What Does It Mean to Be a Government Director?


You mean that the Director of Passports, working right under the noses of her own Minister—of Foreign Affairs—and the President of Liberia, two of the nation’s most senior officials, does not know what it means to be a Director in government?

Well, let us see how Webster defines a director: a. one who directs; b. the head of an administrative group or unit; c. a person who supervises the production of a corporate enterprise.

The Director of a passport division is one who directs the issuance of passports. The Passport Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs occupies a small space in the basement of the building that houses both the Foreign Ministry and the office of the President of Liberia. The space Passports occupies is not that big. So how is it that its Director claims not to have known what was happening right under her nose?

You mean she did not—or does she even now—maintain a daily, weekly or monthly log of the number of applicants, and how long it takes for each to receive his/her passport? What within a given week or month was the ratio between the number of applicants and the number of passports delivered in the same period? Has there ever been a log?

Did the Director of Passports have eyes looking daily on the performance of her staff and their interaction with the public, in order to detect any malfeasance or misfeasance, or simply the absence of ethical behavior in dealing with customers? How was it possible that people would complain bitterly every day, and even pay illicit fees for free application forms, and Madam Director knows not about this? Why then is she Director? As Christ asked Nicodemus, the man who came to Jesus by night, “Are you a ruler of the Jews and knoweth not these things?” Is Madam Director fully in charge of the Passport

Division and knows not what is happening daily, weekly, monthly and year-round to ALL of the passport applicants?

It has long been said that we Liberians are NOT SERIOUS people, that from school days people would vigorously seek positions and once elected, they fail to perform. The tasks of office are usually left to only a few, sometimes ONE person only, while the rest of the elected officials go missing in action—until the next election.

The time has come for each Liberian to reflect soberly on this tainting reality in our national character—the propensity to be irresponsible or lackadaisical in the face of the least responsibility we are given. This begins in our childhood in the home and continues through school. By the time we reach life—adulthood, when we are on our own, we are stuck with this now endemic don’t-care-fy attitude that follows us into the workplace.

It matters not whether we become ordinary staff, director, assistant minister or even minister in government. We do not realize that these are positions of leadership and we are expected to LEAD. As Nelson Mandela said in Long Walk to Freedom, when the people were asking for guns to revenge against the white people who had so long oppressed and killed them, he told his inner circle, We cannot revenge; we must forgive, to move our one country forward. We are their leaders and we must tell them what to do!”

But for the typical Liberian leader, anything goes. Even if someone is found involved in misconduct, it is typical to hear an official say, “I don’t want to take bread out of anyone’s mouth.” So the misconduct continues until crisis comes and everyone is ingloriously swept out.

When in most government offices people are urged to do their work, they often ask for “cold water” or “lunch” or even a bribe before pushing one paper to the next desk. Many government employees ask, “The thing J.J. Roberts started in 1847, is what you want me to finish today?”

What an insult to the intelligence, integrity, hard work and conscientiousness of the man who took the initiative leading to the founding of Africa’s first Republic! For the benefit of our readers, we publish today one of J.J. Roberts’ statements leading to independence, just to show how serious-minded he was.

The purpose of this Editorial is to plead with, urge, even beg our fellow Liberians to take every assignment conscientiously, creatively, honestly, seriously, patriotically.

How else can we build Liberia?


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