By Alfred P. B. Kiadii
Liberia has been a country rocked by complexities of conundrums that inevitably led to the punctuation in the normal rhythm of governance. For some reasons, the entire existence of the state has been characterized by superfluity of contradictions. These contradictions and other attending anomalies created the schism of bloodletting that beset the republic for 14 years. Our founding fathers, especially the negatively Americanized and Americo-centric bigots excluded the vast majority of the aborigines from the founding of the state.
For 133 years a nation teetering on the cauldron of crises and on the brink of total collapse were the prognosis of futurist political scientists, who understand the potency of the people to make history and not allow history to be made of them. But the kingpins and lynchpins at the summit of governance of the state were either indifferent to the plight of the majority of the people, or were totally naïve into the trap of their own absurdity that the people did not have the sophistication to organize and mobilize in order to gain their freedom.
Little did they know that out of the masses of the people will rise sons and daughters who are extremely sensitive to injustice and who will demand the rights to be heard in the national political discourses. They thought that a people so dormant will continue to sing the praises of the status quo. But history has moved so fast that the governors of the state were not attuned with its consequences in other civilizations, for which geography or divergence of locality could not stop the wind of change that was blowing.
History has moved too fast that our political dramatis personae refused to grapple with the hard fact that a people enslaved and relegated to the abyss of social existence can rise in absolute reawakening and demand their freedom from the status quo that suppressed and oppressed them. Sometimes such moment of illumination can be characterized by deadly consequences.
As early as the twentieth century a man named Emiliano Zapata, with mestizo coloration, organized the people of Mexico against the shackles of feudalism which promoted the class interest of the aristocrats and receded the people to the lowest ebb of society. A peasant, Emiliano, decided to fight to alter the status quo, in order to restore dignity and honor to his people, who were treated in manner and form that they were mistakenly referred to as if they were citizens of a lesser god.
No people the world over have sat in docility and allowed their destiny to be directed by a status quo that represents the class interest of the oligarchs. The Russian revolution of 1917 and the subsequent toppling of Czar Nicholas II are classic examples of the power of the people being led in the vanguard by the conscious ones. Out of these examples one can realized that a conscious, determined people will always strive for liberty over marginalization, freedom over suppression.
These parallels in history are important for us to reminisce on the dark past that our country rose from, and how can we built a nation that will be a reflection of the collective dream, hope and aspiration of the people. No nation has ever attained the summit of greatness by marginalizing the interest of the whole but promoting the interest of a cliquish cartel.
Resilient nations are built when the national interest of the state is propelled and elevated at the epicenter of our national discourses and policy prescription. When the people realized that they have a stake in the economy, security and wellbeing of the state, protecting it from the trappings of aggression becomes their sacred obligation. But when they are excluded from every strategic fabric of the state, their gross insensitivity to its wellbeing can be as transparent as crystal.
Since the truncation of the 14 years of civil madness and carnage, our country returned to democratic rule in 2006 after a fiercely contested election in October, 2005. Over twenty candidates availed themselves to the people making cases for their election to the high office of the land. Some of them, however, bankrupt in ideas and prescription for the nagging problems that the republic was challenged with, taught to use the occasion of the election to rise to stardom and scramble for job in the country, which is the staple of political opportunists who pander to the instincts of primitive accumulation, nepotism and patronage.
Although still nursing the attending consequences of the tragedy that befell them, the tiny majority of the people opted to elect Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to steer the shape of state of the republic, in their collective judgement they taught of all the candidates contesting in the then elections she was best-suited and prepared to steer the state into the glorious heights of unending possibilities and opportunities.
What we want to assert further is that the people in their overwhelming dominance in decision-making are never wrong in history, or their superior wisdom outsmart the intelligence of a single person. However, when a tiny majority makes a decision which is not a reflection of the wholesale collectivity of the people, their decisions can be questioned in history. Again, democratic scholars have ascribed the term “tyranny of the majority to describe a decision made by a tiny majority that occasioned attending consequences.
With the passing of 10 years since the incumbency of this regime, it is only but proper that we indulge into analyzing the extent to which this regime has succeeded or failed. Whether the social contract has been faithfully or partially upheld by it. Or whether the people have a reason to extol or criticize it. Or whether the current conditions in the state is a quantum leap from the past.
Liberia is a country endowed with avalanche of natural resources that are enough to usher in an advent of a new era that will lead to the transformation of the people’s livelihood and catapult them to middle class status. Iron ore, gold, and diamond, are commonly found in this republic that is a host to less than five million people. Yet our people live in ruins and in informal settlements that are not conducive for habituating animals.
