Monrovia – A group of Liberians based in the United States of America has staunchly condemned Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill for pledging a whooping US$300,000 budgetary support to the Union of Liberian Association in the Americas (ULAA).
ULAA is arguably the largest Liberian based organization in the diaspora. On March 26, 2022, in Essington, Pennsylvania, Minister McGill, also the Chief of Staff of the Liberian President, serving as a guest at ULAA’s fund raiser, declared that ULAA is, “The Government of Liberia in America.” He cemented his statement by assuring a crowd of dignitaries and members that US$300,000 will be included in the next budget year for ULAA. The Minister, on behalf of the Liberian Government, pledged US$100,000 during the Fund Drive.
However, a group of Liberians, including former government officials, business people and activists, in a statement issued recently, condemned Minister McGill’s statement and gesture, and at the same time, accused the ULAA’s leadership of covertly working as the agent of the Liberian Government.
Excerpt: “While it is expected that a government’s organization should be financed by the government, it is an eyebrow-raiser as to ULAA’s status as a 501(c)(3) organization in the United States. A 501(c)(3) organization is a charity organization that is tax-exempt in the United States. A state or local government or political subdivision of a state or local government is not eligible for exemption under IRC 501(c)(3).”
During the occasion, the group said only former Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, Mr. Nathaniel Barnes asserted through constructive criticism, that such money should be directed by the government of Liberia to attend to some of the dire needs of Liberians living in Liberia as hundreds of thousands of Liberians in the diaspora does daily mostly from a meager income. However, Mr. Barnes’s criticism was countered by not only Minister McGill but also the leadership of ULAA and other high-power ULAA attendees, and none of the countered critics spoke against Minister McGill’s declaration of ULAA as an arm of the Liberian government.
“Has ULAA lost its “origin intend and purpose” since the new administration headed by Mr. J Shiwoh Kamara has covertly been outed as an extension of the government of Liberia? Was the promise of a yearly budgetary amount of US$300,000 the purchasing price for the souls and voice of ULAA’s new leaders?” the group asked rhetorically.
The group accused ULAA of not living up to its founding principles and mandates as a social and political organization that advocates the interests of its people in the US and Liberia.
They stated that, “ULAA has been a reliable waiting station for greedy-aspiring office holders and some feckless cheerleading politicians who will do what it takes to sleep in bed conveniently with successive presidents to secure their selfish interests.”
On the issue of political advocacy for which ULAA has taken credit, the group claimed local organizations such as LAMA and other organizations and local advocates have also been instrumental in blowing the horns for policymakers to help Liberians home and abroad.
“Has ULAA once again lost the opportunity under new leadership to be a relevant organization as the voice of the voiceless? Has the new leadership positioned itself to operate from the past, and a position of opportunism, incoherence, and reckless servitude?” the group asked.
In their opening statement, they record that every day, thousands of Liberians living in the diaspora receive a call from a family member, a friend, or an acquaintance seeking financial assistance.
A report in 2020 revealed that Liberians living in the United States remitted over US$500,000,000 into the country with over 85% being for the sole purpose rendering assistance for daily sustenance such as buying food to avoid sleeping hungry, payment for medical expenses such as purchasing medications to treat malaria, typhoid fever, covering basic hospital fees and at times paying for the cost of fuel for government-run hospitals when surgery is urgent and there is “no fuel in the generator at the hospital.” Ninety-five percent of Liberians who immigrated into the diaspora have to include in their monthly income some assistance to a desperate plea for financial assistance, they added.
They furthered that while the Government of Liberia annually receives hundreds of millions of dollars from international donors to run and sustain it, some government kleptocrats amass millions of dollars from the country’s resources into their personal accounts and stockpile properties in foreign countries and shell accounts.
Minister McGill, they noted, did not only serve as a living testimony to the oxymoronic paradox of a wealthy leader of one of the poorest countries in the world, but his gesture and declaration that ULAA is, “The Government of Liberia in America,” speaks about the government and the governance of the state.