By D. Wa Hne, Jr.
Ruling parties in Liberia have long held on to the doctrine of winner takes it all. It is the derivation of “this is our time syndrome “that have ravaged and contaminated the political landscape of Liberia and injected dangerous doses of separatism in determining development programs and opportunity distributions. Though former President Weah tried to weaken that doctrine by his “Liberia belongs to all Liberians “ attitude, yet there were some partisans who thought differently and acted possessively.
In key policy areas within the governing structures of the state, this doctrine has been responsible for divisive implementation of well constructed developmental agendas meant to unite the nation and accelerate the implementation of socio-economic platforms of ruling parties.
In realization of that fact, the Unity Party Government under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph Nyema Boakai, the latter who now presides as President of the Republic of Liberia, took strategic decisions meant to protect national interest areas from political invasions that would undermine and threaten their strategic functions and integrity.
Their decisions, though described and criticized at the time as a violation of Articles 52 and 56 of the Liberian Constitution which gave the President the power to appoint and dismiss at his or her will and pleasure, were seen as the best option to protect certain key functionaries of government from political and presidential interferences.
Some of these key functionaries are the Central Bank of Liberia, Liberia Revenue Authority, Liberia Maritime Authority, General Auditing Commission, Liberia Anti Corruption Commission, Liberia Internal Audit Agency, Independent Commission on Human Rights, Governance Commission, National Social Security and Welfare Corporation, National Identification Registry, Environmental Protection Agency, Liberia Aviation Authority including the now versatile National Fisheries and Aqua Culture Bureau.
These agencies and commissions which were set aside and protected under the tenure act are major revenues action and strategic policy areas that are very crucial to Liberia’s economic growth and social development. In the past, they were treated with levity, waste, and abuse and were easily manipulated by partisan politics to such extent that the integrity of governance was undermined, economic growth opportunities slowed down and the nation was exposed to national security dangers by dysfunctional enterprises of government.
With the promulgation of the act, those agencies, commissions, and corporations were placed under tenure mandates and protected against undue presidential interferences, partisan politics and changes in leadership unless for a cause. Nevertheless the law, governments in waiting, prior to being given the mandate to lead, have always targeted those positions for immediate presidential appointments despite their tenure nature once they ascend the throne.
It can be recalled that the CDC made initial errors by targeting some of those tenure positions for their partisans when it took over the mantle of leadership. That action dragged the CDC Government to public and international outcries, disrepute and indictments for attempting to abrogate the existing tenure laws.
The opposition led by Unity Party stood against the CDC attempts ferociously and associated its style of governance to profound miss-steps and ignorance of governing principles. A case in point was the Martin Kollie of the National Lottery case at the Supreme Court in which the Court ruled against the CDC Government for his removal as the head of the Agency without a cause
Currently those voices that were critical against the CDC have now taken over as the People’s elected Government and it is expected that they would not walk the same condemned steps as the CDC. Or is it possible that they would ignore their previous stance on tenure positions and also attempt to abrogate the tenure laws? Would President Boakai who was elected on the platform of the supremacy of the law and Due Process allow partisan politics to interfere with the repositioning of those functionaries of government that he and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf crafted? This is a litmus test.
Last week the nation woke up to crisis within the Environmental Protection Agency as the Agency’s Executive Director was barricaded from entering his office by some employees who it is widely believed are operating under party or tribal considerations. If care is not taken, the LRA and other tenure agencies of government might also experience the overheating of their systems with the EPA spillover. Overzealous partisans with ambitions and possessive attitudes may want to dismantle the tenure mandates of those agencies to takeover.
Some of the campaigners for these agencies heads and deputies to relinquish power have drawn their actions from former President Weah’s Executive Order instructing all appointed officials of the CDC Government to consider themselves duly resigned as of January 22, 2024. What they failed to understand is that the EO does not extend to tenure officials.
The new government which is suppose to correct all governing defects, abnormalities and ills should avoid any use of people with extremities, or arrest their actions that would seem to sum up and contemplate corrupting the new President determination to ensure the working of systems and eliminating “business as usual”. He must discourage Lord Acton’s theory of “power tempts to corrupt”.
President Joseph Boakai who has already spoken to the nation and the world that partisanship and friendship will not herald his appointments needs to make an official pronouncement on the Tenure Positions. Those agencies and Commissions under threat by misguided individuals who set aside the appointing power to dismiss heads of agencies must be held accountable for their misconducts as those agencies and commissions are lifelines of the economy that need urgent protection. The error and confrontation during the early days of the CDC should not be repeated by its critics.
As the nation celebrates the dawn of the Boakai’s Era, it is also celebrating an impending revolution in our political thinking and philosophy which the New President champions as “ think Liberia, love Liberia and build Liberia “.