Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Save Liberia Now or Never

Source: allAfrica.com
THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF the National Elections Commission (NEC) that it would be holding a referendum to put a citizen’s stamp on four constitutional provisions that the National Legislature had passed into law in August this year has once again brought the significance of the generosity of spirit in Liberian politics to the fore. The referendum grew out of the intense desire by Liberia’s political elites to change some provisions of the 1986 Constitutions in order to address controversial political questions. Key amongst the questions are the residency clause; the absolute majority requirement for elective office, which invariably leads to cost-intensive runoffs because it of involves more than half dozen candidates; and the national elections timetable and political campaigns, viewed in proximity to the annual rainy season that ends in October.

IN JULY THIS year, the Legislature presented to the government the referendum package containing four amendments requiring the stamp of the citizens’ authority in keeping with Article 91 of the Constitution. NEC will now conduct the referendum following internal financial adjustments with partners’ approval. For some unsuspecting Liberians and international partners, that should be enough to have every Liberian – voter or candidate – rest assured of free, fair, transparent, and cost-saving elections on the second Tuesday of December 2011. That is if all things go according to expectation – residency time cut by half; legislators elected on simple majority, accruing to Liberia some US $44.9 million in runoff savings; and the chief justice of Liberia given lifetime tenure. It seems a simple resolution of issues critical to the smooth conduct of the 2011 watershed presidential and general elections.

NO WONDER ALL seems perfect from the distance; but it is not so, viewed closely, carefully weighing benefits against risks. A closer view reveals the potential drawbacks of some of the amendments, specifically the cost-saving motive for the amendment of the absolute majority requirement, which disregards the negative impact on democracy and society. This amendment poses serious risk to democratization in Liberia a decade or so down the road. The absolute majority requirement may be capital-intensive and undesirable at this time of economic difficulties when the nation relies exclusively on partners to fund its elections; but it plays a crucial safety guard role in preventing what former foreign minister Lewis Brown described as “creeping minority rule with dangerous ethnic flavor”. Should Liberians put their stamp of citizens’ approval on the amendment of the absolute majority requirement and live with the bitter consequences in the future or reject the amendment in view of these consequences, lose the partners’ cooperation, and jeopardize the crucial 2011 elections? This is the most crucial national dilemma of our times one that requires carefully weighing risks against benefits, putting nation first, and brandishing the generosity of spirit.

NATIONALIST LIBERIANS AND the nation’s political leaders must wake up and look beyond the cost-saving alibi of the amendment to see the lurking tribal hegemony and class buildups that are likely to lead to communal tension. They must do so also to see the eventual amendment of absolute majority requirement for presidential elections and the advent of lifetime presidency; and most of all finally, to see the eventual breakdown of democracy years beyond 2011! When they do, they must make the conscious effort to do something about it – now or never.

THEY CAN TAKE one of three actions: They can do nothing now and be compelled by citizens’ post-poll discontent and the bruise to the political ego to issue protest notes about vote rigging or vote manipulation and lead rancorous rallies of discontent in the streets and rundown communities of Monrovia. They can brood over the possible danger the simple majority system poses to democratization in postwar Liberia and accuse the government and partners of conspiracy but be diplomatic about it in order to avoid rocking the boat. Or, they can push for an exclusion of the amendment from the referendum, proffer an alternative, and begin work on that alternative right away. Democracy is the rule of the majority; there is therefore no question that the use of minority vote to make democratic leadership decisions is undemocratic, to put it mildly. This is one of the dangerous socio-political contradictions this nation cannot afford right now; no, not after a decade of war for reasons of political exclusion based on the infamous, de facto “So Say One, So Say All System”.

SO, HERE IS our recommendation to the political opposition and the Liberian people: work out an amalgamation; avoid the coalition processes that are currently ongoing behind closed doors with mutual fears and insincerity amongst participating parties and leaders. When you do, field one candidate in the 2011 presidential and general elections for each electoral position. This will drastically reduce or even eliminate the need for runoffs, which NEC says consumes 65% of the budget. This will definitely stop the conspiracy, if there is any, to impose minority rule on the Liberian people. The sacrifice counterbalances the headaches of having to live in a nation where a minority decides the leadership and rule the discontented but voiceless and scattered majority.

IT MAY SOUND weird and may presents as a denial of political participation, but not if one carefully weighed the benefits against the risks in view of examples elsewhere in democratic countries. The United States of America, Liberia’s mentor that is 75 times larger and perhaps a hundred times more populated than Liberia, fields two candidates for elected posts with opening for perhaps an independent candidate. And it works; no hassle, no contentions. In some Europeans countries, political leaders work around the temptation to make laws to impose minority rule on the people for economic reason by supporting each other’s bid for control of parliament and forming coalition governments after the polls are closed and victory is achieved. We do not recommend the European model for Liberia because the nation’s political institutions are still largely evolving from one-man sponsorship, still shaking themselves out of the cocoons of own-party status (or are they?). The amalgamation alternative is suitable for Liberia because it can be perfected and formalized in the future, resulting permanently into a two or three party nation thereby remedying tendencies toward the formation of class or tribal hegemonies for political and economic security.

CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVES, save the nation of future headaches, and save the nation’s burgeoning democracy. The achievement of this feat will worth nothing less than the show of a generosity of spirit and love of country.

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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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