Sad to say, the bulk of the progressive politicians in these movements regardless of whatever social class or level, does not emanate from the cream of those who have attained high intellectual sophistication through arduous training and exposure to the circles and corridors of higher learning like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Nelson Mandala who emancipated their people from unnecessary socio-economic deprivation. Consequently, much of what is done today in Liberia is by guesswork and imitation often spiced with a substantial amount of sheer ignorance of the plight of the Liberian people, especially the rural communities. Very often, one hears them quote statements totally out of context, or use concepts that are obsolete and inapplicable to Liberia political, leadership, social, economic and religious problems. One might say, oh! Why don’t the enlightened advice to mitigate such horrible political and national disasters?
When opportunists pose as progressives and ride the saddle of political power, very rare do they harken unto the advice of reason. Entrusting state power to the custody of the ignorance and self-styled progressive politicians seems to be a common trend though almost always with disastrous results in our country. Perhaps, it is high time caution was given with regard to the loose manner in which certain concepts or practices are adopted or used. Of late, concepts like sovereignty have become victims of the loose application within and without Parliament or the National Legislature and at times to the detriment of diplomatic relations and international partnership.
The political and state actors in public affairs today were our common yearning for socio-economic and political freedom, peace and a better life for all. The socio-economic concern is about the past and current governments’ oppression and despair and a future of hope and democracy. There are those who would like us to believe that the past doesn’t exist: that decades of dictatorship rule have suddenly disappeared. But the economic and social devastation of dictatorship remains. Therefore, our country is in a mess. Change in the pending October 10, 2017 presidential and legislative elections is a must. To eradicate the serious problems caused by the economic and social devastation of dictatorship, mismanagement and corruption, Liberia needs a government with the political will to meet the challenge and battle with current opportunism; a government that understands the needs of the future because it understands the neglect and division of the past. We need a government that puts people and country first. The practice created by current political and state actors to buy and support opposition members with large amounts of public money is tantamount to corruption. The practice is bad and clampdown on our young democracy.
Indeed the world over, formation of progressive movements of national concerns is not a strange thing. However, there are conditions that necessitate such arrangements. What is fundamental in such situations is the preservation of the integrity of the state and nation in the face of either internal rift or external aggression.
Briefly, progressive movements of national concerns are formulated with well-defined and specified political ideology and are realistically inclusive and therefore consistent as well as representative. It accommodates nearly every strata of society. Every sector with a major say or representation, political or civil, is represented in such arrangement. Further, progressive movements are by nature temporal and transient for it is meant to deal with an emergency. It is specifically tailored to respond with speed, united focus and energy to a specific situation of emergency such as uncontrollable prices of basic commodities and unprecedented exchange rates in the face of rampant corruption of state resources. With this understanding, do the prevalent social and economic conditions in Liberia call for progressives in public affairs to act now? Obviously yes! There are serious socio-economic threats and challenges to the integrity of the state of Liberia from within with respect to the vampire-rampant corruption-and fragile national reconciliation.
Even, if there were not such profound threats and plights of socio-economic well-being of bulk of the Liberian people, what the self-styled progressives in public affairs are doing in current government is far from qualifying them as progressives in the true sense and meaning of the word. They have got it extremely and dangerously wrong!
Liberia progressives prior to 1980 are far from mirroring the state and nation of Liberia. Where is the Liberian people’s party (LPP) and its progressives? Where also is United People’s Party (UPP) and its surviving progressives? What about the representatives of other political parties and civil society? For the sake of prosperity and precedent there is a need to remind our political and state actors who are proliferating around here as progressives on some historical prospective and correct them straight away.
The problem which the progressives failed to contend with is that of the intra and inter relationship between and among their national leaderships. As things stand at the moment the relationship is unhealthy. This unhealthiness is indicated by such symptoms of intolerance on the part of the progressives towards one another, a tendency towards strong-man leadership, indulgence in smear campaigns and political instability within their camps.
It can be argued, on the one hand, that the intolerance towards one another is bred by the destructive criticism of their leaderships and that the task which these progressives face call for strong-man/woman government. On the other hand, it can equally be contended that the attitude of their followers on the basis of regional alliance is inevitable in view of the intolerance of their leaderships, and that internally political conflicts result from the conviction that the speeches of their national leaderships would not influence them to change some of their policies. There are some elements of truth in both arguments but the remainder of the truth lies somewhere.
