By Wilmot Nah Adekoya Ph.D.
We must start from the simple premise that the future of Africa is up to Africans a statement well-articulated by President Obama during his historic visit to Africa in Ghana. While this statement resonates with most Africans around the world, it should set precedent to move the new breed of African leaders to focus on the future of their nations. Today, the nation of Liberia is at the crossroad of a new administration. What is most important, this new administration will have to change the narrative of Liberia. Howbeit, history will judge this new generation of leadership to bring a comprehensive change promised to move Liberia forward. Certainly, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030 set out by the United Nations, provide a benchmark for the Weah’s Administration if his government must succeed. The Sustainable Development Goals called for the end of poverty, end hunger, ensure healthy lives, ensure inclusively and equality quality education, achieve gender equality, water and sanitation for all, accessible and modern energy, sustainable economic growth, build resilient infrastructure, Reduce inequality, inclusive human settlement, ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, combat climate change, conserve the use of ocean, sea, and marine resources, protect terrestrial ecosystems, promote peace and inclusive societies for sustainable development, justice for all, and effective and accountable inclusive institutions for all, and Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. The question is how can this government delivered its promises expected by the vested amount of people in Liberia who are expecting miracles. Starting from the promise of Pro-Poor Government speaks volume. In most case, in the short term, it will be prudent for the new government to select the right candidates to lead. One can argue that good leadership matters to move governments or organizations in the right direction.
Depending on the leaders selected to reshape the political landscape, overseeing the need and vision of the government remains paramount to ensuring stability and growth. Certainly, the right leaders develop organizations to ensure that resources stay allocated and distributed through a shared vision. These types of leaders remain rare in Africa. Poor or ineffective leadership does not represent the only issues in parts of Africa. A shared vision and the determination to move nations forward tend to remain problematic as well. Some African leaders fail to address the lack of vision and commitment, including education, human capital development, and effective social programs.
Historical researchers have revealed that most African revolutionary leaders rise to greatness; however, they eventually fall with huge societal disappointment toward not building an equitable society, among several others, has argued that African leaders will have to move beyond the status quo to develop a more aggressive approach to reinstating national pride, confidence, and integrity in the institution of leadership, without compromising their own values. Quoting General Obasanjo of Nigeria, went further to say that “things may not necessarily work even with good leadership, but [even more seriously], things will not work if the leadership is wrong, poor, and lacks vision, commitment, integrity, honesty, direction, and purpose”. Aggravating the challenge to African leaders includes that Africans tend to tolerate poor leadership. Africans have suffered immensely at the hands of poorly equipped, incompetent, plainly misguided, and perhaps most alarming of all, toxic leaders. In most cases, once they assume office, these leaders remain unaware, nor do they know how to deal with critical social, economic, and political problems at hand. However, one must state that contrary to a strong evidence of poor leadership in Africa, some good leaders do exist on the continent. Such leaders have moved their nations in a positive direction (Adekoya, 2016).
In the case of President Weah, his administration will have to institute sound fiscal discipline that ensured accountability and prudent leadership judgments on economic revitalization, rural development projects, and inclusion in the body politic. Consistent with socioeconomic and sociopolitical development in some African nations, adapting economic growth experiences implemented by the Asian Tigers will transform Liberia in both the short, medium and long term. Indeed, the disenfranchised papulation mostly the youth, will need to be incorporated in the development process. One leader who was very instrumental in developing the youth population was Jerry Rawlings of Ghana. However, the issue of unemployment also developed as an issue. The youth segment of the population began to grow faster than the availability of jobs. This economic situation did not remain endemic to Ghana; however, it remained true across Sub-Saharan Africa. Nonetheless, Rawlings kept working at the improving of conditions that created youth employment.
Rawlings implemented the Value Added Tax (VATR), which he intended to generate much needed revenue for some government programs. The Ghana Educational Trust Fund (GET Fund) included much-needed funds for educational opportunities for millions of Ghanaians to achieve a deserving education without discrimination. Between 1994 and 2000, the World Bank (2010) recognized Ghana as one of the fastest growing economies that included agricultural production as a critical aspect to development and sustainability. What remained most important in Ghana under Rawlings’ leadership included that his economic reform programs remained monitored by the Bretton Woods Institution, which equaled a novelty among researchers. Engaging with an independent monitoring agency for accountability and transparency remained largely unheard of in Africa. Nonetheless, people found this strategy worked. It included helping the Ghanaian government initiate the culture of prudent budgetary goals, and it included an influence on the transformation in Ghana. Leadership may adopt such a strategy of engagement, used with independent institutions for appropriate accountability and transparency, for some nations, including postwar Liberia, in the sub-region.
Economic justice equips to economic prosperity. In a sense, prosperity can not only be extended to one segment of society but to all. In my book, “Walking the Lonesome Road, Liberia’s Path through Colonization and Democracy”, I strongly made the case for a tractor for major farmers, lower cost for fertilizers and seeds, low interest loan for farmers and the development of farm to market roads. President Weah Administration’s plan of action should incorporates the core pillars for national development (a) a focus on good governance, (b) modernization of agriculture for rural development, (c) private sector participation, and (d) boosting of social services such as education and healthcare and infrastructural development. One can concur with historians that of all the trains, ships even the cars that travel from or across Liberia, not one of their parts are produce in Liberia. In short, the new leadership of Liberia will have to put a cap on some inputs and focus on what they can produce at home to create jobs that will equate to a living wage, offer benefits and a path to retirement. As a relative peaceful and very stable country now, the government will have to attract multinational, restructure existing multinational contracts for both country and benefactors to profit and non-governmental organizations to invest in the country. Meanly, developing strategy plans that focus on development, inclusion, early intervention to mitigate conflicts for sustainable peace. This effort of sustaining peace required the engagement of the leaderships of Liberia at all levels. Conflict resolution, peace building, and mediation have changed the dynamics of how conflicts are resolved and this should be the directions of the new government.
Sources available upon request: