Don’t blame Nigeria for closing its borders – Yomi Johnson
By Joseph Ode
Gen. (Sen) Yomi Johnson is a former Army General of Liberia Armed Forces, currently a Senator representing Nimba County in the ECOWAS Parliament holding in Nigeria. He has served for eighteen years in the Liberia Senate. He is also the Deputy Speaker at the ECOWAS Parliament, a Minister of Gospel of Christ, Member of NUDP. Yomi Johnson is also the Founder of Yomi Johnson’s Foundation which established Schools and built one of the largest University in the country.
In this interview Johnson bared his mind on a wide range of issues,
Liberia Country report at the ongoing ECOWAS Parliament does not include the controversial issue of border closure by Nigeria. Does it mean it does not affect your country?
Every country gave her report and Liberia gave her report too. People who want to contribute by asking questions are most welcome. It is not that we are not concerned about the border closure by Nigeria. It is a matter between two countries. You know Nigeria is a big brother in the sub-region and Nigeria has been so hospitable and continue to be hospitable to every country in the sub-region and in Africa at large and the world. So when you see her closing her border, it has to do with security issues. It is not something people should panic about, it is something people should wonder why Nigeria behave like this at the moment. It is not something people should panic or condemned because I lived here 40 years when I was in exile after I fought in Liberia and I know many Generals, Army Officers, Police, Customs Officers and have seen some evidence why border was closed. The two Heads of States should meet and discuss over the closure and as sister country, a lot of things may be resolved as well as reviewed.
I am a member of the Constituted Security Committee; we will also look into the matter in our deliberation.
Former Footballer, George Wear is now the President of Liberia.What is he doing differently from the Former President?
Well, it is very easy to lead a country moreso when you have a Prime knowledge of political Governance. Liberia is the first African Country to have a woman as a President. Liberia is also the first country in the whole world to have a footballer as a President, so he will have to learn on the job. I think I have been a Kingmaker and as such, cannot condemn rather I will advice. If he listens, good, if he does not listen, good, but we will continue through advice. I know that Liberia is not earning as it deserved. We are part of the International Community, a member of United Nations and the whole world is watching us. I was a National President of a Country if you are, everyone look at you. When you do well, you attract Investors but when you do otherwise, you prevent them from coming.
So there is tension generally in the country as we speak, but we hope he will get over it. As a Minister of the gospel, it is always good to commit your will, their will to the hands of God so that you straighten your path. So we pray that this young man will listen to the yearnings of the people because there are protests everywhere. If he does not listen, in the next election, they will vote him out and if the people are satisfied, they may vote him again. Truly speaking things are not moving alright but he is responsible for things to move fine because he is our rallying point.
Based on the Revolution that happened years back in Liberia, How do you assess the situation in that country?
That is why we do not want to go back to the dark days. The whole world witnessed it, Africans and particularly Nigeria loosed their resources. That explains why the UN and ECOWAS intervened, sat down on the round table to discuss the grievances, dialogue with them and proffer solution to their demands. Those days are gone when you depend on the Army to intervene in conflict; those days are gone when the military uses supreme forces on issues. Demonstrations are going on in Liberia and we hope it ends soon.
What are really the grievances of the people of Liberia against President George Weah and the new Government?
There are too many demands: In the first place, I am a Kingmaker. We took power from Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. It was the responsibility of the leadership of the Government that Former President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to declared asset. That was not done. It was the responsibility of the Leader now in power to inform the Liberian People actually what was left in the coffers by the previous government of Former President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf but the leader came out to say the coffer was completely empty, the economy was broken when he took over. Two hours later, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf spoke on BBC that as a Former President she left over £150m in the coffers. You can see allegations and counter-allegations.
After a while, Liberians saw gigantic estates built by the new Leader. Then the people asked “where did you get the money from, he answered saying “I got the money before I became President” but the people said we did not see you building estates before becoming President.
Do you have any regret on the role you played during the revolutionary years in Liberia?
I played a revolutionary role initially because my country (people) upon the election of President William Tolbert who came from my state, my people were the main target for total extermination and of course we have the right to live as human beings so we have to defend ourselves. So for me as a Minister of God winning Souls for God, I also established education for the people and also building one of the largest University in Liberia and we wish other well-meaning Liberians to do same. If you can sweep, sweep well, if you are Imam preach well, and if you are a Pastor, pastor well in the Church, do it to the best of your ability to bring about the economic growth and political stability to the country.
You are experienced enough to run for the President of Liberia. Do you have that in Mind?
