By Romeo D.N. Gbartea
Every Liberian is advocating for a “Developmental State” but there is still a scenario of cyclical socio-political wrongs. The hope of many has dwindled and the generations now and beyond are still wondering whether there will ever be a country with correctness for its betterment. Spiritually, the month of “April” is a holy month in the context of Christianity. Jesus Christ of Nazareth arrived in Jerusalem and there were jubilations among the people and the same people lamented that “Barabbas” must be freed and “Jesus Christ” must be crucified. The paradox of mankind! However, the month of April had been chaotic in Liberia and it had deepened the wounds of our country.
Sadly, on April 14, 1979, the “Rice Riot”, then, April 12, 1980, it was the removal of President William R. Tolbert from power, by a group of military personnel. This scenario led to the fall of the persistent 133 years of Americo-Liberian leadership. Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe came to power and it served as the beginning of “Indigenous Leadership”. It set the pace for Indigenous Leadership in the country. The proposition was that the “Indigenous” had a great insight into the country better than those that managed them for 133 years.
What happened to the proposition of Indigenous leadership? Thirteenth prominent Government officials of Liberia were put on the poles and killed for “rampant corruption”. The deaths of these prominent Liberians coupled with other challenges led to the fourteen years civil conflict. Over 200 thousand Liberians died and the entire socio-economic fabric of the country was broken down. These are the wrongs of our country that have led us to a failed and fragile nation-state. What new constructive variables have changed the Liberian state after forty-plus years?
The effects of the conflicts in Liberia are still psychological and their negative impacts are felt by today’s generations and beyond the horizon. We had seventeen prominent peace agreements to end the conflict. Many of the peacekeepers died in the process to protect lives and properties for our country. The last of these agreements was the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Accra, August 2003. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of August 18, 2003, brought power Chairman Gyude Bryant of the Liberia Action Party (LAP) and Vice-Chairman Wesley Momo Johnson of the United People’s Party (UPP) to power so that they can manage the peace process. The CPA seriously facilitated the end of the fourteen years of conflict but the refusal of the change of mindset for a “developmental state” still remains the cardinal challenge for Liberia. The wrongs are always justified and thus making Liberia a fragile and failed nation-state.
DO WE HAVE A MINDSET OF A “DEVELOPMENTAL STATE”?
When the civil war ended through the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Accra in 2003 and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1509 paved the way for the largest peacekeeping mission in Liberia, many Liberians conceptualized that it was a new dispensation for Liberia to experience a “developmental state”. This developmental state thought still remained abstract because of the cyclical wrongs that continue to swallow the country in the dungeon of poverty. The lessons from April 14, 1979, and April 12, 1980, and fourteen years of deadly civil conflicts have not given Liberians a new Developmental mindset. The country is in deep trouble. Every young Liberian sees quasi-political advocacy as a way to enjoy some of the wealth of the country because for them there is no way out for development. The mindset of Liberians is in the wrong perspective. For the period of “forty years plus”, in fact, since April 12, 1980, Liberia is still in the darkness of a “poor state” and the mindset for a Developmental State continues to be elusive.
Liberians must learn to understand the lesson of the past and ensure it is corrected. The generation unborn will hold us responsible if we do not show commitment to this nation-state, Liberia. We must adhere to the research findings of the Vision 2030 team, which emphasized a “Developmental State”. For Liberia to have a sustainable development especially from the fourteen years of carnage, it must work in peace and harmony. The situation in Liberia is beyond ethnicity. The world is getting tired of Liberians. We must bury the cyclical wrongs of our country. We must reduce the tension and concentrate on having a mindset of a “Developmental State” and avoid the cyclical socio-political wrongs of our country.