22 November 2017

Liberia: The Impasse of an Indigenous President

Prior to the October 10, 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections in Liberia, contentious issues that drew public attention, sparked widespread reactions across the country. Among them was the call from a cross-section of Liberians believed to be of native background, that in contemporary Liberia, the Government should be headed by an indigent. They blamed successive Congo-led governments for doing nothing tangible for the country and its citizens. Social inequalities, rampant corruption, systematic marginalization against indigents among others were epidemic in the society. They maintained that the deep rooted negative vices meted against the natives angered the indigenous population that led to several violent crises preceding the 1989 rebel incursion that left on its heels indelible marks and dreadful deaths as well as devastating effects.

But contrary views termed the call as conflict-ridden and divisive, arguing that the accusation was politically motivated and a ploy to sideline the Congos; arguing that the country has not only been governed by Congo people alone, but natives as well; adding that in more than one decade, the government is being dominated by natives, yet, they have made no positive impacts on the lives of the people in terms of improving their livelihoods. They point accusing fingers at current members of the legislature dominated by natives of signing the most fake or deceptive concession agreements ever in the history of Liberia.

But whatever the accusations and counter-accusations could have produced, I do not intend to dig into them, but to endeavor to highlight issues that the country had suffered for decades despite changes of regimes.

Before I attempt, let me say that in Africa, the president is usually termed notorious when there is stry in government and a target of regime change as if he/she takes sole responsibility for lapses in government. Does the welfare of the citizens and development of a country lie in the hands of the president that often becomes target of reprisal by power-drunk politicians? Of course not ; even though some presidents become dictatorial. I suppose that in normal situation the president is only powerful and influential when the legislators are belly-driven, greedy and self-centered. As such there is a loophole!

So, if incentives of the president and salary are determined by the legislature and concession agreements signed by its members who are in majority, why shift blame on the president for what goes wrong in the government or country?

They argue that while it is true that they are part of the government, their participation in the decision making process is ceremonious. What a weak defense!! The call was ahead of the first round of the October 10 elections.

The first round of the elections has ended leaving two indigents in the runoff, veteran statesman Amb. Joseph N. Boakai and renowned international footballer, Amb. George Oppong Weah.

So, whether the call for an indigenous president or presidency was something divisive or otherwise, the die is cast. Amb. Joseph N. Boakai, a Kissi believed to hail from Lofa County, got more votes in the county either by tribal affiliation or solidarity, while Senator George Oppong Weah, a Kru fellow, got more votes on the same account in Kru dominated areas. This proves that blood is thicker than water, or that the elections were entrenched by ethnic groupings.

But the dilemmas of an indigenous presidency with the citizens in dire need of improvements in their lives are inevitable and as I attempt to delve into them, I have over the past decade witnessed and evaluated the current structure and workings of a native-dominated government and wish to sincerely testify that they have not been able to positively respond to the needs of the people that have become victim of deceptions and rhetoric over the years, provoking widespread criticisms that had never been challenged.

Liberia is rated classical among the poorest nations of the World despite being endowed with vast and rich natural resources. In spite of the facts, it is reported that a family in Liberia lives on $1.25 cents per day. Believe it now or live with it! What an appalling living condition one would imagine of a country blessed with such endowments that have often culminated into bloody conflicts and remains discernible across the country.

As I open the package of the dilemmas and itemize its contents, I see impending vices as being perpetrated currently against the improvement of the livelihoods of the ordinary citizens such as rampant corruption in high places, poor infrastructure, perpetual class system, social inequalities, discrimination, hatred, division, divide-and-rule, marginalization, tribal segregation, increment in madness, broken rehabilitation centers, conspicuous silence on importation of rotten consumables or food items, inhumane or unequal treatments, dysfunctional health and educational systems, recycling of government officials, selfishness, poor working conditions, high unemployment among youngsters, exploitation of resources under the guise of exploration, sub-standard road constructions, re-named or rebranded concession companies, etc., etc.

I could name as many as my memory can reflect on but fed up with the sustained, spoiled and deceptive system and any attempt to go further would be like adding insults to injuries.

What if these perpetual afflictions are not addressed and above all, what if the solution (indigenous president) becomes the problems? Where then will the people turn when their hope is dashed? Would they prefer going back to Egypt, or upon whose lap will they share or pour their tears? The dilemmas are many and grievous!

As I conclude, these are the brief chronicles and abstracts of our time. Let us use them after our own memories and faculties as we await the outcome of a postponed runoff presidential election whether in part or whole; maybe entirely.

However; what is certain is that the election will produce an indigenous president. What is not certain based on speculations or as constitutional and political crises loom is whether there will be a smooth transition as envisaged by peace-loving Liberians; or could this lead to interim leadership or trusteeship, Something that is perhaps undesirable? Whatever the outcome, I urge all Liberians irrespective of which side you belong, to be calm as any adverse action would plunge the nation into pandemonium.

Liberia

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