opinionBy Philip N. Wesseh
One of the phrases that became popular and common during the past electoral process was "Generational Change," a concept that was being advanced by some young Liberians who saw the process as a time for many young people to ascend to state power. Proponents of the concept believed at the time and still believe that for too long the younger generation has been deprived of state power by the older generation, many of whom, they believe have been in power or have been part of the status quo for many years.
These proponents of this concept are of the view that the older generation has failed something which has been attributed to the backwardness of the country for more than 160 years. Therefore, supporters of this say it is time for the younger generation to engender those things needed to move the country from backwaters to prosperity. They claimed that for too long the older generations have not lived up to expectation, thus making this country to be an undeveloped one, despite being endowed with enormous natural resources.
As the campaign for this generational change was being accentuated, the proponents got the support of many who also believe that it is time for the young people. Today, this country can unarguably boast of many young persons in leadership, as is axiomatic with the number of young cabinet ministers, including my former economics classmate, Augustine Nganfuan, my junior brother Amara Konneh and my New Kru Town "little brother" Samuel Kofi Woods, who and I were once neighbors in that town.
Similarly, there are many other young people in the National Legislature, including former IE basketball coach, Solomon George, my Grand Bassa Representative Gabriel Smith, my Montserrado County Representative Henry Fahnbulleh on Duport Road, just to name a few. Besides, we find many young persons as managing directors. I am also happy to see a young fellow like Acarous Gray as Representative for the gigantic county, Montserrado.
Admittedly, let me say I am one of those who have been in the background for the young ones who are prepared and have the requisite knowledge to take over leadership. My view is not to despite the older ones, as it is said that "one has to sit on the old mat to plait the new ones." I am still aware of an anecdote told by my octogenarian Mary Brownell about the danger of despising older people with wisdom and knowledge. And so my support for this concept is in no way intended to despise older people, but to encourage the younger ones to learn from the older ones to be prepared to face future challenges.
I try to reflect on this argument or debate that cropped up during the electoral process because of what is obtaining today, with many young people in the status quo. Some of them have been accused of orchestrating acts of thuggery, gangsterism and barbarism. Besides, some of these young people in government, who should show enviable examples for others, are said to be using youth groups or other young people as protégés and stooges to settle scores with others in the government. In many of these instances, government officials who have been accused of being the master brains behind these orchestrations, have always denied being a part of such scheme.
But naturally, and based on the dictates of common sense, one can logically deduce that there are hidden hands, as the INQUIRER's editorial alluded recently that there are "hidden hands" behind these acts. Yes, indeed, there are people who are using these young people to engage in these acts. Noticeably, an ugly incident took place last weekend and this week when young people said to be supporters of Finance Minister Konneh reportedly stormed the home of Rep. Gray, while on Monday, another group said to be supporters of Rep. Gray stormed the home of Minister Konneh, demanding his dismissal. At the home of the minister was another group, advocating for him. The two government officials have both denied being behind these protests.
Other incident of concern relates to the alleged act of brutality meted out against a broadcaster upon the alleged orders of Rep. Smith in Grand Bassa County. The Representative has since denied any involvement, but the victim maintained that it was the Representative that ordered his flogging. Hector Mulbah, Station Managing of "Radio Gbehnzohn" Claimed that Rep. Smith ordered his flogging at which time one of his bodyguards only identified Cyrus allegedly slapped him several times but Rep. Smith has since denied the allegation and instead said he was attacked by the Station manager.
Again, recently, Montserrado County Representative, Solomon George was also accused of meting out brutality against a resident of his district. According to the information, Rep. George allegedly slapped one Stephen Dagbeh following a confusion involving two families over a land dispute. Rep. George was said to have misunderstood Dagbeh and thought that he was being insulted by him. The story said the lawmaker walked upstairs and slapped the man for disrespecting him as Representative of the district.
Interestingly, before these two incidents of lawlessness, Rep. George who, while visiting in the United States of America, made headlines, when he threatened to attack Monrovia city Mayor, Mary Taryonnoh Broh for allegedly breaking down the structures of people in the city. Rep. George, who was speaking at a town hall meeting, further said he will excrete ("pupu") on the Mayor whenever he sees her. Unsurprisingly, many persons who watched this on "YOU TOO" took issue with the lawmaker for speaking in such manner.
These recent incidents have been issues of concern, especially so as they relate to young people in the government. Many persons who frowned on these acts are of the view that these acts seemingly suggest that some of these young people are antithesis to this concept of "Generational Change." They said if young people are to be taken seriously, then, they must exhibit those virtues to show that they are prepared to promote this generational change because it is from what they will do will either promote this or discourage it.
For me, I am deeply concerned about this child play and machinations with the use of young people by individuals to do their "dirty work," as they hide behind the scene. My concern also has to do with the kind of virtues we are inculcating into our future leaders who have to get up early in the morning to advance the cause of a particular government official. Besides, some of these young people have been involved in expensive media campaign, something I intuitively and naturally know that they cannot financially shoulder; indeed, there are hidden hands.
My fear is that to continue to use these young people to settle scores with others, is detrimental to society because we are only teaching these future leaders nothing, but lawlessness, gansterism and thuggery. More importantly, to see young people who have been part of this "Generational change," being linked to these lawless acts, then, it sounds to reason that some of these young people in government are a disgrace to good behavior. This is why I reason with some people who always express regrets for the kind of choice they made. But as I conclude, let me say, there are still some good young people in the government, but the few "bad apples" will always cast an aspersion on all of the good ones.
Again, this act of gangsterism, thuggery and barbarism should stop. The young people should not be a disgrace to this country; rather, the young people should be a pride to this country coming out of years of war. To the young people who are being used by these hidden hands, I say, beware; you have a future; prepare now for a better tomorrow; stop being used as stooges and protégés by selfish government officials and others. A hint to the wise is quite sufficient!