In African democracy, it is difficult to say what I saw in 2011 when I challenged Ellen Johnson Sirleaf when people were tired with her but she had the power then with National Electoral Commission. So what happened then. All the people I saw at my side surprisingly in my school chosen by the Electoral Commission to be used as voting centre, apart from myself, wife and children, there were no vote from there. In 2011, I cast my vote, my wife cast her vote while my children cast their vote but there were no other votes so I knew that the votes were tampered with. I believe in God. If God says yes, his yes is yes, if he says no, it is no. He can say go, he can equally say stop. So I did not complain.
Similar thing happened in 2017, all the people that went to vote including my children, I had two votes. That is to say I voted for myself and my wife voted for me. After Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had a meeting with Electoral Commission, she went to New York General Assembly. When all saw what happened, we all resign to fate.
Does that mean Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf supported the enthronement of the present government?
Well, I am saying I participated in the election, my people voted for me in my school and with the children I have strong supporters, I have people who worked for me, they all voted for me but at the end of the day the result showed all of them did not vote for me. That is strange.
What do you have to say about the typical African Leader who wants to remain in Power for life?
That is what I am saying. In Guinea, that was what happened. The people sat and looked instead of telling him to step down until the trouble came. When he tempered with the country’s constitution, they sat down and said it is internal problem but whatever happens in Guinea, it may spread to Sirrea-Leone, but we do not want that. Every disease, before it comes, shows symptoms, conflict has a symptom but the ECOWAS Community has an early warning. I remember one time we went to Mali, there were people who were giving the President guarantee that they could deal with the issue but now the matter has escalated. If they had listened to the ECOWAS Parliament, it would have saved the people of Northern Mali. So we all should come together and solve our common problems. Guineans demonstrated, he shot them instead of employing dialogue, the crisis escalated. I am sure where Yahaya Jame is now, he regrets his actions because there is no place like home.
I was in Nigeria for 40 years in exile. I was given the best of food and accommodation by the Nigerian Government. My children were going to the best Schools but I still needed to come back home. So there is no place like home.
When Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the President, she accommodated a cousin in a room within the Compound but could have built a mansion with government fund and says it was for her, but she did not. Rather the new leader built 49 thousand Estates and said he had the money as a Footballer. When people are suffering, no payment of salary for four to eight months. The Government is seeking the Liberia Senate to give approval for printing of 35million dollars but they want to know the where about of 16 billion dollars before the approval for new printing of currencies is given.
For me, If I want to speak the truth and anyone wants to harm me, I have the largest population in Liberia. All I want to do is to support the President, George Weah. You know I took him to Prophet T.B. Joshua before the election but after he won his election, he refused to turn his face to Prophet T.B. Joshua. He never went there! So everything you see happening around him is spiritual. These troubles that are happening are to humble him. I know there were big problems in Sudan but when Prophet T.B. Joshua entered there and told them I am here to preach from today, no war. When he left Sudan there was no war any longer. So if he comes to Liberia, Investors will come. If he prays for the President, things will turn around and the bad people around him will leave. This is our country. I am tired of the noise! Before now, when I used to come to ECOWAS Parliament, I used to be anxious to go back home, but I feel like spending another four to five years here in Nigeria. I feel comfortable here but back there you listen to complaints in the radio. You saw the Liberia country’s report, I did not write it they sent copy to me but one of the members from Liberia who read the report was asking the ECOWAS Parliament to intervene in the situation.
What the Legislator needed to do is to invite the President, “You told us in the joint session of annual message that you met an empty coffers and broken economy but Ellen Johnson Sirleaf debunked that, she said she left £150 million in the coffers” he has to defend it in the presence of the Former President. The Former Minister of Information says nothing was missing.
Don’t you have anti-graft agencies like EFCC and ICPC in Liberia to beam search light on corruption issues?
Are those institutions working? That is the question. We are just praying for them to succeed and do the right, you go to the Bank to withdraw your local money, they will tell you there is no money. When they said there is inflation in the country and demanded that USA should intervene then £25m was infused into the economy but who is to implement it. Is it not the Central Bank through the commercial Banks. But he said he was directed by the former Finance Minister.
Do you not see the people of Liberia going to the old dark days?
I do not see war. I see demonstration upon demonstrations against the Government and that will force them to comply to the request of the people.
LG election: Dogara’s aides express confidence of victory
LG election: Dogara’s aides express confidence of victory
From Ali Sara, Bauchi
As the people of Bauchi State file out tomorrow to exercise their franchise in the Local Government election, the battle for supremacy between the two major gladiating political parties; the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC) is expected to play out.
The immediate past speaker of the House of representatives Honorable Yakubu Dogara who recently joined the APC in his Bogoro local government has vowed to leave no stone unturned having embarked on door to door campaign to ensure victory.
