Human Rights Activist Samuel Kofi Woods Says Liberia Broke
Monrovia – Liberia currently facing economic slump and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has predicted that there are even more difficult times ahead of the country.
Besides, President Sirleaf ruling Party Chairman, Varney Sherman earlier made similar comments when he warned that in the coming years, the situation will get worse to the extent that the government will be able to pay salaries and unable to implement projects.
Now, Atty. Samuel K. Woods who served the government in two high profile capacities as Minister of Labour and later Public Works before he resigned from government now says, the country is experiencing the difficult economic time due to bad decisions.
“We are at the perils of your bad decisions. We are broke. True leaders must remain and endure the difficult times just as we lavished in the good times. We must remain here and share in the agony and pains of ordinary people. This is the kind of leadership we demand! While our coffers bleed and some of us flee”, say Atty. Woods.
Serving as keynote speaker and installing officer at the Association of Female Lawyers (AFELL) program In Monrovia Atty. Woods observed that some Liberians who came to the country under the guise of contributing and leaving their lucrative jobs abroad are now leaving the country during these periods.
State coffers bleeding
When President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was first elected in 2005, several Liberians returned home and took up jobs in government with many claiming that they left lucrative jobs abroad to come home and sacrifice but Woods says during the early days of the Sirleaf regime when the country was not experiencing difficult financial situation, many of the Liberians came home but are now leaving government because things have gone bad.
“Said Woods “I recall few years ago when many of us served in government, there were justifications that we had come home to sacrifice and left lucrative and high paying jobs abroad. While this was debatable without evidence to weigh our claims, we took high salaries and lived in opulence. “
“We argued that we had the better capacity than many of those at home. Liberia gave us salary disparities. Well! Our coffers are bleeding and these are difficult times for our country and some of us are fleeing”.
Atty. Woods also says Liberia is suffering from leadership deficit which is affecting all spectrum of the society, where those who are to be the leaders treat the others with disdain.
“Our country suffers what I refer to as a Leadership deficit. This is not equated to the Presidency. This is more than the Presidency. It includes all institutions, organizations and social structures of our society: Be it religious, social, political, cultural, etc. This virus is eating our country and wrecking our institutions” says Woods.
This, Woods says has led to arrogance of power disregard by those in power for the people they represent resulting lack of institutionalizing but rather personalization.
The Human rights activity says: “We have seen how power and authority have been defined; how those we lead are treated with disdain, the arrogance of power, the disregard for those we represent, our urge to personalize rather than institutionalize ideas and processes”.
Atty. Woods continued: “Our leaders want to be idolized and adored. We see ourselves as gods to be worshipped. They want to be served rather than serve. They don’t have a humble heart. Rather than practice self-denial, they demand entitlements”.
He says good leaders must summon the courage to change policies, laws and procedures deemed draconian rather than use them against perceived enemies.
“Your leadership must not succumb to the trappings of nepotism, patronage, revenge and exclusion. It must seek to include all female lawyers in spite of age, background, religion, etc. You must reach out to all”, he told the new leadership.
The former Minister cautioned the new AFFEL leadership to show gratitude to confer recognition based on merit, be honest and sincere leadership and lead by example.
“A good leader is like a mother who has several children under her roof, some hers, some not but they are her children. She must strike the delicate balance of love, care and best wishes for all her children”, Atty. Woods noted.
According to Atty. Woods most leaders today hate some, love some, abuse some and misuse and abuse some.
Divide country in layers
In what appears a dip at national leadership, Atty. Woods said some leaders divide the country into lawyers and discriminate.
“They divide the country into different layers and discriminate against others. Leaders today strives on internal discord rather than promote harmony, influence internal discontent rather than a spirit of cooperation. No leader can succeed by despising others and praising some”, he added.
Atty. Woods resigned from the regime of President Sirleaf and has since become a strong critic of the regime speaking on many national issues.
He once accused the Sirleaf regime of nepotism, patronage and other negative vices and blamed the regime for the downfall of the National Oil Company of Liberia.