A Citizen's Advice to President Charles G.
By Winsley S. Nanka
Based on the promises that Mr. Charles G. Taylor would bring economic development, good governance, and accountability to public service, justice, equality and the rule of law, the Liberian people elected him in 1997.
Mr. Taylor has been in office for almost three years, and yet the NPP government has not fulfilled any of its promises to build the socio-economic infrastructure necessary for a sustainable economic development in Liberia. Moreover, Liberia does not have a functional educational system, viable health delivery system, developed agricultural sector, electricity, and water and communication system. For example, in this information age, the communication system in Liberia is one of the worst in the world. But Mr. Taylor's government is pre-occupied with the suppression of press freedom, creating networks of security systems that have conflicting responsibilities.
In Mr. Taylor's very first press conference in Monrovia in 1995, he said that accountability would be the hallmark of his administration, should he come to power. That statement has yet to become a reality! First, he has not given account of the natural resources that he plundered during the years as warlord. Second, he and some members of the NPP government, and in conjunction with some fly by night investors are plundering Liberia's natural resources with no regards to the environment and the Liberian people. Corruption has become the hallmark of the present government. He has combined people of questionable characters from the Doe regime with those from the NPP as well as internationally known kleptocrats like Emmanuel Shaw, Jenkins K.Z.B. Scott among other looters of the national treasury from previous regimes to masquerade in the corridors of power in Liberia. Yet, Mr. Taylor expects the international community to give his NPP government financial assistance and the respect it does not deserve.
Is it good governance to ask the Liberian people to pay US$26 million dollars for the debt he incurred by killing 250,000 of our people and the destruction of our country? Can Mr. Taylor account for the money he generated from the sale of our natural resources during the seven-years he occupied rural Liberia? Most interestingly, can Mr. Taylor tell the Liberian people how much he generated from the plundering of Liberia's natural resources for the seven years you occupied rural Liberia?
In fact, his record on the rule of law - justice, equality, and press freedom is by far one of the worst in the community of civilized nations. I am not surprised that the NPP government has resulted to muzzling democratic activists, closing down media institutions and violating human rights. Mr. Taylor is repeating the strategy of his predecessor, Samuel Doe. He couldn't have selected a better person to assist him than the dreaded Jenkins Scott, one of the architects of Doe's Decree 88A, and related repression policies during the Doe years
I believe that the reason Mr. Taylor chose to close media institutions is two-fold. First, to control the flow of information in and out of Liberia. But it is serious mistake to think that by muzzling democratic activists, journalists, and closing media institutions will stop the flow of information in and out of the country. Even the communist leaders in Red China cannot control the flow of information in and out of that country. Second, Mr. Taylor's refusal to reactivate the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), and to grant Star Radio and other independent radio stations permit to operate in Liberia, is a strategy that is anti-progress in this information age.
Be as it may, Mr. Taylor and the NPP government cannot continue to bribe rural Liberia by remaining the only source of information. They seem not to care much about the print media because it reaches less than five percent of the Liberian population. Thanks to the neglect of mass education by Mr. Taylor and past administrations.
The Liberian people have suffered too much; they deserve a better way of life in the 21st century. They do not want a government that will create unnecessary hardship for them like the regime of Samuel Doe. The fact that today, there is no difference between the NPP government of Taylor and Samuel Doe's regime makes me to wonder if it was necessary to overthrow Doe.
I feel strongly that it is not too late to salvage the failure of the NPP government. First, the government must create the necessary condition for Liberians to be all that they can be. Second, it must hire reputable Liberians to work for the government. Also, it must get rid of all the shady characters and incompetent people in the government. Liberia has more than 2.5 million people, among which the government can find competent people to recruit from. I believe the time to appease Mr. Taylor's followers is over. Fourth, Liberians must be allowed to express themselves freely without the fear of being arrested. The medium of communication should not be closed. Free expression of opinions is the foundation of a democratic society. Therefore, it is undemocratic to arrest and detain individuals for expressing their opinions. The more open a society becomes, the faster it progresses. Lastly, the NPP government must come up with a more realistic economic development and political agenda for the country.
As a concerned Liberian, I consider it my patriotic obligation to redirect Mr. Taylor and his government in the right direction in order for him and his party to build a pluralistic society in which all Liberians, regardless of their gender, religious affiliation, ethnicity, political orientation or their station in life will be able to live in peace and harmony with each other.
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