By K. Koiquoe Wilson ~ August 29th, 2005
"...The sum and substance of this discourse is that we are asking the world to go to bat for us, to allocate their resources and treasures to enable us to raise our country from its current abyss. Do we not therefore have the onus of assuring the world that our stewardship of their treasures will not be cavalierly placed in the hands of megalomaniacs as was done in the past but instead will be trusted to the most scrutinized, qualified and scrupulous individuals?..”
Recently, however belatedly, I had the occasion of reading a posted article entitled “Liberia’s Political Nightmares: A response to Bettie and Nagbe.” The vituperative tenor of the author, Mr. Chorphie Charlie, who spared no expense in his excoriation of his subjects prompted me to read the articles of the two authors being assailed, namely “The Ills of Sycophancy” by Mr. Theophilus Bettie and “Circumventing Deficiencies - The Justification for a Semi-Illiterate President” by Mr. Siakon Nagbe.
After having perused these articles, I was rather struck by the poignancy and insightfulness with which they converge. The sum and substance of these articles implore Liberians to exercise prudence in choosing a leadership that will not further degenerate our already beleaguered country into a perpetuity of war and suffering. These articles astutely caution Liberians against unscrupulous leadership and their sycophantic cliques that have historically sought to feather their own nests while leaving the Liberian people afflicted in perpetual state of destitution. I was rather astounded by Mr. Charlie’s vigorous recrimination of these authors as their advice that Liberians show the utmost discretion at this very crucial juncture in our history seemingly is the only circumspect posture that Liberians must assume.
So what then is Mr. Charlie’s motivation for such egregious and gratuitous recrimination of what any sound person would deem invaluable advice? I believe that the answer to this question is lucidly manifest in his own article which is absolutely myopic in its criticisms, condescending in its tenor and very blatantly supercilious in its verbiage. The perverse nature of Mr.Charlie’s criticisms leads one to surmise that he had a cursory look at these articles and promptly became preoccupied with his castigation of these authors. Had Mr. Charlie approached these articles with any degree of discernment and objectivity, he would have definitively arrive at the very salient conclusion that exercise in judiciousness in selecting a leader should be of paramount concern to Liberians during this election.
Attempting to comprehend the fragmentary and distorted logic posited in Mr. Charlie’s criticisms could potentially afflict one with vertigo. But to examine only a few, how does ascertaining that the qualification of a political aspirant be of the highest water, as cautioned by these authors, be construed as “manipulation of unconstitutional means to obtain state power and disrespect the people wisdom to decide their destiny,” as alleged by Mr. Charlie? As is manifest throughout his article, such recondite pronouncement is bereft of any semblance of reason.
Mr. Charlie makes reference to “ the real political Oppong.” We are all cognizant of the illustrious accomplishments of the “real athletic Oppong.” No one in his right mind will question this assertion. But “the real political Oppong” as asserted by Mr. Charlie! What qualification corroborates such an assertion. Have we not the right to make inquiries in this regard so as to ensure that the highest office in our land is not bestowed upon a charlatan? The latent travesty here is Mr. Charlie’s attempt to circumscribe this debate by obscuring the very rudimentary question of the qualification of our potential leader and the authenticity of the scruples of those purporting to advise said leader
Mr. Charlie, in his very inscrutable exposition, posits that “Liberia’s governance must compose of (a) legislative enactments and (b) principles which are derived from the experience of the judicial branch.” Why than do we need an obsolete executive branch, one would ponder? Such mind-boggling assertion borders on pure inanity. This rather peculiar democratic paradigm, as suggested, I suppose relegates the executive branch to the pageantry and glamour of the office as we have seen in the recent past. Liberia very desperately needs a capable executive leader who is sufficiently visionary to lead our people out of this prevailing squalor of an existence, whose solicitousness of and subservience to his people will propel them out of the vast doldrums that is the results of these wars, and who is sufficiently charismatic to turn a culture of corruption into one of principle as is intrinsic in the very fiber of our culture. The collective scrutiny of anyone vying to be that architect of Liberia’s future after decades of death and destruction is categorically germane to this process. The spirit of such scrutiny is clearly exemplified in the participation of Mr. Bettie and Mr. Nagbe. We should applaud and encourage such dissenting discourse and not seek to malign them.
Mr. Charlie asserts that Jimmy Carter, a farmer, and Ronald Reagan, an actor, became presidents of the United States hence Mr. Weah, a footballer, can be president of Liberia. This fundamentally flawed and contorted logic fails to regard the facts that Jimmy Carter was a two term governor of Georgia and a very influential leader in his political party, as well as a successful businessman. Ronald Reagan was a two term governor of a state, if taken individually, would be the world’s second largest economy. Moreover, Ronald Reagan was an active leader of his party before ascending to the presidency. Nowhere in Mr. Charlie’s discourse does he proffer the qualification of Mr. Weah that should propel him to the presidency of Liberia except for alluding to his good-will ambassadorship. Good-will ambassadorship is a sinecure job whose high-profile holder is relegated to photographic opportunities so as to call attention to necessary issues, be it social or otherwise. The only qualification is his celebrity. Be that as it may, does this qualify a good will ambassador to run an entire nation? Angelina Jolie, a famous Hollywood actress, is also currently a goodwill ambassador. Does this qualified Miss Jolie to become president of the United States? Well, politically, intellectually, academically, etc., Oppong is no Jimmy Carter. This abstruse juxtaposition of Mr. Weah with these ex-presidents of the United States on the part of Mr. Charlie is further attempt at deliberate obfuscation.
