President George Manneh Weah
NEW YORK —A Liberian professional based in the United States, Jones Nhinson Williams, has appealed to all Liberians to support President George Manneh Weah, his administration and governance agenda. Williams said the transformation of Liberia should never be the sole responsibility of the president and his officials of government. Adding, all Liberians must get involved.
Williams said Liberia faces security pressures and is at risk of explosion due to lapses in its homeland security structures. The accomplished Liberian professional said: “In order for Liberia’s homeland security to be one that people need to trust and have confidence in, key elements in the country’s social and economic system need to be addressed.”
“Homeland security begins with food security and job security. Presently, both factors are facing a serious setback, or are lacking in the country,” he said.
Williams said Liberia needs a tough and innovative leader who can govern within the confines of the law and within the context of human rights and democracy but simultaneously ensures that decency and the fight against corruption, greed, and incompetence are not tolerated in every respect and manner.
Adding, “President Weah will and can make a good and progressive leader that all Liberians can be proud of but the president needs to distinguish himself from past failures and individuals who have not served Liberia and their fellow Liberians well.”
He said when Liberians and the world watch and continue to see some of the same people, who just yesterday had nothing but are today millionaires after looting the nation, with President Weah over and again, it sends a regretful message to the ordinary people that have a deep and abiding hope and faith in him and his commitment to improve the lives of Liberians who have been stolen from over the past decades.
He said he is afraid that President Weah could waste the vast opportunity he has to be the Liberian president that will make a clearly defined history in terms of instituting a development agenda that improves the country at large as well as the lives of the Liberian people if he remains unwilling to tap the talent and ingenuity of highly skilled and experienced Liberians around the world.
He said most Liberian leaders in the past failed and got blamed for their miserable failings not because of their own personal faults but because of the fact that they allowed themselves to be surrounded by politicians and others who pursued “a gatekeeper system” that makes leaders live in a bubble and surrounded by ideas that are redundant, selfish and not generally in the interest of the country.
Williams cautioned the Liberian leader to reduce the size of the Liberian government by expanding the private sector and encouraging Liberians to become entrepreneurs. He said the reason why every Liberian wants to enter government is that officials of government earn higher wages and live comfortable lives at taxpayers’ expense–– a curse he said the former president, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, must take responsibility for.
He said he seriously believed former President Sirleaf may have had good reasons for increasing the salaries of elected officials and bureaucrats, perhaps thinking that it would have yielded productivity, transparency, and accountability, but it was not done with an accurate vision and planning, neither was such a process monitored and evaluated into a process of “lessons learned”.
Williams said Liberians cannot continue to be food insecure, job insecure, healthcare insecure, energy insecure and the government assumes that the country’s homeland security is strong. He said it is a generally accepted understanding in public policy and institutional governance that homeland security starts with food security and food security, in turn, requires energy security and an enabling environment that provides employment/jobs for citizens in the private sector.
Williams said a thorough analysis and review of conflicts in Africa, especially when it comes to reasons why many young people join meaningless chaos, are used and become victims of conflicts, the underpinnings lie in food insecurity and the lack of jobs.
Williams said he has no interest in a paid Liberian government job, but as a patriotic Liberian he is willing to let go his flourishing senior-level public service career and service in the United States to provide pro bono services to the Liberian leader and his administration for the betterment of the country and the Liberian people.
Williams who currently serves as State Administrator of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Programs for the state of Maryland (which is state commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics) said leaving Liberia to the same people over and over affects us all because our people underperform and our people suffer.
The former Maryland State Government ‘s labor market information manager during the recent global recession said if President Weah and his administration are willing, he is prepared to assist in the areas of job creation, workforce development, industry and occupational innovation, and in policy areas related to institutional governance as a non-salaried policy advisor to the president and the administration.
Williams said Liberians should be encouraged to do business and officials of government should desist from derailing the efforts of Liberians who want to invest or bring investments to the country. According to him, one of the key reasons why some Liberians with the means to invest in Liberia are not doing so is due to corruption and the overbearing “red tapes” and regulations from their fellow Liberians in government who would prefer a Lebanese or foreign business person over a Liberian wanting to engage in business.
Williams is also proposing that certain businesses in the country be limited to only Liberian citizens. He said he does not see any reason why an international investor or foreign business person should engage in basic retail and other small business ventures that Liberians should be doing. Adding, “These things don’t happen in Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. Why Liberia, he asked.”
He said he wonders how former Nigerian soldier Praise Tony Lawal, a non-Liberian was awarded an $18 million government contract when Liberian firms were struggling to keep afloat. He said with all due respect, a Liberian will never dream of obtaining a janitorial contract from the governments in any West African nations. So, countries that do not reciprocate our generosity and spirit of African inclusiveness should not, in any way, form and shape, have their own citizens enjoy what our people rightly deserve.
Using the Lawal’s situation, Williams said now that Lawal has gained such contracts, he has fled to his native country while Liberians with a background in construction live on a knife-edge. He said Lawal should not be at fault. Instead, the faults go to the leaders and the greed that made them put a foreigner over their fellow Liberians.
Williams said he hopes and pray that the new administration will not inherit and practice the evil of the past administration which enriches non-Liberians.
Williams said he agrees with Professor Lester Tenny’s frank and honest advisory and concerns regarding unprepared individuals being appointed to government jobs in the Weah administration but he also understands the struggles that the newly elected president is going through in appeasing his base which comprises dedicated and committed people who have stood with him over the past decade when no one thought he was going to succeed in becoming president of Liberia. Adding, the president needs time and the prayers of all Liberians because he inherited a country damaged by greed and selfishness.
Williams is also asking the Liberian leader to hold heads of government’s agencies accountable in terms of producing and providing weekly, monthly and quarterly deliverables that should be reviewed by the president’s select policy team under the auspices of a senior policy advisor. People who want to be officials should not be heads of agencies and expect the president to provide and produce deliverables when they should be the ones to do so, he added.
Williams is also proposing a citizens’ referendum to mandatorily and drastically reduce the salaries and benefits of elected and appointed officials of government in the country. He said the world is discussing the callousness of some in the Liberian government regarding insistence on earning salaries for which there is no justification. He said while speaking with some people in Washington, DC this week, it is becoming more likely that international support to Liberia could be at risk due to the greed a few people continue to harbor in the country.
Williams also called on former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to pursue and engage in matters of national reconciliation and national unity in conjunction with various religious leaders in the country. He said he is willing to collaborate and support the former Liberian leader should she embark on such venture rather than engage in active Liberian politics from the sidelines or backdoor. Adding, such national unity and reconciliation efforts will bring about a desirable and objective legacy for the former Liberian leader if she so desires.
Williams said there are still Liberian refugees stranded throughout West Africa. They cannot return home for insufficient economic reasons and the lack of employment and related opportunities in Liberia. Williams who once had a ten years service as head of Jewish Family Services International Refugee Resettlement and Integration Program in the United States said ensuring that all refugees return home should also be one of humanitarian activities he would like to see former President Sirleaf to engage in and work toward.
He said he has had fundamental policy differences with former President Sirleaf on sound moral and governance principles; he would, however, like to acknowledge that she has made a decisive history because this is the first time that Liberia has ever had a democratically elected president who retires and lives in the country. Adding, “My difference with the former president was never personal; they were and continue to be based on how both us see the world morally and leadership-wise.”