Making Sense of Anti-Dual Citizenship in Liberia

The Editor,

Let’s say all things are equal…, before, during, and now in post-Civil Wars Liberia. Which ordinary Liberian can turn down an offer when ask to board a plane or ship for the citizenship of Europe or the United States? Acceptance will be overwhelming… not because of disloyalty to “Mama Liberia”. It is simply for opportunity for better livelihood, which is beyond the reach of majority of the Liberian population. But do you know accepting such an offer is interpreted a “crime of disloyalty” to Liberia in comparison to those plundering million of the United States dollars from state coffers for personal use?

Yes, this is a “crime of disloyalty” that is why issues of training and employment opportunities, which have actual impacts on Liberians whose livelihoods are reliance on the mercy of nature are not the key subjects of discussions and debates in these general and presidential circles. That is why the issues of equal access to learning and other empowerment opportunities for better livelihoods— rule of law, accountability and equal justice for all are placed under the table. Am not kidding … accepting such an offer means you hate Liberia and you dare ever considering yourself for a Liberians citizenship after the fact. This is what the anti-dual citizenship in Liberia is.

But my opinion is such “Anti-Dual Citizenship Law” against natural born Liberians is like “biting the hand that feeds you.” This is because, in contrast, those “outcast” because of their decision to sign up for a second citizenship of other countries are the ones bearing the brunt of livelihoods burdens of feeding, sheltering, clothing, and schooling of millions of Liberians on the homeland because of government incapability to do so. They are the ones also taking on the responsibility of paying the costs of healthcare, transportation, and communication needs of homeland Liberians because of failing governance system. They are the ones receiving millions of calls from homeland Liberians when the month ends for food, rent, school fees, building materials, medical treatment costs…

It is their high currency 25% remittances heavily contributing to government foreign revenue generation. The government exchange 25% of all remittances into Liberian dollars before disbursement to recipients. The fact is on the other hand, for those Liberians in high profile positions in government, they grab and take millions of United States dollars and other state resources out of Liberia with impunity. It is the illegal grabbing and takeout monies they use to pay rents or buy homes occupied by their families in the United States and elsewhere. They also pay for allowances for families not working for the Liberian government. They put the rest in personal accounts in foreign banks. They do these things to the detriment of majority of Liberians with impunity.

The question is, which one of the two groups is truly patriotic to Liberia and have the Liberian people at heart?

Is it the ones who sign up for second citizenship for better livelihoods and opportunities and in turn helping other Liberians with their hard earned monies and with other resources including the construction of new homes? Or is it the ones who reportedly did not sign up for a second citizenship of another country, but are embezzling millions of United States dollars to the detriment of majority of the Liberian people? There is no question, it is the financial remittances of those natural born Liberians who have been “outcast” for the “crime” of signing up for a second citizenship to another country for better livelihoods that are fueling the economy of Liberia.

Most of them spend sleepless nights just to make ends meet from odd jobs. The kind of jobs with no dignity in Liberia. Evidently, despite signing up for second citizenship besides their home of natural birth, there is no doubt, their hearts and souls belong to “mama Liberia”, which is why they are taking on the responsibility and obligation of being the sole source of livelihoods for millions of Liberians at home. In mostly instances, they put off the payments of their bills and deprive themselves socialized activities and leisure times to ensure the fulfilment of these responsibilities and obligations to Liberia. Participating in Socialized activities and leisure times are the bench marks of fulfilled assimilation into these societies.

Taking on these livelihood needs for Liberians, is supposed to be the constitutional responsibility and obligation of the government. Imagine, what will happen should the “outcast” Liberians decide to suspend the sending of their remittances in protest of the “gross unjust outcast” for a month or two… what will you say? What will you call them?
Ironically, songs of praises and hallelujah are sang to those Liberians who use their positions of power to plunder Liberian finances and natural resources for personal gains. They do in violation of the Constitution, but “Honorable and Excellency”, they are called. What is the evil in this dual citizenship for natural born Liberians who are already doing for the country and millions of Liberians? If the question is about the circumvention of justice… then the question is which, government official our current judicial system successful prosecuted for stealing money or other forms of abuse of power? For those who have doubts about the circumvention of justice for dual citizens, the conviction and sentencing of Chucky Taylor for 97 years by the American Justice system, this is your answer.

Chucky had summarily executed a taxi driver who had killed his (Chucky) dog in an accident in Monrovia.
He did with impunity under the Liberian Justice System because his father was the President of Liberia.

What we need in Liberia is strong institutions and rule of law for everyone regardless of one status… We do not need laws that are discriminatory. For this reason, I challenge all Liberians to reflect on the issue of dual citizenship for natural born Liberians because one cannot afford to “bit the hand the feeds him or her.”

Jarwinken Wiah
Former Chief Report of the Inquirer Newspaper

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