By Torli Krua
After 170 years on the wrong track led by Liberia’s political elites, it’s time to make democracy work in Liberia by introducing a government of the people, by the people and for the people, starting with a constitution that empowers the people. In 2017, Liberians should not focus on the presidency or platforms of politicians or what candidates promise to do in 100 days or 1000 days because with widespread barbaric human sacrifices of innocent children during this election cycle, skyrocketing unemployment, excessive salaries and benefits of top officials and lawmakers Liberia’s current system of governance is rotten to the core, deadly, corrupt and broken. Liberia is going nowhere until we come together around the table of a national Sovereign Conference to create a blueprint of participatory democracy that respects the rights and dignity of all citizens.
Just as Coca-Cola is bad for human consumption, Coca-Cola’s Cummings is bad for Liberia. First of all, Cummings entire life was devoted to selling a product (Coke) that is of no nutritional value. Even so, Cummings has no understanding of democracy. Doubtless, he is following the footsteps of SIrleaf, to lead the country into utter chaos. Said Cummings: “The Sirleaf Administration has done a great deal for Liberia … establishing strong democratic institutions, freedom of speech, etc. We will reduce the salaries and allowances by 50%… double teacher’s salary to US$100…”
Contrary to Cummings’ claims of Sirleaf “establishing strong democratic institutions”, Sirleaf in fact decimated and demolished what was left of democracy in Liberia. Sirleaf usurped the power of the people by appointing all mayors in Liberia including cities she has never visited. Additionally, she appoints all heads of public corporations, all board members of public corporations and all governors of all political subdivisions and all supreme court justices. She appointed her son as head of the national oil company and he bankrupt the oil company. She also appointed her other son as head of national security.
What Mr. Cummings called “strong democratic institutions” is by any standard, patent dictatorship! Secondly, like Sirleaf, Cummings is out of touch for suggesting that he will cut 50% of top officials’ salaries of $15,000.00 monthly and double a teacher salary to $100USD. Lawmakers of his party have pledged to “reduce” their salaries by 50%. Can Mr. Cummins state the basis of the current salaries and benefits of $15,000.00 and his justifications for his 50% reduction? Why 50% and not 75% or 90% or 15%?
Mr. Cummings’ proposed $7,500USD salary is arbitrary and unjustifiable given Liberia’s cost of living, US$550 million dollars budget and the fact that this is the 4th poorest country on Earth. Cummings probably has no idea that lawmakers in the Coca-Cola home base of Georgia are paid US$17,480 yearly, with a FY-2016 budget of over US$47 billion dollars and the cost of living index for Atlanta, Georgia @ 160, far higher than the cost of living in Liberia. With Cummings’ US$7500 as salaries and benefits for top officials after his 50% cut in wages and Cummings’ school teacher with a family expected to survive on Cummings’ double monthly salary of US$100 a month, we have a government of the elites, by the elites and for the elites. Mr. Cummings, democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. No company will survive if employees set their own salaries and benefits as African politicians do, leaving inadequate funds for education, health and infrastructures. Neither Sirleaf nor Cummings represent democracy.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that Liberia’s system of governance is broken, deadly and corrupt. After 170 years on the wrong track with a dictatorships, endemic corruption, widespread illiteracy, unemployment, Liberia needs a fresh start with. Instead of ambitious know-it-all folks coming to try their hands at the presidency, I call on Cummings and others to first and foremost focus on creating a new system of governance. All citizens must come together to design a blueprint for a country that advances the common good at a Sovereign National Conference. WE must create a new constitution and abandon the old flawed and crooked Constitution of 1986 and Sirleaf’s draft designed by the elites. The new Constitution must empower the people by giving the people input in setting the salaries and benefits of their public servants based on the cost of living index, directly propose good laws without the permission or approval of elected officials like the president or legislators, recall corrupt officials even before their term is over and repeal bad laws passed by legislators. There is one boss in a republic and it’s not the president or lawmaker, it’s the citizen. Irrespective of high illiteracy and poverty participatory democracy can work in Liberia because democracy is based on our common humanity, not social class or education. Besides, many technological gadgets made elsewhere such as cars, air planes, cell phones, computers, and radios, and television work in Liberia for those who own the gadget and turn them on.