Even with the flow of foreign monopoly capital, the current outlook of the state, in terms of economic model, is the one which was practiced by the current regime’s predecessors: the bestial exploitation of our natural resources and products for exportation to the world’s industrial economies. This model has only perpetuated the interest of the bourgeoisie against the working class. Class disparity and the consignment of the people to nothingness is what that model brews, thereby setting the framework for inequality.
Apologist of the current status quo are fast to chest-beat about the 16 billion direct foreign investments in the Republic, which has done very little to address the fundamental and structural scourges of unemployment, underdevelopment and inflation. Yet, the elements are proud of their record of buccaneering. These apologists have re-written the code of the essence of nation.
States are formed because people want the guarantee of their personal security, the elevation of their economic interest, and seeking their welfare, thereby leading to the promotion of national interest. The underlining reason for that is that people achieve more when they coalesce their interests as opposed to fragmenting them. That is the reason why when the people entrust individuals with their authority, in turn, the individuals ought to uphold that authority, in terms of delivering on the promises made.
Today the Liberian condition is one that is appalling and unstable. Today, our people are lurked in the logjam of poverty, diseases and backwardness of the crudest form. Today, the standard of living of our people, amidst the huge inflow of foreign currencies, our people live in horrible places. Today, the future of the people’s children is dark due to the lack of economic opportunities in the state. Today, our nation has the dubious distinction of 16 billion foreign direct Investment, while it has the most underdeveloped capital city in the whole world. Today, our country remains a laughingstock among the comity of nation, while other countries that were plunged in similar catastrophe are making a quantum leap in the right direction.
What better is the 16 billion investment when it has not made massive transformation in the lives of the people of the motherland? What better is an investment that only line the pockets of the heavyweight in the body polity of the state? What is better of an investment portfolio of 16 billion when concessions areas are terrain of social dislocation and disorder?
It brings us to ponder on the question that the endowment of natural resources in a country does not guarantee its progress, because countries such as japan and Singapore with no natural resources have transformed themselves as economic behemoths of the world. They have made a quantum leap in the right direction not because they have natural resources but because they had leaders that understood how to organize and mobilize the people behind a national agenda.
Unlike our Liberia, the state is playing a pivotal role in the lives of the people of Botswana because it places premium on morality and political correctness. Rather than public officials lining their pockets and their account at Swiss banks they are concerned about living their people from the misery of poverty, refusing to believe that it is a moral truism that people are to be poor.
The state-owned and run Debswana Company has set the standards for corporate egalitarianism in Botswana. A country once on the brink of extinction due to the prevalence of HIV among its people, has transformed itself to one of the successes in Africa. No commentator talks about progress in Africa without making allusion to Botswana.
Due to the lip-service of this government, our people have been saddled by all manners of diseases that threatens their existence. Army worms rises from the central region (Bong County), while Ebola rises from the Northern region (Lofa County). Infant mortality is skyrocketing and maternal mortality is setting new records in our homeland never knew to the world. Our people have been eaten by the locus of deprivation.
At her first inaugural program, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf promised to crush the scourge of governance and all its scourges during her reign as head of state of this republic. What remains to be argued is whether this promise has been faithfully kept by the self-proclaimed corruption fighter whose utterance of corruption being ‘public enemy number one’ received thunderous applause from the Liberian people who have been deprived basic social services such as healthcare, electricity, water due to the widespread nature of corruption in the state.
Commentators are beginning to take the President’s pronouncement with a grain of salt due to the institutionalization of this menace that is continuously wrecking the very existence of the nation. Some have attributed the leader’s comment as political grandstanding aimed at winning international support from donors, and boosting the morale of her government in the international circle.
Rather than corruption being the exception to the rule in terms of governance of the state, it is indeed the norm in the governance. Petty and grand corruptions are taking place on a wide scale by some official of this regime as if the call to serve in the public sphere is an invitation to amass ill-gotten wealth and further plunge the country into yet another disaster.
The ‘pop culture’ and ‘ghetto mentality’ of getting rich quick has taken root in the state. Nearly most of the brothers and sister who came from the West are the ones whose name continue to feature in the cobweb of corruption. Government is ineffective and unresponsive to the wishes and aspiration of the people due to the manner and form public officials are lining their pocket. Hardship has been bestowed upon the people as if it is the way of God that they must remain in poverty.
