Institutional Governance is the Only Hope to Develop Liberia
Ansu O. Dualu
The formulation and expected evolution of anything that is intended to last far beyond its simple beginnings must be built upon footings that are supported by a solid base that is far larger and more embedded than that which it supports. No organization can survive the rigidity of time if it entirely relies upon an individual to guarantee its longevity. Man is here for a limited time; Liberia is here forever! How can we guarantee the continued wellbeing and development of Liberia if we entirely entrust national aspirations to the limitations of one flawed human being and not to institutions?
The issue of governance is a very simple and straightforward affair. It is only made complicated when a people stray far away from time-tested principles that strengthen the governance process. For example, relying on self-indulgent men/women and not institutional guidelines. There must be a defined platform upon which any organization can build – that platform must be futuristic in nature; but most importantly, it must be rooted in the belief that it is bigger than any one person, the idea of continuity and robust enough to confront and overcome future challenges.
In this light, a government that will succeed must stand on the foundation of institutions. Liberia, on the other hand, did not begin with institutional intentions; it was begun as a temporary outpost with no solidifying, national ambition. Google “Restart Liberia and Build a New Foundation” (https://frontpageafricaonline.com/opinion/commentary/restart-liberia-and-build-a-new-foundation/) to learn how we can reorient Liberia and begin rebuilding that foundation that will propel us forward with an institutional approach that takes future generations into account, and guarantee country-wide, developmental results.
Furthermore, institutional processes and regulatory provisions that force a particular outcome must be calculated, planned, organized in a targeted faction, and aggressively enforced. Governmental approach must be holistic in nature; it should be open, effective and moves to make positive, life-changing differences for citizens, economy, and society. Effective public sector governance and developmental finance can promote economic transformation that strengthens the institutional process. For a society to grow and move in the direction of true development, its public sector governance must be institutionally grounded in strengthening core state functions such as accountability and transparency, justice, equity, and responsible public administration. There is no other way if controlled continuity and sustaining the process are the ultimate objectives!
A country’s fiscal health can only be guarantee if there exist strong public sector arrangements, adequate financial management, a developed procurement system, a judiciary that uncompromisingly administers justice and an educated citizenry who understands and takes its role seriously. Your governing process must be designed to make sure all of this is systemically synced and aligned to the institutional processes – know that part of your institution formulation must incorporate positive aspects of local cultures and traditions to further solidify the base.
In so doing, appreciate that governance is a combination of processes and a broad reach to implement, manage and monitor the entire operation of government, be it infrastructure, national policy, or a desired citizen action. Understand that governance is a means through which national aspirations are determined and executed. The best way to actualize national vision is through organized means, and a process that looks at issues with a broader lens that scrutinizes public agenda through the institutional process.
Conversely, the all-powerful presidency is hurting Liberia in more ways than one cares to describe; couple this with an absent legislature and a dormant judiciary. Liberia is going nowhere. The only solution lies in aggressive political agitation and non-negotiable demands for strong government institutions from the people. We must revisit the Liberian Constitution with purposeful intent and push to set stringent guidelines for political office. Our new institutions must weed out harmful mediocrities that continue to hurt us in so many ways. Organizational and structural guidance must direct our public, governance processes and determine national outcomes, not vagrants with personal corrupt agendas.
On the other hand, governance is not a child’s plaything. The actions of those who lead can make or break a society. It is a very serious matter that must be viewed with heightened sense of responsibility, both by the voters and those positioned to check officials of government. There must be a concerted effort to provide the framework to govern our organizations, build our institutions on good governance principles such as inclusive participation, rule of law, consensus building, equity, responsiveness, transparency, and accountability. Anything outside these measures will continue to widen the developmental gap between us and the rest of the world.
Effective governance requires that implementation strategy goes through the full wringer of the institutional process, ensuring all compliance, laws and regulations are met; making sure public sector financial performance standards are in line with policy – cut no corners. To fully benefit from the structures of institutions, the reporting standards and organizational financial performance requirements must be strictly followed - apply penalties and punishments without hesitations. Audit without season and make public records public. Hide nothing from the people except justified national security issues. Arm and protect the press to check the system. Your goal should be to strengthen our institutions are all levels, both publicly and privately.
In this age of “all things on camera” social media, it is in the best interest of the government to get ahead of this and govern responsibly, respond to the people’s needs and quit being neglectful about governance. Shoulder the people’s trust with the highest degree of care and reverence. The reason is simple: You can no longer continue to cheat the people out off a quality standard of living when they can now see for themselves what good governance looks like around the globe. Soon, corrupt and financially irresponsible government officials like ours will have nowhere to hide; they will either have to turn the corner, built institutions to guide our governance process, or be forced to taste the wrath and power of the people.
About the Author: Mr. Dualu is the author of a series of articles that focus on finding solutions to some of Liberia’s pressing national issues. Some of those papers include “The Liberian Dilemma”, “A Guide to Increasing Liberia’s $500M National Budget to Over $2B in Ten Years” and “Why Diaspora Liberians Matter”. The author works as a financial professional out of Massachusetts.