An Opened Letter to President Elect, Amb. George Manneh Opong Weah
Ref: First Four (4) Recommendations that will set the Pace for National Recovery
Dear President Elect:
Mr. President Elect, I bring you greetings with high esteem and it is my fervent hope this opened communication meets you well as you prepare to take on the mantle of authority of the homeland! According to the National Election Commission (NEC), the people spoke in a loud democratic tune on December 26, 2017. They went to the polls and voted the leader they deserve. As someone who was on the other side, who am I to resist the collective democratic action of the people? “The collective wisdom of the people is far more sophisticated than the intelligence of an individual.” (Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr.). It is against this backdrop that I want to once again use this opportunity to congratulate you on your election as the 25th President of the Republic of Liberia.
Unarguably, I am one of your ardent critics. My critical stance against you is neither antagonistic nor entrenched with hate or prejudice. It is based upon my little understanding of where we came from as a country and people, where we are and where we must go in terms of socioeconomic and political transformation. This understanding led me not to support your presidential bid in the 2017 Presidential Elections. In the First Round of the Election, I supported and campaigned for Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr. of the Liberian People’s Party (LPP). In the Runoff Election, I elected to support and campaign for Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the Unity Party (UP).
My support for HB, as he is tenderly called by his students, in the first round of election was based on three principles. First, he is crowned with a rich history of struggle for the dignity and honor of our people during an epoch when the mass of Liberians were treated as objects and not as beings that are on an ontological vocation for their full humanization. Second, he has a selfless history of service to this country. When he was given the opportunity to serve his people in public service, he did so not with the objective of amassing wealth at the expense of the national treasury but rather, he served the public with diligence, honesty, humility, love and faith in the people to take the center stage of history. Lastly, HB has a progressive economic and political agenda that has the tendency to break away from the present socioeconomic system that has for more than a century organized our productive forces not to develop the consciousness of our people to give way for their contribution to other aspects of social development, but instead to line the pockets of not only foreign monopoly capitalists but also their indigenous stooges that have predominantly formed part of the various ruling classes in our country’s political history.
My support for Amb Joseph Nyumah Boakai in the runoff election was based on the fact that he has a vast public sector experience than you do. Furthermore, unlike you, Mr. President Elect, Amb. Boakai presented to the electorates a clear cut economic and political plan which he could have been held accountable for had he been elected to the presidency. So, as a patriot, I needed not to make a decision in the runoff based on emotion or any other form of sentimental appeals. Unfortunately, our campaign to give this country to a nationally conscious leader who has the mental tendency to place country above self was futile. The people, in their collective voice, overwhelmingly saw in you the determination to build a country of shared values, equality, liberty and justice for all and by all.
Mr. President Elect, as a patriot who values this republic and its honor, it is my responsibility to serve as a partner in the people’s quest to have their national aspirations attained. Throughout the political history of this space, the people of Liberia have been subjected to inevitable poverty and economic deprivation. From the over 130years of oligarchical and kleptocratic rule under the auspices of the moribund True Whig Party (TWP), to the ten years of tyranny under Samuel K. Doe, the people of Liberia were confronted by hostile social forces that negated their full humanization. From the long years of a macabre war that ravaged every stratum of the society, to the period of Charles Taylor’s thievery, the Liberian people were left hopeless. From the three years of the National Transitional Government of Liberia’s (NTGL) wholesale looting of the national treasury, to the 12years of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s massive plundering of the common wealth of this republic, the people’s hope of building a nation where everyone would hope, dream, and aspire together regardless of tribal, religious or political difference was thrown in the trash pile of history.
Amb Weah, I have committed myself not to form part of the legion of young men and women who have elected to allow another ruling class to once again make mockery of our people. I shall be at the barricade partnering with the people to ensure that their vocation to become the subjects of history is realized. This partnership with the people is not about presenting my Curriculum Vitae to you for a possible provision of a job in your government. This partnership does not encompass giving me a scholarship to be admitted at an Ivy League university. My partnership with the people entails not only pointing where this leader who they elected overwhelmingly has fallen but also providing salient alternative pro-poor policy prescriptions to this leader that the people democratically confided in to manage the affairs of the Liberian statecraft.
Mr. President elect, as part of my progressive partnership with the people to attain their ontological vocation, I want to close this opened communication with some focus points which I am recommending to be considered by your government in the first year of the regime. I am of the conviction that the following focus points will build more confidence in the euphoric mass of the people instead of instilling early disillusion in your ability to lead a progressive and prosperous Liberia:
- Cut waste in government: Mr. President, stabilizing the exchange rate and bringing the economy to full equilibrium with respect to the prices of goods and services and employment is a long-run macroeconomic solution. Our economy does not have the sophistication quickly reduce the exchange rate, provide thousands of jobs for Liberians and give them a favorable purchasing power. But there are initial actions which your government can take to set the pace relative to bringing the economy to full equilibrium.
