Well Done Is Better Than Well Said

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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.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Talking of promises, President Weah realizing to his dismay that the government he inherited is flat broke, told his hosts in Senegal that he would need all the help they can offer were he to fulfill promises made to the long-suffering poor. The irony is that the elected government doesn’t have money, but the bosses
    of some income-generating and corruption-eradication institutions appointed by the old government have tenures extending their employment into the new. Are they being rewarded for making pervasive poverty of about 75% of Liberia’s population the greatest threat to public safety and stability? (Reports reaching us indicate that some of the poor in slum communities around Monrovia are suffering from a contagious skin disease probably for lack of access to clean water to cook, drink, and bathe).

    Liberia is too small a country for such blatant executive overreach. Tenure makes sense within the term of a government appointing the tenured employees; and, of course, outstanding performers may be retained, but not forced through gimmicks on an incoming govt. As a matter of fact, Chapter I, Article of the 1986 Constitution reads:

    “All power is inherent in the people…In order to ensure democratic
    government which responds to the wishes of the governed, the people
    shall have the right at such period, and in such manner as provided
    for in this cofnstitution, to cause their public servants to leave
    office and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments”.

    Many know that exception “to cause their public servants to leaveoffice and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments” are Supreme Court justices for the expressed purpose of keeping them beyond political manipulations. The question is, how the heck can President George Weah fund and implement pro-poor policies when key funding-related agencies are controlled by appointees of the former regime in violation of the constitution? Moreover, what was the purpose of voting were it not as the constitution intended for “the people to cause their public servants to leave office and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments”?

    Yet to make matters more mind-boggling, GAC and LACC bosses, who are hugging “tenures”, won’t do the job of investigating probably looted USD$ 445.15 million, which Central Bank Governor Weeks said was illegally transfered into private accounts abroad. No wonder the perception that tenures could be attempt at covering-up past corruption and economic crimes committed by officials in the past government.

    Well, whatever the truth, Weah and his government should be left to determine the course of the state. Because he alone, like we said elsewhere, will be blamed – if “blamed” is not an understatemet – for the failure of this administration. Nothing ever seemed normal about governance in Liberia, as evidenced by over 160 years of backwardness and disunity, but the probability of a rumored ‘co-pilot’ by the president apart from the vice president to steer the ship of state is outright cuckoo. Sekou Toure did that for Kwame Nkrumah when he was overthrowned as a gesture of regard, and Nkrumah knew that, for heaven’s sake!

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