areas. Some of them were taken into force labor in the process so we are not just hastening to accept companies. We will sifter them, we will appraise them, we will ensure that they meet up with the requirements of the people and more over, we are not going to sit with potential investors in Monrovia. We will make sure to take them to our elders and residents of the county. The current forestry law says that “the investors have to sit with the indigenous people to come up to some social agreements”. When we talk about social agreements, it can’t just be done in Monrovia because we represent them in Monrovia. The people must be given the time and chance to participate. Their voices must be heard and that their decisions will be the final. We are not hastened, our area is a virgin forest, we have lots of un-tip resources, we are very proud to say that. Our area is like a virgin girl that before we give it to any body or man, we must know the kind of man you are, not just because you have the dollars. We have to make sure that even you “in the United States or other parts of the world add your own views”. Our children or sons and daughters must participate in the decision making process so that they too can have their own take or input before we can accept these companies. As you are aware “Mr. Zinnah” Bazzi operated a huge portion of our forest prior to the civil war, we wonder why he did not make these offers to us during the early stage? Why is he now committing himself this much?. This time around, we are not just looking at Bazzi, we are also looking at those other companies that will be in the position to deliver to our people.

Q. Couple of months ago, I received a phone call from a resident of a border town between Lofa and Gbarpolu Counties. During the conversation, it was reported that there’s a border dispute between both sides of the border towns, are you or your caucus aware of anything of such? If yes, what actions have you or your caucus instituted or planning to institute?
DTY: Thank you highly too for that beautiful question. Land dispute “for your information” is not only between the Belle District and the Kolahun District. It’s almost everywhere in Liberia but this area really caught our attention. Some two or three months ago, the Hon. Representative from kolahun District in person of Hon. Vaforay Kamara and me cited the citizens of the areas to a meeting at the G.W. Gibson high school campus in Monrovia. We met with them on two different Sundays. Those meetings were well attended by residents of the two areas. What we did was to ask their views on the issue. We consulted them and then we wrote the elders and other residents that could not make it to the meetings. We understand that the dispute started between the two groups when people from the Kolahun District started doing commercial fishing and hunting in the Lofa river ‘which serves as the official border between the two counties or Districts’. The misunderstanding started when the fishing resulted to wildlife killing and collection of money from our people by residents from the other side of the border. The alleged money collection was not yielding any economic benefits to our people. So, later, our people decided not to allow the continuation of the economic exploitations. But as you know Mr. Zinnah, the people co-existed before the political desire. Meaning that before lower loaf was considered as a county, there were intermarriages, and there were other relationships & common understanding between our people. Because of these commercial activities, heated argument erupted amongst them and we as their representatives decided we will not sit down and look and look on so we wrote asking them to wait for us. By November, latest the 20th, we will be going in to ensure that we settle whatever dispute between the tow areas. Besides that area, we have received another report of dispute between Salayea (part of Lofa county) and the Belle District around the Via River. We will also be going there to try to resolve the issue. All over Liberia right now there are disputes, I mean border disputes. The other day there was similar thing between River G and Maryland counties and the caucus there had to move in. So, our caucus is really taking this serious, we are not going to put it aside, we will make sure to reach them in our efforts to water down the conflict so that the people can continue to co-exist.

Q. In August of this year, there was a homicide incident in the Belle District town of Lowoma. According to confirm reports from Lowoma, Police went to Lowoma and made several arrest in the town. They brutalized them and requested the sum of LD 2,500.00 from each of the town officials, when the requested was not made available by the town residents; they were made to walk more than 50 hours one way to Bopolu to face investigation. The homicide victim’s father was among the group. The alleged homicide suspect was left loose until a formal complain was file against him by the victim’s father. While the group was in Bopolu awaiting investigation, news of their brutality spread. In a cell phone txt message, I contacted the members of Gbarpolu County legislative Caucus; You (DY) immediately responded to my inquiry request and promised to lunch a full scale investigation into the issues. Weeks later, a local association “LOKOGASA” filed a formal complain to the county authorities (of which you are a part), did you by any chance get a copy of the formal complain filed by LOKOGASA? If yes, what have your caucus done about this case?

DTY: Yes indeed, we received complains not even from LOKOGASA. We heard it from the local authority from the area. In fact the parent of the homicide victim came to Bopolu and as far as Monrovia. He attended our meeting in Monrovia. We saw the father, and we all continue ‘up to now’ to say look, enough is enough. I personally told them when I visited them in last December that “if you don’t want to be killed, do not kill”. This guy was murdered and luckily for us, one of our own sons is the police commander incharge of the detachment in Gbarpolu County. What we did was; we wrote him & even sent for him. We told him to make sure that the alleged killer faced justice. The alleged killer was immediately taken from the Belle District and moved to Bopolu “the county headquarters”. And you are quite right Mr. Zinnah, the police mad-handled our people. I told them look! If you sit down here as a son of the county or the district, moreover as a Liberian police officer and let our people be mad-handled, you will share some responsibilities. You know this government is against killing, you sat down here and send your own people to go in the interior to mad-handle our people and took money from them?. As alleged, we are not in favor of it. We have vowed to lunch a full scale probe into the allegation. For your information, this gentleman “the police commander” sends an independent body to go and investigate the allegation. As soon as we leave from here, we are going to collect the report from them and then send it to you people. We are not going to sit down and shoot this thing under carpets. Enough is enough. The fellow that did the killing is already in jail in Tubmanburg “Bomi County” because we do not currently have jail in Gbarpolu County. As I said, he’s currently behind bars awaiting trial. We will follow it up to the final day in court. This we really promise you, we mean it

