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Liberia “most improved” nation in 2013? Untrue!

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh              tws


The Sirleaf administration is celebrating, for good reason, the “good” news that Liberia is the “most improved” nation in 2013 in terms of governance, far better than the overwhelming bad news the president has constantly received from critics who believe governance hasn’t improved on her watch at all over the years.

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance established in 2007 to compile “an annual assessment of governance in every African country” believe otherwise, and apparently saw something impressive from their perspective to reach the conclusion that Liberia at #29 out of 52 overall, a (13-year change) made the grades to give the administration some bragging rights.

The public bragging and high-fives that came from the administration seemed to be premature, since the so-called good fortune is not trickling down to the Liberian people, in a country where most Liberians are poor, hungry and unemployed to believe such flowery report from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance that governance in the Sirleaf administration is worthy of an ounce of laudatory celebration.

More so, the Liberian people are extremely doubtful and suspicious of any international report that presents a one-sided positive report of a government that failed miserably to deliver public goods and services to its people.

As usual, the aftermath of such flowery assessment from the international community often lionizes and legitimizes Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whom in seven years failed to curtail corruption, fertilizes nepotism, failed to provide jobs, failed to provide affordable education and health services, and also failed to implement common sense transportation policy that serves Liberians well.

Even today in Liberia, the judiciary is not independent, the elections commission is not neutral and independent; and Madam Sirleaf still appoints members of the elections commission, even the ones that oversaw her 2011 re-election. Can you imagine an incumbent president appointing the elections commission members that oversees his or her re-election? That’s democracy in Liberia, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s definition.

Roads are bad or nonexistent in many parts of the country, and lacked sidewalks. And there is an urgent need for a better land policy that protects both city dwellers and rural Liberians from other Liberians and foreign companies that attempts to take away their properties.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation defines governance as the “provision of the political, social and economic public goods and services that a citizen has the right to expect from his or her state, and that a state has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens. This definition is focused on outputs and outcomes of policy.”

That’s a great definition for governance. However, the definition is weak in terms of (output) – the delivery of goods and services to the Liberian people, because goods and services are not being delivered in Liberia on Ellen’s watch.

Also, the justifications given for declaring Liberia the ‘most improved’ nation in 2013 (“safety & rule of law; participation & human rights; sustainable economic opportunity and human development,” panders to the powerful political establishment in Liberia, and undermines the political and economic growth of Liberia.

Also, the war is over, and living in Liberia is like living in hell. Truth is, things are extremely bad in Ellen’s Liberia.

However, according to the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, “paucity of data in Africa remains a core concern for the Foundation. Many indicators of governance, such as poverty, do not yet meet the Foundation’s inclusion criteria, specifically with regards to time series and country coverage.”

True indeed, Liberia is part and parcel of the African continent where the paucity of information can be of concern to any researcher, which is an obvious limitation.

Other limitations possibly could be political interference and bad roads; lack of postal service, transportation and telecommunication service to conduct a survey to the rest of the country, et cetera, which makes the report hard to swallow.

Since poverty is a key component of governance, which is hardly on the report’s radar, it is difficult to fathom how a report of this magnitude can be taken seriously when the Liberian people are lingering in abject poverty and unemployment on Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s watch.

Liberians can attest to the fact that since the end of the civil war and the coming of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the rule of law and human rights have been violated and compromised many times.

Remember presidential friend Mary Broh slapping a senate staffer, and violently tearing down market stalls? How can safety be lauded in this report when motorcycle accidents and motor vehicle accidents are constantly occurring in the city of Monrovia, and on the nation’s deplorable highways?

Obviously, the country lacks better roads, trained and better paid law enforcement officers, and safety training programs for commercial and non-commercial drivers.

Rural dwellers are moving to the capital, Monrovia, in droves. There is no electricity in the rural areas; no running water and running sewer system, drainage or landfills to make life comfortable, and sea erosion is destroying all of coastal Liberia.

Did these researchers travel to rural Liberia to conduct their study, to get an accurate reading of the country? Did the researchers conduct their study only in Monrovia? Is Liberia the “most improved” country in 2013? Hmm!

Most Liberians don’t think so.





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