The Constitution, Bye-Laws, Rules & Regulations of an Organization which define the functions, responsibilities, hierarchy and reporting/accountability relationships influence the performance behavior of individuals in organization, according to Organization Theory. Our public service experience at major, public policy levels of the Liberian government for twenty-something years confirmed this hypothesis.
In the case of Liberia, this structurehad been, and is, the Unitary Structure of government enshrined in the nation’s Constitution since 1847. The Constitution of Liberia
According toArticles1 & 3 of the 1986 Constitution(provisions retained from the 1847 abrogated Constitution),“all power is inherent in the people” and “Liberia is a unitary state divided in counties (15 at the present) for administrative purposes”.
Article50 provides that “The Executive power of the Republic shall be (and is) vested in the President who shall be head of state and government, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Liberia”.Article54 says that “The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Senate, appoint and commission” the following officials of government:
a) Cabinet ministers, deputies and assistants;
b) Ambassadors, ministers and consuls;
c) The Chief Justice, Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts;
d) Superintendents, other county officials and officials of other political subdivisions;
e) Members of the military from the rank of lieutenant or its equivalent and above; and
f) Marshals, deputy marshals and sheriffs.
Article 55 provides that “The President shall appoint and commission Notaries Public and Justices of the Peace”, while Article 56(a) prescribes that “ . . . government officials, both military and civilian, appointed by the President pursuant to this Constitution shall hold their offices (or serve) at the pleasure and will of the President”.Article 56(b) states that “There shall be election of Paramount, Clan and Town Chiefs by the registered voters in their respective localities . . . They (the elected chiefs) may be re-elected and may be removed only by the President for proved misconduct . . .”. Moreover,the Power of the Liberian President shall cover all specialized agencies of government, state-owned enterprises, specialized commissions/committees of inquiry, boards (of directors/trustees and members) created by legislative enactments.
These highly-trained & experienced individuals – are the intellectual, academic, technological and socio-economic and political “cream of the crop” of Liberia’s professionals: they teach, write, publish, study, research, analyze, plan, prescribe and recommend, manage and implement the programs that determine present and future directions of our nation. They constitute the upper and middle classes of Liberian society.
However, their lives – hopes, fears, careers, dreams, personal growth and development, etc. – depend upon and are determined, to a large extent, by the “will and pleasure” of one person who is answerable to no one, according to the constitutional“doctrine” of the Unitary Structure of government. Very few, if any, will or can muster the “guts” or courage to challenge “presidential power and prerogatives”, for fear of “losing it all”, including being labeled as a “trouble-maker” who wants to “rock the boat” and be ostracized socially, economically and politically.
The most important example, relevant to and the expression of the major requirement of representative democracy,but a contrary element of this public policy, is the appointment of superintendents of counties, mayors of cities and all political officials, of the nation’s regional, political sub-divisions in which the overwhelming majority of the nation’s population lives, whoserve notupon the will of the majority of the citizens through elections, but upon the “will and pleasure” of a powerful President, under law, of course.This example demonstrates the wide-ranging, far-reaching impact and implications of the powers of an Imperial President.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) The NEC, national referee and lawful manager of the electoral process that determines the most powerful executive in the land, is seen by Liberians as being manipulated and controlled by ruling, political parties. The recent, unusual and un-ceremonial abandonment of his position as chairman of the Nation’s National Elections Commission (NEC) and the secret, un-announced departure from the country while in the midst of several allegations of electoral fraud is a case in point.
