Congratulations are in order for the newspaper and columnists who over the last days have paid tribute to the efforts of Mr. William A. Cox for trying to bring some relief to the poor motorists of Monrovia.
But Liberians being Liberians, it was not surprising to discover that already people have begun to impute sinister motives to Mr. Cox, expressed in the now overworked phase, “hidden agenda”. Someone has said that our civil crisis has made us, as a people, nervous, doubting reticent, and suspicious of everyone and everything. We have been fooled, lied to, and taken for ride so many times, that we now reflexively react negatively to any action, movement, or initiative of others, especially from public servants or prominent citizens.
We should try and overcome this growing tendency in our society. And if it is asking too much to suggest that we divest ourselves of such behavior, then the least we could do is to look for the potential for good, before condemning or dismissing his actions as motivated by a hidden agenda.
And yet, what if one’s actions are motivated by a hidden agenda? A hidden agenda is not necessarily an evil agenda. My grandmother was fond of saying that the Lord will provide, even if the devil has to bring it. While the Council of State slumbered and the Ministry of Public Works slept, Mr. Cox showed that where there is a will, there is a way. Riding from Paynesville to the center of Monrovia now, we are being freed of the many potholes and craters that punctured our tires, damaged our front suspensions, and wreaked our shock absorbers. That is good, regardless of any hidden agenda Mr. Cox may have.
It has been said that Mr. Cox wants to be Minister of Public Works or high official of the incoming government, or the perhaps he is positioning himself to run for public office in the future. Let us, for the sake of the discussion; grant that Mr. Cox does indeed aspire to public office. Is he to be condemned therefore because he tries to serve the people? Shouldn’t those who want to govern us demonstrate in advance what they can do? And in any case, can the existence of a hidden change the fact that our potholes are being filled? Will those potholes reappear if it were to be revealed the Mr. Cox has a hidden agenda? It seems to me that we need to ask ourselves such questions before we condemn or dismiss the efforts o well-meaning citizens.
In any case, hidden agenda or not, Mr. Cox is already, in the minds of the vast majority of the grateful citizens of this city, the unofficial but real minister of public works. If any construction company deserves s shot at the fat juicy contract to repair the Executive Mansion, it s the Aquila Construction Company. The amount Mr. Cox is sending out of his own pocket, as well as what is being donated by appreciative residents, is not what is of greater importance here. Rather, it is the neglect making a living for himself and his family to do for the people of this city what those appointed to do have failed to do.
We understand that already the long knives are our for Mr. Cox. He’s tampering with government property without authorization, it is said. But is there any government authority left? Suppose Mr. Cox had gone to the government to begin his project. It would have failed before getting off the ground. Remember, this is Liberia. Those to make decisions would have been more concerned with the glory that would go to Mr. Cox and not to them, and with what personal benefit they could acquire from the project, not what good it would do for the people. That is our curse, and that is why there is overwhelming support for the fact that Mr. Cox simply went ahead and did what he felt was necessary to relieve the suffering of the people.
Late last Saturday I passed Speaker Morris Dukuly leaving the Spriggs Payne Airport. He was soaked with perspiration and visibly exhausted, as we were other members of his TLA committee. The Speaker and his colleagues had been on another of their first aid missions to the Airport. These men took the initiative that those charged with the responsibility failed to do, and positive results crowned their efforts. Like Mr. Cox, they proved that where there is vision and dynamism, as these efforts of our lawmakers are, there have already been criticisms, and an impugning of the motives f the Speaker.
Really! We must grow up and act like matured beings. We cry incessantly that public servants are too busy filling their own coffers to think about our welfare. But when a public servant or prominent citizen comes along who for once thinks about the public good rather than personal gain, we are ready to cry them down. IS this not one of the reasons why we can’t find peace? It seems that no matter who does what, the Liberian man and woman will never be satisfied. Maybe that’s the reason some public servants say to themselves: “To hell with those fools. I’m damn if I do, and damned if I don’t, so I might as well just look out for me, myself and I, and forget about them.”
I do not suggest that we should embrace all actions by everyone as altruistic. What we need to do is to examine each action on its merits. But I am prepared to go further. Even if someone has a hidden agenda to obtain some personal benefit for his actions, as long as the action brings benefit to the public, and as long as whatever benefit he will receive is not unlawful or illegal, I am prepared to welcome his actions.
I say we need more Liberians like Mr. Cox and Speaker Dukuly. I don’t care what their politics are, or what hidden agendas they have in the closet. If they set out to improve the lot of the people, I grant them the privilege to have an agenda. I see nothing wrong with serving the people today because one aspires to public office tomorrow, or to enhance his esteem in the perpetual life of misery and suffering. (Oh yes, add Councilman Dexter Tahyor for his efforts on the food distribution problems.)
The Liberian people are sick and tired of endless peace conferences. They want action; positive action. And they are disgusted that the warlords continue to subject the country to death and destruction while they argue over one lone stinking seat. Why not in the meantime stop the fighting and let people live to see Christmas and the New Year, and then take all the time you want to argue over the elephant meat? Is this asking too much for the country you came to liberate? Remember Doe has been of our backs going on five years! As for hidden agendas, you can have a million, just address, as Messrs Cox, Dukuly and Taylor are doing, our life and death problems: do something about the desperate public transport problem, the sky-high cost of living, and the foreign exchange crisis.
For my money, people like Mr. Cox and his workers, Speaker Dukuly and his colleagues, are at this moment the real heroes of our country. They are the true role models for our youth. They are the people who have proven that they are indeed excellent and honorable. Greatness lies in service to our fellow men, not in slaughtering them and relating them to a chaos and misery.
Give us electricity to save us from the armed robbers. BUT ABOVE ALL, GIVE US PEACE FOR CHRISTMAS: do this, and you can have a million hidden agendas.