Audits reports lie in dust while perpetrators of the heinous crime of corruption continue to enjoy the culture of immunity because the regime is not fighting corruption but appears to be fighting corruptions by enacting laws that do not get implemented due to the lack of political will on the part of the leaders of the state. Alleged corrupters continue to enjoy the sacred privilege of public service even though their deeds threaten its true existence.
NOCAL has been robbed to the core thereby resulting to the redundancy of many of its employees, and the very bright prospect of oil discovery has gone in the reverse due to perfidy and greed.
With these scar in the governance of the state, the vanishing of 80 million United States dollars from the coffers of NOCAL, the siphoning of 10 million of Chevron’s social development funds by the Machiavellian co-president of Libeia-Robert Alvin Sirleaf, the vanishing of 13 million dollars EU grant to fight maternal and infant mortalities in the countryside, are classics examples of the premium this current status quo put on kleptocracy and the bestial accruement of wealth to the detriment of the masses of the people.
However, when our President returned from her international jamborees, she characterized the Liberian people as lazy, unpatriotic and unproductive. But the true of the matter is the people have this government more than what it has given back to them. Corruption cannot be featuring very visibly in the government, coupled with state capture, prebendalism, clientelism, and all vices that depict that a country is a failed state but you want the people to sacrifice and commit themselves to struggle for a nation that is presided over by kleptocrats who are bent on amassing wealth and aligning their pockets from the national coffers.
When the government uses the national wealth of the republic to provide basic social service to the people, thereby improving their livelihood and providing job opportunities to them; they will behave the stakeholders in the country. The level of consciousness of our people is not so dismal that they do not see beyond the smokescreen of this government. It is an established fact that the current status quo subscribe to the tendency of using the people as opposed to providing opportunities to them.
Rwanda is great because the government prioritizes the welfare of its citizens. Corruption is not as mahoosive as it is in your government, Madame President. The agenda for development is pro-poor and the people have been placed at the center stage of it, thus making them stakeholders in the affairs of their republic. The Rwanda success story is a classic example of how leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping the development of a nation. That a country with abundant of natural resources but gluttonous leaders is bound to fail and recede in the abyss.
In a nutshell, the people must coalesce in unanimity to give their vote for genre of Liberians who have struggled for their emancipation from the drudgery of the moribund True Whig party because those freedom fighters are the ones imbibed with the fervor of patriotism in their hearts to liberate this country from sheer backwardness to the height of progress.
Other civilizations have done this and it is paying-off for them. Rwanda did it by electing Paul Kagame as President after the genocide in 1994. The Mozambicans did it by electing Samora Machel; even the South African did this by electing Nelson Mandela. The Ghanaians did it by electing Kwame Nkrumah; the Guinean did not sit idle and allow that opportunity to pass them- they elected Ahmed Sekou Toure. Every civilization that has attained some levels of greatness in the Third World has always given the mantle of leadership to those who sacrificed, struggled and fought for their emancipation.
We are of the conviction that our sheer backwardness has been predicated upon electing buffoons and marauding carpetbaggers to elective public service, which is the fundamental reason for the collapse and failure of our country. Gone are the days that we must continue on this trajectory that is ultimately leading us at the cul-de-sac of paralysis while other nations are confidently making a quantum leap into the future. It is only when we reverse the trench of our politics that Liberia will gain her status as a post-conflict success story.
Conscious and determined people and the entire Progressives intelligentsia must now begin to fuse together, in order to prepare for the herculean task of capturing state power in the ensuing elections. We must not lose hope in the people because to do so, is to lose hope in one’s existence. History has demonstrated that revolutionaries have always encountered blockade on their way to transform their respective nations and liberate their peoples.
History has always given us reasons to have faith in the people and to uphold our causes. Ho Chi Minh along with his Southern Vietnamese compatriots defeated the war superpower in 1975, and chatted a better course for the emancipation of his country from French imperialism, American amnesia, and British plunder. Even when those who we characterized as superpowers support a status quo that distribute excesses to the people, conscious and determined people have always triumphed over the forces of evil. The Cuban revolution is a classic example of how the conscious, determined people can fuse together and demand a space and voice in the affairs of their country.
Author's Statement:Alfred P. B. Kiadii is a student of the University of Liberia who studies Political Science and Public Administration. He is an ardent disciple and follower of the philosophical construct and the Pan-Africanist ideological construct of Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, Gamal abdel Nasser, Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden. Furthermore, he is the Director of the Bureau of Information, Press, Outreach and Mobilization of the Liberia National Students Union (LINSU). He is a convinced young men who believe in the potency of the people to make history. He can be reached on +231 770135042/888995870 or firstname.lastname@example.org