IF THERE IS ANYTHING common among major actors in this political dispensation under the CDC-led government, it is the reluctance to admit that they fell short of an action or a decision because of a general desire to avoid negative evaluation and disapproval from the public. Thus, to save face when things go wrong, they shift blame away from themselves by bringing attention to external causes, attempting to obscure their role in causing misfortune. Today, the government has forced us to live in a culture where they remain motivated to avoid wrongs, and quickly point their fingers at anyone but themselves when something goes wrong.
ON MARCH 14, 2022, a day to the 213th posthumous birthday celebration of Joseph Jenkins Roberts, the first president of Liberia, the US Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy, issued an Op-ed to share his thoughts on Liberia, pointing out series of issues with governance and wondered what the former President if he is alive today would say about the current issues plaguing Liberians. Unarguably, the publication puts the country in a category of a failed state incapable to stand on its own to justify its status as a sovereign state.
THE REACTIONS THAT came from the government and its apologists were beyond responsible approach to the point that, instead of addressing the issues raised by the Ambassador, they were either justifying why the issues existed or are challenging the Ambassador that his government and country should be blamed for the lapses that might have undermined Liberia’s development for such a long period.
BEFORE THEN THERE was a time the government went on the offensive against the Head of the EU Mission to Liberia, Laurent Delahousse, when he made a statement referring to Monrovia as “disgusting and dirtiest” city he had worked in Africa. Our Government demanded for him a retraction. The government was not willing to accept the main thrust of the message but was only concerned about protecting its “image” while dirt and filth took over the city, posing health and environmental hazards to the residents.
ABOUT A YEAR later, and without addressing the waste issues, Monrovia has again been put on the spotlight through the op-ed issued by the US Ambassador. In that op-ed, the Ambassador recounted how a senior government official, who later became known to be Jefferson Tamba Koijee, had stated that Liberia’s development partners were not doing anything to assist the City Government to overcome the problem of waste collection and disposal, and that everything was done by the City Government without any external support.
WHEN THE PUBLICATION came to the notice of the government, what was expected as a listening institution willing to learn from constructive criticism, would have taken the Ambassador’s statement in good faith and work on the concerns raised. But the government and its apologists, just like in the case of the EU Ambassador, as usual decided to jump over the issues to invent distractions instead of addressing the problem. Curiously enough, while they were defending the indefensible, wastes have taken over major spots in the city including Broad, Front and Center Streets, right in the heart of Monrovia.
WE ARE APPALLED by this reactive attitude of the government to shy away from the reality of the day and go about literally attacking people or institutions, especially our international development partners who have done so much to have this country where it is today. They can only be seen as good when they are donating, but bad when they critique the bad governance, corruption and negativity happening in the country.
IT IS INSTRUCTIVE enough to state that our development partners have never faulted on their impression about the country. They have spoken about the state of insecurity in the country and other national issues of concern.
THEY HAVE ALSO spoken about official graft and diversion of public and donor funds, but nothing has been done and the pace in which corruption is moving is becoming alarming. It took the decisive stand from the United States Government against official corruption to have Senators Varney Sherman and Prince Yormie Johnson sanctioned after the Liberian government failed to act when dossiers about their involvement in corrupt acts were released.
THE GOVERNMENT CANNOT succeed with this kind of diversionary and blame game tactics. It is not going to help her. There is nothing wrong admitting to one’s fault and accepting to make amends, and we think the government has to be looking in that direction.
A PROACTIVE POLICY that is driven by institutional objectives that can adapt to reality of problem solving is the path to tread in the 21st century. The blame game tactics which is premised on excuses and shifting responsibilities of leadership to events or persons is not going to help the government and its people. Not taking action when they are caught in default and still being on unnecessary defense and going after people and institutions that raised genuine concerns will only serve to aggravate the situation and even provoke the wrath of the citizens. We just hope we have not reached that level.
LET US TAKE this time to remind this government that no government in the past has ever succeeded in bullying or attempting to fight our development partners, especially the United States of America. It has been proven that when they raise an issue, notably repeatedly, then they have foreseen something that is far off to us but near to them, and such has been devastating for such a government. We are aware of the warnings that went to the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe and then to Charles Ghankay Taylor who is now in prison. They were forewarned to take precaution but they failed and their fates were sealed up for life. Is this government willing to tread a similar path? We hope not.
IT IS IN this light that we call on the government to do a complete rethink of its response to critical issues meant to make corrections or suggestions that will positively impact on governance. The government can start on a new slate by listening to our development partners that she has no reasons to attack for flagging out those issues that they feel are not good for the country and the relationship that exists between Liberia and their respective countries and institutions.