By Gbe Sneh



The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 23, 2005

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What is LGEMAP? OK, it’s the acronym for “Liberia Governance and Economic Management Assistance Plan“. What else? Are we talking about a document “crafted” (not drafted) by the NTGL, which was presented to ECOWAS and ICCGL? Was the document, by any chance, flashed to the NTLA for maybe a crammed deliberation? What does the LGEMAP document say, anyway? One would expect such a document to be a good candidate for immediate and vast dissemination to garner public backing. Obviously that has not been done. So far, what the public knows is through a Ministry of Planning press release that the document contains “four pillars”. They are nothing new; they are basically an echo of the old “sovereignty cry”.

At the risk of boring you, just hear this, "The Government accepts the basic philosophy of the EGAP plan but stresses that national ownership of the reform agenda can not be compromised by Liberians." Another one, "Others can help; but the job must be done by Liberians," (The News, Monrovia)

Another Eleventh-Hour appeal in an attempt at delaying the inevitable. That’s what this document (leg-map) is. Now, we are showing the world an old “leg map”, giving the appearance that we have not really lost our way. The foregoing quotes only look good on paper, we all know that. We keep hearing about competent Liberians being available. Being competent for a given task is having set an exemplary track record in performing that task. With that said, let the NTGL give us the names of the individuals who, at one time or another, in the history of our nation, without a government straight jacket, have structured, implemented and maintained the financial and managerial functions of the public agencies at issue -NPA, FDA, RIA, BMA. We might as well include all the others (agencies) as they also are in the same boat. See what the General Auditing Office (GAO) uncovered about the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) funds? And all this time we thought piranhas held the record on de-boning!

We have traveled this road before. In vivid colors, we see what is happening at the NEC! ARTICLE IX - ORGANISATION OF ELECTIONS, section (b) of the CPA decrees that the National Election Commission work “in collaboration” with various international groups to organize elections. The parallel being drawn here is that, we all remember that shortly after being constituted, the NEC sought and obtained at Abuja, Nigeria, absolute charge of the electoral process. The “in collaboration” and “Under the supervision of the UN” thing did not sit too well with the NEC. A Liberian MUST call the shots. The electoral process has been swimming in murky waters since, as the international partners watch from a distance, biding their time to get it all over with.

Charles Taylor cried sovereignty and chased out ECOMOG when it came time to structure the national security apparatus. A killer network is what we got instead. We have not forgotten that.

What’s wrong with being an understudy, working to gain experience on the job, and eventually assuming full responsibly in due time? We are ever ready to get on the defensive with a projection of a know-it-all. We are ever primed to count all the PhD’s we have logged, and claim that they are available to do the job in question. These very PhD’s that we’ve systematically denied the chance to contribute become our fall-back excuse, momentarily of course, enough to allow all external pressures time to wane.

For Liberia to fall victim to this worn out scam once more would be unfortunate. The same people who write rebuttals to proposed viable reform plans had the opportunity to bring on board these “home-grown” saviors. Why didn’t they? Oh, they were waiting for the whistle to blow first.

Here were are about to put in a new set of leaders, with absolutely nothing binding to keep them within bounds. All attempts at calling for a National Conference (on the ground) that would have had as a key parameter, an all out assault on corruption prone incompetence, have been rejected in favor of a dash to the finish line - General Elections.

LEGAP would fill this void, be it in a limited capacity, by putting in place a system more stringent than the free-wheeling, do-it-yourself LGEMAP.

For all intents and purposes, LEGAP is serious and aims at delivering a knock-out punch, and LGEMAP is nothing more than the old “leg-map” that we’ve had in our possession all this time, while we continue to misstep and miss the road to economic and genuine governance recovery and freedom.

It would be rather remiss to fail to acknowledge some strong points made by others in this debate - That the international partners share the blame for our current fiscal woes by not stepping in sooner; That issues promulgated by LEGAP could have been addressed in a National Conference. However, it’s better Late than Never, and at least, we would have a benchmark on how to proceed henceforth.

And finally to the agitator of this debate, NTGL, you are in the twilight of your tenure. Your record belies all this patriotic front you are putting forth in the Eleventh-Hour, “jabbing” us with sweet talks like, ”home-grown“, “national ownership“, “sovereignty“. What you are doing now brings to mind a song that the girls used to sing to the boys, back in the old days: “O Chris, I’ve Got No Time For You. You’re Too Late. You’ve Lost Your Chance”. Remember that one? Then, don’t fight LEGAP; it’s the people’s champ; it’s what the people want. And for that, they (people) are willing to take the back seat for the estimated three years. It’s for the better.