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Looking Into The Issue Of The “Low Budget” As Raised By The Chief of Staff

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

It is often said that “MAN IS A SELFISH BEING.” This is entitled to many interpretations. But my understanding of this maxim or adage is that man is always concerned about issues that concern him, or her. Philosophically, as my late Philosophy Professor, Dr. Dr. Wollo Topor, would say, the word, “man” as used, in the phrase, is a logical term and not an ontological term, meaning it refers to both males and females.

There are many definitions for the word ‘selfish,” but the appropriate one for this piece is the one that says to be “Concerned excessively and exclusively with oneself.” I speak of selfish because as a human being I always have interest in issues and matters that are of interest to me. It is not about particularly or for self-aggrandizement and glorification but for interest or general good of others.

However, this issue of “man is a selfish being,” is not one about undermining others or seeking the downfall of them, but to be a part of those things of interest to me, as I elucidated earlier.
For example, l am always concerned about issues relating to New Kru Town; matters relating to government schools because I graduated from one and also matters relating to the security because my late aunt, Elizabeth Welleh Blaye, who reared me worked for one, mainly the Liberia National Police (LNP). It was from her meager disposal income (take-home-pay) that I was schooled, therefore, I have a special feeling or adoration for the police and others. In fact, I almost joined the force, but God knows why I did not.

AFL Chief of Star General Prince C. Johnson and LNP Boss Col. Patrick Sudue

It is based on this I have decided to comment on this issue concerning support to the Armed
Forces of Liberia (AFL), when this was highlighted recently by the Chief of Staff of the AFL, Gen. Prince C. Johnson during a forum, in Monrovia.

The story about the Chief of Staff was carried in the October 30th edition of the “IN PROFILE DAILY’ Newspaper, with caption: “AFL DECRIES LOW BUDGET,” in which the Chief of Staff was quoted as decrying the inadequate financial support the security sector continues to endure despite pending tension- packed elections.

He reportedly said this “during the launch of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning change of the Government’s Fiscal Year from July to June –to a single calendar year. The launch of the ”Special Budget Preparation” for the Fiscal Year 2021/2022 at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town brought together Heads of Ministries, Agencies, and Corporations to brainstorm on plans to bring relief to the struggling country’s economic system. The issues about growing the revenues, reducing the wage bills, and opening the fiscal space were placed high among other things. Also, the needs for formulation 2021/2022 fiscal year all Government entities were placed high on the agenda.”

Some AFL Soldiers returning from peacekeeping mission in Mali

“The AFL Chief of Staff stressed that if citizens and stakeholders expect security sector to perform with continuous inadequate support to the sector, it would hamper their effectiveness. He continued: ”We have changed since 2018 to now. We have started our new fiscal budget from January to December and the special budget I saw up there with priority –I have been looking- I have not seen anything for the security sector.”
“According to him, many officials have revisited their timing in going home of recent; looking at what is obtaining in the country. He said: ”We are currently in 2020 leading toward the Special Senatorial Election and we are seeing the tension and the analysis already speaks.”
“Minister Brunson, I did not see anything; how possible security sector is left out? Sometimes, you want us to perform miracle, but cannot do it. We just saw over 200 Guineans demonstrating last week which caused a serious traffic-jam for six hours. And for this coming January, you don’t have anything there for the security sector? How do you expect us to perform 2023 election?” Maj. Gen. Johnson asked.

“In response, the Deputy Minister for Budget Tanneh Brunson, said the budget displayed by her was only preliminary, adding that the final decision was going to be made by the cabinet,” the story concluded.

Today I have decided to deal with this issue of “low budget,” as raised by the Chief of Staff. As a communicator, I am aware that when such a statement is made by such individual in the driver’s seat, at such an appropriate public forum, it is all intended to draw attention to those concerned and also to pinpoint challenges such an organization, like the AFL is facing for a possible solution or remedy.
I see the security forces as properties of the state and therefore, they should be adequately supported and sustained by resources from the state by addressing the issue of budgetary allocation. We should not revert to the ugly past when some members of our security forces engaged in acts ‘”to make ends meet,’ as we say in Liberia.

We are all aware of the derogatory manner soldiers were referred to as “NOKOS,” which simply meant insignificant people or people of no value or respect. Today, after a restructuring process, we can brag of professional soldiers. To keep it that way, only appropriate budgetary allotment would immensely contribute to keeping them as a professional body.

I know of the past when some members of the disbanded AFL went from streets to streets to get ALMS, while others engaged in what is locally referred to as “mosquito police jobs”,(private security night guards) to complement the little from government. Additionally, the military in the past was seen as a place for miscreants and deviants, or animal-hunters because of the lack of support to attract people in the military because it was neglected. Considering the ugly past, we cannot again revert to that. Too much has been done to even dream of that ugly past. There must be no turning back because we have already crossed the RUBICON.

Today we are proud that this negative image of the military must be well supported. Our soldiers are members of the peacekeeping mission in Mali. This is a good news for this country. But adequate budgetary support is necessary.

To reverse in a Liberian parlance, “ we must put the security in the kitchen to put us on the dining room table.” That is, the security must be given all that they need to be more effective and efficient in the discharge of their duties. Again, we cannot revert to that ugly past. Let consideration be given to the issue raised by the Chief of Staff.

Proudly to say, in recent times, whenever I pass in the Congo Town-Paynesville areas and see the soldiers engaged in civil works, I am always fraught with ecstasy. But this can only continue with adequate support.

It is an open secret that in the next few weeks, we are expected to hold the special Senatorial elections. Already, there are ugly omens towards the event. We will rely on the security to help to ensure a peaceful process. But this cannot be done if they are ill-equipped, something that can be likened to the figurative expression that, “turtle wants to box, but no hand.”

Once more, let the issue of “LOW BUDGETARY “support raised by the Chief of Staff claim the attention of all of those concerned.

I Rest My Case.

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