The traditional leaders of Liberia, under the wise leadership of their Chairman, Chief Zanzan Kawor, have come out in full force to reject the idea of a “Christian state” being part of the impending 2017 referendum. During a two-day meeting at the Monrovia City Hall last week, the traditional leaders called on Liberians to reject Proposition 24 being included in the ensuing referendum. Proposition 24 proposes that Liberia should be declared a “Christian state.” The Chiefs and Elders declared that the Founding Fathers in 1847 placed in the Constitution that Liberia was to remain a secular state. This was even though the Fathers from America were all Christian. They realized that Islam had been here over a hundred years before they (the Founding Fathers) got here in 1822.Indeed, history records that when the settlers from America started having trouble over land they had purchased from the Bassa and Dey chiefs, it was the leader from Bopolu, Sao Boso, then known as Chief Boatswain, who intervened and forced these chiefs to honor their land sale to the colonists. Sao Boso was a Muslim leader, founder of the Condo Confederation, which collapsed following his death in 1837.Chief Varney Jallah of Gbarpolu County, from which Sao Boso hailed, told last week’s Traditional Leaders meeting, “If the pioneers had wanted to make Liberia a Christian state, they would have done it. They did not, and it is now too late for that. As traditional leaders, we are responsible for the Liberian people and we are the real owners of the land and we say we don’t want Liberia to be labeled a Christian nation,” Chief Varney Jallah added. Cultural Ambassador Julie Endee told the meeting, “No matter whether we are Christian or Muslim, we must show respect to one another in order to promote peace in the country.”Traditional Leader Zanzan Kawor told the meeting that most of them, unlike many Liberians, have “no Green Cards” that would enable those who possess them to run to America if trouble comes to Liberia. As a result, he declared, “we cannot sit supinely and wait for our country to be thrown into trouble.” Recalling the April 14, 1979 Rice Riots that threw Liberia into chaos, leading to the 1980 coup d’état and the civil war, Chief Haji Sombai of Grand Cape Mount County urged the young people of Liberia, some of whom are threatening demonstrations against the government, to listen to the traditional leaders and work with them to maintain the peace. “Whatever be our youths’ grievances, we can handle them for the sake of peace,” said Chief Sombai. The Chairman of the Nimba Chiefs and Elders, Chief Peter Barloun, also called on the young people to complain to them (the Traditional Leaders) for redress of their concerns.Just as the Daily Observer indicated in its Thursday, March 10 Editorial, most of the Traditional Leaders said Proposition 24 “is not what Liberians need to develop their country.”The Traditional Leaders who met at the Monrovia City Hall included those from the entire southeastern Liberia—Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Grand Kru, Maryland and Sinoe counties, as well as those from Rivercess and Grand Bassa counties.Sheik Abubakar Kamara of Lofa County, who is also Chairman of the National Muslim Council of Liberia, said it was unfortunate that some people are telling us that we should all be called “Christians” instead of Liberians. It is hard to recall any idea that has been advanced on the national scene that is more divisive than this ‘Christian state’ idea. The people who are proposing such an idea are totally ignoring the rise of Islamic militancy not only in the Middle East but around the world. And they think that BokoHaram’s murderous attacks on Nigeria is a joke. For true? Are they (the advocates of a ‘Christian state’) aware that Boko Haram has now spread its murderous attacks to Cameroon, Chad and Niger?Did these ‘Christian state’ advocates miss what happened in La Cote d’Ivoire last week, when a Sahara Desert Islamic sect, AQIM, attacked the plush touristic site, Grand Bassam, only 50 kilometers east of Abidjan? Did they also forget that hotels in Burkina Fasa and Mali have also recently come under attack?Today, as there has been since the founding of the Liberian republic, peaceful coexistence has subsisted between the people practicing the world’s two great religions—Christianity and Islam. Who in his right mind would want to change that, especially in this dangerous era of widening and increasingly brutal and murderous militancy taking place around the world in the name of Islam?We pray that other groups around the country, including major churches, the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), the National Student Christian Council (NSCC), the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Christian Associations (YM and YW CAs) and other credible institutions will add their voices to the campaign to rid us of this dangerously menacing idea of a ‘Christian state’ in Liberia. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Private Sector Commission (PSC) on Friday elected a new Chairman and executive team to serve a term in office during its 24th Annual General Meeting.The PSC on Saturday announced that the election saw Chief Executive Officer of the National Hardware Group of Companies, Eddie Boyer, being appointed Chairman.Boyer, who replaces retired Major General Norman McLean, has served two terms as Vice Chairman of the PSC.In addition the Commission also elected a new executive; Desmond Sears as Vice Chairman and Ramesh Dookhoo, a former President of the organisation, was returned as its Secretary.Meanwhile, the members voted for Fitroy McLeod to continue to serve as Treasurer. He began his stint in that capacity back in June of 2015. The new head and executive will now serve for two years before another election is held.The new heads will be taking up the task of deliberating key policy positions and ideas that could boost the overall unity and commercial performance of the country’s Private Sector.New PSC Chairman Eddie Boyer
