Misplaced Value: the Crux of Liberia’s Troubles

first_imgDoing our homework for today’s editorial, we relished the rich reporting in yesterday’s issue: UL students threatening “mayhem” over tuition hikes; a judge strengthening his ruling over the FDA case; a commentary on the forestry aspect of the resource curse; the commerce Minister’s announcement of price inspections; and the Ministry of Post & Telecommunications’ briefing on the progress of a postal system. In these stories, we picked up on a common thread that strikes at the heart of our troubles as a nation – and the opportunity before us. What do these stories have in common, you ask? We will explain below. But first, we quote scripture – this is, after all, Africa’s most religious country. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt.6:19-21)While this passage seems restrictive in terms of how one should perceive and handle things of value, it promotes a shift our national paradigm away from materialism, toward investment in the intangible (unseen) treasures around us.Now, for the stories. We were unsurprised that the UL Student Development Alliance (STUDA) would threaten “mayhem” over a per-credit price increase from L$175 to L$440 (US$5). Unruly behavior is LU students’ “usual habit”. But this particular issue is dismally absurd. If those students were to ask their counterparts across the globe for the price of their education – some averaging US$500 per credit – LU hooligans would gladly shut up, pay the US$5, and take fewer courses each semester. But here they are, threatening violence over a nickel. The report and commentary on Forestry hit the issue from two angles. In one instance, a judge had to be strong armed into issuing a sentence befitting of the economic crimes committed by the former Forestry Development Authority boss and his colleagues. In the other, a case was made for preserving Liberia’s forests as a source of revenue, instead of allowing forestry to remain another cursed resource. From these, we gather that Liberians are only just now grasping the value of our forests beyond simply being a logging money maker. Now, countries are offering us money not to cut our trees down, and we are considering these forests as medical, nutritional and touristic assets, ripe for constructive revenue generation. Our Commerce Minister, taking bold steps to encourage fair pricing of commodities, starting with the Greater Monrovia area, shows a turn toward consideration for the plight of ordinary Liberians who are daily being fleeced from the Lebanese, Indians, Chinese and their own dear compatriots. Lastly, our Post Master General – after at least four years in office – laments that Liberia still needs US$7 million for an address system. What draws these stories together is the abiding challenge Liberians have of discerning the true value of things, people, relationships, ideas, and money. To us, money is king, and seeing is believing. So, because they cannot see knowledge, our students have trouble attaching real value to it. Because they cannot monetize the total value of a forest (we see them as just trees, not as a rich ecosystem) our public officials cannot optimally utilize it, and our judges cannot adequately penalize those who exploit it. Because they cannot quantify the value of good customer relationships and a good reputation, our entrepreneurs continue to extort customers to make a quick buck. Because we do not recognize the value of a positive legacy – the lasting impact of an address system on small business needing access to finance – we drag our feet and whine about obstacles. We Liberians seem to be desperately adverse to the efficient investment of resources. How, you ask? Just ask the LU girls shopping for the latest fashion pieces, instead of spending time and money in the pursuit of knowledge; or the Legislators demanding salary increases instead of putting money into county development projects. We prefer to indulge in instant pleasure; rather than working and waiting, forgoing present comforts to receive future gain. This is not sustainable. What we need is a fresh perspective on what real treasure is. What is your treasure covered with? Rust or antirust? Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

