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Presidential appointments fall short of making a difference

By. Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh 

Every time I read news out of Liberia it seems President Sirleaf has made yet another presidential appointment in her administration.

President Sirleaf must be enjoying her history-making appointments, which are not making any significant difference in the country, and the few Liberians who are handpicked to fill those positions are just happy to be working.

The ministries, ministers, deputy ministers, assistant ministers, assistant ministers for technical services, and assistant ministers for public affairs, agency heads, and Board Chairmen and Chairladies of the various corporations are adding up to a point that the presidential appointments are too comical to ignore.

With such bloated bureaucracy, one would think the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration would work hard to provide services to the poor and those in need by pressing her employees harder to make their ministries productive and efficient in a way that Liberians are provided the basic services they need. Not so!

Liberians are still being denied basic healthcare services when they go to the hospital or clinic for treatment because they have no money, even though it is known that 85% of them are unemployed.

Those Liberians who are fortunate to have the funds are required to make payments in U. S. dollars to the hospital, clinic, or to get service anywhere in Liberia, else, service is denied. Why Ellen?

There are expired drugs on the markets that are being sold to Liberians, even though there is a Ministry of Health that supposed to stop such criminal activity. Hunger is on the rise, and unemployement is going through the roof.

With an abundance of farmland and rainfall for rice production, the nation’s staple is still being imported. What’s the role of the Ministry of Agriculture? Migration to the nation’s broken, overcrowded and dilapidated capital by the rural poor is on a 100 percent increase. Why, and where’s the national policy to curb that flight from the countryside?

Erosion in the coastal counties of Liberia is a constant threat to the nation’s security and survival. As we speak, portion of New Kru Town is under water; West Point is unrecognizable; Sinoe, Grand Bassa and Cape Mount Counties are threatened daily. There is not a single national policy from the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration to combat this natural disaster. Why?

Why have a Ministry of Transport when hundreds of Liberians struggles daily to get from point A to point B? Where is the national policy that coordinates the movement of commercial taxis and buses in the city of Monrovia and its environs?

Why have a Ministry of Post when there are no postal systems in the entire country? Why not get rid of the Ministry of Post and combine the Telecommunication part of it to Telecom, the nation’s telephone and Internet provider?

With the advent of the Internet, the Ministry of Post should have evaporated by now. How ‘bout that eyesore or piles of garbage all across Monrovia? Where are the landfills or evironmental policies that deals with such issues?

The asphalts on the streets of Monrovia are worn out, broken and dusty. Is there no more asphalt on the global markets to pave Monrovia’s streets? To be competitive, the streets need re-paving with asphalts and the potholes filled. There are no accessible sidewalks or working traffic lights in Monrovia. Where’s the Ministry of public works?

How ‘bout zoning laws and code enforcement policies? Why are individual home builders allowed to close another person in on all sides when they construct their homes? Why are they not allowing new homeowners to build driveways or roads to the main roads from their own homes? Is there any national policy to curb the inconvenience? Where is the national policy that trains, tests and certifies land surveyors and building contractors?

As the gateway to the country and a face that meets and greets foreign travelers when they arrive in the country, the road leading from Robert’s International Airport (RIA) to the city should be at least three or four lane on both sides. Unreasonable? I don’t think so. As it is now, the RIA road to the capital, Monrovia, resembles a rural road.

During President Tolbert’s administration, at least he had a “Speedy One” as his official presidential aircraft that took him around locally. At least the autocratic President Tubman had the Liberian National Airlines (LNA) around during his dictatorial administration. Speedy One gave some of Liberia’s best pilots the chance to practice their trade and stay ahead in their chosen profession.

There is non – nada – zero national airline in the Ellen Johnson Administration. However, there is a Bureau of civil aviation, and a director, assistant director and deputy director for that agency. Ha ha ha!!

Instead, this headstrong lady prefers to send her sycophantic ministers across the globe to rally her supporters in costly and chartered commercial airplanes to promote her directionless policies.

First, it was the PRS campaign, then the Vice President’s costly trip to Atlanta, Arizona and North Carolina in March of this year to meet with Evangelist Franklin Graham for some business deals. Do you need an entire government to meet with an evangelist to discuss the installation of water pumps and other things?

Vice President Boakai traveled with 12 or more individuals including ministers, agency heads, security, and the press. Again, the Liberian government is transporting another group of talking head ministers and other personnel to the United States to promote its “Vision 2030” campaign.

What a waste of funds? Why not use those funds to change lives, and also change the Liberian landscape? With all the foreign propaganda campaigns going on to promote this president, Liberians are still suffering in record numbers. So what difference will this new campaign make in the lives of Liberians?

The ‘educated elite’ who should have made a difference by speaking tirelessly against the old ways of doing things only cares about themselves and working in government. It is like the best thing that ever could happen to them – to work, relax and feel important. They go to school, get that coveted education or get non-at all and lobby quietly or openly for a chance to work in government.

Some will only criticize government selectively when that particular government is no friend or allied. Their relatives and friends will also join in their praises or the government’s praises when that friendly government hires their loved ones, only to find problem with an unfriendly government that is worse than the previous government. When that happens, they will criticize that unfriendly government relentlessly.

How can we make Liberia a better and prosperous place when we are bias and selective in the way we view successive Liberian governments? Do we care or we only protect our selfish interests when it is threatened?

I am this way about politics and political activism.

Any bad, corrupt and unaccountable government, or any president that neglects and injures my people or its own people is undeserving of my trust, support and coorporation. On that note, I just cannot and will not compromise my convictions, period!

However, many of these individuals are not open to just any job, and will not even create jobs. They want to be Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Assistant Ministers, Superintendents or any presidential appointment that provides the funds to stay alive, or perhaps support a family still residing in the United States or elsewhere.

The obsessive dependence on government jobs has made it impossible for these foreign-trained and educated Liberians to aspire to be entrepreneurs – owners or managers of businesses that create jobs for other Liberians to be somebody.

These Liberians depend on government jobs so much that they have become public hired parasites who believe they cannot exist as humans unless they are hired by a president to survive in Liberia.

With no vision or new ideas of their own to radically transform their own lives other than resting on the laurels of their college degrees, these individuals don’t even have the vision to radically transform the lives of their employees, let alone their respective ministries. Instead, they rests on the glory of being called “minister, deputy minister, assistant minister, superintendent” or simply “Chief.”

That false sense of pride and self-centeredness takes the best of them that they fail to mentor or lend a helping hand to a good cause that advocates giving back to their villages and communities – a cause that supports disadvantaged kids, rape victims, battered wives or girlfriends, orphan kids, house of worships, etc, or any cause that helps the Liberian people.

These government officials are so out of touch with reality that they don’t know how to embrace a school for a day, to teach and inspire kids in elementary, junior high or high school.

What some are also good at is the annual parade of high schools and college campuses to be heard – that is to tell those hungry students during commencement ceremonies how things should be in Liberia and what’s expected of them. They are also good at providing the historical narratives of events in Liberia from 1847 to the 2000s, in the most bombastic and meaningless way possible.

Liberia cannot and will not be the prosperous and shinning country we want it to be if we continue to embrace the old and corrupt ways of doing things.

Liberia needs us, and the Liberian people also want us to make a difference.


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