A WORD OF CAUTION TO PRESIDENT WEAH: BE WARY OF EXTREME PARTISANSHIP, POLITICAL EXCLUSION
Extreme partisanship and political exclusion have never brought cohesion amongst us, and lasting development to our nation or any nation for that matter. In fact, they have done the opposite. To develop a nation, every citizen needs to be involved and encouraged to actively be involved. Since Liberia’s independence, every ruling political party has made concerted efforts to centralize debates in policy-making within its party hierarchy. The exclusion of non-partisans in these debates has robbed us of diversified ideas and thoughts that are pertinent in developing a nation. We need to change this tactic because it is not working for us.
There is no doubt that every political party is built around a manifesto or platform that it seeks to implement once they are given the mandate by the people, but often time, and due to political realities, these platforms cannot be implemented without some compromises. That’s where political inclusion comes into play. A ruling party must be open to suggestions and accept constructive criticisms from both internal and external actors. Abraham Lincoln has always opined that- “He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help”. Most of these critics are patriotic citizens, who want the best for this country. They come from all walks of life with some of the best ideas that can move this country forward.
Mr. President, for a nation to prosper, it must include its brightest men and women, irrespective of their political affiliations, in the decision-making process. Nations are built by ideas and innovations that transcend political partisanship. When citizens from different political parties bring forth recommendations to fix a broken system, and they are heard, whatever success that arises will undoubtedly reflect on the willingness of the government to develop its nation. We must take pride in divergence of ideas, because without such divergence, there will be no need for government. Homogeneity of ideas and philosophies often stagnates innovation, a very cardinal element in nation building.
A good leader will not allow himself to be walled off by people who do not promote the participation of nonpartisans in the decision-making process of the nation. It allows abuse and exploitation to fester; it breeds distrust between the government and its people. A leader opens his arms to new ideas and accepts constructive criticisms not just from people around him, but also those from across the aisle. As Roy T. Bennett once opined- “It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform”. This statement posits one of the many quintessential attributes of a good leader. Mr. President, don’t limit yourself to people who will not humbly counter anything you do or say. It is not healthy for you and our democracy. You were given a very sacrosanct mandate by the people to lead them; it will be unfortunate for you not to consult some of them because of political differences.
Mr. President, as you may be aware; the current state of the economy can best be described as abysmal. It is the ordinary Liberians who are being severely affected. One of the most persistent menaces contributing to this economic collapse, and the destruction of our nation is corruption, and flagrant immunity accorded to some corrupt actors. It is a systemic issue that has plagued every facet of our governance system. When a leader or his lieutenants are perceived to be corrupt, it then becomes a personal venture for that leader to fight corruption even more.
Mr. President, there are many integrity institutions that need to be empowered and enabled to fight corruption; they need to be adequately funded and free from external interference. As musician Paul David Hewson (Bono) brilliantly puts it- “the worst disease in the world today is corruption. And there is a cure: transparency”. Mr. President, you can be the ultimate champion for transparency and accountability by empowering these integrity institutions. There can’t be any problem without solution.
The accessibility of a leader to his people must never be impeded by anyone in his inner cycle. It is not enough to give people space to offer their ideas and suggestions, but those ideas and suggestions, as long as they qualified as solutions, must be used as part of the solutions to the problems affecting them. This will give them a sense of belonging, and after all, Liberia is all we have.
A good leader will identify himself with all citizens in times of grieves and happiness. He serves a very pivotal role in society not just as the commander-in- chief, but also a unifier-in- chief, a consensus builder, and an example of character worthy of emulating. A leader is held accountable for everything that happens under his authority. A pragmatic leader will address his people on issues that affect them, their children and generations to come. He will solicit inputs from the citizenry.
For those of us who want to engage our government, it’s best to do so with civility, respect and wisdom. The office of the president must be respected at all times. If one disagrees on issues with the individual occupying a position, especially the presidency, it is congruent with wisdom to address such disagreement with the utmost respect and astuteness. We must refrain from antagonizing the office of the president due to trivial and personal matters that have no significance in developing the nation. We must not allow differences in our political ideologies bring hatred and animosity amongst us, but they should serve as reasons for us to elevate our debates to higher standards. This is how we will move this country forward.
Thank you for reading, Mr. President.