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) said for the sugar industry to prosper in the future, it is readily apparent that other income earning streams have to be added.“Our Union strongly subscribes to the position that the industry needs to transform itself from being a ‘sugar’ to ‘sugar cane’ industry,” GAWU stated during its recent presentation on the future of the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) to the Government of Guyana.According to the Union, the entire sugar cane plant will be utilised to widen the range of the industry’s products, thus adding a number of profitable revenue streams. Apart from transitioning the industry from a “sugar” industry to a “sugar cane” industry, a sustained modernisation programme, taking into account the adoption of realistic ventures, using sugar products, must be formulated.GAWU said the main contributor to added-value to sustain the sugar industry in the long-term will be co-generation, noting that the lone co-generation plant at Skeldon, in spite of its short-comings, has great value.“The CoI (Commission of Inquiry) recommended that the Skeldon Co-Generation unit be returned to GuySuCo and a reasonable Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) be negotiated with GPL, a view we also subscribe to,” the Union stated.In addition to cogeneration, GAWU said there exists a ready market in Caricom for a total of 200,000 metric tonnes of refined sugar.The Union posited that the higher prices, in contemporary times, only serve to add to the project’s feasibility. It added that the recent indication by an Indian investor to take over Skeldon’s operations with a view, among other things, to establish a refinery, serves to remind of the significant sums that can be earned in this venture.GAWU also strongly supports the maximisation of GuySuCo’s existing capacity, along with further expansion in this regard given the profitability of product lines.“The opportunities for new product brands are numerous. Critical to this venture is the need for a robust product development and a marketing programme with clear vision and focus. North American and European markets ought to be pursued with energy. Efforts on the Geographical Indicator will boost marketing of branded products,” the body noted.The production of bulk alcohol is also another viable business venture and another distillery in the country could be established next to a sugar factory, GAWU stated.The Union also pointed out that fuel alcohol production from molasses is also another opportunity to enhance revenues and reduce imports.The Union further proposed that the Corporation should examine the sale and production of a darker form of brown sugar.“In North America, similar sugar is being marketed as a form of health food. Marketing is once more a critical factor to success,” GAWU stressed.Reducing costGAWU also recognised that GuySuCo is confronted by high operating costs and reduction is imperative to ensure competitiveness.GAWU noted too that the Sugar CoI report also affirmed the view that GuySuCo was not adhering to known and best agricultural practices.GAWU added that research is also a critical element in the cost reduction drive, as well as the adoption of best practices.Perilous pathTo assess the sugar industry solely on the basis of finance can lead the country down a perilous path, GAWU explained.GAWU further stated that any closure and sell out of the estates can very well see many ordinary working Guyanese being pushed on to the breadline with little hope for the future and increasing desperation to survive.The Workers Union posited that such a situation can become troubling for the National Insurance Scheme as many of the redundant workers would have already qualified for pensions when the contributor base would be shrinking.Moreover, it said the contagion in the banking sector is another serious consequence that must be borne in mind as many workers have been able to secure mortgages and other loans and maybe unable to service those debts. Additionally, the reduction in income also has deleterious effects for the commercial sector and all in all Government’s revenues and employment in our country would be reduced.Another more significant effect, GAWU noted, is the societal issues that would emerge in the form of criminality, destitution, suicides, divorces and other such ills.GAWU said the education of workers children can also be affected and this does not augur well for future development.GAWU outlined that given its wide scope, decisions cannot be made in a slipshod manner as the consequences and repercussions can be serious, if not disastrous, for the nation.“In view of the obvious, the necessity for a socio-economic study cannot be overemphasised. Such studies are an indispensable tool to policymakers in arriving at sound and well-thought out decisions which are in the interest of the people,” GAWU stressed.Meanwhile, People’s Progressive Party point man on the economy, Irfaan Ali said he is highly disturbed with the actions of Government in concluding the stakeholders’ forum without a social impact assessment, economic feasibility and full diversification studies.“It is inconceivable that the Government would want stakeholders to present options and solutions without these fundamental studies. The AFC on the parking meter issue pointed to the lack of a social and economic impact study, but saw no need for these studies for the sugar industry. It is obvious that the Government is guided by purely political expediency and at the expense of thousands of families,” Ali noted.The parliamentarian said this is an assault on families and communities in the sugar belt.