Monrovia — Top brass of the ruling Unity Party assembled in Marshall Saturday to discuss pertinent issues they believe is hampering their growth and development.
Party chairman Varney Sherman, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph Boakai were conspicuously absent.
FrontPageAfrica understands that the Retreat committee, chaired by Lofa County Representative Clarence Massaquoi (District III), requested the absence of the three officials from the gathering because they will be privileged to the Marshall Declaration.
Giving an overview, Massaquoi said there was a need for partisans to ensure that there is no alternative to the party beyond 2014.
He gave a parable of a foreign currency exchanger who spent more time studying counterfeits than the real money.
"Since the 2011 [presidential and legislative] elections, there have been too many sayings within the circles and outside of the circles of the Unity Party. And in my opinion, we've taken one and a half years trying to learn how the counterfeit money looks. It is now time for us to see and learn how the good money looks. In other words, the purpose of this retreat is not to do the normal sayings that have been around [and] it is not to raise complaints. "This is a moment, in my opinion and in the opinion of the committee, for us to take charge of our party and determine what becomes of it. This retreat is not to say what partisan X should have done that he/she didn't do. The retreat is to design what we will do as leaders of this party to ensure that it is not just this term but even the next term is for the Unity Party," Massaquoi said amidst a round of applause."
Massaquoi encouraged all partisans to ensure that the party is second to none beyond the 2017 presidential and legislative elections.
The retreat may have come at a time when media reports suggest cracks within the ranks and files of a party hoping to democratically perpetuate itself in national leadership beyond 2017.
Cllr. Sherman's soul touching Independence Day oration, which reportedly angered President Sirleaf and sharpened their rift and government's subsequent response, which Information Minister Lewis Brown dramatized as his personal views and the party's resultant call for his dismissal, showed that the coefficients in the political equations are not balanced.
But Massaquoi warned that partisans should bury the hatchets as the survival of the party depends on the special senatorial elections.
"What do we expect from you participants? As we come here, we expect that we will have candid discussions void of emotions.
"We will have candid discussions that will not just see the Marshall declaration but will see the country as a whole.
"Those of us, who are legislators, are from counties and districts. The committee expects that, as we go through the deliberations, we will bring points that will ensure that the party is not just strong nationally but the party is even strong in the last district within the republic of Liberia.
"We will bring-up points that will not just help us to maintain our current seats in the National Legislature but will help us to increase our current seats.
"We will bring-up points that will not just allow us to maintain our seats in the Senate but, as we go to 2014, we will bring up points that will ensure that we increase the number of our seats in the Senate," Massaquoi elaborated.
He cautioned partisans from seeing the standard bearer and other executives as the sole decision makers in the party.
Responding on behalf of the legislative caucus, co-chairman Frederick Doe Cherue said it will be a waste of time and scare resources if the gathering doesn't implement the Marshall declaration.
"I have come to this retreat believing that we are following the philosophy of Benjamin Franklin [who said] that when you assembled people together from different regions [and]different sectors, they come to that assembly with their own social prejudices and social biases and different, different political interest.
"But when they can sit down and narrowed down those political interests, biases and prejudices for the interest of which they are member [than] that is good.
"And this is the theme of this retreat. ... ... ... .And so all I can ask of you, partisans who are here, is that it will not be only enough that we had a retreat but if you leave here and you are committed to the decisions we reached here then the Unity Party will move forward," Cherue, who FrontPageAfrica has gathered, may not seek reelection, added.
Montserrado County Representatives Josephine George-Francis (district I and co-chairperson) and Gabriel Nyenka (district XI); Senators George Tengbeh of Lofa and Cherue of River Gee Counties; vice chairman for governmental affairs Isaac Manneh and secretary-general Wilmot Paye made-up the retreat committee.
House Speaker Alex Tyler (Bomi district II), Samuel Gayah Karmo (Bomi district II), Sekou Kanneh (Montserrado district II), Bill Twehway (Montserradodistrict III), Charles Bardyl (River Gee district III), Corpu Barclay (Bong district VII), Worlea Saywah-Dunah (Nimba district VII) and Mariamu Beyan-Fofana (Lofa district IV); Senators John Ballout of Maryland, Lahai Lasana of Bomi and Theodore Momo of Gbarpolu Counties were some of the lawmakers in attendance.
Other high profile officials were Deputy Justice Minister Wheatonia Dixon-Barnes, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Amos Teah (also youth wing chair), Constitutional Review Commission chairperson Gloria Musu Scott, Deputy Labor Minister Neto Zarzar Lighe (also deputy secretary-general), Central Bank of Liberia director of administration Sheba Brown (also women wing chairperson) and Sinoe County chairman Sneh Johnson.
The retreat was held under the theme: 'Actualizing our commitments through rededication.'