President Weah’s True Test of Leadership: Regaining The Confidence of the Liberian People

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John C Maxwell defines leadership in this way, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” The 34th President of United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, once said, “The supreme quality of leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

As regards leadership, honesty and integrity are key and essential qualities which make a good leader. A leadership lacking in these qualities cannot expect their followers to be honest. A clear recipe for failure is the inability of a leadership to remain true to core values and beliefs and the general lack of ethics.

President Weah once said, recently, that when he was playing football in Europe, he never once engaged in diving or other forms of cheating to win. He made this point to a group of investors during his recent travel abroad in a bid to assure them of the transparent nature of his government.

Whether or not those investors took him for his word remains unclear. What is however, important to note is the fact that transparency is a hallmark quality of good and effective leadership. However, a review of this government’s performance leaves a lot to be desired.

Government officials have been less than honest in their dealings with the Liberian people. A case in point is the current issue of delayed salary payments to civil servants owing to what is being experienced as an acute shortage of Liberian dollars. Without mincing words, the shortage of Liberian dollars is directly linked to the missing billions, the US$25 million infusion and the failure of President Weah to compel compliance of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to allow fraud investigators to do a physical count of monies held in its vaults.

To date the CBL has never been able to tell the Liberian people just how much is in circulation or how much money is being held in the CBL’s vaults or to where the ‘vanished’ L$16 billion went since the Finance Minister has repeatedly insisted that no money went missing.

Granted that no money did go missing, how come the CBL is instead putting mutilated notes in circulation when there should be no shortage of Liberian dollar banknotes? Instead, President Weah has written the Legislature requesting the printing of an additional L$4 billion Liberian dollar banknotes.

Currently, former CBL officials including its Executive Governor and his deputy are facing criminal charges relating to what the charges referred to as the overprinting of Liberian dollar banknotes. Even the Crane Currency which printed the banknotes was criminally charged for printing excess banknotes.

It is contradictory therefore that President Weah would be writing the Legislature requesting the printing of new banknotes when new banknotes are already being introduced into circulation. According to some senators, since their recall from recess by President Weah, he has not met with them on a single occasion to discuss his all-important matter but has instead elected to write the Legislature requesting their authorization to print new banknotes when the notes are already in circulation.

Further, according to the senator (name withheld), the President’s letter can be considered analogous to an invitation to partake in criminality because the notes are already printed and have been introduced into circulation, despite widely bandied press reports that the matter is under consideration by the Legislature.

And all this is been done in the name of finding money to pay civil servants who have already commenced a go-slow strike action. The financial situation facing the country is indeed grave and to compound it the Liberian people are being told one story after another, leaving them in a state of confusion.

This demonstrated lack of honesty and transparency in national governance, especially regarding fiscal and monetary policy actions, is a major cankerworm eating away the nation’s finances. Plainly stated, managers of the nation’s fiscal and monetary arrangements have miserably failed but have instead enriched themselves according to a top diplomatic source.

Officials have a penchant for making policies on the fly, which have yielded no tangible results but instead worsened the situation which amounts to a shitshow which now appears headed for a total clusterfuck of unmanageable proportions, as increased amounts of the illegally printed banknotes are introduced into circulation.

And with all this happening, Education Minister Ansu Sonie, apparently out of fear of protest actions by students, as experienced recently when students abandoned classes and took to the streets in solidarity with their striking teachers, has ordered the immediate closure of all public schools in response to the ultimatum by teachers to commence strike action should GoL fail to make their salaries current.

Does this Minster honestly expect, in light of past experience, that private schools like the one he owns and operates, will remain unaffected by current developments? He must be fooling himself to think so. And to say the least, the Minister’s action has incensed the public and there is no guarantee that private schools will continue to keep their doors open while those of pubic schools remain shut. This is just another example of a shitshow which if not salvaged in time could also result in a total clusterfuck with unknown proportions.

And in all this, President Weah has maintained a stony silence while the tempest rages around him. He has failed to speak directly to his people, preferring to do so instead through surrogates who, in the eyes of the Liberian people, have no standing or credibility.

Such aloofness, feigned or real, is a hallmark trait of a failed leadership and the sooner President Weah realizes this, the better it will be for him and the rest of us as a nation. He should not lose sight of the fact that he is the leader of the nation and nobody else. Regaining the lost confidence of the Liberian people is a critical challenge he must face if he is to succeed and he must do so sooner than later.

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