Perhaps a more apt comparison would be to the current American leadership. Here, you have the ascendancy of an intellectually unenlightened leader, a dichotomy of sorts, whose contrived qualification is sub-par as compared to those of his advisors. Through the machination of a well-oiled political machinery, he was able to make such ascendancy. His first act, based on the advice of his handlers, was to empty the country’s coffers in the form of tax returns that mainly benefited the most opulent segment of the population, namely his political benefactors. In this astounding feat, he was able to turn trillions of dollars in surplus, a historical high that his administration inherited, into trillions of dollars in budget deficit, the country’s highest deficit ever within a very short period. The country now suffers the greatest disparity in wealth between the rich and poor since the great depression.
This analytically challenged president was easily convinced by his unctuous handlers that it was necessary to digress from a war with a country that produced the terrorists that attack his country and initiate a war against a country that had no complicity in the attack. However, this country owned vast amounts of oil that stimulated the interest of his unctuous handlers. Everybody in the world tried to convinced this president against such a war. The private company of his most trusted advisor, who also happened to be the most vociferous advocate for the war, stood to gain an eight billion dollar no-bid contract from this war with the prospect of more lucrative contracts. All members of the defense advisory board, a war-advocate group that advised the defense secretary on the necessity of this war, were also on boards-of-directors of private companies that stood to reap lucrative benefits from this war. The results of this mercenary advice from his mendacious handlers, coupled with his inability to discern this artifice that was being perpetrated by them is the current quagmire in Iraq where young Americans are being killed and maimed for the blood money acquired by these ravenous megalomaniacs. In addition, a billion dollars a week of tax payers money is being squandered in Iraq, not to mention the strident antipathy projected against America throughout the world. In a nutshell, these are some of the results of electing a benighted leader who is being handled, per se. America, in its mundane omnipotence, may be able to recover from such decision; can Liberia afford such flawed decision making in an incompetent leadership?
Incidentally, the same metaphor of Mr. Bettie’s article regarding the emperor having no cloths that Mr. Charlie so vigorously takes umbrage to, was promulgated by New Hampshire’s most conservative newspaper during the 2000 Republican primary after Bush’s first and heavily anticipated debate in which his performance was nothing short of lackluster. Tantamount to Mr. Bettie‘s article, this was all in the spirit of the comprehensive scrutiny of a potential leader and not the rendering of insults as Mr. Charlie would have it.
Mr. Charlie, in his very condescending and complacent style, has the temerity to continually besmirch the academic achievements of Mr. Bettie and other Liberian intellectuals who seek to raise incisive questions that do not mirror his political school of thought. In this effort, he particularly derides the Fulbright Scholarship of Mr. Bettie, employing such exaggerated language as “hostile intellectuals and misguided education.” As advisable as it is to pursue higher education, no one compels anyone to achieve formal education, but Mr. Charlie’s vehement denigration of people with formal education throughout his article and his nihilistic viewpoint of education as a whole I find extremely bizarre. His article, very clearly, is intended at marginalizing these dissenters and dispensing them from the necessary political debate. I do not presume a defense of Mr. Bettie as he is demonstrably abundantly capable in this regard, but Mr. Bettie may be singular in such accomplishment from Liberia’s perspective. Unequivocally, Liberia could use more Fulbright scholars. As Mr. Nagbe very cogently pointed out in his article, this has been the dream of our Liberian parents, that even in the depths of their deepest privation, their sacrifices would propel their children to attain an education of such praiseworthy distinction. I include Mr. Nagbe’s quote here because it emotionally brings this point home - “… because our parents, as illiterate as they might be, long recognized that a strong and solid education was a necessary element. They might not have had the opportunity to get it, but they were sure to invest all, risk all, at whatever cost to ensure that we did.“ By such Liberian tradition, Mr. Bettie’s academic accomplishments puts him in a place that all Liberian parents will be profoundly proud of. Mr. Charlie’s unconscionable denunciation of such accomplishment is diametrically opposed to this fundamental Liberian precept and can thus be seen as very un-Liberian. We should all reject this line of thinking and extol Mr. Bettie and others for such laudable distinction.
The sum and substance of this discourse is that we are asking the world to go to bat for us, to allocate their resources and treasures to enable us to raise our country from its current abyss. Do we not therefore have the onus of assuring the world that our stewardship of their treasures will not be cavalierly placed in the hands of megalomaniacs as was done in the past but instead will be trusted to the most scrutinized, qualified and scrupulous individuals? The Liberian presidency should not be entrusted to anyone who perceives himself as a king of the people, whose only desire is to exult in pageantry at the expense of our people and whose primary obsession is the glamour of riding around with his entourage in presidential motorcades as we have seen in recent past. In the rigorous political arena, we cannot treat our so-called celebrities as sacred cows. They must be subject to the same exhaustive scrutiny that would be administered to any aspirant. This cannot be achieved by our homogeneously embracing a candidate due to his celebrity. Instead, this can only be actualized by elevating the level of dialogue from the caustic personal attacks with which Mr. Charlie’s article is replete and encouraging disparate points-of-view. Less our people will continue to live in castles in the sky as promised them by unsavory political narcissists while their current abject and decrepit reality is continually exacerbated.
About the author:
Mr. K. Koiquoe Wilson is a software engineering professional. He holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering Technology from Northeastern University, a M.S. in Computer Science from Boston University, and a M.S. in Information Management from ISIM University.