The One Who Pays The Piper Selects The Tone


By: Aagon Gweh Linford

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
April 9, 2007


Once again, Liberians are set to witness yet another drama in the new government of Liberia's first female president Ellen Jonhson-Sirleaf, as she carries out what is expected to be the first major cabinet re-shuffle. News of the re-shuffle has raised concerns in many quarters, both in and out of Liberia as well as in the President's own ruling party and other political parties. No clear justification has so far been made available to the public for the pending cabinet re-arrangement, however there are credible speculations that it is centered around ineffectiveness.

The news about the pending re-shuffle has also created hopes for potential newcomers in government, while those to be booted out remain uncertain of their fate. Barely after a year, the Ellen government has decided to clean up its house much to the expectation of the international community, Liberia's main source of help in the quest for economic revival. It is speculated that the international community demands that the government needs to make changes at every level including the cabinet in order to reflect effectiveness, a seemingly precondition for continuous assistance.

But one thing that remains unclear is whether the government's pending re-shuffle program is based on ineffectiveness on the part of those officials to be effected by the action, or is it intended to meet the demands of the international community? The government has repeatedly said that it will take a longer time than expected to attain full recovery from the years of destruction. Fair enough! No one including the international community, irrespective of how much assistance, time and support they are giving to Liberia, should expect a miracle overnight. Equally so, while it is true that exercises like cabinet re-shuffle are tolerable in government, it should not be traded in exchange for assistance as speculated in the case of the pending cabinet re-arrangement in the young government of President Sirleaf.

Every time there is a change in leadership, there is an adverse effect in numerous ways. Re-adjustment problems for the new official, takes time to get accustomed to the day to day activities of the office he occupies etc, etc. No matter how trivial these issues seem to be, they greatly impact government functionaries in some ways. It is quite admirable that the president has chosen to re-arrange her cabinet, but what changes do Liberians expect from the incoming cabinet ministers that the former ministers failed to produce in such a short time frame? The entire government is still struglling to put into place workable mechanisms for economic, social and political recovery and not only the selected cabinet ministers that will be dropped from their posts. Others may have some logical countervailing arguments to buttress the government's action, but is only right if the president can soberly reflect on the task ahead and not to dance to the tone of the music of the international community.

Liberia now finds itself in the position of a drowning man who is willing to hang onto anything within his reach and therefore it will require sound leadership judgement on the part of the president, in dealing with both domestic and international political issues. Like the one who pays the piper selects the tone, so will the international community decide and influence the decision of a government they support. Let's hope the pending cabinet re-shuffle will yield its desired goal or else it will just be another effortless painful exercise.

About the author: A Liberian journalist living in the Royal Kingdom of Norway

© 2007 by The Perspective

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