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Why Is This Gov’t Overlooking Communication?: The Issue Of Liberia’s Suspension From The AU

Over the years I have developed interest in commenting on issues of national concern, especially as they relate to government’s modus operandi. I have constantly and unceasingly embarked on this because I intrinsically feel that I am obligated to the state, as someone who benefitted from state resources. Admittedly, let me say that I am one of those who was schooled by the Liberian Government beginning from the Borough of Kru Town and then the state-owned University of Liberia with two degrees-one in Mass Communication and the other in law.

I speak of this obligation to bring to light that throughout my academic sojourn, I attended what is known as “GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS,” and so I feel that one of the ways to “GIVE BACK” is to publicly contribute to issues of national concern. Besides, as a citizen of the land, I have a civil duty to contribute to national discourse in the interest of the country and all of us as stakeholders.

Nauseatingly, it is sad to note that some people feel that the running of the government is solely the responsibility of those with official titles. While this argument may sound logical, I still feel people outside government also have a responsibility to contribute. This is why attention is given or should be given to the CIVIL SOCIETY.
It is in this vein that I always comment on issues of national concern, one of which I did recently concerning reports about Liberia’s suspension from the African Union, formerly the Organization of African Unity (OAU) of which Liberia was a founding member.

A view of the AU Headquarters Built by the Chinese in Ethiopia

In fact, the ideas of this continental body was conceived in Sanniquellie, Nimba County in the late 50’s by three African leaders, the then President William V.S. Tubman of Liberia; Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.

As I said last week in one of my articles, It was that meeting in this country that set the stage for the founding of the then OAU which has now metamorphosed into the AU with the principle objective to unite Africans and promote peace and stability. That article was based on reports that the AU suspended Liberia because of indebtedness.

The late Presidents Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea; William V.S. Tubman of Liberia; and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana

A portion of that report said, “Liberia Loses Membership at African Union; Owes US$1.6M.” In that report, it is said among other things that “The Republic of Liberia has lost her full membership rights at the African Union and is now an observer at the African Union, one without a voting right, from being a founder to a shocking rejected stone, one who understood the purpose for which the organization was founded.

Later after a day, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, speaking to OK FM vehemently refuted the claims of Liberia’s suspension and even threatened to resign if this is true. Minister Nagbe indicated that the information that is circulating in the public and the Liberian media is false and misleading which has no iota of truth thus describing those circulating the information as “PROPHETS OF DOOM.”

According to the country’s Information Minister, Liberia is in good standing with the AU and is also expected to cast her vote sometimes next month, and disclosed that he, along with the Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill and Finance Minister, Samuel Tweah spoke to the AU deputy chairperson of which he said at no point in time did the AU ever suspended Liberia from the organization.

He added, “They are saying Liberia is not part of the AU, then where is their evidence? But all I can say is that the country is in good standing with the AU and I can safely say by next month, we will cast our vote when D. Maxwell Kemayah is being confirmed as Foreign Affairs Minister of the country.”
Minister Nagbe further disclosed that consultations are now ongoing, while modalities have also been worked out by leaders for President George Weah to be the chairperson of the Heads of States to the AU.

Top to bottom Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Minister Samuel Tweah and Representative Moses Acarus Gray

Meanwhile, contrary to Minister Nagbe’s assertion, Montserrado County District #8 Representative, Moses Acarus Gray who is also a stalwart of the ruling CDC posted on his official Facebook page saying, “Suspending voting rights is not suspending Liberia’s membership from the AU. The hate for this one man has destroyed the thinking of many of my friends in the opposition.”

Today, my concern is the way and manner in which the Liberian government is treating this report. Whether this report is true or not, the reaction from the government was not substantial and did not have that magnitude in dealing with such serious international issue, especially so, being fully aware of the country’s role in that body. I think the matter is being treated with triviality.

Again, I was not surprised by such treatment because I have said and continue to speak about the government’s poor communication system. Observingly, this does not mean that there are no qualified or competent people in the information or communication sectors of the government. But I can intuitively attribute this to the lack of the TRIPPLE C’s and S. That is, Coordination, Collaboration, Cooperation and Strategies.

For the issues of qualification and competence, I can put my neck on the chopping board about galaxy of people in this sector. Perhaps, things are the way they are because of the reasons cited above. As I have repeatedly said, in the field of information dissemination or communication, when there are too many cooks, such would be characterized by confusion, thereby undermining the intent or purpose of such communication or information to the public.

Take for example in this matter; the Minister is saying something different while a lawmaker is saying something diametrically different. This is sad. The other day the Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) Samuel Tweah said something for President Weah to be a “benevolent dictator.” Benevolent dictatorship is an antithesis of democracy.

A “benevolent dictatorship is a government in which an authoritarian leader exercises absolute political power over the state.” It can be likened to arbitrariness, thereby undermining democratic tenets.

It is a figure of speech known as OXYM0RON in which “apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. In other words, this is where words with opposite meanings are paired. Good examples “bitter sweet” or “living dead” as well as “sleeping giant.”

In in the case of ”benevolent dictatorship,” benevolence is defined as the quality of being well, meaning; kindness, while dictatorship is a form of government characterized by a single leader or group of leaders and later on, no toleration for political pluralism or independent programs or media.

For a dictator, it is defined as “a ruler with total power over a country…” Comparatively speaking, to say it the Liberian way, dictatorship is “one-man show, ” where the other branches, the judiciary and Legislature would be moribund or be living dead, as we would be dealing with a leader with absolute power. To this, I say a BIG NO!

Howbeit, I hope President Weah, as well as supporters and partisans of the CDC would not lend credence to this or subscribe to this ill-advised or misguided comment which usually lead to bad governance. This government MUST learn to speak with “ONE VOICE.” This does not mean people would be deprived of their rights to freedom of speech.

But as it relates to government’s functions, officials should refrain from making contradictory, embarrassing or unhealthy statements.

Lest we forget that there is a difference between information and communication. Should one consider the etymology or meanings of these two, one would realize that there is a difference.

On the issue at bar concerning the reported suspension of Liberia from the AU, because of the importance of this matter, the government should have organized a major press conference, or issue an official statement on the matter whether it is true or not, but to treat it in such unimportant manner Is my concern, as such treatment does not correspond with the gravity of such matter.

This is no joking matter; it is a matter that brings us to public ridicule and disrepute as a people and government. Therefore, it should be given the kind of corresponding treatment it deserves, and not in the manner and way it has been handled or treated.

Since the debate on this matter started, some of us do not really understand the reported action taken by the AU. It did not say Liberia is not a part or parcel of that body, but it only suspended certain rights, which are common in many bodies.

It simply means that until Liberia can settle its financial obligations, it would be denied certain rights, appertaining to, as we say in law. Let this action send an awakening call to our government, instead of giving frivolous and unnecessary explanation.

Let the government act now to move Liberia from what we locally called, “FLOOR MEMBER” to active member with participating and voting rights.

I Rest My Case.

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