Proactive Approach and Constructive Criticism, not Rhetoric and Destructive Criticism

By Sunny G. Nyemah

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
November 5, 2007


“There are two generations in Africa according to economist George Ayittey (book “Africa Unchained”): The Cheetah Generation and the Hippo Generation. Cheetahs seek knowledge, innovation and look for solutions to their problems while Hippos blame others, seek handouts and generally drive our continent to the ground”

I have followed the ensuing debate concerning the So-called “Neo-Progressive” On one hand I am excited because of the ideas, vigor, and passions that are embedded in these exchanges, but on the other hand I am frustrated and sadden that after all these years of the so-called struggle, carnage, and enlightenment, we have not come to grasp with reality. That is, do we understand the issues at play in our beloved Liberia? In all of these dialogues, no one has actually articulated or identified the problems that the so-called neo-progressive intends to address.

Do we understand why all these government have failed, and why most of these dynamic organizations have failed, past and present, that have been organized for the so-called emancipation of our masses? The problem is not just the government, or the people who run these governments; our biggest problem is our orientation.

For most of us Liberians, our orientation has always been: Government must do everything, government is the means of amassing riches, government should be the only provider of employment, government must provide all social services, government is responsible for creating the enabling environment for security, and all our problems must be solved immediately, if not now, then there must be change in government. Lastly, changes in our society must be “Top Down” not “Bottom Up”, that is when the government of the day is removed (By force or through the ballot box), then everything else will be fine. In short a “Utopian Orientation”

It is about time we begin to think, and act proactively, and as true “Social Technocrats”, and not just political activists. Social technocrats are the semblance of what economist George Ayittey referred to as the “Cheetah Generation” They are not afraid to share ideas, solutions, know-how, and resources. Their ultimate goal is the end result. Moreover, they approach and deal with issues or problems by identifying the issues, developing and providing solutions to those issues, and helping to implement those solutions. For them political empowerment is secondary, that is the end result of their activities will lead to social and political empowerment. The masses will feel and be impacted by real results, as changes in their situations, and daily lives accelerate upward. They will take notice of those actors, and those actors become the true leaders that are derived out their actions, and decisions during the political or due process.

Prescription: As we dangle with the idea of change, we must not be antagonistic towards the ruling government; it must be engage positively, and maturely. Additionally, we must begin the process of re-orientation, that is social, economic, and political re-orientation. This is how we should begin the process:

 Establish a group with social and economic empowerment as its mandate. There must be controlling provision that will ensure that such group shall not be a political party, neither will it field candidate for political office, nor merge with any political party, but shall endorse candidates who are members, and others irrespective of party affiliation, and who have subscribed, or have exhibited tenancies that are in consonance with the ideas, and objectives of the group

 Within this group, we shall establish the “The Solution Group ” where pool of Liberian professionals will volunteer their expertise to the country in areas of need. The organization shall provide transportation, and lodging, and minimum stipends only to those volunteers.

 The Solution Group shall Help or complement the government to build capacity, establish structures, and institutions that are needed to facilitate good governance, and foreign direct investments, such as standards setting organizations, development of standards (example: Liberia Commercial Code, investment and financial laws, etc) upgrading of banking, finance, and investment codes and laws, establishment of self-regulating professional organizations, operation of professional training institutions through partnership with existing universities, and the establishment of a truly independent good governance, and poverty reduction monitoring watchdog.

 We need the participation of ten thousand Liberians in the Diaspora, and ten thousand Liberians at home. We will identify the first 100 Liberians in the Diaspora, and each of these 100 Liberians will be responsible to identify 100 Liberians within their circle of influence. Likewise similar process will occur in Liberia. (Deeds not words, true test of our sincerity and commitment)

 Each of the ten thousand (100 x 100) will commit once, a lifetime investment to the cause. With these generated resources, the group can establish the Liberia Development Corporation (LDC), as the programming and delivery arm of this group. The basic objective of LCD is to establish enterprising entities such as farming, and mining cooperatives (Cocoa, coffee, rice, palm oil, corn, fisheries, diamond, gold, etc), distribution, and marketing cooperative, establishment of small-medium factories for the production of locally consumed supplies, financing and small-medium banking institutions to provide guaranteed for Liberians to borrowed from multilateral institutions, buying of ownership interest in Mittal Steel, Firestone, RIA, NPA, LEC, LAC, LBDI, EcoBank, etc. (To tell the sheep from the goat. Actors not talkers)

 30% of all earning from the activities of LDC will go back to the Liberian communities on a prorated basis to support community based social economic empowerment programs (School, clinics, healthcare centers, scholarship, infrastructure, etc). A panel from among us, and community leaders will lead this initiative. Additionally, each of the 20 thousand Liberians will received annual dividends for their initial investment, and shall have ownership of LCD.

