On her last journey out of power by January 2018 to end 12 years or two consecutive six-year terms in office, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf chaired her final Cabinet Retreat or so it seems last week Thursday, 30 March in Julijuah, Bomi County with a call to cabinet ministers to exercise “mutual respect” for one another.
Presidential Press Secretary J. Matthews Piah has been outlining highlights of the Cabinet Retreat to the media, but our attention is drawn to the call coming from the President to members of the cabinet to accord mutual respect to fellow cabinet ministers.
We don’t know how long such behavior has existed among cabinet ministers, but we can clearly say to those concerned that this is not a good posture to adapt, particularly with barely nine months left for the government to relinquish power.
On the contrary, we think cabinet ministers should even collaborate more and demonstrate respect for one another on the last mile journey of the government to ensure an amicable exit of the administration. While we accept that there may be disagreements or divergent views on policy issues or strategies, it shouldn’t extend to the level where some members of the cabinet are not speaking to their colleagues or not sharing notes on key strategies that could move the country forward.
The Sirleaf administration no doubt has made significant strides on several fronts in the last 11 years and there are tangible proofs of progress that cannot go unnoticed or be ignored. Arguably, we believe more could have been achieved. But be that as it may, the facts cannot be swept under the carpet.
The head of the President’s Delivery Unit at the Ministry of State, Dr. Clarence Moniba during the cabinet retreat listed key accomplishments by the government, including construction of the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant, asphalt paved roads, housing estates, hospitals and community colleges, among others.
The cabinet plays a vital role in achieving these gains and we think cabinet ministers should not allow personal difference and personality contest to becloud the achievements of the government. This would be a gross disservice to President Sirleaf, if members of her cabinet would want to end on this path.
“We want to ask you to have more in terms of coordination… that’s been one of our chief shortcomings. People not talking to each other; people not communicating with each other; people not sharing with each other”, the President pleaded with her cabinet last week.
We believe the last mile journey of the administration should be pre-occupied with fine toning rough edges of deliverables other than dwelling on egotistic strife that does not benefit the general good of the country.
Therefore, we join President Sirleaf in reiterating to members of the cabinet to see the bigger picture – Liberia in terms of delivering basic services to the people rather than one minister trying to downplay or portray the other as irrelevant, even on the last mile to the end.