By Rufus S. Berry II, MBA
The job of a cabinet minister in the Liberian government or a mayor is an extraordinary one. You are picked from among your peers, by the President of the Republic, to be a chief decision maker and a joint leader of a large and complex organization that you may know absolutely nothing about.
Temporarily, your new role commences the moment you’re appointed by the President – perhaps with some instruction from the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs about the President agenda and vision for the country and what he would like you to do; perhaps you might not get any instruction at all. Officially, your new role starts immediately after you’re confirmed by the Liberian Senate, and it’s certainly is a great privilege and most likely the highlight of your political/professional career.
Your boss, the President has broad powers to manage national affairs and the priorities of the Liberian government. He has the authority to issue rules, regulations, and instructions called executive orders, which have the binding force of law upon all government entities but do not require approval of the Liberian legislature. The president appoints you at ‘his will and pleasure’ and you at all times should be conscious of the fact that your job in President Weah’s administration is an incredible opportunity but it’s also temporary, however well you perform. One day the President could decide that it is time for a reshuffle, and you could leave the ministry or city hall just as suddenly as you entered it – hopefully having averted disasters and achieved your policy goals.
The President in his inaugural address promised to do everything in his power to be the agent of positive change. But he cannot do it alone, and this is where he needs you to help him create the ‘Change’ that will positivity affect the Liberian people with the goal of changing the fabric of the Liberian society, especially in developing additional accountability within the administration, drastically reduce corruption as it is the archenemy of development and educating our people so that they have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves. I couldn’t agree more with President Weah when he said, “the foundation of the New Liberia must be reinforced by the steel of integrity.”
Being a minister or a mayor is undoubtedly a damn hard work. Everybody will want you to pay attention to their issues, speak at their events, make the decisions, they might even go as far as asking you to solve some of their personal problems like paying their children school fees, paying their rent, paying their hospital bills, giving (not loan) them money to start their businesses, purchasing their airline tickets to travel abroad. (Note: You can’t solve everyone’s problems.) You should at all times have the genuine desire and drive to get things done; to deliver on the promises and demonstrate the values on which you were appointed, and for which the CDC was prodigiously elected by the Liberian people. You will all get some life storms and the road will be rough at times, but you should never be frustrated when your efforts to shape policy are slowed down.
As the former US President Barack Obama said, “a true patriot is someone who’s armed with a brilliant mind, a big heart, and an insatiable desire to give back to his country, someone who devotes his/her life to empowering people and making government work better for all of its citizens. A patriot works tirelessly to give citizens a louder voice in the society and pushes for more transparency in government and to ensure opportunity for all.”
Let’s give our new government the chance to work for the Liberian people, and stop judging the President and his new administration on every word that is uttered, every hour, and instead hold him accountable over time for the implementation of policies under which he ran and promised to deliver for the Liberian people, especially in the battle against corruption. All Liberians who believe in transparency, accountability, and rule of law have a moral duty to speak out. We need to realize that public office is not to be used to enrich individuals at the expense of the general citizenry. We must live by principle. Otherwise, we as a nation will have no safety, no progress, no patriotism, and no trust in the government. Now is the time for the new Liberia to resolve one of its primary problems that stems from entrenched graft and nepotism. It has long been established that Liberia functions like a small town where everyone in government knows everybody. Many people are related to each other. There is an, “I’ll stroke your back, if you stroke mine,” mentality. We need strong and forceful minsters and mayors to oversee and end misuse of taxpayer’s dollars.
God bless you all and we wish you well in your various government positions. The nation is with you, and together, we pledge allegiance to the flag of Liberia and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Mama Liberia will Rise Again.