Liberia: “Putting The Truth To Where It Belongs: My Take On Senator Johnson’s Sanction” -A Rejoinder

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By: Kadiker Rex Dahn, MA, M.Ed., PhD

On December 10, 2021, Daily Observer published an article authored by Vandalark R. Patricks, a Harvard University trained and activist under the caption, “ Putting the truth to where it belongs: My take on Senator Johnson’s sanction.” In this opinion piece, we concurred in part with Vandalark Patrickswhen he argued that accomplices or partners in crime with Prince Johnson in the three branches of the Liberian government must equally face sanctions. We agreed with this proposition because in bribery, someone must give on behalf of someone and there must be a recipient. In the United States government’s judgment and sanction, Prince Johnson is one of the recipients. In the need of fair play, like Vandalark Patricks, we also think and believe that it would be prudent for the the US government to expand the sanction to other actors. Having said that, fundamentally and logically, we differed with Vandalark Patricks’ ratiocination, analysis and conclusions in his commentary; his presentation contains serious flaws and fallacies.

The first flaw is the foregone conclusion by Patricks that the US Treasury is not considering imposing sanctions on other ministries and organizations that equally were involved in the syndicate. Such an assertion is misleading. Patricks’ said, “it is a mystery why the U.S. Treasury is not also considering sanctions against the heads of those ministries and organizations as a means of dissuading public officials from dishing out millions of dollars to individuals to rally the votes for them at the expense of the poor and suffering Liberians.” Here, it seems to us that Vandalark Patricks portrayed himself as an insider and secret participant of the United States government’s decision on Prince Johnson. How did he come to the conclusion that the US is not considering sanctions against others? Because the US government did not name others immediately along with Prince Johnson led to his assertion? Such thinking is far-fetched and does not do justice to how the US government operates. As a responsible government, the United States is methodical, slow but sure on decisions. Insinuating that other accomplices are perhaps off the hook and Prince Johnson is now the sole culprit is misleading. We are certain that the United States government will not leave any stone unturned. Just as Prince Johnson, Varney Sherman and an undisclosed numbers and members of the Liberian legislature as well as the Judicial Branch of government are on the United States’ sanctionslist,so will Prince Johnson’s collaborators. These processes require time. Prince Johnson time has come and at an appropriate time, other names will follow.

Secondly, considering also that the sanction against Prince Johnson is an indirect attempt by the US to handicap Prince Johnson from giving his support to a candidate of his choice is equally misleading and laughable to say the least. Vandalark Patricks said, “Is there a political interest the U.S. wants in 2023, and they see Senator Johnson as a threat to the ascendancy of that individual and that the only way to do so is to give a Red Card to the political striker of Nimba, Senator Johnson?” Here, again, Patricks has made us to question his analytical ability and judgment. He is a graduate of Harvard University one of the leading universities in the United States. The fact that he studied Governance at Harvard, we thought he would have been fully aware of United States government’s political, economic, military and diplomatic powers. Vandalark Patricks knows and I know including our audience that the United States government can take any decision in any part of the world including Liberia if such decision is in the supreme interest of the United States.There are so many irregularities in the George Weah’s government that the United States government here and now can use any means to bring about legitimate and genuine democratic change. For example, the US government can fast track immediately the TRC’s recommendations for the establishment of the war and economic crimes court to bring perpetrators like Prince Johnson, George Boley, Alahaji Kromah, Damante Konneh even George Weah and others to justice. Case in point, quite recently, the Liberian senate voted and elected Prince Johnson as chairman on defense, security, intelligence and veteran affairs. The United States government objected and Prince Johnson who was elected was rejected. That is the power of the United States. Just as US government objected to Prince Johnson from becoming the Chairman, they equally so could, should they decide order that Prince Johnson should and mustnot participate in the 2023 general elections. In fact, the US government can apprehend anyone in Liberia including Prince Johnson and anyone who stands in the way.  Knowing such power and Patricks to insinuate that the sanction against Prince Johnson was an attempt to prevent Prince Johnson from undermining the US candidate of choice in 2023 is ludicrous. If the US government has candidate of choice as Vandalark Patricks erroneously insinuated which is farfrom the truth, it certainly cannot be tied to PYJ. We maintain that the US government is capable of taking direct forceful diplomatic steps by asking George Weah not to go for reelection.  Decision of such in whatever form, can be taken without tying it to Prince Johnson’ corruption. In the wisdom of the US government, Prince Johnson has committed a crime and must face the full weight of the laws. One can safely conclude that since Prince Johnson became a senator of Nimba County, he has been besieged by numerous problems one of which is the issue of selling votes for which he has now justly been booked.

