Tolbert Nyenswah, Director of the Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), was one of such persons in the ongoing University of Liberia’s commencement to receive huge applause for calling on the government and other stakeholders to prioritize Liberian technocrats to build the country.
He made the call on December 5, 2018 when he served as commencement speaker for the Thomas J.R. Faulkner College of Science and Technology.
Using Liberian technocrats means creating employment; lifting people out of poverty and creating an enabling environment for citizens to build wealth and develop passion for what they learnt.
It is no argument that contracts in Liberia are mostly awarded to foreigners including Lebanese, Indians and other nationals instead of Liberians when, in fact, they should be given preference in line with their inherent rights as citizens of the country.
We recall how Liberians, because of less importance their leaders attach to them, are inhumanely treated by foreigners in workplaces. The Farmington Hotel, Mamba Point Hotel and Royal Grand Hotel have in recent times been in the media for labor malpractices.
Most of them are even losing interest and ideas of what they learnt in the classroom because of lack of jobs.
The Daily Observer cannot also exclude itself from supporting such an advocacy because it is known for frowning on the idea of placing foreigners at the top of Liberian businesses when the majority of the people are at the bottom of their economy.
However, there are other things to take into consideration as the need for allowing Liberian technocrats to build the country takes a center stage.
Many Liberians are known for being very insincere and dishonest, thereby discouraging investors from trusting them. It can be recalled that the first road building contract after the war was awarded to engineers of the Ministry of Public Works in 2007 to construct the Jallah Town road.
Residents along that road in the Sinkor and Plunkor belts could not withhold the secret to disclose how the Public Works engineers sold the steel rods and cement to potential purchasers thus leaving the road poorly constructed. When former President Sirleaf’s convoy plied the road during its opening, the entire environment turned dusty as the concrete was breaking apart.
The contract was later awarded to a Chinese company, and this is how the road was rebuilt between 2009 and 2010.
The act exhibited by those Public Works engineers is very common in Liberia. Some contractors, when hired to build a house, sometimes steal the materials, costing the owner of the project great additional and unforeseen expenses and terrible delays and sacrifices to the quality of the work.
Liberian builders, after signing a contract to implement a project will abandon that project for another, giving excuses of all kinds. Many people who bear this experience rather prefer hiring Ghanaians, Guineans or other foreign nationals to do their work instead of Liberians.
Research has shown that Liberian civil servants and other appointed public officials go to work late and leave soon. Some sign in the attendance book and leave for other areas of personal interest, or ask friends to sign in and out on their behalf.
Most public servants and appointed officials, instead of serving the country, use their offices to embezzle state funds and divert other public properties to their personal use.
It can be recalled that when the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration was turning over to the Weah Administration, public officials attempted spraying and taking away vehicles that were assigned them.
We also recall when some defeated lawmakers cleared office equipment that were in their offices and took them away.
In the business setting, customer service is so poor that sellers make buyers to feel less important in a transaction; attempting to set the impression that the buyer’s dollar is not important to the business. Liberian business people also charge for goods and services heavily, but do not provide those basic things satisfactorily.
Yes, we agree that giving preference to Liberian technocrats to build the country is in the right direction, but if that should be — the technocrats themselves should work on their behaviors to build public trust. Without trust it will be difficult for institutions and individuals wanting goods and services to trust Liberian technocrats.