By J. Patrick Flomo (January 10th 2006)
|...As a result of chaos in the last two decades, we have lost everything with the exception of our self-importance and pride. We still have our political acumen intact, which I think is far superior to that of any in West Africa. Yes, we are one of the most corrupt societies in West Africa. But when it comes to the art of political pageantry and legislative proceedings, Liberians are “masters.”....
My God!! What has Liberia come to? To see the oldest Republic in Africa on a pilgrimage to Ghana, to learn the canons of parliamentary order, almost brought tears of sorrow to my eyes and pierces my heart with deep sadness. Even contemplating such a thing can only be described as a ridiculous farce. But to witness the actual execution of such preposterous idea has dealt a reprehensible blow to Liberian pride and decorum.
We have lost our dignity, our sense of self-respect, and our pride as a nation with a long history of honor and stateliness. Liberia became a Republic in 1847 and her Republican system of government lasted for more than a century without chaos. On the other hand, Ghana became a Republic on March 6, 1956 and her parliamentary system of government has been in flux with military coups as well as economic and social instabilities until the last 10 years. And now we are to believe that Ghana is somehow the “Athens” of West Africa with deep a rooted culture in the canon of legislative protocol? Ludicrous! Furthermore, to subject newly elected Liberian legislators, with their acquiescence, to journey to Ghana for a workshop in the art of parliamentary proceedings is utterly a disgrace and an insult to our political acumen.
As a result of chaos in the last two decades, we have lost everything with the exception of our self-importance and pride. We still have our political acumen intact, which I think is far superior to that of any in West Africa. Yes, we are one of the most corrupt societies in West Africa. But when it comes to the art of political pageantry and legislative proceedings, Liberians are “masters.”
To journey to Ghana to study the arts of Robert’s Rules of Parliamentary Orders is shameful and terribly embarrassing to most of us who pride ourselves on the notion that the art of politics is in our blood and to those who believe dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. We have numerous Liberian political intellectuals and academics at many universities around the world, especially in the United States and Europe, with impeccable credentials to conduct such a workshop within the boundary of Liberia. There are many former legislators who would be pleased to serve their country in such an honorable capacity.
The lack of understanding of the importance and power of a legislator, along with the proper respect and dignity for the legislative branch, by the newly elected members is very troubling. Hopping on an airplane like a bunch of school children to travel to another country for tutoring in parliamentary protocol diminishes the importance of the Legislature. The idea of newly elected legislators attending a legislative workshop is absolutely necessary and appropriate. But the workshop should be conducted within the bounds of one’s own country no matter how bad things are. If the newly elected legislators had any sense of honor and respect for the legislative institution, they would insist Liberian political intellectuals and academics conduct the workshop, in Liberia. Men such as Dr. Elwood Dunn, Dr. Amos Sawyer, Dr. Patrick Seayon, Dr. George Kieah, Consular Brunskin, Consular M. Jones and many others are, I am certain, willing to serve their country in such a capacity.
I hanker for the days when the Americo-Liberians had absolute control. They had dignity, respect, and were highly cultured in the arts of politics and diplomacy. Yes, they were absolutely corrupt, suppressed political opposition, and did very little to develop the country. Yet, the Liberian political institutions were revered by all in West Africa especially Ghana. Now we the so-called natives are in the driver’s seat and have continued to head the car directly toward a precipice. Our first test of culture, honor, stoicism, and respect for the institution we have been elected to, is a dismal failure and outright shameful.
Another disgrace is the travel ban on certain members of the newly elected Legislature. I thought that the ban on certain members not to travel to Ghana would have spurred bitter reaction from the entire elected Legislature to say that if a single member will not travel, no one will travel. It would have been an honorable act to boycott the trip if a single member was denied to travel by a foreign power and not the host country. Has Liberia lost her sovereignty and independence? Today, the Legislature is in Ghana to learn Robert’s Rules of Parliamentary Orders. Are we to expect the Executive and Judicial Branches to follow suit? My fellow Liberians at home and abroad, wake up from your slumbering state of mind and ask: who runs Liberia today? Are we still a sovereign Republic or a colonial state? Do we still have pride and dignity for ourselves? Are we doomed forever?