Prince Johnson is not who he actually used to be. Love for Prince Johnson has greatly diminished in Nimba County. The people of Nimba County have studied Prince Johnson and now concluded that PYJ’s days are numbered. He has created more ethnic tensions and frictions than championing unity. In other words, Prince Johnson as a senator for Nimba County has been an embarrassment to say the least.  Anything on the contrary is misleading. Vandalark Patricks claiming that the US sanction against Prince Johnson may be a rallying call for the people of Nimba County to give him their full support venting anger against those seeking reelection and the presidency because they may be perceived as those behind his sanction is naivety at the highest level. Vandalark Patricks said, “Judging from his tricks, this sanction has increased his political base, because he now has reasons to cajole his people and indict individuals wanting to go for re-election in Nimba and those running for the presidency of being responsible for sanction against him. The people will fall for this, and I am sorry for those running for the presidency, and going for re-election… it is a well- known fact that senator Johnson has contributed to Nimba’s election victories since 2005.”

Here again, we respectfully disagree with Patricks’ analysis and conclusion. What is Vandalark Patricks’ reliance for such an assertion, we do not know but simply to say he is wrong. We said wrong because he failed to take into consideration the unfolding political situations in Nimba County as it relates to Prince Johnson. It is true in a sense, since Prince Johnson came into the political arena in Nimba County, he certainly on a number of occasions galvanized the people of Nimba County to ensure victory first for himself and second, for others he has endorsed. We say that was then, but contend that the people of Nimba County considering now and knowing who Prince Johnson actuallyisare now resolved to make independent decisions. Here are our justifications based on various elections statistics.

In 2005 general elections, Prince Johnson contested for the senatorial seat in Nimba County. In that election, he won with 77% totaling 81,820, the highest vote by an individual at the senatorial level in 2005. In 2011, when Prince Johnson contested the presidency, again the people of Nimba County demonstrated their love for him. He received 139,786 votes in that election. Also in Nimba County at the district levels, he featured representative candidates in the 9 electoral districts. His candidates won 8 of the 9 seats along with the junior senatorial seat.  In 2017, when he contested the presidency, Prince Johnson received 127,666 votes but representative candidates performed dismally. Unlike 2011, in 2017, his representative candidates won only two seats-a warning to Prince Johnson to rethink his actions and inactions towards the people of Nimba County. It must be noted that the two presidential elections that Prince Johnson contested, he dropped by 12,120 votes equally a warning. In December 2020 senatorial midterm elections in Nimba County, his party’s candidate, Jeremiah Koung won with a very thin and questionable majority. November 2021 bi-election in District #1, Nimba County was a test of the continuous popularity of Prince Johnson and his CDC government. Nathaniel McGill, the Minister of State once poverty-stricken before George Weah’s ascendancy, was on campaign trails in District #1, Nimba County where he pledged $50million Liberian dollars for scholarships. Prince Johnson and CDC’s deception and scheme were resisted by the people of District #1 where their candidate, Francis Maweah was miserably defeated 6,594 to 3,428—difference of 3,166. We must add that during the 2014 midterm senatorial election in Nimba County, Prince Johnson won with a very slim majority an indication that Prince Johnson’s political days in Nimba County are numbered. Prince Johnson from every indication is worried about his reelection for fear of rejection by the people. Considering these diminishing statistics and popularity of Prince Johnson, Vandalark Patricks to conclude that he will cajole the people of Nimba County to vote against those who he might consider the perpetrators of his sanction is analytically deficient.

Lastly, Vandalark Patricks also told his readers that during the 2017 general elections, cabinet ministers of the Unity Party led government paid an undisclosed amount to 19 Liberian senators who endorsed Ambassador Boakai’s presidential bid. Vandalark Patricks emphatically stated, “Several sitting senators endorsed Joseph Nyuman Boakai’s presidential bid in 2017, but it was not a free vote. Cabinet ministers who presided over the Unity Party government paid those 19 senators a large amount to campaign for their presidential candidate, Ambassador Joseph Nyumah Boakai.” Here again, we question Patricks’ assertion, analytical ability and reasoning. The reality of political actions of cabinet ministers and the appointing power, President Sirleaf during 2017 elections clearly demonstrated the weakness of Patricks’ argument. If cabinet ministers paid money to senators as Vandalark Patricks misleadingly made us to think and believe, we cannot also fathom how and why President Sirleaf who appointed these ministers in question was in the opposition camp especially breaking grounds with candidate George Weah?If Vandalark Patricks is fully aware of the duplicity demonstrated by President Sirleaf and some cabinet ministers at the time but chose to indict the Unity Party and character of Ambassador Boakaito make his point shows his limitation of what it entails to be an honest activist. Could it also be that VandalarkPatrickshas now graduated from being a true analyst and activist to a paid agent thus his compensation has blinded his eyes to reality? We are taken aback by such uncritical thinking and analysis by a man who claimed to be trained by one of the leading institutions of the world.

About the author: Kadiker Rex Dahn holds a PhD in Historical, Philosophical and Social Foundations of Education from the University of Oklahoma. He is member of the North America scholar Consortium, membership with the Highest Honor. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Contacts: dahnyava@gmail.com; yenpuuu@yahoo.com

 

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