Rearming The Security Forces
A Letter From Patrick Garmonyu Tarr
I just read an article on your website and am using this medium to express my reaction, in order to generate a debate for a larger audience. Your article today and that of the June 21, 2006 edition of the Inquirer newspaper carried a press statement from the Movement for Political Reform (MOP), stating the 'short-fall' of the Liberian government. I am highly disappointed with some points raised, so the reaction.
The Movement seems to be against the rearming of the security forces. It is a genuine concern, but do we have an alternative in the wake of increasing criminal activities across the country? The latest victim is an eighteen - year - old girl shot by armed robbers only two nights ago. We could recount numerous other stories of bandits killing innocent people. Do we keep our security forces unarmed and risk more deaths or do we put guns in to the hands of responsible police officers? I think the remedy is to support the UNMIL- restructured police force. The Movement is getting this wrong. It is not all that bad to rearm the police. What we should be doing is to ensure that the police behave professionally.
Moreover, the Movement is saying that Madam President is desperate to spend scarce resources on the procurement of arms for her personal security. Why do they think so? Madam President is the most protected person in Liberia right now, so no need for extra security. She's even taken a necessary risk by putting guns in the hands of our own security men. Do you know that it is only an armed Liberian that will dream of overthrowing the government? Just think of it. Months back, the Nigerian government agreed to arm the police if the embargo could be lifted. Don’t you think the arms will come from friendly governments? For this one the complaint is premature. It is no secret that we used arms to destroy this country, but arms were also used to create the peaceful environment that we're enjoying. It is more important now to create a safe environment. The kind of people toting arms is what matters.
"The President appointed a Nigerian General, so that he should only be accountable to her". This is what the movement is saying, but isn't it funny? People in the Movement must not even say it. Whether here in Monrovia or there in Washington, this General will be accountable to the Commander-in-Chief. There is no Liberian anywhere in this world that will fill this post without being accountable to Madam President. The reason for the Nigerian General is so simple. The army and all its trained officers were actively involved in the many years of 'madness'. To start afresh, isn't it a wise thing to have a neutral head of the army for now? The army was tribalized, factionalized, sectionalized, etc over the years, so will the new breed of army officers trust anybody from the old order?
Lastly, I challenge the Movement to furnish us with names of people who were wrongfully dismissed from government. The downsizing of the civil service is very necessary. I got to know from my elementary economics that there is always competition between the recurrent and capital sections of a national budget. Developing countries usually have a higher recurrent budget than capital. The net impact is poor infrastructural development and continuous poverty. When we are in a daring need of basic social services, should we have a huge wage bill? What is the civil service producing so much? You will argue that the unemployment rate is at a staggering level, but the government cannot solve the problem by providing jobs that are not producing anything. The long-term outcome of this project will be small and productive civil service, and more money to use for developmental purpose. A Liberia with basic social services will attract investments that will eventually lead to a vibrant private sector. A welfare state has not work anywhere and it will not work here.
The Movement is only joining a bandwagon of 'noisemakers'. The government is not perfect, but is showing a semblance of a functioning government. With all our support, this government will take us to higher heights. Remember that the powerful players endorse all Madam President and her government’s action. After all they set the standards for the rest of the world. Even in sophisticated democracy, there are excesses, but there is a conduit to seek redress. Please, somebody in the Movement ,isn't there a conduit to seek redress here. Let us not only speak out against perceived wrongs, but also be willing to provide options.
Thanks for the time.
Patrick Garmonyu Tarr
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