Rudolph Johnson’s Proposal for National Conference Is the Right Approach

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Rudolph Johnson, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, was quite analytical in his speech to Liberians hailing from Grand Cape Mount County living in North America about problems affecting Liberia.

The one-time running mate to Liberian football super star- turned presidential candidate,  George Weah, identified a couple of problems facing Liberia’s socioeconomic development.

Among those problems were Liberia’s identity crisis, moral decay, and incompetent and corrupt leadership, including those of the past 12 years.

The decline in the moral conduct of Liberian religious institutions could not be left out of the social issues raised by the Liberian diplomat.

This moral decay has aroused an increase in the crime rate because religious teachings no longer impact members of the society as rape, stealing and other sins or offenses are dominating centers of worship, especially Christian churches and the wider society.

Another example of Liberia’s social malaise lies in the failure of our young people to take pride in their culture. So many of them are unwilling to wear Liberian national attire. Most of what we do here is a replica of Western culture or those of other African countries. Most Liberians, especially the younger generation, are ashamed of wearing country cloth or speaking their local languages.

The Government itself does not attach significance to our national identity. President William V. S. Tubman established the Department of Information and Cultural Affairs and later the National Cultural Center (NCC) at Kindejah on the Robertsfield Highway. The Center made a great contribution to cultural reawakening in Liberia, especially through the creation of the National Cultural Troupe, which participated in many international cultural festivals, including FESTAC (World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture) in Nigeria. Unfortunately, the current government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf sold the land on which the center operated and today Liberia has no Cultural Center.

Tubman’s successor, President William R. Tolbert, Jr. tried to make Kpelle, Liberia’s most widely spoken language, which he spoke fluently, to be a national language. But this noble idea and effort died with his assassination in 1980.

Moral values are long lost among Liberians as respect for the elderly has drastically declined. The young have become so recalcitrant (unruly), discourteous, selfish and bereft of decency in conduct and dressing.

Incompetence, as mentioned in Johnson’s speech, is indisputable as evidenced by the conduct of both public and private officials.

Incompetence is lack of physical, intellectual, or moral ability to perform certain duties (Webster). Comparing this definition with performances of most of our public officials, you will note that they are concerned more about money than anything else, and most certainly not performance.

The rapid spread of Ebola that killed thousands of our people was caused by gross incompetence of the Health Ministry to sensitize and devise means through which the disease could have been contained.

In spite of international support to the agriculture sector, the Ministry of Agriculture is still struggling to improve food production despite vast acreage of rich soils, many rivers, creeks, and streams and more than abundant rainfall. As a result of this poor performance, Liberians continue to rely heavily on imported rice, meats and other foods.

Social division is still undermining unity and reconciliation in Liberia. As manifested in our politics, Liberians vote not on the basis of competence of a person to lead, but on the basis of tribal, sectional or social connections.

In the current election, politicians use the loophole in the “political participation” clause to form multiple of parties that exacerbate the tribal and sectional divide.

Mr. Johnson lashed at Liberians, especially in the Diaspora, for their propensity to form tribal and county organizations, rather than those that unite our people.

In support of Johnson’s suggestion about hosting a National Conference for Liberians, the Daily Observer urges the incoming government to take seriously Minister Johnson’s proposal.

We believe that a National Conference is one best way to start the process of finding solutions to our many national problems.

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