The Sinking Liberia’s Divine Leadership
By Siahyonkron Nyanseor
How do you prevent a ship from sinking, when the captain and the crews who were forewarned of impending DANGER refused to listen to the warning signs; instead, go about business as usual - engaging in practices that benefit their individual interests, and leave the people they are supposed to represent and protect, vulnerable? This is the fate of the sinking Liberia’s divine leaders’ ship. And now that Liberia’s failed divine leadership is at the verge of drowning, they are running helter-skelter seeking welfare from the international community. The question then is, what happened to the 17.5 Billion Dollars the country received in the 9 years that President Sirleaf and her Unity Party (UP) have been in office? Where is the investment or development to show for the 17.5 Billion Dollars the country received for a population that is barely 4 million people? Why has nothing been shown for it?
Drinking water that is essential for life; road network and electricity that facilitate development and commerce were never a priority for this government? Instead, the money has been used to pay high salaries to government officials and on wasteful spending. And in order to make these things to happen, the President and her ruling party along with the Legislature violate the laws; amended a prevision of the Constitution to suit their selfish purpose at the expense of the entire population.
Well, the Ebola virus has already sunk the ship, now the Divine leaders are running scare going around in search of life support system to buy sufficient time for them to recover to cook up another scheme to get back in the captain’s seat to steer the ship like they did in the Association for constitutional Democracy in Liberia (ACDL) – the sponsor of the Liberian civil (EVIL) war that brought to power, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) to destroy what little we had.
Dr. Joseph A. Verdier correctly diagnosed what is wrong with us as a people. He says, and I agree: “The problem is, for some time now it has been nearly impossible to find a compatriot with the fortitude to lead the nation on a path of creating an economically vibrant and politically stable society. In other words, our search for an effective and caring leader has been coming up short for several decades now. It has become almost impossible for Liberians to identify and elect a leader who is engaging enough to take the nation on a realistic path of national re-awakening and revival. That path has been awfully elusive. For the most part, it has been characterized by false starts and as well driven by a sort of caged cult mentality which almost predictably leads to dashed hopes and betrayed aspirations.”
To which I say, many of us are responsible for the government and leaders we elect or select. In the past, be it in Banjul or Accra, we select our leaders either based on friendship/association or on the basis of ‘what is in it for me;’ and NOT what the person we select is capable of doing for the country. As the result, we lobbied, bribe money is exchanged and the one with the biggest purse is chosen; not necessarily the most qualified. It happened in Banjul and Accra!
After several years of failed leadership, we go back to the drawing board to repeat the same, without learning from the mistakes. When we are faced with new candidates; we do not factor in our decisions the new candidates’ work experience and history - like it is done in the business world; check with the candidates’ former employers and references before selecting the person or persons. In many cases, we based our selection on the person’s name, popularity, family and associates, the school they attended or graduated from. To me the school that one graduated from does not make who the person is, instead, it is what the individual made of themselves after they have graduated that makes a world of difference.
The Dunn Proposal
I respect but disagree with Dr. Dunn’s proposal that calls for massive international support to avert this public health crisis. In his Op-ed piece which appeared in the September 10, 2014 edition of The Perspective magazine, under the caption, “Ebola A threat to International security and peace”. Dr. Dunn argued that this public health crisis has become an existential threat to Liberia and the West African sub-region and, therefore, should be treated not as a “public health emergency”, but rather as a “Chapter 7 Mandate to deliver as One.” He argued further that the concept of “deliver as One” would enable the establishment of a framework for coordinating the response from “national, regional, and global levels” to address this crisis. While Dr. Dunn’s proposal provides a technical solution or technocratic approach to the crisis, it ignores a deeper underlying problem of a crisis of governance that confronts Liberia. A fundamental question not addressed by Dunn’s proposal is: What happens for example, when the international community or so-called international partners are no longer around and the country has to fend for itself? How then do we address the question of bad governance, concentrated poverty, and ever-widening inequality? While Liberia needs international support to address many of its developmental needs, Liberians cannot continue to seek welfare assistance from the international community each time our leaders MESS UP.
President Sirleaf and her Unity Party government failed the Liberian people; she must face the consequences. She has failed to deliver the promises she made to the Liberian people for which they elected her. Even Doe and Taylor did better than her. With all the money that has been invested in the country – ‘growth without services’ is an understatement. In this day and age, we cannot continue to depend on ‘welfare’ from the international community for our life support system.
Many of us are very disappointed in President Sirleaf and her Unity Party leadership. What makes it so bad is, her misrule is being done with the assistance of the Progressives as technocrats and the educated indigenous elites as cheerleaders, and the resuscitated old guards of the defunct Grand Old True Whig Party partisans who came back in the name of Unity Party members; with vengeance to reclaim what they lost on April 12, 1980. They have since recovered more than their losses.
Moreover, these so-called Divine Leaders have recruited a new bunch of ‘spoon-fed’ loyalists with no credible work experience; they have replaced the relevance of the Progressives, and have relegated them to serve as mere service providers. Moreover, the TWP partisans are now posing as UP partisans, have taking charge of running the key ministries and serving on major commissions, and receiving the higher salaries in the country’s history – both in the government and with NGOs. And all we are concerned about are National Symbols and Dual Citizenship; while President Sirleaf is mortgaging our land and resources right under our noses.
His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, once said:
“…Leaders are people, who raise the standard by which they judge themselves-and by which they are judged. The goal chosen, the objective selected, the requirements imposed are not merely for their followers alone. They develop with consummate energy and devotion their own skill and knowledge in order to reach the standards they themselves have set. This whole-hearted acceptance of the demands imposed by ever-higher standards is the basis of all human progress. A love of high quality, we must remember, is essential in a leader.
