The Perspective Reserves the Right to Praise or Criticize
Abdoulaye Dukule & President Sirleaf
A recent editorial published by theperspective.org
irked Dr. Abdoulaye Dukule to the extent that he publicly dissociated himself from the editorial. We are of the opinion that Dr. Dukule should have exercised some caution and displayed some civility. That was not to be. He was irate and uncivil and refused to discuss the matter in-house before going public with his response. This editorial is in response to his resignation, which the publication accepts heartily.
First of all, had Dr. Dukule been an active member of the editorial staff, he would have been consulted about the editorial and his input would have been solicited. As it is, Dr. Dukule has seemingly jumped ship. He plays many roles now as a lobbyist, and sometimes government spokesman. He has drifted away from the publication and has made no valuable contribution in a very long time. It is strange that he still believes he is an integral part of the organization and should be consulted for important decisions. What warrants such a status is befuddling. Does he think he holds his position for life without any active contribution?
In his criticism of the editorial piece, he writes: "There is something naïve, insensitive, cynical, and Plain stupid to write such editorial at this time. Blaming President Sirleaf for Ebola and lack of infrastructure in a nation that has been mismanaged for 167 years is infantile, at best."
Well, we maintain that the only thing stupid and infantile in this discussion is Dr. Dukule's unfortunate choice of words and his inability or unwillingness to think critically. He actually lacks intellectual dexterity in this matter. For example, he admits that the country has been mismanaged for 167 years. It is also true that President Sirleaf has been at the helm of government for the past eight years. Does she not share the blame, at least for eight years? Why should President Sirleaf not be responsible for lack of infrastructural development over the last eight years? Why is it now stupid and infantile to critique the president's policies? After all, nobody accused the president for causing Ebola, we simply criticized her policies and her handling of the crisis. There is a distinction there that begs to be realized; Dr. Dukule, in his haste and angst to rebuke us, missed it entirely.
Dr. Dukule may not be aware of this, but we do have a democratic form of government in Liberia. We do not have a monarchy, a communist or dictatorial form of government. It is naïve to expect all of the people in a democratic body-politic to be happy and contend at the same time. The people are not monolithic and their opinions are diverse. To allow the people to express their opinions, whether for or against their government, is the true essence of a democracy. The people are not puppets who are expected to sing praises of the government all the time, no matter what. We shall leave the praise-singing to sycophants and cronies.
Let's take a moment to examine a case in point. President Sirleaf''s administration has done very little, if anything at all, to improve the lives of those Liberians living in the southeast portion of the country. The administration has not improved the health care or health delivery system in Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Rivercess, Grand Kru, Sinoe and Maryland counties. The entire region lacks any attention in basic infrastructure. (Other political sub-divisions of the country could make the same claim). Does Dr. Dukule expect the citizens and residents of these forsaken places to hold hands in solidarity and sing the praises of the government just because there is a "national calamity"? Our considered opinion is that the people have a constitutional right to be critical of its elected government at anytime, even during crises.
The United States is our model; our constitution is modeled after its constitution. There have been numerous examples of dissenting opinions during crises here in the United States. When the US military base, Pearl Harbor, was bombed by the Japanese in 1941, there were those Americans who blamed the FDR administration for various incompetencies, including even a conspiracy theory to provoke the Japanese into attacking the base. A special committee was set up, composed of both senators and representatives, to investigate "the facts relating to the events and circumstances leading up to and following the attack..." Nine subsequent investigations over the years were instituted, including one held just in 1995. That is the nature of democracies... to investigate issues affecting the public.
Another incident that comes to mind in recent American history was the attack on America on September 11, 2001. Was this a tragic moment? Yes. Did it engender solidarity among the masses and the citizenry in general? Yes. But the president of the United States received some harsh criticisms for the way he handled the developing crises in the initial stages. All one has to do is to examine press accounts following the incident. The American people had the commonsense to distinguish between patriotism (love of country) and partisanship (undivided support of party policies). The press was there to draw and pinpoint the balance between the two.
The point here is that we are a community-based publication and we represent diverse views. Our role in society is to serve as the people's eyes and ears. We have a responsibility to express diverse opinions at critical times. Sometimes journalism is referred to as the "Fourth Estate". It is needless to call yourself a "watchdog" but refuse to bark at the status quo. It is the required nature of a watchdog to bark, no matter the circumstances.
Dr. Dukule needs to understand that just because we criticize government policies does not make us any less patriotic; we still love the country. We stand in solidarity with the masses, even though we dare to criticize the government at this critical juncture. We consider it our responsibility. Therefore, it is the opinion of this editorial board to accept his resignation. He stated publicly that he has dissociated himself from the editorial carried by the publication. We consider that statement as a resignation from the editorial staff. We accept his resignation and we wish him the best as he goes his way and we go ours without malice.
Here Is Dr. Abdoulaye Dukule'sResignation from the Editorial Board:
As a member of the Editorial Board of theperspective.org, I want to dissociate myself from this editorial.I think it's unfortunate that at this time of national calamity which is of no body's fault and is killing people, we choose to indict the government rather than sympathize with our people or propose solutions if we have nothing else to offer. When Ebola first broke up, and government proposed measures, some political leaders, including a senior Senator denied the existence of the plague and call on the legislature not give any funding to the healthcare system because this was an invention of the Executive to get money from donors. There is no doubt that corruption exists in Liberia and everyone recognizes this, there is waste and at times mismanagement of resources. But the spread of Ebola is more about cultural and religious practices than lack of information. The national radio covers the entire country for the first time in history. The country is 167 years old, went through two decades of instability and destructive war. There is something naive, insensitive, cynical and Plain stupid to write such editorial at this time. Blaming President Sirleaf for the Ebola and lack of infrastructure in a nation that has been mismanaged for 167 years is infantile, at best.
We are here and we are fighting Ebola. Like John Morlu said, this is not the time of politics and tribalism and especially blame game.
Again, Associate Editor of theperspective.org, I dissociate myself from this insensitive editorial.
Abdoulaye W Dukule, PhD
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