The main explanation of friction hinges on the sharing of gratitude and prestige. Before the coup‘d’état, True Wing Party rulers and their cohorts occupied the topmost rungs of the social ladder. With the staging of coup d’état, however, they stepped down and leaders of progressive movements who had triumphed at the political stage stepped up to fill the vacant rungs, thereby becoming the recipients of gratitude and admiration from their fellow-countrymen for having liberated their country. Some leaders of the progressives and civil society, who might have fought for justice just as valiantly as anyone else, found themselves the recipients of practically nothing. Herein lies the rub. It is only human for these people to feel that they have been given a raw deal. Once they begin to feel that way, they are often certain to despise and to denounce their opponents as selfish, ambitious and vain. Their opponents will regard this as mischievous detraction and may resort by calling them jealous, visionless, little men with small minds – the noisy minority.
And so the stage was set for full-scale mud-slinging which culminated in the progressives loss of focus, thereby resulting to division and failure. This intolerance only exacerbated bad feelings, created more tension and led to political isolation of their colleagues before, during and after the civil conflict. Yet the economic and social problems which confront Liberia require, for their solution, that there should be unity, reconciliation and cooperation between political and state actors in public affairs and their colleagues.
Henceforth, what had been formulated and paraded in the 1970s and early 1980s were not progressive movements to preserve the integrity of the state and nation of Liberia but political opportunism for inclusion in government. Do you remember what happened during and following the All Liberian National Conference in 1997, held at the Unity Conference Center in Monrovia? Not long after the conference, major political actors and national policy-decision makers of the main progressive political parties, notably LPP and UPP went ahead to form a coalition with the Liberia Action Party (LAP), thereby fuelling internal conflicts that led to the controversial division of the two main progressive political parties.
One might reasonably believe, if we are to go by the events, that the 1970s and 1980s progressives on one hand, and post-war politicians on the other hand, in the current government have one thing in common, their single-mindedness and passion, coupled with unrelenting loathe against their colleagues and the common people, on one side, and serious commitment to unreservedly loot the nation before vacating their seats.
In fact, it is the progressives in the current government who have been ardently strategizing and fighting for disunity by practicing politics of exclusion meant to victimize their colleagues through the imaginary regional alliance. This concept and passion have been there since the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) in 1990.
As the current government near exit, the progressives and state actors in public affairs are more than ever bent on ensuring that their cohorts, especially those who fiercely campaigned for their second-term bid for their present seats are left in warmth through the state coffers. That is why bogus political alliances have been created across the current political spectrum to accommodate even the most mediocre in their new found political establishments.
While public affairs are below standards, the economy is in doldrums, poverty has become standard and the government offices at the Capitol Hill and around Monrovia from where progressive political and state actors in public affairs are operating, indeed the very seat of government, are so dusty and smoky that one never knows the last time these offices were graced with a face lift (most probably when President William R. Tolbert, Jr. was still in charge), and the surrounding are overgrown with bushes while the laborers are busy playing face book as early as 9:00am, etc. What a joke! This is really a joke, albeit a bad one.
For political and state actors in public affairs currently, whose stature of sanity and moral integrity is now very questionable, everybody now knows that they are part of this last hour bonanza for a pension scheme the government has all long determined to get after its second term.
To conclude, let me remind all Liberians that our country is at war with poverty, ignorance, malnutrition and disease. Whether they win the war will depend, to a very large extent, on the cooperation and the enthusiasm which the political and state actors in public affairs can generate among their fellow countrymen. Party wrangles resulting in mutual hatred, disunity, confusion and despondency is not an asset in such a war or any other war for that matter.
Working together would have the effect of building up mutual trust between the leaders of various political parties. Once distrust has been removed, the winning and losing parties can revert to their respective functions of proposing and opposing and there would be a reasonable chance that views of the opposition will not only be listened to sympathetically but also acted upon where necessary.
Undoubtedly, it is not pleasant to work side by side with your rival. Leaders of the main political parties in Great Britain also felt that way at the beginning of the Second World War. But they saw that the situation demanded unity and cooperation so they curbed their rivalry and teamed up together to save their country. In Liberia the political and state actors in public affairs face the challenge of saving our country from stagnation. Have they anything to lose by teaming up together?