“…A good leader is devoted to his work and will willingly forego even the demands of sleep to see its accomplishment. This does not mean that he is impetuous. On the other hand, he maintains a balance between emotional drive and sound thinking.”
In the Daily Observer article titled: “Ellen’s Gov’t Lacks Coordination,” Dr. Amos Sawyer, Governance Commission Chairman expressed concerns that the three branches of government are not communicating in the governance of the state. The article was dated April 24, 2014. In the article, he said, “…I am saying this from where we sit at the level of the Governance Commission. How to bring these various institutions together and how to transcend tough struggles are issues we are here to address.
"We need to see how we can get beyond these challenges and find common ground with mutuality of interest for a win-win situation. We need to find a solution where there is enough credit to go around the agencies involved for a common perspective. Above all, we must put our country above self interest…”
What an indictment coming from the Chairman of the Governance Commission of Liberia! The concern raised by the Chairman of the Governance Commission regarding the Government made me to take a look at The Peter Principle.
The Peter Principle
What is The Peter Principle? The Peter Principle concept was introduced by the Canadian sociologist Dr. Laurence Johnston Peter in his humoristic book of the same title. In his book, he describes the pitfalls of the bureaucracy in organizations witnessed during his extensive research into business organization and its management.
The Peter Principle book has attained such renown that The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as "The theory that employees within an organization will advance to their highest level of competence and then be promoted to and remain at a level at which they are incompetent... In a hierarchically structured administration, people tend to be promoted up to their level of incompetence," or, as Dr. Peters Principal explained more simply, "The cream rises until it sours."
The same can be applied in school. For example, if a student does not meet the course requirements, he either drop the course to receive an “I” for INCOMPLETE or is given an “F” grade for FAILURE. This is the same in the Business World and Government. In the Business World, when an employee cannot perform the responsibilities for which he was hired, he is warned or suspended for a period of time; if he is reinstated and still he cannot perform the job, he either resign or get terminated. As it looks, President Sirleaf has but two choices; she either RESIGN voluntarily or the Liberian people will ask her to RESIGN on the grounds that she failed miserably in the performance of her duties and let the Constitution do the rest. And all the talk about receiving WELFARE from the International Community is a temporary solution – not the solution.
Let me remind our readers that in 1962, the United Nations General Assembly resolution 1803 (XVII) gave the indigenous inhabitants (the people that were there first, who the ‘Love of Liberty did not bring) certain rights that must be respected and adhered to. The Assembly declared, inter alia:
The right of peoples and nations to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources must be exercised in the interest of their national development and of the well-being of the people of the State concerned.
The exploration, development and disposition of such resources, as well as the import of the foreign capital required for these purposes, should be in conformity with the rules and conditions which are consider to being necessary or desirable with regard to the authorization, restriction or prohibition of such activities.
The International Labor Organization Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention No. 169/1989, now ratified by several countries, contains important provisions for control over natural resources by Indigenous peoples in their collective capacity as peoples. In particular, article 15 provides for the rights of "peoples" to their natural resources. Paragraph 1 reads as follows:
1. The rights of the peoples concerned with the natural resources pertaining to their lands shall be specifically safeguarded. These rights include the right of these peoples to participate in the use, management and conservation of these resources.
Finally, the practice known as corruption is as old as man, according to some people. Others would argue that corruption started with the first family in the Garden of Eden, and that it exists in all human societies - from Genesis to Exodus. Yet, in almost all societies, there are laws against corrupt practices of any kind. If corruption goes unchecked, it will flourish and collapse continents. Unlike a tip that is given as an expression of appreciation for services rendered; bribe, a form of corruption is given to prevent justice or for other dishonest purposes.
Dismayingly, however, apologists of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Unity Party government lacks intellectual honesty and is incapable of owning up to the mounting problems her administration has created either by its acts of omission or commission; have not only shamelessly, but deceptively, been engaged in a public relations war of words to deceive and make mockery of its real interests. Mouthing such phrase as "the Oldma is trying;” its vocal proponents are calling for cessation of criticisms against her dis-unity government in order that - we the ‘Troublemakers’ (*Portists – that is) would share in the spoils of the people’s wealth. However, this deception has only followed more deceptions, exposing its vulnerability and practice of corrupting the truth.
The fact of the matter is, since there is a total lack of honesty in the Sirleaf administration, certainly it will be difficult for the government’s policies to escape the attention of any concerned and caring person. In retrospect, it astonishes me; yet, I am not too surprised by the behaviors of some ‘former progressive elements’ and the President’s kitchen cabinet. My intent here is to remind them of a historical fact that even they cannot resist or escape from - the wrath of the people, and that "No condition is permanent." Tolbert, Doe, Taylor as well as a host of African leaders are victims of this historical fact. Moreover, I am in agreement with what Charles Taylor said, "The ant on the treetop will always find water to survive.” But if the ant is not careful, the water could kill it because the water is contaminated due to neglect.
My people, here is where we find ourselves! If there is nothing else, NEGLECT of the Liberian people by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is sufficient GROUND for her NOT to be allowed to continue leading a country whose people she cares NOTHING about - their health and welfare.
*Portists: Anyone regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, who has the guts to speak TRUTH to power regardless of the consequences. He/she WORKS to RIGHT the wrongs in the society. That’s what a Liberian PORTIST is! This is a tradition we are prepared to continue. Portists are continuing the advocacy that the death of Mr. Constitution, the late Oldman Albert Porte, left VOID.
About The Author: Siahyonkron Nyanseor is the Chair of the ULAA Council of Eminent Persons (UCEP), Inc. He is a poet, Griot, journalist, and a cultural and political activist. In 2012, he Co-authored Djogbachiachuwa: The Liberian Literature Anthology; his book of poems: TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut is now on the market. Nyanseor can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org