The Governance Commission
This powerful public policy theoretician and advisor or counsel-general to the Government of Liberia, in the Preamble to the National Policy on Decentralization & Local Governance, January, 2011, wrote:
That“. . .Since 1847 and throughout the history of Liberia, governance and public administration have remained highly centralized in Monrovia and controlled mainly by institutions and structures of the central state which have not allowed adequate legal opportunities for the establishment of a system of participatory local governance; thatthe highly centralized system of governance has impeded popular participation and local initiative, especially in the provision of public goods and services, and has contributed to the need for greater accountability and transparency in the management of public affairs and led to the gap in economic growth and development, equal access to social and economic opportunities and human wellbeing between Monrovia and the rest of Liberia; thatthese conditions have slowed down Liberia’s overall economic growth and development and democratization process, leading to underinvestment in human resources and human wellbeing throughout the Republic; and that the Government of Liberia realizes the need to ensure greater participation of the Liberian people in their own development process and for equitable distribution of the nation’s resources so as to ensure a more wholesome process of development and democratic governance”.
Therefore and thereby, concluded that Liberia’s socio-economic and political problems are due, mainly, to the unitary structure of government. However, the Commission recommended retention of and, in fact, retained the unitary structure as follows: “Liberia shall remain a unitary state with a system of local government and administration which shall be decentralized with the county as the principal focus of the devolution of power and authority(National Policy on Decentralization & Local Governance, January, 2011, page 2)”.
This was, and is, in fact, an effort to maintain and continue the tradition of the status quo – the unitary structure with rigid centralization of political, economic and administrative power in the Republic of Monrovia, with supreme executive power vested in an Imperial President.
Keynote Speeches by Hon. John S. Morlu, II
In his recent (November 27, 2015) and second keynote speech delivered to the Congress of Liberian Journalists, the Honorable, JohnMorlu:
1. Asked, rhetorically, “is there anything in Liberia that this President (Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf) has not made political? He answered, “she is running one of the biggest patronage systems in Liberia . . . making everything in Liberia a political business. Can anyone get job, contract and newspaper advertisement in this country if you are not political; anyone get anything done in Liberia if you are not part of the political class that sings praises to the President”?
2. Said “For 168 years, Liberia’s democracy is a democracy that is run by a Presidency who lacksmoral clarity, a bribe-taking Legislature and a Judiciary that is for the highest bidder . . . the Liberian media should take a broad national interest to help dismantle this Liberian democracy”;
3. Declared “Liberia’s democracy is in sharp contrast to the American (US) democracy . . . and I have said it (US democracy) is not close (to the Liberian democracy). In Liberia, we have a kleptocracy and Sirleaf (the President) Incorporated, masquerading as a democracy. This Government has replaced political tyranny with economic tyranny”;
4. Advised that “The main intellectual argument for the constitutional, Republican Form of Government in America (USA) we claimed to have inherited is contained in 85 Federalist Papers . . . laid down the three fundamental criteria in order to achieve freedom and opportunity as (1) an Energetic Executive (2) a Deliberative Legislature and (3) a Just & Fair Judiciary . . . Liberian democracy does not meet any of these criteria”;
5. On and about corruption, his single-issue of concern, Mr. Morluquotes President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s declarations: that “corruption is public enemy no.1” and provided this sober assessment of the negative impact of corruption: That corruption erodes faith in government . . . it weakens accountability, transparency and justice . . . short-changes and undermines key decision and policy-making process . . . Stifles private investments which create jobs and support from our partners (investment promoters) . . . and that corruption is a national cancer that creates hostility, distrust and anger”.
The Former Auditor-General of Liberia, Mr. John Morlu, II presented the foregoing and earlier arguments, a sort of political campaigns towards 2017,against and within this socio-culturally-decadent,economically-decadentand politically-decadentbackgroundcreated, imposed, continuing and dominated by the constitutionally-sanctioned Policy/Law – the Unitary structure of government.
While we admire, indeed welcome and appreciate, the CPA and Former Auditor-General’s financial management expertise, his commitment to economic management efficiency with transparency and dedication to “fight corruption”, we have often wondered about Honorable Morlu’s analysis that are devoid of the required “whys”, “hows”, “wherefores, etc.,” of corruptionand all others (items 1-5 above,effects,not causes), imbedded in, protected and supported by the nation’s major, national public policy & constitutional law, the Unitary structure (the “big issue”) of the Liberian Government, dating back to 1847.