Q. According to the analyst Newspaper in Monrovia, on the night of October 18, 2007, Gbarpolu County Development superintendent fell to the brutal hands of Gbarpolu County Police. According to the paper, police flogged the superintendent for failing to buy the police more drinks as requested by the police. What is your county Caucus and officials doing to promote cordial relationship between county residents and police?
DTY: Oh! Are you saying October of this year? SKZ; Yes. DTY, well, I did not hear about up to my departure from Liberia. I communicated with the county Development superintendent prior to my departure for the States. I even told him that the priority need now for the 2006/2007 budget where government allotted USD 18,500.00 is to be used to start the construction of a high school in Belle Baloma “Belle District”. So, if anything of such happen, he should have informed me. So, honestly I’m not aware if anything of such exists. As you are aware, under our own style of government structure in Liberia now, the superintendent’s office is an extension of the president’s office and development superintendent is the next in line. If he can be brutally handled as alleged, then the police would have to be questioned. But as soon as I leave from here, if the information is true, we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Q. During the 2005 presidential and parliamentary elections, I closely followed campaign activities in Gbarpolu County. I noticed some issues between you and Cllr. Kanie Weso. I thought it was just campaign issues but it seems deeper than what I thought. Nearly two years after the elections, residents of Gbarpolu and close sources to authorities of Gbarpolu are still complaining about the dark relationship between you and Cllr. Weso. How would you describe your relationship with Cll. Weso compared to the public’s perception?
DTY: I think by now the people whom we represent are quite aware that those promises made during the campaign are being highly worked on. And Brother Zinnah, I don’t think individual interest will overshadow the interest of our people and the development of our area. Those that will fail to join the national wagon, the wagon of development, the wagon reconciliation, the wagon reconstruction, the wagon of forgiveness, are we going to waste out time behind them? We are busy fostering our development goals ahead. When it comes to Weso and I, I don’t think anything’s between us. As our own culture dictates, traditionally; when something happen between sons and daughters of the land, the elders steps in. And the elders “from my own understanding” have already settled whatever existed between Weso and myself “if any ever. Infact, there was no dispute between us in the political struggles. When you talk about elections, you will definitely find oppositions at each others throats. At the end of elections, the country comes first and then let bye-gone be bye-gone. Unfortunately for this brother and myself, we never had anything in common interns of conflict, so I don’t for see any conflict between us. We will continue to talk to our people as we leave from here again. Before even coming to the U.S. to inform you people on Development issues, we already went on air and inform all of our people. Upon my return to Liberia, I will be proceeding to my constituent to embark on development activities such as; construction of schools, clinics and also the rehabilitation of our roads and construction of new roads. So when it comes between Brother Weso and myself, if he has anything against me, accept you have complain. I think one day when you come to Liberia, then we all can sit and see how we can handle things but we should not encourage group or handful of people’s interest to overshadow our people’s interest.

Q. According to reports from Monrovia and Gbarpolu County, there are about 13 candidates gearing up to contest the up coming by-election comes December 4th 2007. Among them is Cllr. Weso. If you were given the chance hand-pick one of them to fill the position, who would you pick and why?
DTY: Well, power is inherent in the people. I wouldn’t decide for the people. From our own existence since we were born, our people know what we have done for them. For the political party side, the Unity party”which am a full flesh member of”, an executive member too, have selected Theo Momo as the party’s candidate. His selection was done at the mini-convention held in the County’s capitol “Bopolu”. Under the Liberian constitution, every citizen at the age of 25 for representative and 30 for senator can vow for the position accept you have some tinted or criminal records. But anything other than that, you are given the chance to participate. So, it’s left with the people, they have the power, they have the gavel. But on the party line, we have selected Theo Momo “of the Belle District” as our candidate.

Q. Would you work with Cllr. Kanie Weso if he’s elected as the next Gbarpolu County Senior Senator?
DTY: Ooh! Yes, the people’s choice is our choice. The people elected us, anybody they elect will be worked with so that we can bring development to our people. Our arms are open to anybody who wins. We even learn that one of our colleagues (Margibi County District # 4 representative, Flasher Chideryou) who died in Nigeria after a brief illness. So there is another by-election in that area. We are already 63 and the upper house is 29 because of the death of senator Tormite “may his arches rest in peace”, so anybody that will be elected to fill the vacancies will be worked with. As I said, our arms are open, even if Cllr. Weso wins, we will work with him.