Those vying for the chairmanship seat in the local government are Honorable Bulus Iliya of APC and Honorable Iliya Habila of PDP who are both former Senior Special Assistants to the former Speaker.
Flagging off his campaign Wednesday Honorable Iliya said that he is not afraid of the ruling party because the youth and women are with him.
According to him, he cannot be intimidated by anybody saying he does whatever he sets out to do without fear.
“I don’t fear face because I believe in God and God decide who will rule the LGA. I am not afraid that I am contesting against the ruling party, why because I know the masses are with me and I am sure I will defeat PDP on saturday”.
The APC candidate alleged that the only option for the ruling People’s Democratic Party is to try to manipulate the election because they have the government.
He expressed the believe that with God and the people by his side he will win the election.
“Definitely, if they are going to conduct a credible election we will be victorious come this Saturday”, he confidently boasted.
He called on the electorate to be law abiding, even as he advised them to protect their votes.
On his part Honorable Iliya Habila who is the immediate past Care taker Chairman of Bogoro LGA and the flag bearer of the PDP said he does not need to campaign because within the ten months of his stewardship in office the people can testify to his giant strides in the area of human and infrastructure development.
Lawan congratulates Ondo Governor on re-election
Lawan congratulates Ondo Governor on re-election
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has sent a congratulatory message to the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, on his re-election to a second term at Saturday’s election.
Lawan also congratulated the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the victory of its candidate at the election, saying the triumph is well-deserved and heart warming.This was contained in a statement that was issued in Abuja yesterday by his special adviser on media Ola Awoniyi.The president of the senate noted that the election was a referendum on the stewardship of Governor Akeredolu in the last four years and that the Governor has passed the examination in flying colours.
The Senate President commended the people of Ondo State for their peaceful conduct at the poll, which has demonstrated their confidence in their country’s democratic process.
He also thanked the Ondo people for their consistency in identifying with progressive platforms now ably represented by the APC.
“By the outcome of this election, the people of Ondo State have spoken in a loud and unambiguous voice that the APC offers the best platform for the pursuit of their development goals and political aspirations.
“The electoral victory in Ondo State is a re-affirmation of the people’s faith in the APC government and the capacity of Governor Akeredolu to continue the transformation of the state by consolidating on his achievements and opening new frontiers of development in the Sunshine State,” Lawan says.
The Senate President admonished the Governor not to deviate from the path that has taken him to a fresh mandate from his people. He also urges him to continue to implement APC’s progressive programmes for the benefit of all Ondo people.
Lawan called on other contestants in the election to join hands with the winner in working for the common good of Ondo people.
No PDP member defected in Ogbadibo -Media Group
No PDP member defected in Ogbadibo -Media Group
By Our Reporter
A foremost media support group of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State, has described as untrue, the propaganda on the social media that some members of the party defected to the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC).
The group, Benue South PDP Social Media, in a statement on Friday by its Coordinator, Comrade Yemi Itodo, said those selling such propaganda were only doing so for personal gains, urging the public to disregard such “unfounded rumours”.
The John Ngbede led State Working Committee of the PDP had, on Tuesday, inaugurated the executive of the Ogbadibo chapter of the PDP.
Barely 48 hours after the inauguration, some APC members took to the social media, suggesting that some members of the PDP abandoned the party for the broom party.
But Comrade Itodo in the statement, said it was rather the APC members that indicated interests to join the ruling PDP which the chapter Chairman of the party, Hon. Vincent Amuche had hinted the state leadership of PDP and a new date shall be fixed to welcome over 3000 members of opposition parties who are itching to join PDP.
“I can authoritatively tell you that there shall be great tsunami in the camps of the opposition parties in the coming weeks. What has been delaying it was the inability to inaugurate the elected chapter executives, due to COVID-19.
“But now they are being inaugurated and you will be shocked at the caliber of persons that have already concluded arrangements to join PDP”, Itodo said.
He stressed that, “no member of PDP left the party for any other party”, challenging anyone with names and wards of those defectors to publish them.
“The truth is that, some aggrieved persons left their parties after the primaries did not favour them few years ago and joined forces with APGA, SDP, Labour, etc. So, if those persons decided to rejoin their parties, how would you ascribe such defections as from PDP?
“Do you know how many great members of PDP that had since returned to the party in their various wards without making noise”, Itodo posited.
While calling on the leadership of PDP in Ogbadibo and Benue South not to be distracted in the quest to have estranged members reunited into the fold and create enabling environment for those willing to defect to the party; Comrade Itodo warned the opposition parties against heating up the polity at the time all hands must be on deck in the business of governance of Benue State.
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