Liberia: Open Letter to Abe Darius Dillon, Senator of Montserrado County

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this commentary are solely of the author and do not necessarily represent that of the Daily Observer newspaper.

Dear Sen. Dillon,

I have the honor most respectfully, to applaud you for the incredible work you are doing at the Liberian Senate. Though it is not 100%, you continue to display a semblance of courage to do the Liberian people’s work.

However, sir, my attention has been drawn to your recent display of systematic check marks during the confirmation hearing of the Managing Director designate of the Roberts International Airport (RIA), Darlington Karney. You were very verbose in citing key provisions within the Liberia Airport Authority Act (LAA) to remind him of his incompetence to occupy that position.

One of the arguments raised by you was that the president’s nominee lacks the academic qualification to hold the office of Managing Director of the Roberts International Airport. Specifically, you and other senators held him to a high standard by quoting the provision of the act saying Mr. Karnley didn’t have a bachelor’s degree and technical knowledge in the field of aviation to be confirmed.

On Wednesday, August 31, you and 17 other senators voted to REJECT the nomination of Karnely on grounds that he does not have a bachelor’s degree and technical knowledge in the field of aviation. This was a laudable venture, and we think public officials must be carefully scrutinized, and properly vetted before confirmation to resurface the merit system within the Liberian society again.

While this is a laudable venture, Sen. Dillion, I want to personally encourage you to develop the same courage and go back to school to pursue a degree to inspire young people, who believe in your ideology to see education as the best alternative to changing lives and overcoming poverty in Liberia.

It is said that quality education saves a nation, and representing a county where illiteracy is entrenched, one would think it will be very necessary on your part to promote education.

May I also clarify that no one is judging you for any incompetence to read, write, and comprehend better? However, when you as a senator use a legal instrument to deprive another young man of an employment opportunity because he does not have a degree, then it becomes a moral necessity to also encourage you to further your education.

The known fact is, that you were enrolled at Strayer University in the U.S. but did not complete your education. As such, one would think as you question presidential nominees on academic credentials as a form of vetting them before confirmation, you, too, should muster the courage to demonstrate that obtaining a degree, especially in a society where illiteracy is high, should be the best alternative to rebuilding the broken fabrics of war-ravaged Liberia.

Sen. Dillon, in all fairness, you cannot be voting to reject a presidential nominee because they do not have a bachelor’s degree, knowing you, too, do not have any degree.

It can be recalled that when Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe Jr., then Speaker of the 52nd National Legislature was just a high school graduate, enrolled at the University of Liberia to further his education. He did it when he was Speaker of the 52nd National Legislature. Despite his removal from the post of Speaker, he continued his education, graduated, and even went to obtain a master’s degree from the same institution.

That was a demonstration of courage, and it sent a glaring signal to every public official and the general public that one needs to advance academically to avoid other embarrassments and to conform to professional standards of credentialism. Interestingly, while Speaker Snowe was pursuing his undergraduate studies at the University of Liberia between 2006/2007, you served as his Chief of Office Staff (COS). In my mind, his enrollment at the University of Liberia must serve as a motivation, and inspiration for you.

Now that you are a sitting senator, you should also emulate his good example to pursue your degree education in the same way. Because education is very important, especially degree education, that’s why you and other senators voted to reject Mr. Karnley, who didn’t have the requisite academic credentials to occupy the position he was nominated for by President Weah. One would think you will see the need to acquire a similar degree credential to complement the work you do.

It is a known fact that you represent Montserrado County, home of the intellectual class, academicians, and seasoned professionals in Liberia, who are highly schooled. As such, taking leaping steps to pursue a degree is the best way forward in promoting education, especially when you just rejected a young presidential nominee on grounds that he does not have a degree to serve as Managing Director of the Roberts International Airport.

The precedence set on Karnley, who was rejected by you and other senators on grounds that he does not have an undergraduate degree to serve as Managing Director of the Roberts International Airport, should not be one-sided. Leaders who set precedence should also live by the rule. While degree requirements do not form the basis for the election of any lawmaker, it is also important that you begin to develop the courage to pursue a degree to make you have the moral authority to question people’s academic credentials.

Finally, I thought to bring this to your attention, not to degrade any legislator. However, Liberia has an illiterate society, and only our leaders can promote education through their actions. One way to do so is by putting pride aside and going back to school as was done by other legislators in pursuit of higher education.

It is my ardent hope and prayer that you will see this as professional advice and muster the courage to further your education to inspire our youthful generation that leaders who are expected to transform Liberia must have certain educational credentials to transform our society.

Sincerely,

Vandalark R. Patrick

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