Saturday, 19 March 2011

Critics: Congratulate and Commend President Sirleaf for Efforts Thus Far

Kadiker Rex Dahn, Phd,   

In good faith, President Sirleaf invited a number of Liberians at home and abroad to join her government. What the President did not know was that a number of these invitees would willfully engage in acts that she detests: corruption, mismanagement and embezzlement. Some of these officials with tainted records have been suspended or dismissed from the government and legal actions probably may ensue. Those who audit reports incriminated at an appropriate time also may be on their way to court. It seems to me that critics are asking for too much too soon; it is about time, that they shut their mouths and give the President a chance.
The President is not culpable for the misdeeds of these dismissed corrupt officials. The President is not omnipresent nor is she omniscient. She does not know the secret under workings of her officials; she should not be held liable for their shenanigans. The President alone cannot do all of the jobs in Liberia. To ensure efficiency, she appointed a number of our fellow country men and women to key positions. Some of these appointees let down the President and in doing so, they let down our Country. The President did not know how these suspended or dismissed officials were going to conduct themselves except what each affirmed to her when each took an oath of office: honesty, transparency, responsibility and accountability. Now that she knew, their conducts, she acted by dismissing, suspending and turning some of them over to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution. We must congratulate and commend the President for her decision. Whether living or deceased, no leader in patriarchal Liberia ever approached the issue of corruption like President Sirleaf.
Corruption in our society is ingrained and this is due in part by men who were once our leaders. There was not a single man who held the Presidency of our Country that indeed was a true reformer. These men only preached but failed to live what they preached. Since independence, men who had ruled our country had been self-seeking. Some of these so-called leaders and government officials squandered our resources; embezzled our country’s money, lavished our resources on girl friends, bought luxurious homes in Western countries and sent their sons and daughters to attend some of the best schools the world could offer; while majority of our children, brothers and sisters wandered on the streets. A number of these very recycled politicians and want-to-be presidents, today, are in our midst and many of them are criticizing the President for not moving promptly in dismissing and prosecuting corrupt officials. How sincere are these critics and want-to-be presidents? Since 1847, apart from an interregnum when Senator Ruth Perry served as a Chairlady in one of the transitional governments during the civil war, no woman had had the opportunity to serve as the Chief Executive Officer apart from President Sirleaf. So, from 1847 to 2005, patriarchal leadership corrupted and destroyed our country and from 2006 to 2009, critics want President Sirleaf to immediately address and fix those “cultural liabilities” inherited from years of incompetence and corruption.
In Liberia, we have a social disease that I call cultural dishonesty. By cultural dishonesty, I am speaking in terms of Liberians tendency to lie, cheat, manipulate for selfish gains, corrupt, embezzle and the list goes on. Whenever a person obtains position in a government in Liberia or holds some prestigious position, the tendency is to corrupt and steal. Often, critics criticize when they are not in positions of power, but when the opportunity comes, they become more corrupt. Since independence, from one administration to the next, this has been one of the sad habitual practices in Liberia.
We associate dishonesties, deceptions, lies and corruptions with politicians but in practice, we are known to have been partakers of similar dishonesties. Again because of dishonesty, some of us are not willing to admit the authenticity of my claims.   
Studies on Liberia (Yoder, 2003; Dahn, 2008) indicate that dishonesty in Liberia is a cultural problem. I pointed out in my book that dishonesty in Liberia was a social disease in the form of a cancer and therefore, a radical surgery was need to save our society. We see dishonesty in our schools, ministries of government, ports of entry, streets, homes and obviously, in every fabric of our society. Because of dishonesties, we do not trust to entrust one another with anything; we are apprehensive when we are dealing with one another because of the fear of being outweighed by a con man.
It has been persuasively demonstrated by scholars (Dahn, 2008, Yoder, 2003) that Liberians like to bribe. In fact a number of those in government agencies and corporations, who supposedly collect our bills, routinely, one might argue, convert some of the money into their personal savings accounts for self- aggrandizement. Some officials of government embezzle and misapply public funds for self-enrichment. If these are some of the behaviors of those in power, one must ask, how do we expect our country to prosper?  What kind of society or country do we want to pass to our children and generations to come after them? We do not want to continuously be “cultural thieves” and corrupt government officials; do we? We do not want to continuously “bankrupt” our children’s future; do we? What kind of value do we want to transmit to our children? These acts are “cultural miseducations” culminating in “cultural liabilities” at the detriment of our generation as well as our children.
Dishonesty, my fellow Liberians, drains, destroys and undermines our economy. Again, to accentuate, germane to those problems we face in Liberia is cultural dishonesty.  As stated above, Liberians find it difficult to sincerely trust one another. A nation, in which its people and political leaders lack trust, is destined to face political, socioeconomic, moral and generational problems. This is the type of culture that was inherited by President Sirleaf. While it is true that some of us are praying for an absolute obliteration of these cultural evils from our society, I am sorry to say that it will not evaporate overnight. In the case of weeding out corrupt officials, genuine change needs to be gradual and methodical. It will require perseverance, dismissals, indictments and prosecutions. President Sirleaf has taken these routes and as a society, here and now, we must cease some of the senseless criticisms; instead, we must congratulate and commend the President for her efforts thus far. We must rally around her. In these tumultuous times in the history of our country, let us remain resolute and hopeful. I am convinced this President is a gift to the Liberian people sent from God. Among those present political players in Liberia, I am not certain whether any of them could sincerely deliver on political promises and implement reforms better than President Sirleaf.  Look at the records of those critics. Again, one must ask, are the rhetorical jargons of these critics sincere or simply masquerading to score some cheap political points? You decide!
 Her Excellency, do not be deterred. You have “fought a good fight.” Keep the momentum.  The Country is on your side. In fullness of time, your critics will acknowledge your achievements and will cross over to you. Pragmatically, the present is promising and the future is brighter. The struggle continues!

About the author: Kadiker Rex Dahn holds a PhD in Education. He is Deputy Minister of Education for Planning, Research, and Development. Contact: