By Ansu Opa Dualu
Anarchy! Pillage! Mobocracy! These become realities in the absence of constitutional adherence. The rule of law must lead with a high degree of ferociousness if we are to have any chance to protect ourselves and ensure the developmental evolution our society so desperately needs.
No society has ever developed in a constant state of chaos. Maintaining order, protecting individual rights and liberties, and subscribing to strict institutional standards that guide us are the only surest ways to guarantee a civilized society.
People do not obey laws because they like to, routinely enforced deterrence, legal sanctions, and legitimacy influence behavior – that legitimacy must be granted by the people; it cannot be illegally seized by despots who feel entitled to state power. The people, the true overlords of government, in whom all powers are vested, must take their proper place and through their organized anger, insist on full constitutional adherence.
They must pay attention, get loud and riot, get righteously angry against misrule, and be willing to pay a higher personal price for a society governed by laws and not vain men. The people must ensure government officials always fear their wrath.
Strict constitutional adherence is not an option for a society that is longing to develop; it must be the bedrock that supports the viability of that society. For decades, Liberians have run a government absent constitutional order and yet foolishly expect the outcomes of a lawful society. Talk about gullibility personified.
The matrix of law enforcement cannot be measured with different, favorable standards simply because one holds a statutory position; in actuality, people in positions of trust should be judged with the highest standards and heavier punitive and compensatory consequences because their crimes weigh against society in far greater proportions.
Know that strong legal systems ensure the development of a society – be uncompromisingly forceful about law and order. One cannot develop a highly illiterate population through timidity or pity, a calculated degree of consistent legal force must be introduced and maintained, including frequent executions (especially for corrupt officials and judges) to send a clear message.
The law must be king. Amend your statutes where they do not meet the standards of modernity or favor the people. Moreover, be very unambiguous about your intent – government officials in places like Liberia understand one language – Force! Speak their language.
We are not here for a long time, why do we continue to allow a small group of government criminals to relegate millions to a miserable life, and send them to their early graves while we fold our arms and allow this pillage to go unchallenged? Systemically counter these criminals with brute constitutional order.
The president has tremendous powers if s/he desires an orderly society. Our chief executive can singlehandedly make the courts righteous, force an honorable legislature, and ensures the people fear the wrath of the law. Here’s how:
- Hold yourself up to the highest ethical standards with total transparency and carry a huge legal stick that is used frequently.
- Make excellence and production a national standard – your appointees must be our best and brightest. Ensure your hiring decisions are made almost entirely based on merit, not nepotism or “party loyalty”.
- Establish a commission on official performance and misconduct with full-time delegated agents under the Ministry of Justice who monitor judges/officials and report on them on a quarterly basis – heavily and publicly discipline offenders.
- Track your agents’ professionalism and integrity.
- Force honorability back into the legislature and routinely prosecute and imprison legislators who abuse the people’s trust – permanently bar them from public office.
- Revisit The Constitution with the intent to change what does not benefit the people. For example: Remove blanketed impunity for the president!
The Constitution is not some abstract document to be visited as one chooses; it is a living, breathing guideline that dies with neglect – the law must be resuscitated daily to have its intended effects. By the way, we also die if we refuse to follow the tenets of The Constitution. Look at Liberia today – we have become a people you can describe as walking dead.
For Liberia to develop, a man must immediately bear the full weight of his deeds – legal or illegal. And if the consequences of his deeds mean legally executing him so that society is protected, so be it.
Forceful implementation of the law is how every First World Society has developed – look to history. Liberians want the results of development but do not want to pay a price for it. This is not how it works.
Criminals in government will never change their spots until they are permanently stopped. We must make a choice: legally and forcefully stop these offenders or allow anarchy to reign! For too long we have chosen the latter; when will we choose Liberia?
The purpose of law and order is to first define what society values and accepts and how to legally go about protecting them. Harsher enforcement and penalties are the surest ways to do just that. The threat of immediate consequences prevents crimes from happening on a larger scale as you see in Liberia today where the order is largely absent, and corruption and mayhem are kings.
Society needs regulation to create order and place responsibility; laws are essential to preserving our way of life and should be balanced and upheld to guarantee everyone’s best interest especially the most vulnerable. It must be beyond the power of one individual irrespective of the position he holds to violate the constitution with total impunity.
The rule of law guarantees peace and security establishes order, prevents a large percentage of crimes, and ensures investigations and prosecutions of criminals. Its proper application forces people to respect the fundamental rights of others and lays the foundation for a stable society. To attain the important functions of law in society (social control, dispute resolution, and social change), justice must carry a baton that is used often.
Force the intent of The Constitution by truly maintaining the separation of powers, checks, and balances, with the triangular benefits of a democracy where each branch of government adequately carries out its statutory duties. The executive must spearhead this. Why? Because the executive enforces the laws and bears the greatest onus.
General lawlessness comes about when the public knows that no one is prosecuted for his crimes and that chaos is the order, recognizing that those charged with the duty of constitutional oversight are usually the main culprits in that society. Aggressively change this culture by quickly making examples of major government criminals in the country, preferably a judge, legislator, or minister.
Rapidly put them through the legal system and publicly execute them if the penalty calls for that. Make peace with the fact that the public may not be on board at first because they are not used to rigid legal punishment but take solace in knowing that they will come around once they start to taste the fruits that legal order provides.
Your goal is not to appease but to protect peace, public order, and strict constitutional adherence. Fear no one and know that we will all perish, but do not ever accept that an entire people must expire simply to keep government criminals alive. Permanently, but legally neutralize them!
The Principles of The Constitution demand the supremacy of law in all things including equality, accountability, participation in national decision-making, legal certainty, and procedural and legal transparency. Full adherence to the law should always be non-negotiable; it must never be arbitrary! No one should ever be beyond the full reach of the law.
The controls of society are not suggestions; they rest on lawful commands and directives that must be strictly followed to maintain society in a stable state. Secondly, never feel pity for criminals who knowingly break the law and are getting their just rewards. Society must matter far above any one individual; this should go without saying.
Our order must be heavily grounded in The Constitution with full recognition that we all stand equal before the law. This includes bearing the full consequences of our actions even if those consequences are permanent isolation or “poles on South Beach”.
About the Author: Mr. Dualu is the author of a series of articles that provide solutions to Liberia’s countless socioeconomic problems. Some of those articles include: “The Liberian Dilemma”, “An Appeal to Liberian Common Sense” and “Institutional Governance is the only Hope for Liberia”. The author works as a financial professional out of Massachusetts.