Editorial: Keeping the Pressure On

The pronounced decision by the Government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to demolish the new Defense Ministry Complex in Oldest Congo Town continues to be at the core of debates in all quarters of the Liberian society. The government recently announced publicly to the people of Liberia that it was about to demolish the building at the cost of Four Million United States Dollars to make way for the construction of its ministerial complex under the auspices of the Government of the People’s republic of China at more than Sixty Million United States Dollars.

As a testimony to its firmness on the decision, the government, through the Ministry of Public Works issued a public service announcement, requesting residents of the community in which the structure is located, including Peace Island otherwise known as “540” to immediately present land deeds, probably to justify ownership for compensation and relocation. Such announcement suggested that those without legitimate claims would leave the community voluntarily without compensation and relocation.

The planned demolition of the incomplete new Defense Ministry complex, characterized by the government’s hasty approach to the commencement of the construction project in the area did not go un-noticed as usual. Across Liberia, the decision met stiff and relentless resistance and condemnations. Realizing the overwhelming opposition and pressure to rescind its decision, the Liberian Government, through the Ministry of Information, seems now to be in a fumbling state, suggesting that there may either be a change of mind or an attempt/strategy to defuse the current tension to later execute the project by claiming that there were other alternatives and that the Congo Town cite was only selected as a possible alternative.

A petition resisting the move by the administration filed by Human Rights Lawyer Dempster Brown before the Supreme Court of Liberia for review and opinion is suspended pending the execution of the government’s planned demolition of the structure and eviction of the Peace Island residents.

In all sincerity, those who may have persuaded Madam President for the “go-ahead” to even construct the ministerial complex in Congo Town, least to mention the demolition of the multi-million dollar incomplete Defense Ministry building did not do justice to her and our country. We are of the fervent belief that had they properly advised the Liberian leader without internal personal aggrandizement, she would have consented to the construction of the ministerial complex on some of the vast and vacant land around Monrovia.

It is no secret that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (at her current age) greatly and wholeheartedly depends on her official family in driving her development agenda through to success. As a result of such explicit confidence, some of our compatriots who now have the opportunities to help President Sirleaf leave an unforgettable legacy upon her retirement from the presidency,  may  just be using a situation such as the ‘incomplete new Defense Ministry cite’ to score personal capital.

Even if the government no longer intends to house the Ministry of National Defense in that structure in Congo Town, it would be a more ‘rewarding achievement’ to spend the amount of Four Million United States Dollars to complete the building for use either by the Ministry of Education or Ministry of Justice with all of its components, except the Liberia National police.

Earnestly, this is what cabinet officials should have recommended to the “Old Ma”, other than creating an unfortunate situation to undermine her administration’s progress. Cabinet Ministers and other officials of the Liberian Government, including Legislators must be cognizant of the fact the success of the Ellen Administration is a pace-setter for their own achievements and forward political movements.

In view of the foregoing, the issue of commitment and sincerity must interplay in their official interactions with her, especially when it is of national sensitivity. We all are urged must continue to keep up the pressure on the Government of Liberia to rescind its decision to destroy the incomplete new Defense Ministry Complex in Oldest Congo Town at the cost of Four Million United States Dollars in favor of the “construction of the ministerial complex.

While the offer by the Chinese Government to do the complex is in our best interest, we must also be sincere with ourselves by not incorporating into the project, vices that would cause future embarrassment for the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as Head of State and the country at large.

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