This argument is analogous to President Sirleaf’s refusal “To accept the legacies of a Failed State . . .”; however, we argued in response, “that having supported, accepted, operated (benefited from) and continue to operate under and wallow in the cesspool of this major, national policy – the current, Unitary System of government – enshrined in our organic law, the Constitution and utilized up to the present and continuing, the President may not, at this late date, disavow the policy consequences. We suggested, alternatively, strong, reasoned legislative request for replacement of the unitary system with the tried-and-testedFederal system, a request which will lend reasonable credibility to the President’s claim”.
For, law is made with the Proviso of an amendment/repeal in the event of the inevitable, historical change rendering the law irrelevant. Similarly, Mr. Morlu should consider this approach.
But, all that we have heard from the Former Auditor-General is a lot of hot-air – populist, ttowards 2017, the popular, political destination, acclaimed the “watershed”.
Mr. Morlu’s Keynote Speech broke no new grounds; for, everything that he told the Journalists and the Liberian People, they know already, including the President’s recent, Call-to-Action, Special Speech. Indeed, the Journalists and the people know, also, already, that Liberian democracy is unlike the US democracy because:
a) The Liberian President runs “one of the biggest patronage systems in Liberia . . . making everything a political business – getting a job, contract, newspaper advertising and one cannot get anything done if you are not part of the political class” . . .;
b) “For 168 years, Liberia’s democracy is . . . run by” a President “who lacks moral clarity, a bribe-taking Legislature and Judiciary” that doles out justice “to the highest bidder”.
c) Most importantly, is the appointment of superintendents of counties, mayors of cities and all political officials, of the nation’s regional, political sub-divisions in which the t the majority of the citizens through elections, but upon the “will and pleasure” of one person, a powerful President, under law, of course, contrary to the major, critical principles of representative democracy. All are consequences, effects, of theunitary structure of government.
Mr. John S.morlu, CPA and Former Auditor-General of Liberia,provided assessment report of the negative impact of corruption, by President Sirleaf, by quotations(item 5 above), apparently designed to repeat and remind, but without the critical responsibility of a finance/management professional of the inevitable inquiry into the “whys”, “hows“, “wherefores”, etc., of corruption,which could, would and will, inevitably, lead to the larger picture of thecausesof corruption.
Not only that Liberian corruption has successfully resisted reduction and control, let alone eradication, but also that the Liberian Government aids and abets corruption, for examples:
High-ranking officials of government, male and female, hire and surround themselves by relatives, friends, concubines and cronies; work less and over-pad, with salary/wage allowances which include top-of-the line, high-priced vehicles, insurance, electric power generators and service, and paid housing (for some) in 21st Liberia; this includes those who steal public resources (in the past and today) with which they build personal, business enterprises and palatial homes (some with swimming pools today); develop real estates rented to government at over-priced, lease payments (such real estate activities had been and are regarded as “national development”) for which these “honorable rogues” are rewarded with promotions to higher, much more lucrative positions (“lucrative” positions in Liberian economic parlance means positions havingexcellent opportunities to amass wealth by stealing from the state, the people).
But, like all other, former Liberian citizens who are now naturalized citizens of foreign countries known as dual citizens, as Ms. Ellen Corkrum, Mr. John Morlu,some ministers and deputies, some NEC commissioners, some state-owned enterprise managing directors and deputies, some presidential candidates, some members of the Governance Commission, some members of the Legislature, the Judiciary and others who serve in very sensitive positions (national security and the economy) in government and who benefit enormously from the status quo – Unitary structure of government –it would be logically unreasonable to “strike the hand that feeds” them.
Therefore, Mr. John Morlu, the political parties and their standard bearer-candidates for president of Liberia pledged, already, “to-stay-the-course” on the 169-year-old assumption; that is, that they will retain, support and maintain the prevailing system of government, the unitary system as is, if elected, and administer Liberia’s political
ystem, with “political and economic tyranny in a Kleptocracy”.
