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Making of A President:
Liberian Express Newspaper
March 15-21, 2004
?Varney Sherman, Counsellor-At-Law of the Supreme Court of Liberia, one of Liberia?s legal luminaries, could very well be President of Liberia come January 6, 2006 if he is elected in October, 2005. Where does this ?big shot? lawyer, who represents major corporations in Liberia and who, at the same time, has also handled major claims of workers in Liberia, come from?? Liberian Express, March 15-21, 2004 edition.
?He has always been right there with all Liberians through ?thick-and-thin?, experienced the difficulties and dangers of the perennials civil conflicts, practiced law for corporations and individuals, and yet avoided the attraction for self-aggrandizement at the expense of the Liberian people. He proudly refused to either join or support any warring faction, never brought any suffering to our people or any destruction to our country.
?He never benefited from the tear drops of Liberians and he never spilled the blood of any Liberian. It is his neutrality (or non-alignment) in our civil conflicts, his non-participation in the gross misrule of Liberia and the gross abuse of the rights of the Liberian people, and his non-contamination by the massive corruption of the past that has attracted so many Liberians to Varney Sherman?s candidacy for President of Liberia.
?Grand Cape Mount County from whence Varney Sherman comes is predominantly Vai by tribe and predominantly Moslem by religion. Varney Sherman speaks his native tongue (Vai) fluently ? However, unless you know him personally, you would never know that he speaks a native dialect because he prefers to be known simply as a Liberian rather than to be known as a Vai.
?Not because he is ashamed of his ethnicity but because he sincerely and passionately believes that Liberians should extol their nationalism and downplay their ethnicity.? Liberian Express, March 15-21, 2004 edition.
One of the things that the Liberian Express newspaper has done in this article is to identify one or more of the schisms that have adversely affected the development of Liberia. But more than this, the Liberian Express has also suggested that Varney Sherman possesses the characteristic, exhibited by him over years of interaction with people, to tackle and remove the schism between the ethnic groups of Liberia and truly united and integrated as a homogenous country.
There is another schism in Liberia that a Varney Sherman presidency can easily remove. This is the schism between the two major religions ?Christianity and Islam. ?Even though so many of his relatives from both sides (maternal and paternal) are Moslems, Varney is a Christian, a member of the Episcopal Church of Liberia.? Liberian Express, March 15-21, 2004 edition. A country founded on Christian principles can be assured that Christianity will continue to be a focal point in its governance under a Sherman presidency; but at the same time, its Moslem minorities can be assured that they too will have equal protection under the law as provided for in our Constitution and equal opportunity to participate in the affairs of state and benefit from its resources and other attributes. A just and fairer society for all is possible under a Varney Sherman presidency.
Varney Sherman has the academic credentials (three academic degrees ? B.Sc., LL.B., LL.M.). He has been distinguished by his alma mater Cuttington College for his services to his country by the conferral of the honorary LL.D. degree as recently as December, 2003.
?Varney loves Liberia. He really does. Many Liberian lawyers who obtained an LL.M. degree from American universities, as Varney did, opted to join a bar association in the United States so that they would have the option to practice law in the United States. Cllr. Sherman did not join any bar association in the United States. Many lawyers who have acquired the financial and social stature as Varney Sherman have opted to obtain residency in the United States or Europe, or more recently in other West African countries.
Cllr. Sherman has never obtained residency in any country other than Liberia. He refused to do so even when Liberia was ?on fire? and the future of our country was very bleak and hopeless. Many Liberians who received training and education as Varney Sherman chose to get a job in another country because they gave up on Liberia during the years of our circle of violence. Varney Sherman has never taken up employment in any country other than Liberia. If this isn?t a Liberian patriot to the core, none has yet been born.? Liberian Express, March 15-21, 2004 edition.
When other presidential aspirants took out of Liberia everything they owned or otherwise divested themselves of any property they held in Liberia because they had given up on the future of Liberia, Varney Sherman invested in Liberia. Not only did he construct residential homes, he constructed the largest office building for his law firm (Sherman & Sherman) when Liberians were at war and at the throats of each other. During those same years, he joined with other Liberians to establish businesses in Liberia, such as the National Gas Corporation and the J&W Enterprises, Inc. He never abandoned his motherland. He loves Liberia and he invested in Liberia.
During the 1990s, Varney Sherman did not only practice law in Liberia. He offered his services and expertise directed at bringing peace and stability to our war-torn country. He attended as many peace conferences on Liberia as he could to talk to protagonists of our civil conflict. He even offered his services, free of charge and any benefits, to the Liberian National Transitional Government under the Chairman of Professor David D. Kpomakpor, as its Special Counsel.
And when it became apparent that a military junta of warlords might take over the leadership of Liberia, he brought together like-minded Liberias and served as Organizing Chairman of the 2nd Liberian National Conference, which opposed the Akosombo Accord and led to the Accra Agreement. One result is that a representative of civil society, Hon. Oscar Quiah, sat as a member of the new Council of State, with the representatives of the warring factions.
Varney Sherman was opposed to any warring faction taking over the reign of power at the end of the Liberia civil conflict. He was convinced that should the 1997 Special Elections end in a government headed by a warring faction, Liberia would return to war. So unlike other politicians, at the risk of his very successful law practice, he continued his opposition to the warring factions by assisting to organize the Alliance of Political Parties and by offering himself to serve as one of its candidates for the Liberian Senate. The loss of those elections to the NPP was a painful awakening.
In addition to the possibility of a repetition of the circle of violence due to perceived or actual threat to other factions and their supporters, Varney Sherman was convinced that the Taylor Government, as evident by its control of more than 90% of the country for more than seven years (1990-1997), did not have the capacity, will or inclination to manage a government of Liberia, to undertake the reconstruction of the country, or to carry out balance development of Liberia. And as such matters were most important to Varney Sherman, even though he lived in Liberia, except for agreeing to serve on commissions, such as the Tax Reform Commission, which drafted the 2000 Tax Code, and the Telecommunications Commission, he otherwise refused to have anything to do with the NPP Government.
Other presidential aspirants of today made the deliberate choice yesterday to support and/or be a part of Taylor?s rebel force (the NPFL) and/or his NPP Government; and today, they are struggling to distance themselves from both the NPFL and the NPP Government. Varney Sherman, being a man of principles and moral courage, made his decision not to align himself with either NPFL or the NPP Government and he and his law practice suffered the consequences in many ways. But he continued to live and work in Liberia, helping here and there during those difficult years with scholarships to students, assistance to individuals and communities and a tower of opposition to the misrule of the day. That is the character of the man who would be President of Liberia.
So on March 15, 2004, giving the very large and unprecedented size of the rally, the enthusiasm and exuberance of the Liberian people and the passion of the Petition itself, Varney Sherman rose to the challenge. He said: ?I accept the challenge to stand as a candidate for President of Liberia during the October 2005 elections. With your support, we shall win. Together, we shall transform our country forever, based on a government committed to the principles of good governance, transparency and accountability. Together Liberia shall once again become a stable and prosperous country, with equal opportunity for all of its people, and at peace with itself and its neighbors.?
Varney Sherman did step forward.
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