 Our goal is that in three years, at least 100,000 Liberians will be directly employed by LCD and 500,000 indirectly employed, 10,000 scholarships shall be awarded at all academic levels, and 1,000 trained Liberian technocrats in strategic disciplines at universities around the world.

 Social and economic empowerment shall fuel political empowerment. Imagine for each person employed, there will be support for four additional family members. All scholarship recipients shall commit to the cause by allowing each recipient to be assigned in the rural areas during break from school to work with the locals, and different cooperatives, and contribute their quotas. The needed skills set of social entrepreneurial-ship, management, and leadership shall also be impacted. Additionally, after graduation, each scholarship recipient will spend at least a year in the rural areas, especially primary and secondary schools as teaching assistants, and literacy & community consultants.

 All schools, clinics, infrastructures will carry an inscription of the names of all LCD owners as actors of social and economic empowerment. (Give credit to those who credit is deserved)

Understandably this might seem an uphill task when it comes to structure, management, expertise, and custody of those resources. Furthermore, based on the common vices in our community, such as our attitudes, distrust, corruption, second-guessing, our egos, and our intolerance for hard work, might make this proposal daunting. But if we can bury, or minimize these ills, and actually pool our resources, talents, and know-how, we can achieve a true revolution. Furthermore, we can hire one of the “Big Four” to sign-off on all projects prior to implementation, and provide the check and balances that are needed to ensure transparency.

For me this is the sort of revolution that is needed. Not another rhetorical organization that promises utopian solutions, and seeks political promotion by exploiting the issues confronting the masses for self-exposure.

If you conduct a research on majority of those who are propounding the idea of change in government, you will notice that most of these folks are trekking the footsteps of their brothers before them. Most of them have no or limited managerial or leadership experience, neither have they work in government at any decision making level. These are the same folks who want to be appointed as ministers, directors, controllers, etc, only because they have master or doctorial degrees. Look at what is happening in Liberia, majority of the heads of ministries, and agencies lack directions and innovations, and they are not in alignment with what the president is trying to achieve. (People want to sit be and call bosses, no idea for process change or improvement, inability to motivate and lead, dependency on localized resources, lack of institutionalized strategic plans, and promoting the “Syndrome of how things use to be done”) That is why we need an organization or network that will not only empower members economically, but will also nurture each for managerial and leadership in governmental, and the private sectors.

How do compete with the Lebanese who are entrenched in Liberia entrepreneurial circle? It has to be done collectively by pooling of resources, talents, plus policy promulgation. You cannot influence the implementation or promulgation of policies, regulations, and laws if you are not organized, and lack minimum resources. For Liberians to move to the next level of owning the means of production in Liberia, we have to be re-orientated, trained, cultured, and supported by our own empowered network.

In reality, we lack the capacity, training, resources, network, contacts, and infrastructure to compete on a level playing field that is why we need a paradigm shift in our approaches to advocating change. Government will be proactive, and responsive, if we are proactive, and responsive. The government cannot do all.

It pains me to see ourselves tearing each other apart on the listserv, only because folks have the sincere desires to bring some sanity and semblance of structure to our community organizations. It takes sacrifice to lead these organizations; Most of us Liberians do not support our organizations, but expect to see miracles in service and program deliveries. We have to stop this madness, and serve as role models to our kids, and young brothers and sisters before they totally abandon all things call Liberia.

Sunny G. Nyemah, CISSP, CIA, CIPM
Adjunct Professor Metropolitan University based in Minnesota, Field Vice President Gervin & Associates, Minnesota, USA

© 2007 by The Perspective

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