Q. You are currently on a three months agriculture break, what are some of the activities you’ve planned to undertake in your constituent?
DTY: Well, before I came, in electorial district # 3 mainly Bokomu , Gue-Ngwolala and Belle District, we visited Bokomu and Gue-Ngwolala in June. The citizens there told us that they wanted clinics as their development priority. So we have already contributed ten bundles of zinc, five boundless to each district. I have already contributed LD 82,000.00 personally as their true representative. We will be making follow ups as they are making the blocks. We will go through the ground breaking and begin the constructions as soon as possible. There are the priority developments we are undertaking during our three months vacation. After the ground breaking in Bokomu and Gue-Ngwolala, we will be proceeding to the belle District where we will also be making blocks for the construction of a high school in Belle Baloma “our District headquarters”. The residents of fassama have also requested a construction of a public school. We will be making ten bundles of zinc available to them for that project. The people of Teigele have also expressed interest in constructing a clinic. We have pledge ten thousand Liberian dollars and five bundles of zinc for that project too. Out of the amount, we’ve given them LD 6,000.00 and will make sure that the remaining is turned over to them as soon as possible. In the Gbandi area (LOKOGASA), before I came to the states, I was written. The people (of LOKOGASA) requested a meeting with us to commend us for out tireless efforts in trying to seek their well-being. They (LOKOGASA) have planned an honoring program for the Gbarpolu County legislative caucus to give us our flowers while we are alive. They also intent to build a five bed room clinic in Gatima, “a Town in the Belle District”. We will also make sure to make significant contributions to that project. As you are aware, on April seven of this year, we took the president of the republic of Liberia “her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf” to Belle Yallah where we broke ground for the construction of vocational institution. We also made pledges there. The Gbarpolu caucus pledge USD1000.00. We will also be making personal contributions.
We have also begun making Communion farms in the constituent or electorial Districts. We’ve made some farms but we thought the sizes are not impressive so we want to go back there. Sometime this year, we called on the three districts to get involved actively. We told them that the District that will make the largest farm will receive a price of USD 1000.00 and USD500.00 to the individual farmer with the largest farm. We did this because we believe in encouraging competition in our area so that the people in our area can be encouraged to produce their own food. As you know, we used to be with Lofa County. And those days, we used to be considered Liberia’s bread basket. Now that we are politically separated from lofa County, we want to be the bread basket of Liberia. When it comes to help and road network, we have contacted the German Agro Action (GAA) “a local NGO”. They have agreed to re-condition some of the bridges from Bopolu to Belle District. They even asked us to give them names of implementing partners. We’ve forwarded the name of the Belle District Development Association (BDDAA) and a local Church which has an NGO status. Those two will be helping the GAA to re-condition the roads from Bopolu to Belle. For your information also, last year, we gave scholarship to seven students from the Belle District to attend the “Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts” (TNIMA) in Monrovia. This year, that number has grown up to 12 students. The reason we are sponsoring these students is that the clinics we are building or talking about in our areas need Nurses to operate them.Just before I departed for the States, I instructed my office to make the first check available for the initial payment to TNIMA. Besides TNIMA, we also have some students at other institutions in Monrovia. They are going to be educated by us because we believe modeling the mind of our own children and preparing them for tomorrow but they must be able to serve their people. These are just few of the things. We cannot name all now but I can assure you that there are major things that we are going to do during the three months break. Beside those named, Myself will be making a farm. It will not be a communion farm, it will be a farm that I will make and turn over to the District.

Q. On March 22, 2007 Internal Affairs Minister “Ambulai Johnson” appeared before the Senate to explain circumstances surrounding the disbursement of the county development funds that was allocated for the 64 districts in Liberia. During his appearance, Ambulai Johnson, “according to some journalists witnessing the event” could not account for the funds. There are reports that some counties received cash from the minister while others are yet to. Did Gbarpolu County receive any portion of that money, if yes, how much was received and how was it utilized? How was the decision “to utilize the amount receive” derived at? Were the constituents directly involved in the project identification process?
DTY: Well, the amount you are talking about was the initial amount after we took over from the Bryant government. That amount was around 80 to 90 million dollars. When we came, we had to recast the budget. We had a period from January to June 30th, so we talking about some five months. Our recast budget that was passed into hand bill amounted to about USD44.1 million. Of that amount, we had one million dollars for county development. We divided that amount by the 15 counties regardless of size or population. I think each county of us (county) received about $66,666.64 cents. That amount was divided by the six districts in Gbarpolu County. But because we had just assumed office and were still in a kind of formation stage, we were done hastily. So our people “even we as members of the caucus” were not conferred with as to how that money was used. This is why we had to invite the internal Affairs minister to clarify how that money was utilized. It was not only in the upper House, the lower House also did the same so that he could make a comprehensive report to us. He appeared on two different occasions but was sent back. Up to now, his report is pending. And I can assure you Brother Zinnah & citizens of our own Country, we are not going to sit and relax. This government preaches against corruption and believes in transparency and accountability. So, we will not just talk like past leaders. If we came to change, we must see change in Liberia. This government will ensure that positive changes come to Liberia. So I can assure you that the legislature is not taking it light, we are not taking it free. Anybody who consumes public money must be held liable for his or her action. If you don’t give account, well, it may imply that you will not serve in our area. Either we declare a vote of no confidence in you that you cannot serve the people. I told him when he met us. I said “Mr. Minister, you position is one of the sensitive positions n the whole country. Reason being that you are dealing with the people that elected us. Don’t only sit behind your air conditioned desk and receive report and be satisfied with those reports. Get up from behind your desk and go in the rural areas as we are doing. Right after his appearance at that session, even the journalists asked me why I was so though on the minister when in fact we are all from the same ruling Unity Party. I told the journalists that I was simply being objective. In my family, if you do wrong and don’t want to be told the truth, then don’t call me there because I will tell you the true. So, I can re-assure you ‘Brother Zinnah’ when we return, we will ask the Minister to come back and make his report. But we really told him that it was unfortunate and an abuse to us for them to purchase sand, timbers, crush rocks and other materials to take in our county where we have dense forest and don’t even know how to fell our trees. We told him it was an abuse, so this is where we reach sir.

