Regarding themselves as economic freedom fighters standing up against what they refer to as an oligarchy and economic looting team headed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, two young Liberians, Henry Costa and MenipakeiDumoe have remained resolute in demand for the country’s female leader to stand down.
The two were brought in the spotlight after allegedly making disparaging comments about President Johnson-Sirleaf during the Friday, January 4, 2013 edition of the “Costa Show” on Hott FM 107.9 in Monrovia.
As a penalty, the program has been temporarily suspended while Costa and Dumoe, as presenters, have been suspended from official duties with the radio station.
Even though the decision is intended to protect the image of the Liberian presidency, both Costa and Dumoe stood firm in their decision to demand the resignation of President Johnson-Sirleaf due to poor leadership ability.
In a joint press conference held at a street corner in the heart of the nation’s capital on Monday, January 7, 2013, Costa claimed that although the President was elected under controversial circumstances in 2005, ‘sleeping dog’ was allowed to lie because of the mercy of the Liberian people and generosity of their hearts.
“But this President has decided to add insult to injury by constituting a system of government that is engaged in nepotism, cronyism, corruption and economic and social marginalization. Too many of our brothers and sisters are suffering. We cannot accept this. This is not how we should be living. The only thing we got, which is our natural resources, is being mortgaged by the President,” he declared.
Costa once served as a stalwart of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) before quitting to join the proposed Alternative National Congress (ANC) after Cllr. Winston Tubman was driven out of the CDC.
The suspended talk show presenter narrated that although the country has 17 deepwater oil blocks, nine have already been given out to concessionaires.
Costa: “The government and people of Liberia have no standing in any of them. This is not about one person but about all of us. Of the population of 3.5 million, 65% is youthful. We have a present of which we ashamed. The only way we have is the future and it is being robbed and squandered by a few people in power. This President has lost the political legitimacy and as such this President must do the honorable thing by tendering her resignation.”
According to the young political commentator, it is needless living in a country where a few are stealing the resources while the rest are suffering.
Mr. Costa is optimistic about a crisis “if this government continues to behave in the way it does.” For this, he called for a complete intimidation of the government on grounds that the power of the governor is in the right of the governed.
“We are the people and must stand up. Stand down and give us our country back. We want to take our country back from Robert Sirleaf, FombahSirelaf, Estrada Bernard, Jennie Bernard, Charles Sirleaf, T. Nelson Williams and Amara Konneh. We want to take our country from a bunch of thieves who are looting this country. They are hoping that we will continue to be silent. We will not allow ourselves to be intimidated. As long as our government will continue to loot our country, we too will continue to stay in this campaign,” he maintained.
Mr. Dumoe, for his part, was quick to maintain his position about the immediate resignation of the President for allegedly failing to the duty of care.
“She was negligent in the management of our forest resources. So, today 23% of our entire country has been given away to companies in fraudulent deals. Community lands have been taken away through fraudulent process,” he pointed out.
Mr. Dumoe, a former spokesman of the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) of businessman-politician Simeon Freeman, alleged that Agriculture Minister Florence Chenoweth was a party to the controversial Private Use Permit (PUP) but received no punishment. He accused the President of only suspending Minister Chenoweth as Board Chairperson of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) without dismissing her as Minister of Agriculture.
“The Ministry of Finance put the total loss on the process of putting a moratorium on the logging sector at US$15m because the President did not execute her duty of care. The Ministry of Finance estimates that over 500 jobs will be lost. The biggest fear is that the President is making too many mistakes. She made mistakes with Elenilto, oil blocks and in the concession of our resources,” Dumoe noted his frustration.
Also, a former staffer of Bong County Senior Senator, Jewel Howard Taylor, Dumoe is now faced with the conclusion that either the President makes good decisions about the extractive sector or she does not know how to manage her nation’s natural resources.
He has therefore demanded the resignation of Madam Johnson-Sirleaf on grounds that there will be no more resources left as long as she is at the helm of the state.
“All of our iron ore mines are gone. Only Wologisi is standing. All of the 2.0m acres of forest land have already been given for concession under the controversial PUP. The majority of our oil blocks were given out in complete violation of the petroleum law. We are entering billions of dollars in debt. All of our reserves will go towards serving that debt,” Dumoe claimed.
On behalf of the youth, he requested that such kind of burden should be rejected and that what is important is the future of the young ones.
“So, we reject the continuation of this government and can allow it to step down. That is the essence of our message to President Sirleaf. The Executive Mansion has entrance and exit. We ask you to use the exit,” Dumoe intimated.
The harsh attack on President Johnson-Sirleaf was unleashed after the Hott FM 107.9 management suspended the ‘Costa Show’ indefinitely until it sufficiently reviews the contents and format with the hosts.
"The management of Hott FM prides itself in providing responsible educational, informative, and entertaining programming for the general public," the management indicated.
According to the management, the show has crossed the ethical line, however, with the promise to restore it to the airwaves upon completing its review for proper control mechanisms.
The Hott 107.9 FM management pledged to ensure its responsibility to the public.
Responding to the ongoing saga, Press Union of Liberia President Peter Quaqua is quoted as saying Sunday that the management's action was disproportionately severe.
Mr. Quaqua, notwithstanding, mentioned that while there was nothing wrong with being constructively critical of the government, the two “have been going overboard in their use of profanity in their attacks."
The PUL President: "I am not saying they can't be critical but they cannot go out insulting. That has been our concern. Reviewing the contents is good but I think it is a good show which has been discussing some issues which need to be discussed."
For being one of the owners of Hott FM 107.9, the negative response from the talk show last Friday is said to have cost Mr. Israel Akinsanya his job as the Vice President for Public Affairs of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL). With Mr. Akinsanya vacationing in the United States, reports of his dismissal is yet to be verified even though Cyrus Badio, former Presidential Press Secretary now with NOCAL, is reported to be the replacement.