By: Kadiker Rex Dahn, MA, M.Ed, PhD
Members of the Congress of Democratic Change, relentlessly continue to argue that the government under the stewardship of President Weah belongs to them and no one else. Political hustlers with inconsistent character who were given part of the national cake based on arrangement for endorsement, alienated their citizens and sold their portion.
As such, whether capable or incapable massive recruitments continue and the wage bill is at an astronomical level. The economic situation in the Country is disturbing and certainly has created mixed feelings and anxiety among citizens. There are delays in salary payments presumably across the board in every entity in government.
To borrow from the Novel, Animal Farm, there are many Squealers who continue to offer relativistic interpretations and solutions to the unfolding economic situation in the Country. Squealer was a crook and disingenuous character who deceptively and consistently gave misguided and corrupted interpretations of the Animals’ Constitution even though the fabric of the Animals’ existence was being undermined, eroded and destroyed.
President Weah, beware of these Squealers and Judases because in my mind, they are pushing you to the periphery and at the same time undermining you with reckless advice, statements and recommendations. As an academician and one interested in education, my attention is drawn to your pronouncement as it relates to free education in public universities and colleges in Liberia.
The purpose of this article, His Excellency is to argue that you were ill-advised and those who advised you to make such pronouncement without counting the cost, are Squealers and Judases dancing and dining with you yet creating serious political hurdles for you.
Almost a year ago, President Weah, flanked by Cabinet Ministers and trusted lieutenants, drove to the University of Liberia main campus on Capitol Hill and pronounced free education in all public tertiary institutions. I am convinced that the President’s advisors especially the Economic Advisor gave approbation to the pronouncement.
I am also certain as a matter of protocol and good governance that the President sought advice from the Economic Management Team he constituted. Members of this Economic Team, it is assumed, are experts in financial matters. These experts analyzing the current economic situation and projecting future trend advised the President to make such a pronouncement.
I am also certain that President Weah’s current Minister of Education who spent decades at the University of Liberia in administrative positions and who is very knowledgeable about difficulties and constraints at the University of Liberia and other educational institutions in the Republic equally advised the President to make such pronouncement.
I wonder whether the leaderships of various public universities and colleges who are very well aware of their economic struggles in their respective places of work were consulted before such pronouncement? If affirmative, I maintain that they are equally Judases and the President must seriously rethink their action of duplicity and deception.
However, as a former Deputy Minister of Education and Deputy Director General, National Commission on Higher Education, who is fully aware of the economic constraints in education, I am of the strong conviction that public universities and colleges’ leaderships did not approve of such a measure because by doing so would be tantamount to self-annihilation.
If my assertion is correct, who then should be actual culprits in pushing the President to making such pronouncement? Concisely conceived, I am pointing fingers at the Economic Advisor and the Economic Management Team. On the broader level, I am pointing fingers at the National Chairman, Executive of the Congress of Democratic Change and the Coalition of Democratic of Change. The President has been misled and tension may be mounting at public universities and colleges.
If lecturers from public universities and colleges are not paid, they will be forced to abandon classes. If lecturers refuse to go to classes, students may demand government to pay their lecturers since those are public institutions. If these things begin to happen, academic activities at these universities and colleges will be stalled and Weah as the President of the Country will be forced to address and mitigate self-created tension.
Judases Dining and Dancing with the President
His Excellency, on radio talk shows and in local dailies, reckless statements continue to emanate from individuals who are claiming to love you and yet in reality, cannot ably defend your government to the international community.
In other nations of the world, when the economic situation is at the level like what we currently have in Liberia, to help the President and the Government, a Congressional Delegation headed by the Speaker usually visits economic power houses like the United States and European Countries to lobby for economic aids and bilateral agreements.
One must ask, the President knowing what he knows about the current Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Republic Liberia, who is number three in succession — is he nationally and internationally fit to undertake such measure?
If he is not able to take such measure, why allow such a person to occupy a critical and prestigious position like the Speaker of House of Representatives? Since in politics, it is always proper to get a Speaker from the Ruling Party, was there no better candidate apart from this current Speaker?
Can some members of the House of Representatives and individuals opposing recommendation made to the President to think outside of the box proffered by Hon. Edwin Melvin Snowe ably lobby and represent our government to the international community?
Can tainted characters that sooner or later will be picked up by INTERPOOL, who are protecting themselves with inconsistent political utterances and rhetoric, lobby on behalf of the government in the United States and European Countries?
What’s the benefit of accepting advice from such individuals? Be careful with some of these political crooks whose main aims are self-protection and economic aggrandizement. Indeed, there are too many Judases dancing and dinning with President Weah for selfish reasons.
Compounding the situation is the President’s inability to travel to the United States on a State visit to meet United States’ Congressional Leaders and the President of the United States. Attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York is not enough. Again, His Excellency, is it because your International Advisor and Cabinet advised you not to engage the United States?
What is the international relationship of these advisors with the West especially the United States of America? Your inability to go for a State visit to the United States is a serious international and political mistake. In this age, no country can economically and peacefully survive without the blessings of the United States. Fact: the United States Government has power to enforce all decisions.
Recommendations/The way Forward
Gabriel Baccus Matthews, one of our progressive fathers once said of President Sirleaf’s election in 2005, “this is the President all of us did not vote for but this is the President all of us have”. In the same way, His Excellency, a number of Liberian professionals and citizens including this author did not vote for you during the 2017 General elections.
Whether we voted for you or not, you are the President of this Country and therefore President for all; failure is not an option because failure will be detrimental to the young people who reposed their confidence in you and elected you as their President; similarly, the indigenous class of which this author is a member may be tainted with incompetence.
To the best of my knowledge and analysis, members of the opposition block are not your enemies. Solicit opposition’s views on all these important issues. As a way forward, I recommend the following: Apologize to the nation and the university’s students community and recant your decision as it relates to free education. “One cannot eat crab with shame” Liberian adage says. Let students pay half of their tuition and government helps with the other half. There is nothing free in the world especially when one is from a third world country like Liberia.
Consider and implement the recommendations from Hon. Edwin Melvin Snowe as it relates to constituting a new Economic Management Team where actual professionals with friendly international faces will be brought into the government. Reshuffle your government; recruit professional and honest Liberians who will not just be praise singers.
The United States of America is Liberia’s traditional friend. None of the country the President visited thus far since coming to power can do better than the United States. Bring in Career Diplomats with friendly faces who, can mitigate and repair the damage of alienation with the Government of the United States and fight corruption.
About the author: Kadiker Rex Dahn holds a PhD in Historical, Philosophical and Social Foundations of Education from the university of Oklahoma. He formerly served as a Deputy Minister of Education and Deputy Director General, National Commission on Higher Education. He is a member of the North America Scholar Consortium, membership with Highest Honor.