NO TO PROTEST
WHEN THE CRAFTERS of the 1986 constitution inserted Article 15(a) in that sacred document which guarantees freedom of expression for every Liberian, they did so with the anticipation that Liberians will exercise it to voice out opinions on issues that dwell on equality, peace, Justice, the rule of law, socio-economic wellbeing of the citizenry, etc. They didn’t create space where Article 15(a) will be abused by anyone or institution bent on provoking violence, carnage and the disruption of public peace. If this happens then it is incumbent upon every serious-minded citizen to raise a red flag; thus our disagreement with Mr. Henry Costa, a talk show host, who has threatened another round of protest to stop the speculated proposal by the government to increase the surcharges on data calls.
OUR DISAGREEMENT WITH Mr. Costa and his Council of Patriots is premised on several reasons that make the protest not to be feasible right now. The first reason borders on the dangers it portends for our national security.
LIBERIA IS YET to fully recover from the adverse effects of the 14 years of civil war. Our security problem has been further compounded by the exit of the UNMIL peace keeping force thus placing us at the mercy of a setup that is being developed. Definitely we will not be able to contain any protest that will assume a “surgical and insurgent” nature that Mr. Costa and his people are planning.
SECONDLY, THE PROTEST will further aggravate the negative impact of the declining economy that was predicted to experience negative growth by international experts. It is going to scare away potential investors and close down existence businesses. When protests are perpetrated, violence ensues and people and their economic wherewithal are disconnected; hunger and economic lull then become the order of the day. Modest economic gains risk being reversed as avalanches of the fallout are thrown unto the unsuspecting public. In this vein, the investing public is averse to investment as it watches the scenario of insecurity play out.
THIRDLY, WITH THE prevailing COVID-19 Pandemic situation in the land which paints a gloomy future of the country, we believe any disruption in the socio-political and economic lives of our people will be devastating. The country is in lock down, our people cannot move between counties, businesses are shut down and there is serious hunger in the land. Are you serious to further prompt us into hardship and uncertainty?
ON THE FOURTH note, we are of the strongest conviction that Mr. Costa and his Co-Planners are trying to cash in on the gullibility of our people. Costa is on record for defending the cancellation of the 3 day free calls at the time when there was a public outcry against it. He had opined at the time that the existence of the 3 day free calls was making the GSM companies to lose profits thereby affecting the revenue drive of the government. So, why protest now when the same reasons have been proffered by the very GSM companies and the Government he once defended in the past.
WE ARE COGNIZANT of the fact that the country has been going through trying times since the ascendency of president Weah which is a far cry from the expectation that the nation harbored after the inauguration on January 22, 2018. It pleases no one to continue seeing the country going down the drain, but the greatest disservice one can accord this country is to applaud any action that could once again plunge it into further destruction and hardship through unnecessary protests.
IT IS IN THIS vein that we ask the Costa-led Council of Patriots to transition its advocacy to a meaningful strategy devoid of protests so we do not repeat the experience of our ugly past. We need to remind ourselves that the route Mr. Costa and his COP are taking have been used before by politicians who had no tangibles to present to the populace; and who lacked any superior argument to unseat incumbent governments. Hence, bereft of any good reason to seek political office or relevance, our liberators-cum-politicians resorted to these kinds of tactics to whip up sentiment and violence.
WE, AS A NATION and people, must continue to remind ourselves of the bitter experience of our past and be resolved to solve our problems civilly and democratically. We cannot afford to paint an ugly picture of ourselves to the outside world anymore.