Shooting in Gbarnga: A Most Alarming and Dangerous Incident

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There was already a lot of bickering going on within the hall at last weekend’s Unity Party convention in Gbarnga. But outside, too, gunfire between the people who were supposed to have been there to protect the President and her guests? What in the world is going on within our security forces?

Daily Observer Assistant Editor C.Y. Kwanue, who was on the scene, reported that the incident occurred “a stone’s throw from the President’s convoy.” Some also say it was late in the evening and the President was about to depart for her residence. How more dangerous could it have gotten?

You mean security officers assigned to protect our President cannot behave themselves? Why were they part of the detail to Gbarnga—to protect the President of Liberia, or to look for liquor and women? It is said that the officer who discharged his weapon and the target of his discharge were quarreling over a prostitute. How disgraceful and, worse yet, treacherous can security officers get, totally unaware of their responsibility of protecting the Head of State of the Republic, a very serious assignment indeed!

This comes scarcely a week following the departure of UNMIL. Liberians have always been wary of the preparedness of our security forces to take over from UNMIL. A terrifying incident like this only indicates that our people are simply not ready. But UNMIL has been here since 2003, 13 years now; and during that period, our security forces—the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), the Liberia National Police (LNP), the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) and the Executive Protective Service (EPS) itself have undergone scores of training exercises in preparation for the takeover.

Yet, some of these people fail to exercise the simple matter of personal discipline on the job. What do alcohol and woman palava have to do with an assignment to protect the President of Liberia? You mean people deployed on so critical and sensitive an assignment have absolutely no idea of why they employed by the EPS? The two officers involved should be thoroughly investigated and dismissed from the service. The shooter, of course, should also be prosecuted and when found guilty of crime, made to spend time in prison and permanently removed from the EPS.

We conjecture that each of these security organizations within the Liberian government has its own set of rules and regulations and strict protocols of behavior on or off the job. All employees and officers in these organizations need to be drilled in these procedures. But even before people are employed in these highly sensitive systems, they should be most thoroughly screened to determine their level of personal discipline, their attitude toward work, their individual sense of responsibility and their mental and emotional stability.

But we realize that this is definitely one of the general problems with us Liberians—it is the absence of work ethic in our individual selves. What is work ethic?

Work ethic is the principle that hard work is essentially virtuous (good) and worthy of reward. Work ethic comes from what is known as the Protestant ethic—a concept in theology, economics and history which emphasizes that hard work, discipline and frugality (thrift, economizing, saving) are a result of a person’s embracing of the values espoused by the Protestant faith.

There are five principles that demonstrate a strong work ethic:
• Integrity—honesty, high moral standards
• Sense of responsibility—showing up for work on time; putting forward one’s best efforts to complete the job to the best of one’s ability
• Emphasis on quality—caring about the quality of one’s work; doing one’s best to produce a great work; commitment to quality
• Discipline – staying focused on the goal; determined to complete the assignment; demonstrating a high level of dedication to duty and
• Sense of team work—working together with others to meet the organization’s objectives; helping the team to meet its goals and deliver quality work; striving along with others to make the job smoother and more successful. Teamwork is underpinned by the notion that no one person can be successful all by themselves; people need people.

How many of us Liberians have this kind of approach to our work? Even many of us in the media lack work ethic. How many of us have integrity and a passion for quality in the work we do? How many of us know time; how many have a high sense of responsibility? How many of us know how to stay focused on the goals, determined to complete the assignment to the best of our ability?

We urge all our security forces—AFL, LNP, BIN and EPS—to make it a point to teach the work ethic to all of their officers and employees. It will definitely go a long way in helping them to take their work much more seriously.

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