By Teah R. Jardia, MPA
The maxim, if you were not at the rehearsal, watch the play has become increasingly true in the political kaleidoscope of Liberia. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the legislatures are in Susu; you eat I eat gimmick to bankrupt the country and she is a reminder and a true symbol of the past oligarchy; a tempestuously suppressive era of divide and rule. She has embroiled into a method of political cronyism and selective justice, a shibboleths that past for good governance.
One doesn’t have to be politically immersed to recognize the impasses developing in her administration, as the order of the day is economic hardship and systematic looting from top to bottom. President Sirleaf has turn the country into a family business entity and mother and sons are the walking vault of the central bank pocketing every dime being generated out of the country’s repository of immense natural resources.
The political prognoses that President Sirleaf was the messiah for the country was dead wrong, as she is vindictive, cunning and have glaringly pontificated in concentrating the nation’s wealth into her hands and that of her family members.
What is the essence of these pomp and pageantry, an elaborate Independence Day celebrations when the country still lay in ruin without roads and electricity if not for vainglory and how does she justify millions that have been spent for these unwarranted celebrations amid dismal socio-economic crisis of high unemployment and health care facility for the people as well as the fact that the present configuration of her government seems not to still reflect ethnic, geographic and regional balance, rather skewed towards the settler’s community which she so brilliantly represent.
Why these elaborate social gatherings when Liberia is still lagging behind among African nations in both human and infrastructural development; a country which educational standard condemned by her who duty is to make sure the children of Liberia receive quality education as compare to blaming them for poor academic output; how these high schools turn Universities and dispensing academic credentials to graduates gained accreditation to operate in a country coming out of 14 years of senseless war, and who fault is it, the students or government? Why celebrate as compare to fixing the broken educational system talked about especially when people are hurting and can’t feed their families, how is it possible to celebrate with an alleged budget shortfall due to feckless economy? Despite the pomp and pageantry, the President has vindictively targeted some members of the progressive community on account of political revenge and vendetta for the removal of the age-old TWP oligarchy, a suppressive regime that was second to the apartheid system of South Africa.
What is embarrassingly jejune about the President is her state of mind that is contaminated by revenge so much so that she is quietly drawing the country into another round of peril. The national security interest of the country is at stake with foreign nationals occupying positions of trust in the highest echelon of our government at the expense of qualified Liberians. Example abound, as a leader of post conflict Liberia, we had hope that President Sirleaf would have governed on an even keel in light of our immediate past which witnessed chaos and destruction of the country owing to loop-sided distribution of the country’s wealth which saw less than five-percent of the population grabbing more than eighty-percent of it.
In addition, the country is faced with high youth unemployment, runaway corruption and crimes; now, Ebola is uncontrolled, and given this climate, there are individuals and groups waiting to exploit tribal and religious differences, which has the potential to take the country into another conflict. While religion and tribalism in themselves are not the problem, they could be used by greedy and selfish politicians to keep themselves in power.
The idea of political supremacy that is vindictively targeting members of the progressive community on account of political revenge and to govern on the premise of winner take all politics undermines socio-economic growth and set the stage for future conflict especially with a blind eye on the illegal Immigration crisis facing the nation and likely to degenerate into a religious fracas. Without a doubt, the President is the Napoleon of the animal farm poised with a sadistic thrill to sordimize any man or woman who dare to challenge her authority. She is power inebriated and is bent on running the country from the aircraft out of fear.
With UN Solider standing by her side, she can do what so ever she wants; her two sons including her sister are in control and she dares anyone to question her authority. She is the constitution of the republic and can change the rule of the game at any time, as has been the case in her appointment of city majors and Paramount chiefs respectively. Undeniably, she is a tyrant and still retains the instinct of a guerrilla leader. At will, she makes incendiary comments and labels those who disagree with her egregious styles of management, and she employed some lynch mob pseudo progressives to low-level positions as guide dogs for her corrupt administration.
Why celebrate when what the country needs is a system of government poised to provide equal opportunity for all, a governing system free of Mother and sons ruling in defiance of the fundamental principles of constitutional democracy the Progressives of the 70s fought to give birth to. Instead, the Sirleaf administration’s development projects are imaginary and juxtaposed by bogus concession agreement signed to mortgage the country to the highest bidder.
Golden Veroleum, a Palm Bay company out of Indonesia is a clear example of the President’s determination to wreck the country before she leaves office. Golden Veroleum is armed with one-sided concession agreement that usurps the rights of citizens in Sinoe and its environs and have started to reduce towns and villages into plantations with an inevitable environmental hazard in sight. Ironically, Sinoe leadership has connived against the interest of their citizens in favor of Golden Veroleum. These guys will sell their soul in exchanged for wealth and power. Kpayan district representative Jefferson Karmo is in a marriage of convenient with Golden Veroleum Technical Vice president Mr. Henri Harmon, a kleptomania who lied when I visited his villa Samantha beach side office on 17th street in Sinkor about golden Veroleum operation in my home town of Numompo, Sinoe County. Instead of persuading the local people who are directly impacted by the intrusion of this Company on their soil; these bombastic powers inebriated county officials having percolated to the leadership of the county not by merit but by hook or crook, contrive against their own people for mighty dollar. The superintendent of Sinoe County and his immediate principle lieutenant have become overnight liaison officers and antagonists in favor of the Golden Veroleum Palm Bay Company in contravention of the code of conduct policy passed by the Sirleaf’s administration.
