columnBy Philip N. Wesseh
One of the biggest news last week was the appointment of opposition leader George Manneh Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) by President Sirleaf as "Peace Ambassador." The appointment was reportedly made when the President, as part of her desire for consultation and dialogue, met with political party leaders in Monrovia. Obviously, considering the fact that Mr. Weah is from the opposition, such an appointment would ignite reactions, as to whether or not it was politically expedient for Mr. Weah to accept such an appointment since he's from the main opposition party in the country.
As expected there had been mixed reactions since he was appointed as "Peace Ambassador." Some welcomed the move by the President and also on the part of Mr. Weah for accepting to be Peace Ambassador. While such reactions are necessary in that they are healthy for the democratic process, there was a particular story in which it was reported that some CDC partisans and supporters were not happy that their political leader has accepted to serve in such position. According to newspaper headlines, that was a "betrayal" of the confidence and trust reposed in him. Others said it was a sell out.
Ethically, there was nothing wrong with newspapers reporting how some of Mr. Weah's partisans or supporters feel about his appointment as "Peace Ambassador." Notwithstanding, I decided to make this an issue because of the way and manner in which some of us view people in the opposition. For some, to be a member of the opposition means that one has to unreasonably or irrationally be critical of the status quo. To be complimentary of the status quo means that one has now sold out, or has compromised the philosophy of his or her party.
Actually, this is not something of today. It has been around for many years in this country. Whenever a member of the opposition is appointed into government, some saw it as a compromise or betrayal in that once one is in the opposition such person should not accept to work in the government. Unarguably, these are some of the little things that contributed to the many years of conflict in this country.
Indeed, it is sheer naivety for people to still harbor such notion in this country. By being in the opposition does not mean that one should not accept to contribute his or her quota to national development or nation building whenever the person is called upon to serve. I recall following the 1985 elections that were reportedly rigged by the late Samuel K. Doe; opposition parties decided to stay away. The then Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Liberia, the late George D. Browne, urged the parties to join the process, when he delivered the sermon during the service before the inauguration of the late Samuel K. Doe. The late Rufus Darpoh's SUNTIMES newspaper carried a banner headline which read:"BE WHERE THE ACTION IS."
Interestingly, as the rigmarole was going on at the time, some members of the opposition, who reportedly won seats in the Legislature, decided to take their seats. That caused them to fall in trouble with their parties. They included the late Tuan Wreh and Hilary Gbongblee, who I met few weeks ago at the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Paynesville. While in the Liberian Senate, Cllr. Wreh contributed significantly, especially when it came to confirmation hearing. Robert Tubman is around and anyone can ask him about the opposition member's role when Tubman was appointment Minister of Finance.
In recent time, when one of those individuals from the CDC, Milton Teahjay, who was very critical of the government, and even publicly announced that he will not take any appointment in the government is now serving as Superintendent of Sinoe County. With all of the "big mouth" at the time, Teahjay, my old schoolmate in New Kru Town, following the last elections, is making his contribution as the chief administrator of the county. Yes, it was not surprising from the barrage of criticisms he received for that because of earlier comment made that should he accept job in the Sirleaf's government, 'hair should grow in his paws'. Today I know that Teahjay has realized that people in the opposition can also help the status quo.
But in the case of Mr. Weah, he does not need to face similar attacks because he never said that he will not help the present government. In fact, many times the President held discussions with him. Frankly, by being the main opposition leader does not in any way mean that Mr. Weah cannot be called to help move the nation forward, especially in the area of peace, considering the respect and admiration people have for him. Lest we forget, Mr. Weah is an important factor in the political process, and so inviting him to take on a particular mission is in the right direction for the country.
It is sheer naivety on the part of the CDC partisans, supporters or whosoever to see this as a "betrayal" because Mr. Weah has an obligation to his country. He does not need to wait to become President before making contributions to the country. The country needs Weah like any other opposition leaders in its post-reconstruction process.
As I conclude, let me thank the President for appointing Mr. Weah as "Peace Ambassador," and also thank Mr. Weah for accepting to help his country in this manner at this time. In whatever we do or find ourselves to do, we should always remember that this country belongs to all of us. It is our common patrimony. Liberia is like the "Bird In The Hand." Its survival depends on all of us. Amb. Weah; thanks for breaking away from the mentality and notion of the past that being in the opposition means that there should always be a state of enmity between the opposition and the governing party.