A Marriage Between Promise and Pretense: Cabinet Retreat without Action Is Worthless
By Martin K. N. Kollie
Retreat for cabinet members and heads of public agencies is a regular phenomenon in almost many countries. During this time, key stakeholders within the Executive Branch of government meet to review government’s overall performance with specific focus on sectorial successes and challenges. In addition, forecasting of achievable development targets and operational goals is done. Unfortunately in Liberia, our cabinet ministers and heads of agencies are best known for setting undoable targets and projecting unrealistic plans. This false impression is taking us nowhere. Deception only creates more harm for those who are at the very bottom of the economic ladder.
Liberia is a country of pseudo dreamers whose vision is driven by unfruitful promises and pretense. Every time they congregate at such meeting, most of them give fake progress reports that do not even reflect existing realities. The major concern of some of them is how they will be retained after the "Step Up or Step Down" policy is applied by the President. Instead of giving more attention to the essence of the retreat, they are found searching for unmerited favor by creating false impression about who they are and what they intend to do. This is really sad and our leaders must graduate from this stage!
During each cabinet retreat, a marriage between promise and pretense does exist. Everyone becomes concern about who stays or goes. What good does it make for Senior Ministers, Deputy, Assistant Ministers, and heads of agencies to attend retreat every year when they make no big difference or impact after such an event is held? I thought occasion like this is intended to critically review the past and advance realistic strategies to improve the present and prepare for the future. It makes no sense to misuse taxpayers’ money to conduct an annual retreat that continues to bring fruitless outcome. It is just unwise to do one thing over and over without reaping any positive result.
Where are the socio-economic dividends as a result of this retreat? What can Liberians show from past retreats? Nothing new for Liberians has come out of this occasion since its inception. This gathering, in my mind, is only meant to satisfy the socio-economic appetite of top government officials and deceive those who are unaware about their sinister agenda. Liberia does not need bunch of ‘copy and paste’ theories, but a genuine recovery plan that reflects a total semblance of public participation and grassroot identity.
The people need action and not empty promises. They are weary with sweet words and accurate pronunciations. Good governance goes beyond education and until those who call themselves leaders can recognize this fact, our country’s development agenda will forever shift downward. It is no longer about what you have learnt, but it is about what people can benefit from what you have learnt.
The first precondition to national leadership is Patriotism. An unpatriotic educated President is the most dangerous citizen of any country. An unnationalistic educated Minister or Lawmaker is the most terrible steward any nation can have. I careless about how many degrees a person has, but care more about what impact those degrees can make to elevate ordinary lives out of acute poverty and abject adversity.
The real meaning of cabinet retreat has lost its taste in Liberia as key State actors within the Executive Branch continue to misuse this medium to merry-make and exhibit self-seeking characters. Even though there has been series of such assembly, but nothing has changed substantively. Almost every sector of government remains weak today as a result of non-implementation and non-adherence to public policy. The development objective of Liberia is far from realization due to policy failure and fiscal indiscipline.
The two-day retreat that was held in Julijuah Town, Bomi County on January 20, 2015 was not only a mere bluff, but another means for this regime to further expose its real image of dishonesty, deception, and insincerity to its people. Nothing new was said that we have not heard since 2006. The same old story was told by those same unreliable voices, but this time around in different location. Solution to any national problem cannot come through rhetoric, but genuine deed.
Liberians are anxiously waiting to benefit from the Poverty Reduction Strategy, Lift Liberia, Agenda for Transformation, Vision 2030, and other socio-economic plans of this government, but to no avail. Poverty is increasing daily as access to basic social services remains a serious challenge. The purchasing power, life-expectancy, and food security of our people remain very low while the rate of unemployment, social insecurity, and illiteracy remains high. I need not to mention health and sanitation! Our concern now is, “why must they continue to attend cabinet retreats when nothing is changing?” Are they not aware that Liberia is one of the four poorest countries on earth? We are tired about too many meetings and plenty talks that are not germinating into concrete deliverables.
The creation of more policies without implementation is not helping us. Policies can only become good when policy-makers ensure they are fully implemented. What good does it make to develop an excellent framework without achieving its targets? It is time for our leaders to rethink their strategy in order to liberate Liberia from its current status. The accomplishment of people-driven initiatives will help promote economic expansion, political sustainability, and social coherence. The paradigm needs to change if our nation must make genuine progress.
It is time to end a longstanding marriage between promise and pretense. The period to finally divorce deceit and falsehood is now. The primitive relationship between deprivation and discrimination must cease to exist. It is time to bury greed and unpatriotism forever. For too long hypocrisy and conspiracy have slept in the same bed. For more than nine (9) years now, corruption and nepotism are still dinning together. After two successive democratic elections, elitism and sectarianism are marching hand in hand. We must do all we can to put a halt to bad governance. The chain of poverty and unemployment must be broken if Liberia must once more be seen as sweet land of liberty.
Above all interests, Liberia is Supreme!
About the author:Martin K. N. Kollie is a youth activist in Liberia. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org