Q. For decades now, the system of representation in Liberia has been quite different from other countries. In the past, when a political party won an election, all the contestants on that party’s ticket were declared winners. The 2005 elections broaden the horizon of the Liberian legislature. Representatives and senators from different political parties were elected. Most Liberians “including me” thought this 52nd legislature would be very though but a surprise grabbed Liberians world wide when the Senate’s standing committee on ways, means & Finance disclosed to the public that each member of both Upper and lower houses of the Liberian legislature would be receiving USD 1,500.00 as monthly transportation allowances while civil servants still received less than $50.00 per month. As a member of this 52nd legislature, what would be your justification for such a huge gap when in fact law makers are accused of not attending sessions or doing what they were elected for? As a Co-Chair on ways, means & Finance, could you explain how did the Senate’s committee on ways, means & Finance derive at this figure?

DTY: Well, that’s a very beautiful question. Maybe you would like to ask again, how much other countries parliament, congressmen, assemblymen are earning? SKZ, California law makers take home $110,880 per year making them the best paid Legislatures in the United States. The State (California) gross domestic product is $1.3 trillion-plus only behind Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom. If you look at the yard stick that we used, we look at Ghana, Sierra Leone, Cote de’ Voire, Gambia and other neighboring countries and compare their salaries, ours is absolutely nothing. Besides, the $1,500.00 is what we met. The Taylor Government made it, the Bryant government made the same thing. When we got in the recast budget $1,500.00 was accepted as our gross allowance. Of the amount, $320.00 is paid as tax. Take home will be around $1,180.00. Brother Zinnah, as your own representative, you think that amount is so………much that a representative can earn after we have looked at what other people make, and with the kind of contributions we’ve made and continue to make and you are saying that Liberians are saying it’s too high? I think Liberians are now convinced that we are underpaid. For your information, a civil servants salary was $15.00 when we took over. We have increased it to $55.00 a month. It is not less than fifty dollars. You have to be paid as per your status in society. If it is the Liberian people’s will that we should not even make anything and we should work, well, if we will have to make the sacrifice, then so be it! I was very delighted when you mentioned about the congress men from California. You see, they worth millions of dollars, they have their own budgets. Just about five months ago, we received some Republicans and democrats that we talked to in Liberia. They themselves agreed with us that we are underpaid. Though we are not making the money right now, but there are your representatives. If the Liberian people say we are making more and it should be reduced, then they have the gavel. This is what we did, we did not just take it from the blue sky. We only accepted what other people made. It was even the executive who saw us during the first recast budget of $44.1 million, the second recast budget of $134 million and the third one, they said no let’s increase this thing to two thousand dollars. I can’t hide anything from you, right now, our allowance has increased to $2000.00. The net take home is around $1,400.00.

