Thursday, August 19, 2010

President Sirleaf Adopts Divide-And-Rule - Says Sekou Conneh

Mr. Sekou Damate Conneh

Liberia’s unemployment is unofficially 85% even as the government fights tooth-and-nail to reduce it through its poverty reduction strategy (PRS) – while remaining the single largest employer in spite of fluctuating revenue projections. For a capitalist economy, the involvement of the private sector must be the soul of the crucial search for relieving solutions. But that appears not the worry of some national leaders: for them, it is who is employed and not how many or who has the moral and social – not political or legal – obligation to do so. The Analyst has been looking at Sekou Damate Conneh’s criticism of the Sirleaf Administration vis-à-vis that national question and the role of politicians aspiring for national leadership.

Mr. Sekou Damate Conneh has accused the Sirleaf Administration of conducting the economic and political policies of the nation through a system of divide and rule.

Mr. Conneh is the Chairman the opposition Progressive Democratic Party of Liberia (PRODEM, one several mushroom parties formed on the eve of the 2005 general and presidential elections to fill Liberia’s political vacuum in order to pave the way for socio-political and economic recovery.

He said the President came to power promising to be president for all Liberians by designing policies and programs that would help them restore their lost pride, dignity, and social standing.

He recalled the President’s campaign slogan, “Papa na kam”, which highlighted her administration’s promise to create employment opportunities for the breadwinners of families so that the Liberian child would smile again. Incidentally, “Papa naw kam” is the Liberian lingo for “Papa now come”, a child’s hearty welcome of a father coming home with a package after a long day’s absence.

AS CONNEH SEES IT: Sirleaf’s divide-and-rule tactics

But Mr. Conneh said that it was the exact opposite of the slogan that was now obtaining in Liberia because rather than upholding that promise, President Sirleaf decided to divide and rule the Liberian people through selective appointment in government.

Whether by his allegation he was implying that appointment in government presupposes political support for the incumbency, in which case it would be unhealthy for anyone in opposition to crave, is not clear.

But the former contender in the 2005 presidential elections that brought President Sirleaf to power said the President was giving lucrative jobs to Liberians from the Diaspora, neglecting to consider those in the country who actually need those jobs.

According to the former rebel leader, the President’s promise of poverty reduction through employment suggested to many that it would be done through merit and equity across political, ethnic, class, and regional divides but that “imported” labor seemed the preoccupation of the administration.

He said this divide and rule policy was not only pitting Liberians against one another regarding who got the President’s favor and who did not, but that it was also affecting the Unity Party’s promise of a government of national unity and inclusion.

There was no way President Sirleaf would say, according to him, that she was maintaining the campaign promise of national unity through inclusion when she was consciously dividing the people and giving undue advantage to one group.

What is currently obtaining, he said, was that the President was a leader for some Liberians and not all Liberians as she promised and prayed that the electorates would take note of the disparity between the UP’s campaign slogans and promises and its leadership output.

Conneh, whose PRODEM has recently teamed up with George Weah’s CDC and a number of other smaller parties to form an electoral coalition for the 2011 elections, is not the only politician to challenge President Sirleaf’s evenhandedness in job placement in government.

Conneh’s problem with the President however appears to go beyond “selective appointment” even thought that seems to him the vexing question.

It goes back to the campaign of 2005 when the President allegedly exploited the feud in his family at the time to tear his then estranged wife, Aicha Conneh, away from his presidential bid.

Whether Aicha who, prior to the 2005 elections was living in Guinea, would have supported the presidential bid of a man with whom some say she had security and political differences had President Sirleaf not drawn her to her camp, is not clear.

But according to the former boss of the defunct rebel Liberians United for Reconstruction and Democracy (LURD) the President’s role as a candidate signaled that she would set Liberians against each other through preferential treatment for her own political ends.

Besides the obviousness that Mrs. Conneh’s decision to campaign for UP instead of PRODEM is amongst factors that possibly subtracted from Mr. Conneh’s credibility as a presidential candidate, it was not clear how the alleged preferential treatment for “imported” Liberians in job placement benefited the Sirleaf Administration.

Weird as the allegation and the supporting argument may appear, Conneh seems not to be alone in his charge, which it takes seriously as a political blunder against President Sirleaf.

Many others have toed Conneh’s line of argument that the President has largely neglected her moral and social obligation to former colleagues, administrators, 2005 contenders at all levels of government, and even former faction leaders, mainly those now in political opposition.

According to the argument, the appointment of these individuals would have given them the social security required to survive in an economy that has fallen below minimal levels and that would take years to revive.

“This would have been cardinal to the government’s program of peace and reconciliation because a hungry man is an angry man. There is no way you can reconcile and unite a nation without settling the question of what goes on the dining table at the end of the day,” said one recent commentator on Liberia’s tall unemployment problem.

The allegation may seem trivial and therefore easily dismissible, but there are fears that it may haunt the administration at the 2011 polls as the opposition seem poised to use it as evidence that the President “does not have the Liberian people at heart”.

This is to say nothing about how difficult it would be to push that line of argument above the gutters of politics.

The administration has been fighting back, but feebly, insisting that the appointment of knowledgeable and experienced Liberians from the Diaspora in limited instances was both a way of strengthening the governance institutions and reversing the brain drain the nation experienced during 14 years of war and decades of bad governance.

How long and hard that explanation is filtering down to the grassroots remains to be seen when the nation gets down to the polls a little over 13 months from now.

But observers say that should not mean that the allegation and supporting argument should not be placed in the proper perspective while the sun is still up.

What the allegation must rather be

The allegation that appointment from abroad undercuts the nation’s economic empowerment goal should not lie against the administration, analysts say; but, for a country like Liberia where illiteracy has been worsened by poverty and hopelessness, the Sirleaf Administration will do well to address its appointment policy, if what critics see as “selective and exclusive employment” is any policy at all.

“The allegation must be about how the government charts its investment policies to create or nurture Liberia’s entrepreneur class and establish equity between Liberian and foreign businesses in terms of incentives and access to loans and credit guarantees. It should not be about political appointments, which are often no guarantee for survival,” said one observer who spoke with this paper yesterday.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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