Shortly after Representative Yekeh Kolubah disclosed to the media that he had been reliably informed that President Weah had ordered the arrest of organizers of the protest, the Liberia National Police moved in, firing tear gas canisters and deploying its water cannon, spraying hot water on the assembled crowd. There were of course some injuries. Later, the Police claimed that a vehicle laden with arms had been arrested and that the vehicle belonged to Representative Yekeh Kolubah.
However journalists who were on the scene reported that the vehicle in question was searched by Police right in their presence and there were no arms aboard, although the driver of said vehicle was reportedly brutalized by Police officers. The vehicle was then driven off by a Police officer to the grounds of the National Police Headquarters. Later the Police announced that arms had been discovered aboard the vehicle much to the disbelief of the public and journalists who witnessed the search before the vehicle was driven away by the Police.
President George Weah, no doubt must have been closely watching the situation from afar and it is hardly likely that Police officers acted on their own. Whatever the case, the reaction or overreaction of the government to this protest is replete with unknown consequences. For now, the GoL may have appeared to score a temporary victory with protesters running helter-skelter from the violence unleashed against them by the Police. But who knows what may follow in the wake of this violent crackdown?
From the look of things there appeared to be a clear lack of leadership on both sides. On the part of the Council of Patriots (CoP), their goals and objectives appear to be shifting and this has tended to create a level of confusion amongst their supporters and as well as that of the public.
Further, when it was revealed by Representative Yekeh Kolubah that President Weah had ordered the Police to effect the arrest of Protest organizers, principal leaders in persons of Senator Darius Dillon, Henry Costa and others had virtually disappeared from the scene, leaving Representative Kolubah the lone figure manning the barricades, so to speak.
Similarly, the leadership of the Liberia National Police, including the Chairman of the Joint Security, Justice Minister Musah Dean, was visibly absent and it remains unclear at this point under whose command the security officers were acting. This newspaper has consistently warned against the use of violence or inflammatory rhetoric, yet it appears that such warnings have gone unheeded.
That this government has spent less than half of its term in office and that it may be a little too early to draw foregone conclusions about the direction in which the country appears headed yet, there are troubling signs which cannot be ignored. Runaway corruption and the general lack of accountability as well as poor economic policies pursued by this government, which is inducing extreme hardships on the people, are matters which cannot be ignored or dismissed with a wave of the hand.
President Weah has to step up to the plate and govern the country properly, thereby putting an end to pervasive corruption and impunity. And he cannot continue to proceed as though the concerns of the people do not matter whether or not they appear to be speaking through Henry Costa or Yekeh Kolubah or anyone else. These are concerns shared not only by the opposition but by his supporters as well.
The leaked Mulbah Morlu recordings in which the CDC chairman is heard complaining about the conduct of the government under the leadership of President Weah. Morlu, for instance, admitted that Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and Minister of State Nathaniel McGill are the two most widely hated public figures in this government; yet President Weah has remained impervious, for whatever reasons to popular calls for their removal or dismissal.
Morlu, for example, lamented that a lady who prior to now had served in the employ of the UB as a driver, suddenly found herself catapulted into the office of Human resource manager at the National Port Authority and then later as head of the Liberia National Petroleum Corporation (LPRC). And these are some of the very concerns weighing on the minds of the public.
What this country’s problem is, in the opinion of this newspaper, is the lack of leadership and this a widely shared view of most Liberians. For example, leaders of the Council of Patriots (CoP) probably with the exception of Representative Yekeh Kolubah should have remained at the scene of the protest rather than abandoning their supporters and fleeing for the safety of their lives almost immediately after word had broken out that President Weah had ordered their arrest.
Similarly, President Weah is the leader of this country and he is expected to demonstrate true leadership in these crucial times and should not pander to base sentiments no matter how appealing such may appear. In the final analysis, he shall bear full responsibility for whatever direction this country heads into as a result of his style of leadership.
Liberia indeed suffers a critical lack of leadership, a leadership committed to service and not to be served else, generations to come shall pay a steep price.