Q. Since the birth of the financial autonomy act, corruption scam has been hunting the National legislature, few months ago, the senate committee on rules, order and administration of the lower house was rocked when a starling revelation was made by George Mulbah who is the chairman on right sizing and downsizing. Several fraudulent or ghost names were discovered on the legislature’s payroll. On May 10, 2007, Bong County’s George Mulbah insisted that he would ensure that the right thing be done in the legislature even if he’s blame in the process. He also vowed to expose any ghost names he found on the legislature’s payroll. How far have the legislature gone with this case? If any ghost names are found what would be your recommendation as punishment for the perpetrators?
DTY: Well, for your information, he was not the rightsizing. Mulbah is a member of the labor committee, he’s also a member of the Forestry committee. We decided to give that investigation to committee “outside of the Ways, means & Finance” to do the investigation. Mulbah and his colleagues or team went in and the problem came from the central administration. The mandate from plenary was that he “Mulbah” goes there and see weather he finds ghost names. He was also mandated to find out how many people had reach the retirement age. That’s the only thing we can do from that study and report, from that report, we would be able to analyze how many people are being over worked. If any ghost names found, those names will be dropped. For those that have reached the retirement age or stage, we will find or put together a package for them. Mulbah and his five member team prepared the report. Out of the five, only two members signed the report. Plenary said obviously there was something wrong. Why would a five member committee report be signed by only two persons? Plenary recommended that Mulbah’s committee return to committee room. So, they are still in committee room, they will get back to us as soon as they are ready or finished with their report. If we find out any ghost names, obviously we will drop those ghost names and hold those responsible for placing the ghost names. All those at the retirement age or stage will be retired with their benefits or package. If we say we are against corruption, it must start from above, from the first branch of government to the last. It should not only be down there where we will be looking at messengers, ministries & agencies. I can assure you also as we leave from here, we are going to make sure that Mulbah’s committee comes out with the report and if we find ghost names, we will drop them. If we wanted to hide any names, we ourselves would have done that.

Q. Some Liberian economists are suggesting that instead of internal Affairs Minister “A.B. Johnson” acting in dual capacity: for eg; county development official whilst serving as Minister, the Liberian legislature should pass a historic law that will comprehensively establish national development benchmarks that will serve as a blue print against which all current and future national development policy from one administration to the next in a consistent manner to ensure speedy and systematic development of Liberia. What is your position on this suggestion?
DTY: Well, what we’ve done even before that act you’re talking about can be passed or introduced. In the 2007 and 2008 budget, the amount of $2.5 million dollars was reached because of our own experience about the $1million development funds. We said that the internal affairs ministry will not be the sole institution or agency of government that will do the implementation. If they will, then they will have to work with the caucus, other stake holders and other county officials. We give priority to our citizens and this is why the amount of $2.5 million is still in escrow account and has not been used up to this time. As I’m telling you right now, that man will not touch that money until the people in the counties identify their projects. And for your information, we have also set up a standing committee comprising of one member from each county to make sure that the money be used for the people and for the intended purpose. So if legislation is suppose to be passed again to point out, we will not have any problem but we don’t want to make the mistake of the past where our people were given money but they did not see the money. The money did not work for them. This time around, we will hold people accountable; we will make sure that people are prosecuted if they are found diverting public money for their personal use.

Q. On October 27, 2007, you attended a Gbarpolu County formation conference in the U.S. what were some of your impressions about the conference and what did you “as a member of Gbarpolu County Legislative Caucus” recommend to the interim leadership of the Association?
DTY: Well, first and foremost I like to take hat off for you all “particularly to you, Brother Zinnah & Cllr. Jalloh” for a job well done. If you hold a teleconference in the United States where people are busy twenty-four hours and 22 persons attend the initial conference, for me, I feel it was an achievement and success. I just like to admonish you all “like we stated before”. I would also like to take this time to encourage you all to work collectively to make sure that the organization is well established so that we can be able to emulate other counties in Liberia. I know it is difficult but it is not impossible for everybody to meet. I’ve seen it, I’ve witnessed it, other people were given some responsibilities but they gave excuses. This should not deter your. We should not only this organization to the Diaspora. All of you can collectively support development in our country “Liberia”. Again, we say hats off to you ‘brother Zinnah’ for your leadership role you’ve play and continue to play in bringing your colleagues together and not relenting in ensuring that a Gbarpolu association is formed in the Diaspora. I was very impressed when a citizen of Gbarpolu called from Sudan and stayed on the conference for the entire two hours plus. As soon as your elections are held or right after your interim period, if you want you elected officials to be inducted into offices in the county capitol of Bopolu, our arms will be opened to receive you. As we leave from here, we will convey the message to our people. We will let them know that the association already has an interim body. The task of nation building is not the sole responsibility of those who reside in Liberia nor is the responsibility of those who reside in the Diaspora but rather, it is a collective responsibility. Let us consider it as our obligation. Our people have asked us to please tell you to work together to help build their lives and that of their children.

SKZ. Thanks for your valuable time and I look forward to talking to you another time if need arises.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Police flog Gbarpolu Development Supt.

