As the nations of the world endeavor to aggressively and comprehensively confront the presence of the Coronavirus, let me divert your minds briefly for us to reflect as Liberians, on the key tenets of Good Governance.
In 1992, the World Bank, in its document entitled: “Governance and Development”, defined Good Governance as the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for current and future developments.
‘Good Governance’, in my perception, operates on three ingredients and they are: ‘Sense of Nationalism’, ‘Patriotism’ and ‘Knowhow’. However, others perceived Good Governance, to entail eight attributes or characteristics. They are: Participatory, Consensus oriented, Accountable, Transparent, Responsive, Effective and Efficient, Equitable and Inclusive, and follows the Rule of Law (http://www.governancepro.com/new).
Accordingly, ‘governancecepro.com’ explained and outlined the following attributes.
- Rule of Law
“Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced by an impartial regulatory body, for the full protection of stakeholders. “
“Transparency means that information should be provided in easily understandable forms and media; that it should be freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by governance policies and practices, as well as the outcomes resulting therefrom; and that any decisions taken and their enforcement follow established rules and regulations.”
“Good governance requires that organizations and their processes are designed to serve the best interests of stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe.”
- Consensus Oriented
“Good governance requires consultation to understand the different interests of stakeholders to reach a broad consensus of what is in the best interest of the entire stakeholder group and how this can be achieved in a sustainable and prudent manner.”
- Equity and Inclusiveness
“The organization that provides the opportunity for its stakeholders to maintain, enhance, or generally improve their well-being provides the most compelling message regarding its reason for existence and value to society.”
- Effectiveness and Efficiency
“Good governance means that the processes implemented by the organization to produce favorable results meet the needs of its stakeholders, while making the best use of resources – human, technological, financial, natural and environmental – at its disposal.”
“Accountability is a key tenet of good governance. Who is accountable for what should be documented in policy statements. In general, an organization is accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions as well as the applicable rules of law.”
“Participation by both men and women, either directly or through legitimate representatives, is a key cornerstone of good governance. Participation needs to be informed and organized, including freedom of expression and assiduous concern for the best interests of the organization and society in general.”
The concepts of Nationalism, Patriotism and Know-how are complimentary. These ingredients are essential for good governance, especially, those who intend to have political power, to exercise in the management of a nation’s economic and social resources.
Some individuals take a traditional view that a patriot is one who supports his/her country no matter what, empowered the leaders and citizens to respect the Constitution and the laws of the land. Patriotism is a state of mind developed by the love of country and which the so-called founding fathers of Liberia, never really practiced.
Patriotism, celebrates a country’s strengths, but recognizes its failures and attempts to correct them. Indeed, Patriotism instills community. It demands that major government contracts be given preference to Liberian businessmen/women always. Nevertheless, foreign business men/women should at all time, are free from harassment, especially, when their activities will help to provide employment opportunities to the common citizens.
The realm of ‘Know-how’, must do with knowledgeable leaders who are able to foster each of the following attributes.
a. Listen and communicate more effectively
b. Involve comprehensive Communication
c. Respond instead of reacting under pressure
d. Foster creativity and innovation
e. Structure more effective team dynamics
f. Lead Inclusive Meetings
g. Cultivate productive and healthy use of technology
h. Recognize unproductive patterns, both within yourself and in workplace interactions
i. Identify and communicate leadership principles
Patriotism has never been more important than it is now in Liberia. As Liberians, we have a responsibility to fight to help our country live up to the highest possible values, such as: compassion, fairness, justice, equality, the rule of law and doing the most good for the largest number of people, especially small Liberian business men and women. Small businesses should be protected always, especially against disadvantage foreign businesses. The Ministry of Commence needs to regulate and provide guidelines to identify areas of businesses that are strictly designed for Liberian business owners. The government needs to provide the best opportunities for our people, in a system where everyone contributes according to their means, to make sure no one is left behind, to give everyone the best chance to thrive.
One of my first thoughts about patriotism is based on a quote from the former President of the United States, John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” This indeed, is about one’s love, especially for the support of our country.
Even Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden in 1857 alluded in one of his speeches about the unpatriotic attitudes of many Liberian politicians, when it comes to the question of good governance.
According to him: “What are the moral causes of the present evils in Liberia? As a people, we have been in too much haste to be rich. Relinquishing the pursuit of those attributes that would fit us for the faithful discharge of our peculiar duties as men, as Liberians, as an infant nation, we have used every possible measure to enhance our pecuniary importance; and in the precipitate efforts at wealth, we have not been careful as to what means we have employed. The desire to be rich, or to appear to be rich, pervades all classes. The love of money…has grown upon us to such a degree that all other avenues of distinction seem but trifling in comparison of those which lead to the acquisition of money. To be rich seems with many ‘the chief end of man.’ Hence, no talents, endowment of the mind, skill, knowledge or any amount of education is appreciated so far as it will pay…. This fact has operated greatly in retarding the literary progress of our youth.”
I honestly believe, good governance and self-determination also have a much more personal and relevant meaning today. For example, the ability or process of making one’s own choices and controlling one’s own life; handling his/her own affairs with corresponding responsibilities, especially in the areas of political leadership is essential. Behaviors by some Liberian politicians regarding the governance in the affairs of our country, continue to question to the world, whether Liberians really understand the spirit of upholding good governance of their Nation. The mindset of Nationalism, Patriotism, and Know-How, are essential for the socio-economic emancipation of the Liberian people.
Good Governance, indeed, operates on three ingredients: ‘Sense of Nationalism’, ‘Patriotism’ and ‘Knowhow’. In addition, such as “Participatory, Consensus oriented, Accountable, Transparent, Responsive, Effective and Efficient, Equitable and Inclusive, and follows the Rule of Law are also essential (http://www.governancepro.com/new).
Therefore, a true Liberian patriot, is an individual who upholds what is best in the interest of all people of Liberia, even if it may not be in his/her own interest to do so. A true Liberian patriot is also a custodial role, preserving something greater than the self-principles of enduring and lasting value. All Liberians should cultivate this attitude of mindset that focuses on the task at hand and not on what the leader may gain from the position. It implies a caring and concerned relationship between leaders and followers; individuals motivated by their country’s best interests.
In my previous articles, I said that, our ignorance of Liberia’s past is not the result of a lack of information, but of our indifference to its lessons. Our view of history shapes the way we view the present, and therefore, it dictates what answers we offer to solve our current socio economic or political problems.
“The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here”, is the motto of our nation. We must make sure that these words are true and meaningful. As Americo-Liberians and Indigenous Liberians, the “Love of Liberty Has Brought Us Together”, we should always perceive Ourselves as one. As a boy, a song once said: “Liberia we praise your Name, for You, you gave Us Birth and the time is now, for All of Us, to see Ourselves as One.” Indeed, Liberia, will Rise Again!
About the Author: Mr. Edmund Zar-Zar Bargblor is an Educator. He is a graduate of Cuttington University, Liberia; Howard University Washington, D.C, and Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. He is a former Deputy Managing Director of the National Port Authority of Liberia, NPA. He can be contacted at: [email protected]