‘Imperial Presidency’: Blamo’s Missed Opportunity, Ellen’s Challenge

0
843

Former Senator and former Internal Affairs Minister Blamo Nelson, we are sure, has a predictable response to his critics. They complain that he did not realize that Ellen was an ‘imperial President’ until he had lost his Senate seat in Grand Kru County and his job as Internal Affairs Minister.

His response, we are also certain: “Better late than never.”

Such a response, of course, does not mitigate (ease, diminish) the utter contempt which the Daily Observer’s online readers heaped upon him over the past week. Many argued vigorously that both as Senator and as Internal Affairs Minister, he had great opportunities to DO something about the ‘imperial’ nature of the Liberian presidency.

Both positions in government, at once high profile and powerful, his critics rightly contended, were very serious opportunities missed by Blamo. As Senator, he could have persuaded the President and his legislative colleagues to push the Governance Commission’s powerful and hopeful agenda—to give serious consideration to the GC’s historic challenge—to legislate its series of recommendations for the decentralization of government and the devolution of power. We will not say that Senator Nelson DID NOTHING toward this objective. We only ask, WHAT did he do?

After losing his Senate seat, Ellen gave him another posh (noble, high class) job—Internal Affairs Minister – one of the most powerful in government. That was THE GOL office from which to push decentralization. He could have mobilized the interior peoples, who comprise the nation’s powerful majority, with all their influential organizations, including the traditional societies—Poro, Sande, etc., paramount and clan chiefs – in order to bring pressure to bear on their legislators to pass some of the bills propelling the move toward the devolution of power—passing on to the people some of the President’s powers. Did Internal Affairs Minister Blamo Nelson do any of these?

This, once again, spells our frustration with the so-called progressives of the 1970s. They made all those noises against the Tubman and Tolbert governments, and as soon as their (the Progressives) time came to share the power and responsibilities of government, they fell flat on their faces.

Blamo Nelson was definitely one of them. As a staunch member of the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL), he was closest to Baccus Matthews. They organized April 14 rice demonstration that turned into the Rice Riots; and also the March demonstration demanding the resignation of President William R. Tolbert, Jr. Both of these demos led to Tolbert’s bloody overthrow and murder, and several PAL officials were immediately ushered into top positions of government. Baccus became Foreign Minister, succeeding the executed C. Cecil Dennis Jr.; PAL’s Legal Advisor, Chea Cheapoo, became Attorney General and led hundreds of Liberians to prison, many of whom never came out alive. PAL’s Oscar Quiah became Minister of Internal Affairs. Some say Blamo Nelson became the first post-coup GSA Director General.

Those in power in Liberia today must recall what they said and did in their resistance to past governments and now ask themselves: Have we done, or are we doing better now?

This question points directly to Blamo Nelson’s former boss, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was vehemently vocal against not only the Tolbert government, which she served twice as Assistant Finance Minister for Fiscal Affairs and later as Finance Minister, but also the Tubman administration and, of course, the Doe and Taylor administrations, both of which she helped remove.

Before her election she chaired the Governance Reform Commission, which later became the Governance Commission. Dr. Amos Sawyer and his team of officials and consultants did an effective job in developing all the recommendations toward decentralization and the devolution of power.

Everyone is wondering why it has taken President Sirleaf so long to push these through legislation. Here we are now, 10, going on to 11 years later, and she is still appointing County Superintendents, District Commissioners and City Mayors, and exposing herself to the accusation of being an ‘imperial President.’ Absolutely NO ONE expected that of her—NO! Not our beloved Ellen, who knew all the problems and pledged all the solutions to make a decisive difference to move Liberia decisively forward!

Tomorrow, when she is no longer President, will she fall into the same trap as has Blamo Nelson, severely criticizing her successor for being an ‘imperial President’?

We challenge her to use her remaining time in office to implement the devolution of power by legislating the GC’s many recommendations toward decentralizing the government.

Authors

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here