The impoverish people of Sinoe whose lively wood depends upon subsistence farming are appalled by the level of injustice that is melted out to them by their own children… These so-called county administrators have neither scruples nor verse administratively to bring home the beacon for their people yet braggingly swindling development funds and acquiring personal property and business entities at the expense of the struggling people of Sinoe County. To prove their misguided prowess and lack of leadership, they have resulted to threaten chiefs and villagers in Numompo with arson if they dare to challenge their authorities, a method by which they could cow them into submission and stop them in their track of opposition against the golden Veroleum Company operation in Numompo and other parts of Kpanyan district.
Why celebrate when million of dollars appropriated for independence day’s projects in Sinoe and Grand Kru counties are incomplete and unaccounted for, especially when innocent Liberians are languishing in jail based upon false accusation and witch hunt. Despite two democratic elections, UN troop are still in the country and that proves that the Sirleaf’s administration is still marked by illegitimacy. She lives in fear knowing her role in the heinous conflict that reduced the country into a level of banditry unimaginable.
It has been for almost ten unbroken years and the country is still in ruin and face with a political tailspin without good public policy agenda that will cater to the well-being of the citizenry except pomp and pageantry that override checks and balances required for socio-economic growth in a nation still bleeding in blood…checks and balances that foster transparency and accountability in which the enormous resources are provided to benefit the poor as compare to bogus trips design for sight seeing missions abroad. It is important to note the President’s claim of securing over 16 billion dollars investment for the country given that the rate of unemployment is profoundly estimated at more than eighty-percent and what is mind boggling about this rosy picture - she continues to paint for the country is that record numbers of kids continue to go to bed hungry without food; the lack of centralized power and water system and the deplorable road conditions in the country; all clearly speak to the despicable state of affairs of our dear country.
Prior to Sirleaf’s ascendency, things were not in the greatest shape that we possibly had hope for, but the basic necessities of life were available for the use and consumption of the people; the question is, to what extend has this much heralded investment benefitted the country and its struggling masses? Clearly, it has not translated into any significant benefits relative to jobs which will spur the true sense of socio-economic growth and development the country desire. All that is ubiquitous is a state of misery and hopelessness seen in the faces of our fellow citizens in the streets and highways of our country. Therefore, what is the essence of this pomp and pageantry when the nation is besiege with an incurable Ebola outbreak and economic chaos with bunch of drunks and thieves presiding over the affairs of the state?
The country is like a ship without rudder and experiencing a severe socio-politico and economic stagnation that stymied seismic change and Sirleaf is the political albatross that is standing against the best of the country developmentally. Instead of democracy, the country is reduced to a kleptocracy with foreigners occupying sensitive positions in government. From the corridor of the Supreme Court down to the national police force; the country has been desecrated with foreigners, LURD and ULIMO-K rebels occupying positions of trust. As TRC verdicts, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has blood on her hands and does not give a heck what happens to the country as she continues to reward stooges and henchmen with lucrative positions in her rogue regime.
The danger of nepotism
Liberia would have been a shinning city on the hill if and only if we as Liberians would view the electoral process through the lenses of nationalism. It means electing a radical leadership that will put country first. But the simple idea of electing people based upon face value breads Nepotism that is a dangerous political proposition, which has the propensity to stifle progress, pertaining to the socio-economic growth of a nation still listing dangerously. And it also jeopardize the effective management of public resources and not accountable to the people. ‘Who you know and not what you know’ is a dangerous precedence. It undermines efficiency and also a glaring misapplication of the country’s resources. Nepotism impedes upon the process of decisions that impact the lives of ordinary citizens and is all the reason that for the past eight years, nothing constructive has happened in the governance of the country except pomp and pageantry. Sirleaf’s government has failed and has been a serious political mistake for the country. She is a replicate of the dysfunctional settler’s political system of do nothingness where friends and family’s connection was the prerequisite for employment.
Immediately after the 2005 general and presidential elections was announced, I mentioned to a penal of discussants on free-Liberia Radio in Washington, DC, indicating to them that the selection of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as president, a woman who helped to destroyed our country was a smoke of dark cloud over our country…that justice will not prevail when the presiding judge is a renown criminal. Those who differed during that discussion are seeing the true colors of an evil person dancing to the drumbeat of chaos and destruction fermented. President Sirleaf and her family have taken over the affairs of the country and are now walking vault of the central bank of Liberia. Until President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her coterie of friends are removed and possibly prosecuted, the future of our dear country hangs in the balance!
About the Author: Teah R. Jardia is a former Vice Chairman of the United People's Party Political Action Committee, UPP/PACO; former Secretary General of the Coalition of Progressive Liberians in the Americas, COPLA, and former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the United Sarpo Associations in the Americas, USA. Jardia resides in Philadelphia, PA and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org