Making big promises during takeover and at confirmation hearing is customary in contemporary Liberian political culture. This is so because those seeking positions want to convince the people about their capabilities to handle the tasks given them or to be given them.
Unlike structured or unstructured interviews that determines employment for an individual on the basis of what he/she can prove before the interviewing panel; presidential appointees or political job seekers on the other hand, are high on big promises to convince Senators to confirm them.
Why are big and unfulfilled promises usually the norm in confirmation proceedings? One major reason is that Legislators usually appear disinclined to hold public officials accountable for what they say and do.
This is why some lawmakers who were repeatedly accused of misapplying funds including Ebola money were retained by popular vote because an immensely popular President George Weah told his followers to vote them into public office.
We are beginning to hear big promises again as nominees appear before the Senate for confirmation. Two of those officials-designate, Cllr. Musa Dean, Minister of Justice-designate, and Robert W. Budy, Deputy Police Commissioner for Operation, are in the news promising what they propose to do in their capacities to strengthen their respective institutions.
Cllr. Dean during the hearing on Monday, February 19, promised to send to the National Legislature a number of bills, some of which will seek to extend the term of court and grand jury. He also promised to curtail overcrowding at the Monrovia Central Prison by effectively prosecuting cases.
Robert Budy on the other hand promised that when confirmed, he will reactivate the Police Patrol Division in addition to other activities he says are still dormant. No one can question the potentials of these appointees in responding to problems that they want to address.
However, from their public service records, there are some concerns that must be highlighted. Police Deputy Inspector-designate, Budy served previously as Deputy Commissioner for Operations at the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) where Liberia is reported to have lost millions of dollars in illegal entry of aliens including the issuance of work permits.
He was a top administrator, among others, under whose watch thousands of illegal aliens entered the country, consequently leading to the loss of millions of dollars. What new is he bringing, or what difference can he make at the Liberia National Police that he could not make at the LIS? Was he misplaced when he served at the LIS?
Lawyers are those who by their profession are sworn to provide legal services to accused persons however culpable they may appear in the eyes of the public. In the surreptitious and mysterious death of Angel Tokpah, Cllr. Dean served as defense lawyer who, to the consternation and dismay of women and child rights advocates, successfully represented his clients and eventually secured their release from further detention as well as dismissal of the murder charges against them.
He also served as the legal counsel for the National Elections Commission (NEC) that found itself mired in accusations of corruption and impropriety and whose actions nearly plunged the country into crisis.
So, are promises made to the Liberian people by suave and smooth talking politicians something to trust given all that we know about the nature of the Liberian political class? We hope that this time political appointees will be very conscious and conscientious about what they promise the people of Liberia.
Let not these newly appointed officials, like others before them, delude themselves into believing that Liberians will always remain complacent and indifferent to their shenanigans. When we carefully analyze the way Liberians voted in the last Legislative elections, voters retained those incumbent lawmakers who made a difference and stood out from the rest.
In this regard, Cllr. Charles Gibson who Cllr. Dean is to replace if confirmed is a classic example. The public including the media rejected him when he was appointed by the President. The call for his rejection continued until President George Weah withdrew the nomination finally.
Let our newly appointed officials making promises be aware that Liberians are keenly watching and listening to them, and that their failure to make good on their lofty promises will not bode well for their future political sojourn.
It is always better to say little and do more than to make big promises with little or nothing done. This is why, in our opinion, the words of the great inventor, Benjamin Franklin “Well done is better than well said” resonates so strongly.