Do Liberia Need A New Unification And Integration Policy?
By P. Nimely-Sie Tuon: Editor/ Publishers
The Republic of Liberia was at this point in her history when William VS Tubman was elected president in 1944. Most of what is known today as Liberia was isolated from Monrovia, and the isolation was described in such terms as “hinterland” or interior. Even Monrovia, itself, was a semi-forested land with one or two generators to provide electriciy with most of the so-called hinterland economically and politically neglected. Then came Tubman’s Unification and Integration Policy which was aimed at bridging the divide through a simultaneous development process. As the policy began to take root these previously economically and politically depressed areas of the hinterland were gradually brought into the national framework. The presence of the Liberian national government was being felt across the length and breadth of Liberia’s territory of 43,000 miles’ square miles with hundreds of miles of roads connecting Monrovia, the nation’s capital, with the so-called hinterland, thus, erasing the term, or description of “hinterland” from the Liberian political and economic jargon.
Liberia is again at the same cross-road with the isolation of the isolation of many of the areas once called hinterland due to lack of roads and other semblance of development including the lack of the full presence of the Liberian government in some parts. The Sirleaf-Boakai government, like the other regimes before it, led by Samuel K Doe, Charles Taylor, has yet to put in place a unification and integration policy following some fourteen years of bloodshed that was driven by tribal hatred. Madam Sirleaf who carried personal blame for the senseless bloodshed continues to run the country as if to say there has been no war. Without addressing the issue of reconciliation, the Sirleaf-Boakai government seem to be forcing co-existence between war victims and victimizers, which is an impossible venture. To add insults to injuries, the presence of reconciliation seems to be obscured in the unfolding Liberia presidential campaign. No candidate has shown any inherent passion towards the issue of reconciliation, unless they are asked, and even that, their response seems to lack the gravity that is desired about such important and defining issue facing our country prompting fears that Liberia is poised to be run by another government with less interest in the issue of reconciliation starting in 2018.
With over forty years of failures after Tubman, it is time for a reset of Liberia’s economic, political, and social direction under the next government that takes office in 2018. Imagine being under the same directionless government we have now after the 2017 elections. Joseph Boakai, the current vice president has made it clear that he is going to continue the ongoing policies of the current government. At least he is being honest about it. However, Liberia cannot to be run anymore like nothing has happened to the country and her people. The war did not only destroy human lives, it destroyed cultures, set tribes against tribes. Almost all the warring factions that participated in the bloodshed, each claimed or acted like they were associating with at least one tribe, and used such to kill or harm members of other tribes, damage their cultural and religious practices. This is why the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, that officially ended the Liberian bloodbath was embedded with a reconciliation provision that was aimed to unite all Liberians by addressing all grievances generated during the war. The CPA reconciliation provision, codified into law by establishing the Liberian Reconciliation Commission, did not in any way hold any tribe responsible, however, individuals who were claiming or said were acting on behalf of a tribe are being held personally responsible for their actions against other Liberians.
It will incumbent on the next Liberian government to immediately spring into action to allow the address of war grievances among the various peoples of Liberia, inclusive of all the recommendations of the TRC report and then deployed a Tubman-era like unification and integration policy which should aimed at uniting and integrating the Liberian people into one patriotic Liberian family with dignity and equality for all. The new unification policy should be embedded with a strong simultaneous development policy under which development will occur in each county at all times every day of the twelve months of the year. A move that will vastly contrast the current narrow, discriminatory, and failed development policy of developing one county per year that host Liberia’s Independence Day’s festivities, and even at that, sometimes failed to meet its obligations to Liberia’s southeastern counties. This new unification and integration policy should be strengthened by constant and consistent visits by the president and top government officials around the country. In addition, to highlight the various parts of the Liberia to the world, international conferences destined for Liberia should be held in different parts of the country, not just in Monrovia.