By Emmanuel Saingbe
TO BE SUCCESSFUL, PRESIDENT WEAH MUST AVOID THE PITFALLS OF THE PAST
As President of Liberia, the first thing George Manneh Weah should always keep in mind is he does not own Liberia. That is, President Weah should always keep separate what belongs to him as a person and what belongs to Liberia as a nation. And this is why all patriotic Liberians should continue to demand that President Weah publicly declare his assets. President Weah should also bear in mind to avoid the abuse of power not only by him personally, but also by functionaries of his administration. The rights of the citizens of Liberia are fully guaranteed by the Constitution which Mr. Weah did quote at length in his inaugural address to the nation, thereby subscribing to its supremacy as the organic law of the land and basic Social Contract between the citizens of Liberia and their government. The Liberian people have the right to freely express themselves; to freely but peacefully assemble; to worship according to the dictates of their conscience, etc.
Under the Weah administration no Liberian should be deprived of his life or his liberty or his property without a due process of law. All elections should be conducted credibly to the total and absolute satisfaction of all, leaving no doubt as to winner and loser. The manipulation of elections by an administration in favor of ruling party candidates has been a recipe for political disaster throughout the history of Liberia. The Civil war was the logical outcome of the 1985 fraudulent presidential election, in which Samuel Kanyon Doe was declared winner while the overwhelming majority of the Liberian people actually believed otherwise. Therefore, the Weah administration should never interfere with the democratic process, because when the government makes peaceful change impossible, it makes violent, revolutionary change inevitable.
And in conjunction with the infrastructural development of the nation, the Weah administration should seek to strengthen existing democratic institutions and help to create new ones. And development should mean, both a rise in the living standard of the citizens of Liberia and an unfailing guarantee by their government of both their political rights and fundamental human rights. In this regard, public sector corruption should be considered a violation of the human rights of the Liberian people, since it takes away from them what are rightfully theirs and thwart their material development.
And because the fish begins to rot from the head, President Weah must assiduously avoid being corrupt or even being perceived as corrupt by the masses. Equally so, Weah should never begin to see himself, at any time in the future, as a Life-Time-President of Liberia. And if he is defeated in the next Presidential Election, he should be willing to step down. President Weah should always remind himself that one day he will become private citizen Weah again. Also, Weah should never seek to influence the removal of Term Limit from the Constitution in order to continue being a candidate indefinitely in presidential races which would be rigged in his favor. Last but not least: Tribalism! President Weah should avoid Tribalism like the plague. Tribalism was the beginning of the downfall of President Samuel K. Doe. Tribalism creates resentment and alienation and bitterness against the group that is in power.
Regrettably, less than 100 days into the Weah administration, all important positions in the country are already occupied by Kwa speaking people. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, the Commanding General of the AFL, the Director of Police, are all Kwa speaking people leaving the rest of the country out in the cold. President Weah had personally lobbied to have Chambers of the House and Chei of the Senate elected as Speaker and President Pro-Temp respectively. Even the Press Secretary to the President, belongs to Weah’s ethnic group. But this is the same Tribalism President Doe had inaugurated as a policy, and which led to his downfall; the same tribalism the Congo people had practiced, and which led to their downfall. No one tribe should be preferred to the other tribes simply because one of its members is the President.
Even more regrettably, President Weah is already seen by most Liberians as being nepotistic, which is actually a form of Tribalism. Three of his brothers were hired at the Freeport and paid more, but not because they are more qualified, but because they are President Weah’s brothers. Tribalism and Nepotism create bad feelings and have never failed to do so in Liberia, with devastating consequences. It is therefore even more surprising and unfortunate that President Weah had not sought to avoid the lethal minefields of Tribalism and Nepotism so early in his fledging administration, although quite aware of them.
Therefore, again I ask, as in earlier posts: Who Is Advising President Weah?