In a recent OP-ED, inked by the Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the United States of America (USA), accredited near Monrovia, Michael A. McCarthy, in commemoration of the 213 birth anniversary of Liberia’s first President, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, the learnt American Diplomat raised a number of critical but salient issues that, we, at THE INDEPENDENT, sincerely think Liberia and its leaders, particularly need to ponder if our dear country is to move towards a positive governance, and socio-economic trajectory.
Ambassador McCarthy, in the Write-up, styled: “What Would J.J. Roberts Have to Say about Liberia Today” expounded that sixty years after the arrival of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Liberia, 19 years after the end of Liberia’s civil war crisis, and seven years after the eradication of Ebola, the taxpayers of the United States contribute to this country over $110 million per year of foreign assistance.
The US Ambassador pointed out that such contribution includes over $79 million per year donated to Liberia’s healthcare sector. Approximately $9 million is specifically for purchasing medications and commodities for the Liberian people and improving the Ministry of Health’s effective distribution and warehousing of pharmaceuticals.
Ambassador McCarthy, however, asserted that “despite this extra support, we learn regularly about places like Kolahun in Lofa County and Sanniquellie in Nimba County, where clinics and hospitals must make do without even the most basic drugs.”
“Troublingly,” he added, “Embassy investigations indicate that not only are some citizens diverting public medical resources and low-cost drugs for personal gain, but that babies, young children, and birthing mothers are dying needlessly as a result.”
Beyond the severe and life-threatening problems that Liberia’s healthcare and other key sectors have been grappling with for several decades, if not more than a centenary, Ambassador McCarthy also outlines his personal experience as it relates to creating a hygienic environment in a rural African setting when he said: “As a Peace Corps volunteer, I was blessed to live for two years in villages (without electricity or running water) in West Africa. First thing every morning, each household would take advantage of the cool, early morning daylight to sweep inside and outside and dispose of debris. Villagers then coordinated with the local government to deliver waste daily to a designated landfill.”
Conversely however, the American Ambassador stated that “The state of cleanliness in the city of Monrovia, which is more developed and a far wealthier community, sadly does not compare.”
To further drive home his point, Ambassador McCarthy stated: “Last month, I was surprised at the words of the city leadership on Monrovia Day. A senior official lamented that unlike his previous three years in office, “no donor or external partner is funding the recurrent cost of solid waste collection and disposal.”
According to the American Ambassador, the senior official of Monrovia was implying that he was abandoned by the international community.
Ambassador McCarthy: “Would Liberia’s first president have imagined that 175 years after independence, foreigners should be held responsible for the removal of garbage in his capital city?”
“On February 25, we learned that a Rhode Island State Representative, Nathan W. Biah, Sr., is donating electronic voting equipment to the Liberian House. This is not the first of such equipment donated to help make Liberia’s top legislative body more transparent to its citizens. I have been reliably informed that a previous e-voting system was installed in 2014 by the U.S. taxpayer-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI), but it was never used.”
For us, at THE INDEPENDENT, we honestly think that these concerns being raised by the American Ambassador relative to our country are genuine and legitimate and worth taking into serious consideration in the nation’s development process rather than deliberately misinterpreting and misconstruing the learnt American Diplomat as some belly-driven and shameless individuals working at the behest of self-seeking political bigots, zealots and hypocrites are doing.
Frankly, if the state of Monrovia’s cleanness is not much-encouraging and appreciated as the Ambassador has observed, we think the best way that we, as Liberians, can do is to look at this problem critically aims at designing another approach gear towards creating a more hygienic environment in Monrovia and not to “fuss” with the Diplomat whose country’s tax dollars and other resources are being sought as development assistance to make Monrovia a truly clean city that may be on pad with other cities worldwide.
By the way, is it right for any prudent mind, or a patriot, to ‘pick bone’ with Ambassador McCarthy whose country, among others, have been providing enormous financial, material and logistical assistance to Liberia at almost every spheres of Liberia’s governance and development process since independence, especially when the use of such development assistance raises eyebrows or cannot be fully explained as in the case of the previous e-voting system which was installed in 2014 in Liberia by the U.S. taxpayer-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI), but was never used
That Liberia’s governance process, spanning nearly 200 years of which we boast today, has been effectively characterized by serious lapses as reflected in unbridled and ingrained corruption including lack of transparency, accountability and probity by many of those often entrusted with political power cannot be over emphasized.
To put it forthrightly, our many attempts as a nation to find appropriate remedies to the chains of socio-economic and governance maladies that the country faces have been sadly wrapped in what one keen development commentator referred to as “somewhat cosmetic, lopsided, and opaque approaches” with little or nothing concrete for us to show over the years.
In other words, the general outlook of Liberia in terms of meeting the basic needs of its citizenry in the areas of education, healthcare, food production and food security, social justice and rule of law, among others remain generally wanting and leaves much to be desired.
It does not only need well-meaning Liberians but also some of Liberia’s global and reliable development partners such as the United States of America (USA), which Ambassador McCarthy currently represents in Liberia, or the European Union, and others which are helping us with critically much-needed finances and other resources in our national reconstruction and development drive to guide us as a country along the way.
In our candid opinion, this will enable us as a country to do the right things in the development and vibrancy of the Liberian nation. And so, for any well-meaning Liberian, in his/ her right mind, to insinuate that Ambassador McCarthy did not mean well for what he said about Liberia in his recent Op-Ed is to say the least, “unfortunate and hypocritical.”
This is why, we, at THE INDEPENDENT, are calling on Ambassador McCarthy not to be concerned about such baseless, loose and acidic rants being spewed by a handful of fly-by-night critics some of whom are parading themselves around here as “seasoned economists, political consultants and specialists”, as their real intent is to butter the crumbs of the bread that fall from their masters’ table at the disadvantage of/or at the detriment of the vast majority of the Liberian population who find themselves in a cesspool of poverty, disease and misery while a molecule of individuals are bathing in opulence and luxury with the use of ill-gotten wealth from ingrained and unbridled corruption.