The year 2020 slowly grinds to an end with Christmas celebrations now behind us. For most Liberians, Christmas this year has been one of the most difficult – very dry, so to speak in local parlance. Many Liberian families went to bed hungry, we are told.
And for them this was the first time ever perhaps that they have gone to bed hungry on Christmas Day.
Now, the opening of school is right around the corner and most parents are genuinely worried and apprehensive of looming prospects that their children may not be able to enter school because they may not afford tuition and other expenses for uniforms, books etc.
Meanwhile, the economic situation continues to worsen by the day and, as the year 2021 gradually emerges from the shadows, there appears to be no signs that the year 2021 may be any better than 2020.
The country’s debt burden continues to increase and IMF imposed structural adjustment policies are taking a toll on the poor as public spending on health and education are strictly curtailed under such programs. The GoL “Salary Harmonization” scheme has more than anything tended to heighten income inequality especially in view of runaway public sector corruption.
What then does 2021 hold in store for Liberians as they look forward to its coming? The year 2020, in the view of many Liberians who spoke to this newspaper was very Important because it made clear to President Weah that he is losing the confidence of the Liberian people because of the policies which his government is pursuing.
It has also provided him the perfect opportunity, according to them, to assess and reassess his policies as well as the performance of his lieutenants on whose shoulders he has placed enormous responsibilities and in whom he has placed immense trust.
Now, whether he (President Weah) realizes this remains unclear. However, he cannot continue to disregard popular calls for a change of direction except, of course, he does not intend to change things around.
Sources say he does indeed wish to turn things around.
But he has around him, according to analysts, a coterie of advisors, a potpourri of scumbags, carpetbaggers, wannabes and shady businessmen which makes a sudden volte face a very difficult challenge to which his weaker side may not resist.
That said, President Weah should realize that he is the leader of the nation who the people look to for a change in the lives. And if there should be a change in their lives at all, it is about time he does away with dysfunctional governance.
Scores of people including foreign diplomats, have told this newspaper that the international community has come to the realization that governance under President Weah is being led by reckless individuals whose policy actions have been characterized by a series of shitshows and clusterfucks.
And if governance continues to be characterized by such traits, and if the economic situation continues to retrogress, they warn, the country could easily slip into renewed conflict or the economy could simply implode.
Such a scenario, according to them, could lead to widespread public unrest which could possibly lead to the violent overthrow of the government through popular mass action.
The danger, is according to the diplomats, is that such a situation could succeed in creating a vacuum into which the military could be sucked.
This is primarily because of the generally weak nature of the country’s political parties. Most Liberian political parties, according to their observation, are parties of individuals and not parties of the people.
Most are led by individuals with the deepest pockets and tend to make decisions on behalf of others which may not necessarily be in their interests.
This weakness on the part of political parties, according to sources was most clearly revealed during the search for a lasting peace in the country.
Sources say that none of the political parties were strong enough to demand a say in peace negotiations and perhaps that was why ECOWAS’ peace formula appeared to have been based on awarding political power to the biggest gun, so to speak.
Invariably, Charles Taylor proved to be the biggest gun and it was no surprise that the 1997 ECOWAS backed elections, as flawed as they were reported to be, brought Charles Taylor to power.
But renewed conflict soon broke out in 1999, leading to another search for lasting peace. The 2003 Accra Peace Agreement was the first time in which civil society was involved, but not as individual political parties.
Thus, they conclude that an abrupt change of government through popular mass action will not augur well for the strengthening of democracy.
In their view, constructive engagement with the government is probably the surest means of ensuring that the country remains stable, even through the most difficult economic times.
While many Liberian families went to bed hungry during this Christmas, yet everyone appears to appreciate the prevailing peace, especially coming after a tension-filled electoral period that was preceded by deep public concern and anger over the mysterious deaths of four (4) government auditors.
As the New Year approaches, all Liberians are called upon to do all they can to help preserve the peace. Times are indeed difficult but we have to remain hopeful that somehow our leaders, President Weah, in particular, will have the courage to chart a new course that will open the door to prosperity for all Liberians, not some.
As perennial optimists, we believe that 2021 will be a year of CHANGE, having hoped so long for it. The DAILY OBSERVER wishes all its many readers, customers, friends and well-wishers a HAPPY and PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR. MAY GOD BLESS LIBERIA, SAVE THE STATE AND PROSPER THE WORKS OF OUR HANDS!