By J. Nathaniel Daygbor

Police in Gbarpolu County, reportedly flogged the Development Superintendent of the county, Moses Monlonporlor.
Explaining his nightmare to The Analyst recently in Borpolu, the political seat of the county, Superintendent Monlonporlor said on Thursday night, October 18, while spending the evening with some friends at an entertainment center known as “Dark Forest”, five Police officers including the County Commander, Col. D. Emmanuel Kollie, asked for drinks, which he offered.
But he later said, the officers requested for more drinks, something according to him, he could not afford financially. Continuing, Supt Monlonporlor said one of the officers, who walked to him and made the request, told his commander that the Superintendent assaulted him.
Mr. Monlonporlor said without making any inquiry, Col. Kollie ordered his men to arrest him and impound his official vehicle. I asked them what is my charge; none of them could answer, but continue to enforce the order of Col. Kollie while he looked on".
"Before I could realize what was happening, my shirt, cellphone, gold watch and other things were taken away while my entire body including my head was bleeding”, said the Development Superintendent.
He pointed out that some residents who were at the drinking spot went to his rescue, but the police continued their operation. “Later, the citizens managed to chase them out, but my car key left with them including those things that were taken earlier”, said Mr. Monlonporlor.
According to him, residents of Borpolu attempted to burning the Police station in the county in protest of the humiliation he suffered at the hands of the police, but the Pakistani Contingent and Gbarpolu Superintendent Gertrude Larmin intervened and brought the situation under control.
Mr. Monlonporlor is currently seeking medication at the Chief Jallah Lone Medical Center in Borpolu. But when contacted, the police commander in the county, Col. Kollie, alleged that the victim assaulted his officers publicly.
“Something, which I considered as disgracing the police in the public”, said Col. Kollie. Commander Kollie confirmed that he did order Mr. Monlonporlor’s arrest, but he [Monlonporlor] refused to honor the police. However, the police chief did not say which charge was levied against the Development Superintendent.
The Police commander did not deny nor confirm the beating of Mr. Monlonporlor, but maintained that he refused to honor the arrest order. Meanwhile, Mr. Monlonporlor has threatened to take the matter to court when he recovers from what appears to be police brutality.

source: Analyst news paper

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The price of political dishonesty

In October 2007, Cllr Eddington Varmah paid the initial price for his past political dishonesties. This event took place in his home town of Bopolu, the capital of Gbarpolu County. According to sources closed to the National Elections Commission in Liberia, the by-election “to replace” the late Gbarpolu County Senior Senator Samuel Tormetie has been scheduled for December 4th 2007. Recently, a “Unity Party” mini convention was he in Bopolu, ‘the capital of Gbarpolu County’. During the convention, several candidates for the recently created vacancy were scrutinized. Amongst them was Eddington Varmah. On August 29, 2007, Gbarpolu County Senior Senator, Samuel Tormetie, was pronounced dead in Ghana in the process of recovering from medical treatment in that West African Country. Eddington Varmah quickly packed his glut “as usual” and cross carpets to the very unity party he overtly campaigned against on the last day of campaign during the 2005 presidential and parliamentary election in Liberia.

On August 30, 2007, the “Liberian” Daily Observer carried a caption, “NPP stalwart crosses carpets to U.P.” This caption caught the attention of many Gbarpolu citizens and other political commentators and observers around the world. Many questions began emerging from different political backgrounds. Many observers presented their questions to family and friends in and out of Gbarpolu whilst others that had no direct contact with residents of Gbarpolu pondered their questions and suggestions privately. Couple of days later, this author received an anonymous call at about 9:00 pm Eastern standard time. The anonymous caller asked: is this Sam Zinnah? I answer at the top of my voice, yes, I am. He asked the second question: are you from Gbarpolu County? I again answered, yes I am. Before I could site up and ask for his identity, he asked his third and most resolute question: I remembered when the lives of countless civilians were marred by power greed violence during the days of the notorious National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) under Eddington Varmah as Justice Minister, in neither words nor kindness, Eddington did not intervene directly or indirectly, instead, he was busy escorting and defending Charles Taylor. In 2007, “after inflicting enough mayhem upon the people of Gbarpolu and Liberia”, Eddington was rewarded with senatorial seat, in 2008, he abandoned the senatorial position and accepted an appointed position offered him by Charles Taylor; the above are just few of his political activities. My question to you “Mr. Zinnah” is that; do you support the idea of re-electing Eddington Varmah as the next senator to replace Sen. Tormetie? I responded by saying; I am not Gbarpolu County, neither am I the chairman of the elections commission. The answer to your question lies in the hands or minds of the voters in Gbarpolu. I also told the caller that my personal answer did not represent the county or the electorate. He ended the conversation with a disappointing tone of voice and had to draw his Curtain to take his leave.
Few weeks after Cllr. Varmah’s dubious cross to the ruling Unity Party, a citizen of Gbagpolu County, “Mr. Andrew Fahn” thought it wise to get the pains of his chest. He added his voice and analysis to the many in and out of the county. He overtly told Starradio that it would not be in the interest of Gbarpolu County for Cllr. Varmah to return to the upper House to represent the county.
When contacted by Starradio, Cllr. Varmah said it was pre-mature for anyone to discuss his political future when in fact he had not made any statement. But Fahn, Sam Zinnah, and others being from Gbarpolu and knowing the type of commercial and chameleon politician Cllr. Varmah is, knew exactly what his (Varmah’s) intentions were.
Few weeks after telling Starradio that “it was pre-mature for anyone to discuss his political future, Cllr. Varmah joined the queue of Unity party candidates that was headed to Bopolu “the political capital of Gbarpolu” where the Unity Party mini convention was scheduled to take place. According to sources from Bopolu, three candidates were laid before 12 delegates to choose from. The candidates included Theo Momoh, Bartu Dorley, and Cllr. Eddington Varmah. Cllr. Varmah, after being introduced along with his co-constants, raised first to open the floor since in fact Bopolu ‘the County’s official capital” is his home town. He spoke and his speech was followed by Dorley and later Momoh. The election later took place and the Cllr. Was dumped in his home town and probably few yards from his house.
While looking at Cllr. Varmah In retrospect, I thought it wise to name few of his political victims.
Victim # one: During the 1997 elections that took NPP to the executive mansion, Cllr. Varmah made a covert fool of former lower Lofa County representative “Edward Mends-Cole”. The Cllr. Put Representative Mends-cole under the impression that he (Varmah) was going to introduce Mends-Cole to Ghankay to contest the representative seat in the County. Cllr. Varmah instead met Ghankay and painted Mends-Cole as the worst bukuman to Ghankay. He (Varmah) returned to Mends-Cole and made him to understand that Ghankay was studying his proposal. So, Mends-Cole “like any normal politician” was anxiously awaiting the president’s respond. That respond is yet to come.

