18 March 2013

Liberia: Cabinet Reshuffle - Giving Madam President Chance

Photo: Liberia Government
President Sirleaf names members of her cabinet. (file photo)


Chapter VI, Article 56 (a) of the Constitution of Liberia empowers the President of Liberia to appoint all cabinet ministers, deputy and assistant cabinet ministers, ambassadors, ministers and consuls, superintendents of counties and other government officials, both military and civilian, who shall hold their offices at the pleasure of the President. It is in keeping with this Constitutional mandate that various Liberian Presidents, including the current, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, have and continues to allow this will to prevail.

Two months ago just before her Seventy-Third birth Anniversary, President Sirleaf promised a major cabinet reshuffle in her administration. This was in keeping with her dissatisfaction with the way public officials were performing, in terms of achieving the administration's deliverables set aside for One-Hundred Days after the President's inauguration for her Second Term in January 2012. Just last week, the Liberian Leader began to fulfill her promise after carefully assessing what members of her cabinet did during the first year of the Second term.

However, not many seem to be embracing the President's recent reshuffle, perhaps, in their minds, it may not have gone the way they anticipated. For example, many who called on a number of RADIO Talk Shows last week at the start of the reshuffle took exception to the replacement of all of the deputy ministers at the Education Ministry, but the Minister. The basis for the foregoing, according to them, was the President's declaration at the recent cabinet retreat that the "entire education system was a mess"; and so such was a necessary condition for President Sirleaf to replace the Minister, her deputy and Assistant Ministers with a brand new and competent team to transform the education system.

While the foregoing concern may have sounded genuine, it was also important for such concerned citizens to consider the Constitutional implication of whatever decision Madam President made. In advancing any argument against the decision of President Sireleaf, one must not have only taken into account the power given to her by the Constitution of Liberia, but the process through which the exercise must have been conducted.

While the Ellen Sirleaf administration may be fully upholding free expression to the highest degree in consonance with Chapter III, Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution, we, as citizens would also be doing absolute justice to ourselves and this provision of our Constitution, if, we, too exhibit the highest degree of responsibility in exercising such fundamental right given us by the law of the land. It is no secret that we do really LOOSELY exercise the rights as evidenced by the various abuses which accompany the exercise of these freedoms allowed by the current administration- our arrogant and harsh expressions and invectives used against the President of Liberia and public officials many-a-time on radio phone-in shows and other programs without any sense of remorse are indicative of how loosed we exercise our basic fundamental rights in our country nowadays.

We must be responsible enough to patient and understanding in our approaches to addressing and commenting on issues of national concerns (such as the ongoing cabinet reshuffle). Such responsibility goes with the constitutional understanding of the issues abide, characterized by decency and intellectualism that would lead to better understanding of such issues by other Liberians who may not the opportunity to be in the same position we are.

For those of us found in the excessive abuse of our fundamental rights as provided by the Constitution of Liberia, the gullibility of Liberian society does entail disrespect to our leaders in addressing issues linked to them, especially in the event of the ongoing cabinet reshuffle. The President must be given a chance and not for her to implement our personal feelings. The possibility of another cabinet reshuffle would be imminent if the current exercise does not pay-off well in the year ahead.

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