Subtle whining is being echoed by the people in certain quarters of Monrovia in regards to the lip service of the “pro-poor” leadership to deliver public goods and limit public bad. Just in less than two months contradictions are rearing their ugly heads in a somewhat unorthodox way, exposing the change mantra as a façade. It is so surprising to some that the new leadership has speedily degenerated in less than two months, in a way which has further exposed the political farce.
Fresh from the electoral process, the people of Liberia desperate for change, according to the country’s electoral body, the NEC, they overwhelmingly reposed their trust in the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led by George Weah to deliver change, limit poverty, and spur prosperity. At least this was the conclusion of most political commentators who scolded the former ruling party (Unity Party) for doing little at addressing the grinding poverty and deteriorating standard of living of the people. The generalized assumption was the new administrations headed by a soccer icon, in true a tabula rasa and “soccer dolt,” would have turned the tide around for the better.
Far from this, the people’s hope is being dashed, their aspiration consigned to the ash heap, and their hope of a better Liberia is being visited with a political center finger by those who call the shots in Monrovia. And the reality is manifesting itself in the creeping tendencies of nepotism, cronyism, influence-peddling and patronage politics. Those vices which led them to democratically abdicate the Unity Party are surging and surfacing with a paraffin speed, thus making the change rhetoric a malicious propaganda orchestrated to dupe the unsuspecting masses.
From the nomination of high school degenerates and university dropouts to positions that demand profound knowledge in technical areas to the nomination of the President’s friends to position they have no competence to serve in, thus, this unveils the ill-intention of the Weah-led government. The former and the latter groups claim to serve in those positions is predicated on their quote on quote struggle history with the CDC and their intrinsic social relationship with the head of state respectively. This reveals that the deafening chorus about change was just a veneer to capture power, in order to appoint subservient followers and social relations; while the President anesthetize the people with the rhetoric of managing expectation.
To illustrate this, Neymadi Pearson, a personal friend of President Weah heads the lucrative Liberia Petroleum Refining Company, while another friend of his by the name of Paulita Wie goes as Deputy Minister for Urban Affairs at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It is speculated in certain quarters that President Weah is also on the verge of terminating the contract of James Kollie as head of Liberia’s Maritime Authority to be replaced by another friend – Safua Gray; even though former speaker Alex Tyler has expressed interest in the job.
While President Weah has appointed most of his side friends to lucrative positions in the public sector, similarly, VP Jewel Howard Taylor has influenced the appointment of her family relations and her close associate, Mobutu V. Nyenpan to another lucrative position in the government. The government is fast turning into a club of friendship. Both VP Jewel Howard Taylor and President Weah are turning the new administration into a Club based on FRIENDSHIP.
Nothing has changed! The CDC-led regime is proceeding on the same trajectory of its predecessor by appointing corrupt individuals to positions of trust, while, at the same time, posturing about running a clean government void of corruption. Such grandiose grandstanding leaves ones to wonder whether the leader of this change caravan is either a true change agent or a bogus one. In less than two months, he seems to be totally clueless about governance and what it takes to get the machinery of the state running and working for the people.
No action plan, no hundred fifty days deliverables, no policy paper has been publicized as the manual the government is using to deliver on the pro-poor change it promised the people. The entire public bureaucracy is being governed without a compass, making the public sector an anarchical construction. In addition, this reveals the terrible truth that the new regime is lacking in depth to deliver the change that the people are terribly craving for.
While this writer thought that the new administration consistent with the challenges the republic is plunged in, will place individuals with the integrity, competence and acumen to reverse this ugly trend, this administration has thus trashed my hope and relegated my assumption as a wishful thinking. I would have thought that given the economic emergency the country is faced with, a team of seasoned professionals and technocrats would have been hired in critical sectors of the country to deliver the basic goods. No, I was thinking wrongly, hoping that the new regime is genuine about change. In true, it is not, the whole change narrative is a pretext to keep the people hoping while President Weah continues to make horrible nominations in government.
He has chosen to echo big promises as opposed to taken practical steps in addressing the pungent issues that continue to undermine the nation and frustrate the people’s effort at self-actualization and self-reliance. The President thinks that making speeches that serve as sound bites for news agencies are what can transform a country plagued with economic paralysis and social discards. Those pronouncements that are not supported by decisive action only aggravated the already disillusioned masses who are concerned about their survival.
Such trend is a powder keg for the increment in the exasperation of a broken people bruised on all sides by poverty, diseases, and hunger. Second, increasing the hope of the people without the consistent policy consideration to match words with deeds is a breeding ground that will culminate into a social discontentment which will have a ripple effect in the state. Somewhat, the people seem to be patient and hoping that President Weah will deliver on his promises, but their patience is not inelastic. There comes a time when they will have to move, and their movement into history has not come without consequences.
Just edging to two months some civil servants have been shown the axe, while others have been sent to the civil service agency for reassignment, not because of inefficiency or any administrative malpractices. Simply because the new administration wants to incorporate their minions to the position of trust in the public sector, undermining the entire construct of civil service. This will further bloat the already bloated civil service. Thus, putting more constraints on the administration, and increasing the recurrent expenditure of the government.
When professionals who have the capacity to run the public bureaucracy are sidelined and repudiated for lousy scoundrels to boss them, one must also be aware that it is just in a matter of days that those professionals will revolt in a manner that will sabotage the operations of the government. Brewing disenchantment among them is low however, this writer can wager that it is only a matter of time that the chickens will come home to roost, as no man with the credentials and professionalism will countenance such absurdity of misfits and bankrupt individuals being their bosses.
In a country which the government is the biggest employer, unpaid civil servants are languishing across the county, and with the downward spiral of Liberia’s traditional commodities, coupled with soaring inflation, and the high cost of living, these pose looming security concerns. The lamentation is deafening, the people are whispering their discontentment, and the nation is on a cul-de-sac. A cul-de-sac which has far-reaching consequences for the future, which indicates the current state of affairs, is a prelude to the economic savagery that is expected to befall the homeland.
About the Author: Alfred P. B. Kiadii is a student of the University of Liberia, who studies Political Science with emphasis in Public Administration. He is a social and political critic. Contact him on Cell#: +233552176627. Alternatively, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.