According to reports, we have a budget that consists of almost 90percent recurrent expenditure and not less than 10percent capital expenditure. This means, national government spends more on scratch cards, cars, foreign and domestic travels, salaries and emoluments and etc. more than it spends on social programs in education, health, infrastructure, security and etc. Mr. President, I am recommending that you cut recurrent expenditure by 40percent and increase capital expenditure.
This can be done by drastically reducing foreign travels and the huge salaries and benefits of officials of government in the executive. You can also prevail on the bicameral legislature urging that if they are truly committed to the forward march of the republic, they must patriotically cut their huge unjustifiable salaries and benefits in order to mobilize capital to improve the social condition of the people. You must make them understand that public service is not meant for self-enrichment. It is meant for sacrificing in order to change the horrible social existence of a third world country like Liberia.
- In Collaboration with the National Legislature, review all concession agreements and make sure the state has shares in all major corporations: Mr. President Elect, under our present socioeconomic system, government relies on not only taxes, rents, loans, grants, and goodwill, but also foreign aid as means of generating revenue to fund its predominantly recurrent expenditure budget. As the world has witnessed the rise in right wing conservative governments in the United States of America, Great Britain and France, third world countries including Liberia will experience a shrink in budgetary support from the listed countries. The present ruling classes of these aid providers are now more concerned about their domestic affairs than extending hands of support to underdeveloped countries.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon the third world to harness its natural and mineral resources in order to raise the necessary capital to implement pro-poor policies that have the tendency to place a meaningful dent on poverty. This cannot be limited to mortgaging the endowed mineral and natural resources of the third world to foreign monopoly capitals and receiving just little in taxes and rent in return. It is against this backdrop I am recommending to your government to review all concession agreements in the mining, forestry, agriculture and service sectors and ensure that the state has not less than 40percent shares in all corporations that have ownership of the commanding heights of our country economy in Liberia.
This will not limit government’s revenue generation from just the taxes and rent pay by those corporations in the mining, forestry, agriculture and service sectors but it will also enable government have a significant share in the surplus value produced by the living labor of workers at those corporations. This will widen the revenue purse of the republic and thus capacitate government to resolve the many structural imbalances in the economy without looking on the shoulders of imperial developed countries.
- Set up a commission of inquiry to investigate reports of economic crimes during the Ellen-led regime and prosecute anyone found capable of plundering the resources of the republic: Mr. President Elect, the status quo has managed to convince the unsuspecting mass of the people that the country’s economic conundrum is as the results of the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the fall in the price of major export commodity, and the Ebola virus disease. For us who have committed ourselves to be in the conscious vanguard, we cannot submit to such theatrics.
We are convinced that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in cohort with her economic scoundrels did not only rip off the common wealth of our country, but also did subject the people to extreme misery and agony. This is why there has only been an increase in the affluence of the elites at the top of the pyramid and the continuous development of underdevelopment in the social existence of the mass of Liberians.
Mr. President Elect, the people see you as their only beacon of hope. They see you as a man who will have a paradigm shift. Their resources that were stolen by those elements of reaction must be retrieved. Therefore, I am recommending that a commission of inquiry be set up in the first hundred days of you regime to investigate every report of economic crime under the Ellen-led regime. Those found culpable of plundering state resources for the satisfaction of their ego must be prosecuted under our laws and if found guilty, they must be stamped with a thirty year jail sentence as well as the confiscation of all properties.
- Avoid being influence by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: Mr. President Elect, I do not need a rocket science analysis to conclude that Madam Sirleaf did everything in her reach to give you political power. It is obvious that Ellen and many of her trusted confidants supported your presidential bid at the expense of her Vice President and the Unity Party. She did so not because you were good at playing football. She did so because she was assured the protection of her stolen wealth and impunity for her entire league of criminals. Now that you have been given the power, Madam Sirleaf, a fist of Machiavelli will do everything possible to make sure her part of the deadly political deal is attained.
Mr. President Elect, take your accommodation of President Sirleaf during the electoral process as the application of the “Carrot and Stick” metaphor in politics. Understanding the power of incumbency in African politics, you gave her a carrot (political save haven) in exchange of her overwhelming support; it is high time you strike her with the stick, that is, avoid being influenced by President Sirleaf and her den of thieves. They are bad omens. Instead of providing a political shield after the industrial looting of the national treasury, President Sirleaf and her syndicate must be made to account for their stewardship.
You must make the euphoric mass of the people to understand that you used the tricks of a fox to get the political support of President Sirleaf and now that the power is in your hands, you must use the power of a lion to bring to book all those who saw this space as a plantation where anyone would gather hurried wealth.
Mr. President Elect, this is where I stand as part of my commitment to partner with the people to ensure the reaching point of their aspiration to live in a more peaceful, prosperous and united Liberia. May God bless you and save the state.
Moses Uneh Yahmia
Student, University of Liberia