Friday, November 19, 2010

Tony Blair in Liberia

Source: allAfrica News

Once upon a time Liberia was off limit to Western leaders. The key reason was that they suspected links between its leaders and international terrorist groups. A related reason was that locked in prolonged warfare, Liberia has become a “pariah”, a “Taylor Inc.” But today the picture has changed. Though still relatively fragile, Liberia presents an enabling environment for international philanthropists and governance reformists to make their marks upon its economic recovery and reconstruction. The Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) is one such groups. Its patron, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, was in Liberia early this year and he is back.

The UK’s former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is in the country from neighboring Sierra Lone for a two-day visit to hold talks with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, scores of government officials, and representatives of diplomatic missions and Liberia’s development partners.

This is Mr. Blair’s second visit to Liberia in ten months; he was in the country in February this year to hold talks with officials of the Liberian government, foreign missions, and other development partners in Liberia in order to initiative the works of AGI in Liberia.

Reports said the Prime Minister would renew his commitment to Liberia’s development progress during scheduled talks with President Sirleaf.

According to a protocol released yesterday by AGI’s Governance Advisor for Liberia, Peter Harrington, Mr. Blair will meet, tomorrow, with Acting Head of USAID, Carolyn Bryan, and US Ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas Greenfield to discuss aid and development.

On the same day, the Prime Minister will meet with EU representatives headed by Liberia EU Ambassador Attilio Pacifici to discuss EU projects, and the Chinese Ambassador Zhou Yuxiao to discuss China’s role in development and aid.

Later on in the evening of the same day, Mr. Blair will meet with President Sirleaf for a one-on-one discussion where he would commend the President for Liberia’s progress in development and governance.

On Saturday, according to the protocol, the AGI patron will hold meetings with officials at the Ministry of State, including new and returning members of the Liberian Cabinet.

Prior to departure on Saturday, Mr. Blair will have a final meeting with President Sirleaf and hold a joint press call with the Liberian media at the Ministry of State at 1:30 pm.

“I am delighted to be back in Liberia. I was very impressed by what I saw in February and this has been an exciting year for Liberia with US $4.7 bn debt relief with HIPC, billions more in investment and development in areas like roads and ports really getting into gear. I am excited to be here 8 months later to see that progress first hand, to renew my commitment to Liberia’s development and the Liberian people, and to strengthen my friendship with President Johnson Sirleaf,” Mr. Blair said upon touching down at the Robert International Airport this morning.

The AGI patron has a long-standing commitment to Africa and good governance, having set up a Commission on Africa while Prime Minister.

AGI is a continuation of that commitment, which is why he regularly visits AGI’s projects and maintains contact with partner Heads of State.

The talks between Mr. Blair and the President are expected to focus on the country’s progress in development and governance and the progress made by the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) project in Liberia, of which Mr. Blair is patron.

AGI has been working in Liberia since March of this year, providing capacity-building support in the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs to help it deliver the government’s reform and development agenda.

The expert team of five AGI staff works alongside Liberian officials to provide training and develop the effective tools and processes necessary for the government to deliver its vision to “Lift Liberia”.

The team works in the Executive Office, the Programme Delivery Unit, the Public Affairs Department, and the Cabinet Secretariat.

They bring extensive experience from UK government, the private sector, consultancy, and the non-profit sector.

Mr. Blair’s visit comes as part of a wider trip to West Africa. He arrived in Monrovia today after visiting Freetown earlier this week to meet with President Ernest Bai Koroma and his government.

AGI is a UK charity that works in three different countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda. In each country, AGI teams provide support to the centre of government at the invitation of the head of state, aiming to build the government’s capacity to deliver the services, which their citizens have a right to expect, to tackle deep-rooted poverty, and to attract sustainable investment to build strong economies for the future.

The protocol said Mr. Blair would, December 16, 2010, make his first major speech on development and Africa since he founded AGI, at the Center for Global Development in Washington DC.

According to information available to this paper, AGI came to work in Liberia because President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in talks with former Prime Minister Blair, decided that AGI could make a positive contribution to the nation’s recovery efforts.

The President believed AGI would help build the capacity of her government to deliver change for the Liberian people, and support her vision of a stable, free, and self-sufficient country that has healed its past and was building a prosperous future.

Since beginning operations in Liberia in March this year, according to the information, AGI has been providing ‘capacity building’ support in the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs.

According to the information, that means an expert team of five AGI staff, at no cost to Liberia, works alongside Liberian officials to provide training and develop the internal tools and processes that help the government serve the people and deliver its development agenda.

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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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