As a member of Young Ambassadors for Peace, a youth-led non-profit of which Rev. Dr. William R. Tolbert, III was an advisor, I am deeply troubled by the news of his mysterious death. He led a life of selfless service to his country and did so with an ultimate commitment to peace consolidation, knowing that it was a pre-condition to national security. Dr. Tolbert’s murder is strongly condemned. The government is called upon to ensure his death and all other preceding ones are impartially investigated and the results made known. Amidst the wave of deaths and situations of murder taking shape across the country, it is not difficult to see that a unique form of domestic terrorism is swiftly taking shape. Amidst the account of multiple mysterious deaths and a declining economy, Liberians around the country are going to bed more afraid of losing their lives than they have ever been, except perhaps for the days of the civil war. This situation is worrisome and should move the government to act.
The prevailing national security condition doesn’t only reflect capacity challenges with the security apparatus; it speaks boldly to the government’s priorities. President George Weah should remember that the prime responsibility of the President is the protection of his/herpeople and the territorial sovereignty thereof. The President’s failure to take leadership on the national security situation has significantly undermined his presidency and set him on a slippery slope.
Evidently, the systematic cases of mysterious deaths require a strategic and coordinated intervention that neutralize the situation before it becomes uncontrollable. As a member of the interagency committee that reviewed the country’s national security strategy in 2017, I am inclined to the challenges facing the security sector, but squarely, the priority given to the sector has not reflected the challenges being faced.
It is time for deliberate support to the security sector, and an affirmative policy approach that ensures the increased intersection of youth employment to national peace and security is critical in this endeavor. It will most certainly impact on alleviating the worsening conditions of poverty and contribute to creating a less susceptible generation of young people to radical extremism and terrorism, which is rapidly spreading across the sub-region. With local threats in mind—the political climate prevailing in the Republic of Guinea and its vulnerability to the jihadist terroristic insurgency in Mali, and the threat posed by the Boko Haram and Al Qaeda network in the region—it is critical to engage these strategic threats.
Preemptive actions are required before the current loose wave of terror becomes coordinated. As this is done, the root causes to the surge must not be neglected.
Cognizant that the right economic framework and environment must be a preceding reality in order to achieve this goal, the government is under greater obligation to act responsibly as investors are less inclined to risk resources in a nation where the government is miserably failing to keep its citizens safe. It’s either the government of President George Weah steps up to protect its people, or it will be compelled to give way to a credible team of leaders who can provide the needed protection and cater to the welfare and basic needs of its people. This is a sad time for the nation, and such was the fate of Peace Ambassador Dr. William R. Tolbert, III.
Now the real question is, who’s the next victim of the terror that is now engulfing the nation? It’s time to stand up for the safety and security of our people. It is critical that the government boosts measures to engage the threats.