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Clientelism Or Patriotism? – Liberians Stagger Over Opposition’s Actions

Source: Alpha G. Gray

Another smear campaign has been initiated in the Republic of Liberia by the few political elites and social class enemies of the populous people’s struggle. The majority class of the opposition political hegemony has fallen in the wake of financial crisis in the opposition’s cliché, with Alternative National Congress being edged out by Unity Party, Liberty Party and All Liberian Party. That follows a crushing defeat for the opposition political institutions under the CDC-led Government, the Unity Party exit after twelve years in power, a length of time in which they inflicted national ruin of terror on the majority class of the Liberian people. This is a crisis that most of the opposition minions believe is caused by the sluggish style of politicking practiced by their leaders; it has not led to a massive positive shift in their political strategies; instead members of the four opposition collaborating political parties have intended to support the CDC-led government for the massive developments carried out by President George Weah, regardless of the political differences.

The CDC-led government has embarked on genuine development such as building roads, hospitals, overhead bridges, markets, contributing to the health and education sectors of the country amongst others; the fight against corruption in the country has intensified by the Liberian leader George Weah in order to save the state. The government has committed itself to delivering the plights of the Liberian people and distanced itself from those who intend to rob the state’s resources and dash the hope of the people as was done by members and officials of the former ruling party for twelve years.

While the government has made tremendous progress in providing resources to the poor, making opportunities available for the underprivileged, revamping the challenged economy and deteriorated healthcare system, building roads and infrastructure and strengthening constitutional democracy in the country, opposition political leaders are seen on the bandwagon, masterminding anti-developmental strategies and misinterpreting the state of affairs of the motherland to the people who overwhelmingly brought to power a government through a free, fair and transparent democratic election. According to them, there are high levels of corruption, service delivery failures and a fallen economy that has plagued the country, but they distanced themselves from these counts and failed to recommend the best possible way forward; they have failed in every attempt to maneuver the CDC and bring down the government.

This is a great challenge for the opposition leaders and it seems difficult for them to come closer to state power. The opposition politicians have been engaged so much with dividing up the spoils of economic growth in the country, so their greatest fear is that an age of austerity and deleveraging will destroy their normal business model which is ‘clientelism’, a strategy they use to reward their few supporters, by granting them jobs or subsidies, especially with their already occupied positions in the CDC-led government. Their political culture is steeped in corruption and clientelism. This has been the normal spree of the opposition politicians in the landscape of the Liberian Republic since the regime of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

To demystify the opposition’s strategy of clientelism, and in an effort to safe the face of their secret deeds, the political leader of the All Liberian Party, Benoni Urey recently filed a property bond in the amount of US$909,313.88 to secure the release of Former CBL Governor Milton A. Weeks who was rearrested and sent to Monrovia Central Prison for additional money laundering after he, along with other national crooks was sent to prison for economic sabotage, money laundering and other acts of thievery, while Dewitt Von Ballmoos and Atty. Angelique G. Eupheme Weeks also provided their properties in the amount of US$240,000 and US$506,926.30 respectively to secure the bond of former CBL Governor Milton A Weeks.

The opposition political leader Benoni Urey who claimed to be fighting corruption and accusing President Weah is one of the chief engineers of the many criminal sagas in the country; he's supporting criminals and their enterprises. It is clearly proven that they value their clients over the country and people. One of their clients named Monbelo Joah was also paid to strike a protest and insult the president under the pretense of women's right advocacy while her brother Solomon Monbladyu Joah abused a teenage female student for her refusal to display her panty pad to him, even though he may have had different intention towards the little girl.

Is this a patriotic practice or clientelist practice? The recent action of Telia Urey, daughter of business tycoon Benoni Urey, who contested in the just ended representative election in District 15, towards the government and people of Liberia which resulted to the closure and fine of her business – Fuzion D’Afrique, demonstrates another high interest in clientelist practice. She had violated the business law of the Republic by refusing ‘Announced Authorized Inspection’ and further disobeyed the government’s decision by illegally ordering her business reopened. The representative aspirant’s first and foremost interest has been her Lebanese and Indian clients who supply her entity with goods and services in surplus. The closure of her business was due to hindrance and her refusal to allow authorized inspection that is legally carried out by the Inspector General Josphine W A Davies of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It is believed that the manager of Fuzion D’Afrique kept the Inspector General in limbo after the management of the business entity had already been informed of the date of inspection. The news in the public space is that the government of Liberia is witch hunting Telia Urey as though her business is the first and only one to be closed down and fined by the government of Liberia. The opposition politicians are now politicizing the governments action and protecting their clients in every way possible.

The same is with Dabar M. Vapelah, the senatorial candidate of the collaborating political parties in Grand Cape Mount County. During the regime of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Dabah M. Varpilah served Liberia Institute of Statistic and Geo Information Services as Deputy Director for Administration. She embezzled a huge amount of money from the entity. After the audit was conducted by the General Auditing Commission she was found guilty and asked to restitute state fundings that were siphoned. But the opposition leaders are seen protecting her as their client since the siphoned state resources were used to support their wicked deeds against the nation. This was why the troubling hands of the opposition community withdrew Simeon Freeman from the senatorial race in Grand Cape Mount County. This is an attempt to hinder Simeon Freeman from smoothly exercising his democratic franchise. Their intent is not patriotic; rather it is meant to disturb the development agenda of President Weah and the CDC. Their many actions toward the regime did not involve the setting of a mechanism that would ensure the respect for democratic principles, the development of political culture, as well as transparency in the exercise of rights and duties as citizens of the Liberian state.

However, Liberians are now deeply concerned over those micro nationalists and corrupt opposition leaders, increasing evidence of the plundering of public resources, the mismanagement of state-owned enterprises as well as the weakening of institutions over which they preside. The products of the recent ‘June 7 Protest’ in Liberia's main capital as well as the 'Bring Back Our Money' protest in the country, are all evidence of unpatriotism and corruption, misuse of country resources and service delivery failure at an unprecedented high level. The coloured community's feeling of exclusion and marginalization of certain group of citizens who are to also enjoy every privilege and the political attacks by opposition on citizens who work in the Weah-led government undermine the quest for nation-building.

The people have lost confidence in those opposition leaders who they thought were agents of change, hope, peace, unity and reconciliation; instead, they are career crooks and professional reactionaries. Many of the supporters of the opposition leaders have committed to speak truth to power; reclaim their conscious voices, patriotic and nationalistic attributes; fight against clientelism, arrogance and insincerity in our public discourse, and act against violence and the exploitation of the poor people by those class enemies.