Building Progressive Society: A Paradigm Shift That May Help Liberia
Amidst the challenges engulfed or faced by the Ghanaian society which is obvious in all societies or countries, many Liberians relying on first-hand experience enhanced by travel always referenced the level of development or progress Ghana is making in their medical industry, education, tourism, system of governance etc. Liberians that can somehow afford the expense of medical, education, holidays, scholarship opportunities etc. in Ghana bears the attestation.
From careful observation enhanced by frequent travel to Ghana, since 2009 and recently 2016, my impression tells me that what continues to positively influence the developmental trajectory of Ghana is the result of a conscious progressive society build by the Ghanaians.
Judging from the manner in which many Liberians continues to reference the Ghanaian society as evidenced by the hash disapproval, criticism, outcries etc. on societal ills or issues of national concern through the media and protest attempts in Liberia, it is safe to infer the desperation for change.
Over the years, it can be argued that all of the attempts employed are not impacting our society as expected. Things appear to remain the same. Against this backdrop that implicitly explains the search for solutions to our problems in Liberia; the caption of this article could be an alternative prescription.
Deriving from the concept “Progressivism”, a progressive society appears or seems to be a victim of definitional pluralism on grounds that it approaches varied over time and from different perspectives. Vital to improving human conditions, it can be conceptualized as advancement in science, technology, economic development, and social organization. This could mean the approaches a given society employed toward its advancement. In other words, what it will take in order for society to improve human conditions.
A progressive society can also be conceptualized as the strategies or tools a given society consciously employed to transform flawed structure or system of its institutions inimical to development.
From the conceptual clarifications, you will agreed that all of the approaches, strategies, or tools society employed to transform flawed systems or advancement in science, technology, economic development, and social organization required persistence even in the face of resistance, threat or the tendency to ignore the actions.
It is a society in which the government is very mindful of the society reaction toward any attempt contrary toward the good or interest of the society. Some of the compositions that characterized a progressive society include but not limited to the followings: The general public, civil societies, media, pressures groups, faith base organization, student unions, whistle blower, etc.
These are people that direct their actions in the confines of the rule of law and are result oriented. In other words, until their actions yield desire results, they remain restless. What are the strategies or approaches?
Always in line with their mandate or article of incorporation, some of the strategies or approaches could include sustained media coverage, advocacy and awareness, peaceful protest marches, social movement as in the days of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., non-violent approaches postulated by Mahatma Gandhi etc.
Building a progressive society does not necessarily mean elimination of societal problems. Western Societies conceptually viewed as progressive society still have their problems.
Let’s now come back to Ghana and conclude on the Liberian society. Your ultimate concern may be whether the conceptualizations of progressive society fit the Ghanaian society. Depending on your lenses and may be your exposure or knowledge about the Ghanaian society, the public, media, civil societies, faith base organizations, pressure groups are the foundation of the progressive society.
The Ghanaian society doesn’t make noise for one -two weeks on issues inimical to development. They continue the talking or noise until the desire result. Sustained media coverage is another pillar of their progressive society. The media don’t just publish stories or make headlines. They remain engage until positive outcome. Let’s look at few contemporary examples to support our assertions or argument.
Just recently in January 2016, Ghanaians raged over the decision by the government to host two Al Qaeda suspected terrorists previously being held at Guantanamo Prisons in the United States.
The public including civil societies and the media did not rest until the government senior security advisor in what could be arguably termed as apology assured the public of safety and surveillance measures to be employed by the government.
In December 2015, the Ghana’s Transport Minister was forced to resigned due to huge public outcry coupled with sustained media coverage against the ministry and government over allegations of financial misappropriation involving the rebranding of 116 Metro Mass Transit buses which cost the Ghanaian taxpayer some GH¢ 3.6 million. Moreover, a group of Ghanaians took the government to court so as to account for the mount despite of the outcome in favor of the society.
In September 2014, some officers of Customs Excise Preventive Services, the Ghana Police Service and Ghana Immigration Service that smuggled cocoa beans from Ghana into Cote d’Ivoire were sentence for16 years coupled with hard labor. Again, sustained media coverage, public outcry played a major rule.
Due to sustained media coverage on local radio stations that also enhanced public outcry, Ghana’s Deputy Communications Minister Victoria Hammah who claimed that she was under pressure to steal public money was sacked because alleged tape recording saying she would stay in politics until she has made $1m (£600,000) though police investigation did not establish or independently verified the tape. This happened in 2013.
In 200, Ghana former Minister for Youth and Sports Mallam Isa was accused for stealing US46, 000. The society did not just caused one to two weeks noises. They demanded action from the government. Eventually, the minister got a four-year jail term, fined 10 million cedis (US$1,500), and ordered to refund within one month $46,000 he had stolen by Accra Fast Track Court. All of these actions employed by public were done in confines of the law.
Now let’s conclude the article on Liberia. It can be argued that from 1975-1980s, the building of a conscious progressive society emerged. Remember the activism employed by the late Gabriel Baccus Matthews that gave birth to what we now called in Liberia “Multipartism”.
Despite resistance from the government, Baccus and his disciples did not rest until the desire result was achieved. This went on for some time and later vanishes from our society.
Similar to Ghana, we literally have all of the compositions of a progressive society. Arguably, they are not viable or robust. There are lot of issues of national concerns that happened and continue to happen in Liberia in which our reaction is perhaps one to two weeks without results.
From observation, whenever something that is inimical to national development happens, we take advantage of radio platform to speak out as if to say something concrete or positive will emerge as results. The media will carry alarming or serious headlines, people in small tea shops as usual speak out, handful of people will display placards or poster in sheets showing inscription of disapproval.
This will continue for about two or three weeks. Thereafter, the issues are no more or longer heard or deserve public attentions and lives go on. Let’s look at few examples: The Hon. Edward Forh saga pertaining to the secret recording by former Montserrado County Superintendent Grace Kpaan about “You eat some; I eat some” in reference to county development funds that he Hon. Forh admitted to in 2013 is similar to Ghana’s Deputy Communications Minister Victoria Hammah saga.
The LACC investigation about the US$25,000 scandal that allegedly involved the Speaker of 53rd National Legislature in 2015, other cases or issues of concerns only attracted two or three weeks noises and media coverage but fail to yield or produce concrete results. With this kind of lazy approach, the possibility of building a progressive society as in the case of Ghana often referenced remain very slim.
In my opinion, the government sees this kind of approach as a major weakness that connotes the impression that nothing will happen. They will just make or cause noises and get tire.
Arguably, it is one of the reasons why contemporary Liberian society continues to remain the stagnant despite the serious and heavy noises we are causing. In other words, unlike Ghana, we are only good in condemning issues inimical to human development in the “Strongest terms” that have over the years yield or produce no desire result.
Ambrues M. Nebo, Contributing Writer