The dark- days in our budding democracy seem to be viewed by many as the periods intended for the “survival of the fittest”. “Survival of the fittest” is an ancient philosophy that tends to shift a concept where each person in a struggle growls for him/herself, and not the general interest of the organization or the state. This way of life has permeated our political landscape where a key component of the tenets of democracy is being impinged. Advocacy in our country today reminds Liberians of a ‘come and grasp’ state of affairs where our political leaders are using state resources to sponsor surrogate groups to speak on their behalf whenever they come in conflict with the law. This trend of advocacy is gradually deepening the essence of truth telling and boldness. These “Fly by night” groups under the awning of advocacy have brought total ignominy to this dignified calling that is undermining our democracy. In today Liberia, those claiming to be advocates are deviating from the real meaning of the vocation and have chosen personal aggrandizement as the hallmark of their venture.
Liberia, over the years, has been blighted by mis-used of economic, social and political power, and to ensure a big difference, it is imperative for us as a people to strengthen this democracy through realism and not self-worthiness. But on the contrary, 80% of these organizations are not duly registered and as such initiate techniques by which they forget their responsibilities as advocates and put up a defensive carriage. While carrying out their wagons, they shower praises on individuals and organizations that are abusing and mortifying public offices. These groups, according to gauges, sit on the side and wait for any storm that will glimmer involving government officials or Institutions. Instead of cramming the circumstances at hand, these ‘so-call’ advocates take their brief cases to the offices of the ‘Perceived indictees’ with the pretense of defending their unbelted bad deeds. During this initiation, they discuss the fees attached as they transmit their narcissistic mission. How will a nation develop when those charged with the smack to expose and identify these ills are the very ones receiving kickbacks from culprits who are nibbling the Nation’s coffers. Instead of looking at the overall good of the society, the “grass hoper” activists engage the airwaves and newspapers headlines with unnecessary defensive comments, glorifying their godfathers who are bent on bleeding the coffers of the people. As a result of these hard-hazard advocacies, bulk of the citizenry suffers, only because those who claim to be in their interest by charming government have joined the rage by soliciting peanuts.
This style of promotion increases the frustration of the people and corrodes moral and social fabric of society. In my view, if a united front is formed with stern determination to sincerely speak with one voice, much can be achieved, but without this method, stakeholders will have the notion that they can fall for anything at any given time through the inducement of few dollars. Instead of dis-abusing the minds of these groups, they at times sponsor them to attach their peers, only because they want to be smugly seated in pursuit of their wishes. Liberia can no longer continue to being a nation that pretends to be on par with other nations in nurturing democracy, when civil society organizations that are to serve as catalysts by check mating government turn out to be otherwise. The issue has become so glaring that Liberians have now recognized the names of said groups and individuals and have now made their positions clear on the role of said groups, due to the way they portray themselves on issues of grave concerns. After the civil conflict in Liberia, advocacy decreased considerably without any reference to integrity. Some are attributing the declining wave of advocacy in Liberia to poor state of the economy, where poverty seems to be a bottleneck to national progress, thereby shedding coat of honesty. This argument, in my opinion, cannot hold water because it takes one with emotional fortitude to be an advocate. On our various radio and television stations, names of new groups are formed in a twinkle of an eye to defend public figures that are accused of corruption, forgetting to realize that only the court has the power to set some one free after due process is accorded that person.
Though every Liberian should be given the right to freedom of expression, said freedom should be exercised within reasonable bounds. In the absence of accountable and responsible comments, the nation and its people become the victims of irresponsible self-absorbed statements. The unbridled- style of advocacy embedded in the corridor of stupidity and the lack of respect for characters only questions the motive for which one enters the craze. The shadow of darkness hanging over Liberia can also be attributed to Liberians ways of doing things. We have refused at most times to look at the bigger picture for the sake of the nation (Liberia), but instead gaze at the narrow span of issues that satisfy our own interest. The acts of deceit, lies, hypocrisy and cowardice have taken roots in all of our engagements without any slide scruple of the after-math. We, as Liberians, cannot continue to live this way, if we are to build a new Liberia void of acts of bad governance that are gradually eating up the fabric of society. During the days of the “So-call” Progressives, including the likes of, Samuel Kofi Woods, Frances Johnson- Allison, James Verdier, Augustine Toe, Michael Kpakala Francis, and Aloysius Toe, advocacies in Liberia were well- respected, but now a days, it is the contrary. But the more repulsive part of their advocacies has left no positive legacy that would reference their stringent and indelible footprint. During their days, these activists did not put into proposition a succession corridor that would absorb the space left behind. Their absence shows a very big gap in their style of advocacy. Some of these one-time staunch activists are all serving in the government of Madam President, something I believed, has lulled them to silence, thereby making them to solely rely on the adage that says “You cannot bite the hands that feed you”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mr. D. Edwin Clarke is a Liberian Journalist, with emphasis in Broadcast Journalism. He has earned for himself twelve years of practical experience in the field of journalism. Mr. Clarke holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications and Political Science from the University of Liberia. He holds several certificates in journalism and has worked with a number of media institutions, both print and electronic. Mr. Clarke has written several articles, some of which include : Laziness: an impediment to productivity and progress, What Kind of Justice, The Nightingale’s principle in the nursing profession, Cronyism, Tribalism & Nepotism: Three evils to Governance, Where Are The Advocates?