President Nkurunziza, Give Your People a New Year Gift of Peace

first_imgNever before in the history of Burundi has the country’s peace depended solely on one man—Pierre Nkurunziza.The whole world, but most especially the Burundian people themselves, know the recent history of this East African nation—a history that turned the nation topsy-turvy (upside down). Bloodshed and instability ensued. Yes, it started just eight months ago, last April, when PresidentNkurunziza made his ominous announcement that, despite the constitutional restriction and clear and unmistakable opposition of his people, he would seek a third term of office.To demonstrate their opposition and distaste for this unconstitutional move by their President, the people took to the streets demonstrating against his decision. But instead of bowing to the will of the people, instead of sensing the resolute undercurrent of discontent in the country, the President responded with brutality and bloodshed, killing, maiming and imprisoning anyone his ruthless security forces could put their hands on. The situation became so desperate that neighboring Rwandan President Paul Kagame was forced to ask, “What kind of politics is this”—killing people every day just to stay in power against the will of the people.President Kagame had reason to be disturbed by the horrendous developments in Burundi. Already thousands of Burundians, fleeing the widening violence, had voted, with their feet next door into Rwanda seeking refuge. President Kagame feared the outbreak of civil war in Burundi, which would seriously threaten the peace in the sub-region and in Rwanda itself—a country which, under his astute and progressive leadership, has over the past decade made serious and remarkable economic, political and economic progress.So successful has Rwanda become that it shines as a highly positive example of good governance and progress. For this reason, the people last week voted in a referendum to change the constitution to allow their enlightened, forward-looking and successful to seek a third term of office.Our only prayer is that President Paul Kagame, realizing that his prospective reelection would mark his last term of office, will not change course by relaxing his progressive, development-oriented program and start taking the people and everything else for granted.We think the warning is appropriate and timely because we have seen it in all too many places, where leaders in their last term just sit and do little or nothing, leaving the country stagnant and retrogressive and the people in a state of despondency, despair and decay. Some leaders in their last term also turn repressive, and start ruling the country with an iron fist, causing more suffering and economic and financial suffocation. President Kagame must avoid this at all cost and let the light of one East African nation radiate throughout the continent, inspiring others.But how can President Nkurunziza bring peace to Burundi? He can do so by developing the courage, goodwill and compassion for his suffering and troubled people by resigning the presidency. This alone will immediately restore the peace in Burundi and cause the people to rejoice and even thank him for diffusing the rising political chaos threatening the country. The people would be happy and so would he, and the country would be restored to peace and normalcy, ready even at additional expense, to stage a new free, fair and transparent election that would cause the world, too, to rejoice and be glad in the New Year, 2016.Perhaps this is something President Kagame can make happen by visiting his fellow President and giving him a simple advice—“Step aside and restore the peace in your country. Your people will thank you for it.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

€40,000 FINE FOR SKIPPER WHO ILLEGALLY LANDED EXTRA FISH IN KILLYBEGS

first_imgSean Flaherty: Pic Brian McDaid/CristephA FISHING trawler skipper whose bank account is overdrawn has been ordered to pay €40,000 in fines after being found guilty of illegally landing fish worth less than €3,500 at Killybegs.Sean Flaherty, who is 64 and from Rossaveel in County Galway, had fought a prosecution case over five days in front of a jury. He was found guilty on two counts of failing to accurately record his catch of herring in November 2003.The jury found him not guilty of a third alleged offence and failed to reach a verdict on a fourth charge.However Judge Keenan Johnson said there were several aggravating factors in the case, one of them being that Flaherty had stone-walled Gardai from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation who were brought in to investigate the case.The prosecution centred on official paperwork.Flaherty would record that he landed smaller catches on his official logbook; but invoices from fish agents and processors showed he had landed much larger catches.His extra profit from the two landings was just short of €3,500.However the judge said the case went to the heart of fisheries protection, not least the protection of fishermen like Mr Flaherty.Over-fishing, he said, would ultimate hurt all those involved in the fishing industry.The State, said Judge Johnson, had put “enormous resources” into the case and the protection of fisheries.He gave Flaherty credit, saying he had worked at sea since the age of 17 and had never been before the courts.Flaherty was fined €20,000 on each charge.Defence barrister Damian Crawford, who earlier said his client was overdrawn on his bank account, asked that time be given to pay the fines.The judge agreed to give the Galway man 12 months to pay the first €20,000 fine and two years to pay the second fine.€40,000 FINE FOR SKIPPER WHO ILLEGALLY LANDED EXTRA FISH IN KILLYBEGS was last modified: October 16th, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:courtDonegal Town Circuit CourtFishingillegaljudge keenan johnsonlast_img read more