Victim # two: During the same 1997 elections, Bartu Dorley, ‘also a close relative of Cllr. Varmah, had spent time out of her home County of Gbarpolu and hardly knew anyone in the county. She contacted Cllr Varmah is search of advise and reunion with her origin. Bartu put a package together for her people in Bopolu. She asked Cllr. Varmah to take the token to her people and inform them that it was a gift from their daughter “Bartu”. A perfect case for a chameleon; Cllr.Varmah transformed himself into Bartu Dorley and presented the token in his own name.

Victim # three: During the 1997 elections, Cllr. Varmah was elected as senator for Lofa County. In 1998, he was appointed by his political mentor “Charles Taylor” as justice minister and Attorney general of the republic of Liberia. Eddington Varmah “like any politician” had the right to resign his senatorial position in 1998, but he was under the moral and traditional obligation to at least inform his constituency that he was leaving his position as their senator to serve as justice minister for Taylor but instead, he cleared his desk and immediately headed to the justice ministry under heavy police escort.
In this case, Lofa County was left “in the cold” to struggle for another senator to replace Cllr. Varmah.

Victim # four: In March of 2001, Amnesty International wrote the minister of justice “Eddington Varmah” providing further details of human rights abuses witnessed by Amnesty Internationals’ Investigators at Gbatala “ATU” base. The letter asked justice minister Varmah to inform his boss “Taylor” about the dehumanizing condition at Gbatala ATU base. The letter requested a response from Minister Varmah and his government with regard to the situation discovered in Gbatala, but no response was ever given up to the unceremonious departure of Taylor and his human hawks in August 2003. Violence and abuse of human rights were probably the best definitions or descriptions of the notorious National Patriotic Party (NPP) under the leadership of Cllr. Eddington Varmah.

Victim # five: In 2001, fifteen students of the University of Liberia, mostly of the Student leadership; Student Unification Party (SUP) and the University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU) were coerced to flee to Ghana for safety of their lives. The students had taken precautionary measures in lieu of statements made by Charles Taylor’s war lieutenant and Justice Minister Eddington Varmah that the students were “collaborators” of what he and his NPP referred to as “dissidents” in Lofa County at the time. It was under the leadership of Justice Minister & Attorney general Eddington Varmah and his political mentor “Charles Taylor” that the continued repression of Students was reinforced not only at the University of Liberia but at other higher institutions of learning in Liberia.
The tenuous relationship between the NPP and the University of Liberia came to a head-on collision on March 21, 2001, when the University of Liberia campus was invaded by the notorious Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU). The ATU was well known for their brutality against not only students but innocent civilians as well. Upon arrival on the campus of the University of Liberia, the ATU began flogging students who were hosting a peaceful rally and fundraising organized “by students” in support of four journalists of the independent “The News” news paper who were also imprisoned on bogus charge of ESPIONAGE for reporting the NPP government for misusing public funds to repair helicopters and buying gifts for Charles Taylor’s personal friends and family members.

During the same March 21, 2001 invasion of the University campus, University professors and some administrators were also severely flogged. Cllr. Eddington Varmah again stood in defense of his ATU and NPP as justice minister. In a press conference after the UL campus flogging, Justice Minister & Attorney general Eddington Varmah charged that there were students on the UL campus who were “collaborators” of what he referred to as “dissident forces in Lofa county at the time’. “Based on evidence gathered by our intelligence sources, we have confirmation that there are dissidents operating on the University of Liberia campus”. Those were the exact words of Cllr. Eddington Varmah.

Victim # six: During the 2005 presidential and parliamentary elections, Cllr. Varmah encouraged medical practitioner and close relative “Norris David” to join the National Democratic Party and run as representative for Gbarpolu County electoral district number three. Cllr. Varmah personally introduced Mr. David to the NDPL and later abandoned him to struggle on his own.

