13 December 2012

Liberia: The Incident in Gbarnga and the Story of the 'Strategic Sergeant'


Yesterday morning I received a call from our reporter covering the ongoing National Conference on Vision 2030 at the Gbarnga Administrative Building, that there was an ugly incident in the city, involving some motorcyclists.

According to him, the incident involved a soldier of the Armed Forces of Liberia and a motorcyclist that resulted to the soldier allegedly stabbing the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist is said to be receiving treatment at a local hospital in the area. Because the matter is being investigated by the Defense Ministry, as Minister Samukai told this paper yesterday, I wish not to go into cause or causes of the incident. But I was told that the incident infuriated motorcyclists and they set up road blocks.

Coincidently, yesterday's incident took place at a time the National Conference on VISION 2030 is concluding in Gbarnga. Obviously considering the galaxy of individuals, including President Sirleaf who is in the terrain for the conference, it generated much concern and anxiety.

Because of the conference, there were fears that this could undermine the conference and create fear and apprehension in delegates. But latest reports said that the incident, which caused serious stir, has now been brought under control and that it did not disturb the conference; it went on with opposition leader Ambassador George Weah, making remarks. But one unarguably thing is that the unfortunate incident affected normal operations in that part of Gbarnga.

Actually, when I received the information from the reporter, I was reminded of an anecdote, in which the isolated act of a soldier can cause serious problems for the society or the state. The anecdote, known as the Strategic Sergeant, refers to an incident in which the act of a soldier afar caused serious concern and embarrassment to the national authority. Can you imagine at such a time when a national conference, involving not only Liberians, but foreign partners, what could have happened if such an incident was not brought under control. What image could it have given this country, with our foreign partners?

Should one look at what led to the disturbances in Gbarnga yesterday, one would realize that this was an incident that would have brought unnecessary consequences to that city. It is a laughable situation that a soldier allegedly stabbed a motorcyclist because of confusion over five Liberian dollars transport fare between a female and a motorcyclist. Really, I do not know the relationship between the soldier and the female, and so I can only describe her as a female. More importantly, This was something that was not related to the functions or modus operandi of the soldier, yet, it caused unnecessary stir, tension, and emotional outburst, thus prompting state security, and the county officials to intervene.

From yesterday's dim-witted incident, it is necessary to know that the act of an individual can cause opprobrium to fall on society or the state, especially so when it is of no benefit to the society. Although the incident was far from the conference site, it did cause concern and apprehension for the possible disruption of this major assemblage of international and national delegates, currently brainstorming on VISION 2030.

But thank God for the county officials, the police and the Defense Ministry for their swift intervention, and not claiming that this was not in line with the soldier's duty, therefore, he should bear the consequences.

Yesterday's incident can be likened to the anecdote of the "Strategic Sergeant," who because of his strategic location brought embarrassment to the state.

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