However, a review of the larger picture, shows that maintaining the status quo, is in fact, wrongful protection of the interest of the very few political class at the expense of the great majority of the citizens of the nation, an untenable or unjustifiable action, in terms of the principle of democratic practice.
“For no other reason”, we wrote elsewhere,“one would think, that any reasonable public administrator or democratic politician, answerable to the citizens, would seek to implement change, with reforms, transformation,in the light of doing the same thing for a century with disastrous results. For, throughout 168 years, successive, Liberian, political leadershipsand derivatives, held on to the unitary structure, while the nation becomes a “failed State”. Now, we are told by the national, public policy theorists & counselors that “Liberia shall remain a unitary state with a system of local government and administration which shall be decentralized with the county as the principal focus of the devolution of power and authority”.
“Therefore, we hasten to provide comparative, contrasting analysis/conclusion below, showing the critical difference between the two, main, systems of government – Federal and Unitary. For, according to the premise/conclusions by the “Candidates for President”, come 2017, the Liberian nation will have to wait, perhaps, for another 168 years or more for change, reforms, transformation”.
Decentralization – Federal & Unitary
Both Federal and Unitary systems refer to or define “devolution”as decentralizationof power. But there are distinct, important differences and conditions, critical to successful democratic practice and results, particularly, in the light of Liberia’s turbulent past.
In the Federal system, devolution-decentralization is guaranteed by written, constitutional provisions, with terms and conditions binding upon the central, federal government and its regional, semi-autonomous constituents; whereas, in the Unitary system,devolution-decentralization is non-constitutional and that the central, unitary government reserves the right to alter, re-arrange or abolish the devolved-decentralized powers without consultation and/or consent of the regional constituents, because, unlike federal system, the regional constituents lack constitutional right to exist, in the first place.
In other words, devolution of political poweras defined, the right to vote in the selection of Mayors, Town, Clan, and Paramount Chiefs and Superintendents, as desired and expected by the overwhelming majority of this nation’s citizens, is not governed by constitutional provision, and that the Unitary, Central government, the system now prevailing in Liberia, reserves the right to change and/or abolish the devolved powers without consultation and/or consent of the regional constituents, the counties in the Republic of Liberia. The Liberian voter in Fish Town, River Gee; in Saiquellie, Nimba; Tubmanburg, Bomi; and Bentol, Montserrado Counties,do not need a rocket scientist to tell him/her that this had been and is undemocratic!!
• Finally, the structure of an organization influences the performance behavior of the individuals – employees – of that organization. Similarly, the unitary structure of the Liberian Government influenced the performance (behavior) of all functionaries, employees of government and (drives corruption, the effect).
• Liberia’s major problem – socio-cultural, economic and political – is structural, not only and simply, the ego or inordinate desire of a president for political power and the perceived wealth associated with such power.These areeffects or results,not the causes.
• Therefore, we argue that unless the Unitary structure of our government is replaced by the time-tested, relatively successful federal system, the current drive for good, democratic governance, efficient/effective delivery of needed services, efficient/effective production, distribution, exchange and delivery of goods & services indeed, the relief of socio-economic and political constipation of our capital city of Monrovia”are all doomed to failure,and that the Liberian State will continue to be and known as Failed, not a modern, functional State.
In conclusion, we urge Mr. John Morlu and other patriotic Liberians now living broad, but deeply concerned about change and democracy in Liberia, to return home permanently. For, despite the level of one’s academic achievements and passionate commitment to democratic principles, pontifications of public policies or dishing out criticisms from the comfort of distant lands will not bring about or provide just and lasting socio-political change/order; rather, this change, this democratic transformation will come only when one is physically present, permanently, on-ground in Liberia, participate in and experience the socio-economic and political dynamics – ofwho says and does what to whom, why, how, when & where – and the context of these dynamics.
A Response to John S. Morlu, II