Days after his (Varmah’s) unceremonious departure from the senate, the battle began for the vacant post. Armah Jallah and Gibson Tania made it to the primary in Bopolu. In the first round, Gibson Tania defeated Armah Jallah but that defeat lasted for few days. In just couple of days, Gibson was still celebrating his primary victory when covert operators planted by paramount chief JallahLon took a photograph of Gibson Tania and made an ALCOP “a political party headed by former warlord Alhaji Kromah” ID card out of it and took it to then NPP chairman Cyril Allen alleging that Gibson Tania was a member of ALCOP. Gibson Tania “without being investigated” was immediately thrown out of the race. Armah Jallah automatically became the winner of the primary. Election was later held and Armah Jallah emerged as the winner of the “suppose”election.

Victim # seven: After serving as Justice Minister under NPFL in Gbarnga, Cllr. Varmah moved to Monrovia with Ghankay and was again appointed as Justice Minister, Attorney general and chairman of the join chief of staffs of the republic of Liberia (all under NPP). In August of 2003, Cllr. Varmah’s political mentor “Charles Taylor” was coerced out of Liberia, leaving his partisans and child soldiers to struggle in meeting the expense of their survival.
After the departure of Ghankay in August 2003, Cllr. Varmah was chosen to serve as deputy speaker of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly of Liberia (NTLA).
The NTLA was created as part of an August 2003 Peace Agreement that ended a civil war between the government forces of Charles Taylor and two rebel groups: The Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), and Liberians United for reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). The agreement also called for the broad-based transitional Government that would rule for two years, ending with the holding of elections in October 2005. The NTLA replaced the bicameral Legislature, which was elected in 1997.

On March 14, 2005, Cllr. Varmah was involved in a USD $150.000.00 scandal at the NTLA. He and his boss along with two of their ‘colleagues at the NTLA’ were suspended indefinitely for their alleged role in the $150.000.00 scandal. Since then, Cllr. Varmah has been a political bull dog especially with the indictment of his political mentor, Charles Taylor, who’s presently deposited in a jail cell in the Netherlands awaiting trial for crimes against humanity. In this case, the NTLA became the Victim. I could go on to hundreds of pages.

The price for such dishonesty is now at the doors of Cllr. Varmah. I guess is time for the Cllr. To manage his “Big Dream” store and forget about politics.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The petition for Dual Citizenship, where we stand

On July 24, 2007, two days before our nation’s 160th anniversary of independence, Representative Armah Sarnor and Representative Vaforay Kamara introduced a landmark bill in the House of Representatives to protect all Liberians from involuntary losses of their Liberian citizenship when they become naturalized citizens of another country or serve in the armed forces of another country without the prior approval of the President of Liberia. After the bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Armah Sarnor, gave the bill to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, the bill received its first reading during a regular session of the House, and without objection was sent to the judiciary committee for consideration and recommendation. When a bill is introduced in the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House assigns the bill to one or more of the House’s standing committees based on the bill’s subject matter. Accordingly, theDual citizenship bill, which is designed to protect all Liberians from involuntary losses of their Liberian citizenship, was assigned to the House’s standing committee on Judiciary. Having introduced the bill, the Judiciary Committee’s action is the next important step in our effort to get the dual citizenship bill to become law. As per the House standing rules, the bill must come out of committee before it can make it to the full House for a vote. There are positive signs the bill will come out of committee. Non-Resident Liberians believes that as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and chief sponsor of the dual citizenship bill, Rep. Armah Sarnor, among others, understands the constitutional importance of due process and knows that the current practice of attempting to automatically deprive Liberians of their citizenship must not be allowed to continue. Non-Resident Liberians further believes that as chairman of the House Human and Civil Rights Committee and co-sponsor of the dual citizenship bill, Rep. Vaforay Kamara, among others, understands that during the many years of armed violence and persecution in our Nation more than 900,000 Liberians were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in other countries, and that Liberians should not be penalized for being forced into exile. Non-Resident Liberians continues to appreciate the leadership of Rep. Armah Sarnor and Rep. Vaforay Kamara in leading the charge for the House to pass the dual citizenship bill and send it to the Senate for its approval. In the coming months, we will reach out to more members of the legislature and ask them to sign on as co-sponsors of the dual citizenship bill. We will also ask President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to take a visible stance in support of the bill. Rest assured that when the Legislature convenes in January 2008, the dual citizenship bill will be one of the first matters on the legislative agenda. As we have and continue to receive a lot of support for the bill from members in both chambers of the legislature as well as from Liberians worldwide, we believe the House of Representatives and Senate will pass the bill and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will sign it into law.Thanks to all of you who have signed the online petition. Thanks also to the many supporters who have and continue to show their support for the bill both orally and in writing. If you haven't signed the online petition, please click to sign it now. If you already have signed the petition, please do what you can to help spread the word. For questions, please email or visit our blog at

By: Non-resident Liberians