Story by Atty. Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
Since the rumors that Cllr. Varney B. Sherman, one of the country’s well known corporate lawyers, was one of those behind the planned demonstration against the UP-led Government, of which he is the party’s Chairman, I have been finding it difficult to believe.
Every time I ponder and ruminate over the rumor, one thing that comes to mind is why will this man whose party heads the government, will want to engage in such act to undermine the very government he helped to usher in by his sweat, resources, time and efforts. Additionally, why will this man whose relatives and himself have felt the bitter consequences of some of the events in this country want to engage in a demonstration that has the propensity to turn otherwise, as experience has shown, such as the April 14, demonstration by the former Progressive alliance of Liberia (PAL), then headed by the late Gabriel Baccus Matthews? That demonstration was planned to protest a proposed increment in the price of rice, the nation’s staple food.
Generally in the Liberian society, it is believed that ‘for every rumor, there is some truth in it,’ and so sometimes these rumors find their way into the mainstream media, as news story. The unfortunate is that once they find their way into the mainstream media, it gives it some degree of belief, as the media is the public trust, and so whatever people read in the media, they believe it is true. This is why journalists are warned against rumors, or that if they decide to print or broadcast this, they should thoroughly cross-check the information contained in the rumors. Sometimes the way we treat rumors is how some of us treat anything on the internet. Some media people believe that whatever is put on the internet is true. Some fail to realize that the internet is operated by human beings, some of whom may use this expeditious and instantaneous source of communication to get even with someone or to settle score with someone by making all kinds of unsubstantiated allegations.
Even though in life it is said that one should not put his or her neck on the “chopping board” in defense of others, in the case of Cllr. Sherman, a man I have known for many years as a journalist, I still cannot believe that Cllr. Sherman is one of those hidden hands behind this planned April 12 demonstration. As I said earlier, to this is tantamount to cutting the branch of a tree that one sits on. In this scenario, the person will definitely fall. Similarly, it can be likened to shooting one in the leg or pouring gasoline on fire.
As a reporter with the Daily Observer, I know and for sure that Cllr. Sherman has been involved in national politics since 1984 as a member of the Liberia Action Party; some of us are aware of the crucial role he played as a lawyer during the registration of the Liberia Action Party. Can you imagine those days when the incumbent, a military man was interested in the presidency for a person to come out as a lawyer for an opposition party, which the incumbent saw as a threat to his ascendency. As a reporter who had just joined the mainstream of the profession, I watched him as he rose to be a prominent member of the Liberia Action Party, especially his activities during the 1997 Special Election. This man, I have followed was part of the Alliance of Political Parties to contest that election.
Unarguably, the Standard Bearer of the Liberia Action Party; and before then, during the tumultuous years of Liberia, he served as President of the Liberian National Bar Association. Additionally, the nation followed him as successfully managing the 1994 Liberian National Conference as Chairman of the Organizing Committee, a conference which was structured to present an alternative to the outgoing Interim Government headed by the late Professor David Kpomakpor. During all those years (years in opposition and years in collaboration with a sitting Government of Liberia) we never ever heard about Cllr. Sherman being involved in a public protest demonstration. Why would he, now as the National Chairman of the ruling Unity Party, be involved in a protest demonstration on April 12, 1980? Unbelievable! As I write this article, I still cannot believe that this man is a part of this planned demonstration.
As I stated in one of my recent articles that days and dates remind people of some events. In most instances, if it was a day or date that brings about bad memory, one will never want such a day to come. In the case of Cllr. Sherman, I do not understand why he wants to be a part of anything that has to do with April 12, when such a day will bring back bad and bitter memories. Sometimes it is said that we should not historicize. This is difficult because the past must be used to guide us for the future.
As I write, I am still pondering as to whether Cllr. Varney Sherman would ordinarily support a protest demonstration on April 12, 1980. I wonder those who are making these kinds of serious suicidal allegation now that relatives of Cllr. Sherman were direct victims of April 12, 1980. John F. Sherman, the young Minister of Commerce, Industry and Transportation in 1980, who was executed by firing squad on South Beach along with 12 other members of the Tolbert Government, was Cllr. Sherman’s cousin. His uncle, T. Siafa Sherman, who was Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1980, spent nearly 2 years in hard labor in Belle Yella as a consequence of April 12, 1980. One could go on naming more direct relatives of Cllr. Sherman who suffered immensely from April 12, 1980. Is it likely that Cllr. Varney Sherman would celebrate April 12, 1980 by a protest demonstration, thereby reminding us of the violence that attended this month during our very recent past history?
Even though Cllr. Varney Sherman has categorically and emphatically denied that he is supporting the protest demonstration planned for April 12, 1980, there is still need for additional concern because of the vulnerability of the Liberian society. Some of the people believe what they hear on the radio or read in the newspapers. They are right because the media, as the public trust, should always report the truth and facts, and so in a case of hearsay or fallacy, the public will not be able to distinguish between facts and fallacy.
In his denial as was published by the FRONTPAGE Newspaper, the Counsellor among other things said that the demonstration does not fit into any aspiration that he has now or for the future. He has said that he has nothing to gain from the protest demonstration; he has contended that he does not know what desirable objective the protest demonstration has. The challenge therefore is for those who have accused Cllr. Varney Sherman of supporting this protest demonstration to give us the evidence of their allegation and show to us what he could possibly gain from this protest demonstration.
The Liberian people should not forget that this is the same Cllr. Varney Sherman who lost the 2005 Presidential Election to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. It is believed that he was one of those who spent a huge amount in the process, but was not successful. With this, he did not organize or support any protest demonstration against President Sirleaf’s Government during the first six years of her presidency. This is the same Cllr. Varney Sherman who accepted the invitation from President Sirleaf for his Liberia Action Party to merge with the Unity Party, thereby making the new Unity Party a more formidable contender for the 2011 elections and its eventual success at those elections
Now from common sense and reasoning, how is it logically prudent for this man as National Chairman of the ruling Unity Party, support a protest demonstration on April 12, 2013? Strange and convoluted reasoning! Isn’t it? Even though it is a difficult thing for one to put his or her neck on the “chopping board” for another, in the case of Cllr. Sherman, I do not believe and will never believe that he is part of this planned demonstration. Perhaps, this is being circulated to create the impression that even within the inner-circle of the ruling party, there is division.
Again, as I end this piece with the above headline which carries the relative pronoun, ‘That’, is used to indicate that I still cannot believe why this man (Varney Sherman) would want to engage or surreptitiously be behind such a demonstration. Hence, let those with evidence provide them for the benefit of the public. Until then, I rest my case.