The period marked a crucial turning point in the country’s struggle to escape the shadows of being a failed state; to step center stage in the limelight of international acceptance. In doing so, Liberia has gained a lot of respect. This was nowhere exemplified as with the military’s recent peacekeeping deployment in Mali, an act that signified the tangible dividends of peace sustained by the international community and ordinary Liberian themselves in transforming West Africa’s once most troubled nation.
But as the UNMIL drawdown takes full cycle, a lot of apprehensions continue to emanate from various quarters of the country, especially as the nation prepares for a very crucial presidential and legislative election in 2017. These concerns seem to gain more currency with the current hue and cry within the ranks of the various security institutions as it relates to the inadequacy of support for them to effectively carry out their prescribed functions.
The Police Director sounded a serious caveat at program marking the official turning over of security functions from UNMIL to the Liberian security apparatuses, when he lamented the inadequacy of logistics and support to the police. Although Colonel Chris Massaquoi assured Liberians and foreign residents that the police remain undaunted in maintaining law and order in a post-UNMIL environment, he was equally not delusional about the monumental challenges the force face in effectively executing its mandate.
On the other side of the security spectrum, the head of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, Col. Lemuel Reeves, has called for the requisite support needed to make the BIN effectively carry out its border patrol functions.
Similarly, news about increasing desertions within the Armed Forced of Liberia over poor facilities and pay grade don’t send any good signal about the preparedness of our national army to combat terrorism and external aggressions, especially in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in neighboring La Cote d’Ivoire and Mali.
While we fully agree that no amount of hue and cry will revert the current drawdown process, it is equally important to alert our Government and its international partners about the need to provide our security institutions with the needed logistics and funding to ease their task of maintaining and sustaining the peace.
In so doing, it is incumbent on the National Legislature to give serious consideration to augmenting budgetary support to those security institutions that have been bequeathed with the mandate left from UNMIL’s departure over our national security handling.
Finally, our security people must realize that the new charge they’ve assumed is of grave importance to the further existence of our nation-state. How well they manage the security of this country will tell how we continue to exist as an admirable subset of the international community or as a relapsed pariah state.