Do Away with Mediocre and Settle for the Best: An Advice to President Joseph N. Boakai, Sr.

President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.

Guest Editorial by Rev. Dr. Slewion Lewis

Over the years, especially in the governance history of our country in recent times, many of our past governments have underperformed and at times failed to deliver because of settling for mediocre. A mediocre who is an individual who is not very good and of an average quality in the performance of the task assigned, has hampered the progress and development of many nations and institutions, with Liberia being no exception. Mediocre which is also an individual of ordinary qualities, hinders productivity and discourages competition, thereby suppressing the hidden potentials of individuals and the state. 

As our nation has transitioned to a new democratically elected government, and as President Joseph N. Boakai, Sr. has begun to appoint members of his cabinet, opting for the best and doing away with mediocrity is the best way forward, if this administration is poised to succeed and deliver. Recruiting and keeping those who consistently underperform or are not productive, and who exhibit a mindset of mediocrity can have damaging impacts on the overall performance of any institution or government. Mediocre can create a perception that underperformance is tolerated and can lead to the demotivation of high-performing individuals in the governance structure and creates a very toxic system.

Settling for mediocre is a dangerous practice and when encouraged, can lead institutions and governments into a state of complacency and comfort, thereby reducing one's aspiration for excellence or greatness which limits growth and progress. Remember, a mediocre will want to do the very minimum and cannot push themselves to go the extra miles. They are comfortable with low or average performance and outcomes and aiming for the very best is not their goal.

Therefore, as President Boakai executes his constitutional responsibility of appointing members of his cabinet, let him go for the best and recruit individuals base on their abilities to perform and not on party or tribal sentiments; a practice which had plagued past administrations into under development and poor deliveriables. Appointing individuals because they can perform and are competent increases the chances of growth and development for a nation and attracts local and international partners. Appointing individuals who have genuine credentials and have exhibited excellence and integrity in their areas of specialization over the years, will be the first step to success and a clarion message to Liberians and our international partners that this administration means well and really wants to rescue Liberia.

For this administration to avoid the tendency of "business as usual," appointments should not be made based on sympathy or how much the individuals sacrificed for the party during the elections, but base on the individuals' abilities to deliver and do the job. The time for appointing individuals because they are partisans of the ruling establishment or because of their positions in the party is over. Now is the time for competent, performance and  deliveriables-driven individuals to be recruited to do the job of the Liberian people. Remember, if mediocre individuals are recruited for the job, we will get mediocre results. Mediocre individuals in positions of power or authority tend to afflict sufficient damages that gradually erode the productivity of an institution or government. On the contrary, when the best and competent individuals are recruited and hired, there are much better chances that they will perform to the best of their abilities and they will have no fears for their colleagues of the same qualifications and competence. 

Ergo, as President Boakai is appointing members of his cabinet, and as we think Liberia, build Liberia and love Liberia, let us do away with the tendency of mediocrity and settle for the best and competent individuals for the job, as appointing individuals who cannot do the job and are not qualified for the office is injustice to the state and a threat to the ruling establishment. Long live Liberia, our sweet land of liberty.

About the Author

The Rev. Dr. Slewion P. Lewis is an ordained priest of the Episcopal Church of Liberia who currently serves as Dean for the Emmanuel W. Johnson College of Theology at Cuttington University Undergraduate Program, Director of Theological Education, Episcopal Church of Liberia and Priest-in-Charge at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Sergeant Kollie Town (SKT), Suakoko, Bong County.