The Analyst (Monrovia)

Liberia: Today's Lead: a Wakeup Call

editorial

OUR FRONT LEAD today deliberately breaks the glass ceiling of gullibility in this country by confronting those who questioned in frivolous manner, the official annual state of the economy report President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf presented to the 53rd National Legislature on January 28, 2013. In that report that relates to a constitutional mandate, the president outlined the challenges her administration had surmounted with the support of the Liberian people and the international community; the challenges that are surmountable but that are ongoing with difficulties; and the challenges of the future. In our and views of many sincere Liberians, the president over told a good story. She made claims, mainly job creation, that rather than edify and set the tone for trust in her administration actually embittered many and gave reasons and berths to civil discontent. The proposed action of Vandalark R. Patrick's, the questionable position assumed by former solicitor general Tiawon Gongloe on the matter, and the responses of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and the Liberty Party (LP) are typical. Besides seeking to break the glass ceiling of gullibility, the lead actually frowned on reckless ultra-liberalism and anti-rule of law sentiments in the name of rights advocacy.

HERE IS HOW the lead accomplished both feats. It dissected the responses CDC and LP proffered against the president's annual message and pointed out the political comedy of errors committed through a series of commissions and omissions. Notable amongst these are CDC's failure to rise above street-level accusations about corruption and its failure to realize that the eradication of corruption is an equal prerogative of the National Legislature in which it has significant representation. In its response, CDC highlighted official corruption, but praised the National Legislature that has, for seven years, failed to pass the controlling anti-corruption legislation – the Code of National Conduct Bill. The errors of LP are not much different from those of CDC. The party too chose to dwell on poverty without pointing out specific defaults of existing poverty control policies and program. It compensated for shortcoming by targeting the national fair games: corruption and presumed dishonesty in government. By the similarity of their responses, both parties, the two largest in opposition, are liable for superficiality in matters that required expert review and advice. They preferred to play politics with the lives of the Liberian people much as the administration they set out to chastise and correct on behalf of the people. This behavior, needless to say, is unhealthy for Liberia's new democratic culture and it must stop.

WE WANT TO preempt those who will be quick to conclude that this lead is about getting at institutions and individuals in society who care to question government actions and the sincerity and validity of its pronouncements. The lead is actually not about who is wrong or who is right, who is telling the truth and who is lying, who is for peace and who is cruising for a fight, than it is about throwing idle slingshots at the government's critics, or defending the status quo. It is an awakening call to the opposition to begin to tailor its activities in efforts to address the following lingering and fundamental questions about Liberia's political and economic future – to aim for the jugular of national issues in ways that inspire confidence in the future. "With an opposition that is simply contented with lambasting the incumbent in order to make political gains, does Liberia have in waiting any nationalists and patriots with sufficient experience to reorient it toward good governance and rule of law over and above the current level of performance? Or is the nation waiting for another batch of advocates not acclimatized to the nuances of running a capitalist nation under a hitherto dysfunctional economy yet vulnerable to external influences without indigenous capitalist support?"

IT IS IN efforts to search for response to these critical questions that the lead, today, introduce a tradition that this paper will follow to the letter beginning January 2014. It is a tradition that will analyze the president's annual messages as well as question the sincerity and objectivity of comments about the message that fall short of edifying the nation and assuring it of a stable future. The point of this tradition is also to strive to take Liberia's post-war politics beyond the realms of score settling, of vilifying others in order to project self-worth politically, of nullifying the stale belief that the failure of the incumbency vindicates and compensates for the lack of preparedness of the opposition. It is to compel government critics to be disinterested advocates dedicated to the greater good of the people. Mainly, it is about helping the nation to reflect on the failure of the opposition in 1979, 1985, 1977, and 2013 to harness its power for the benefit of the people and refrain from existing in fragmentation of institutions that are different in everything but in ideology and policy. In executing this tradition, we will rely on the adapted adage that says, "A political opposition and a people that failed to plan have planned to fail".  It is time not only for stocktaking, but also for the evaluation of all national institutions in preparation for a viable political future that will not rely on self-justified political interns, as had been the case.

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