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WHY US, LIBERIA: WHY DO WE BEAR THE GREATEST BURDEN OF THE EBOLA SCOURGE?

first_imgAll Liberians should seriously ponder why Liberia with a population of only about 4 million should account for more than half of the Ebola deaths. Sierra Leone has a population of about 6 million and Guinea around 12 million. Why did a population of 4 million come to account for more than half of the Ebola deaths than a combined population of around 18 million in Guinea and Sierra Leone?Let me start by citing the The Liberian Daily Observer editorial of September 17, 2014 https://www.liberianobserver.com/editorials/needed-think-tank-help-liberians-start-doing-things-differently-hence-forth: “When, by God’s grace, we overcome this Ebola crisis, Liberia and Liberians will need to start doing everything differently…We need a THINK-TANK … to help us to chart a more constructive and brighter future for ourselves and our posterity”.The asymmetrical and disproportionate impact of the Ebola on us than on Sierra Leone and Guinea should make us rethink our strategies: the things we should have done but didn’t do and the things we should not have done but did.Let us look at the way Ebola is spread. We are told that we should not be afraid of Ebola because it is not spread through the air but by contact with … bodily fluids like blood, sweat etc of an Ebola infected person. Well, Liberia is in the Tropics and it is a hot country. In addition, most people walk. When you walk in the heat in a hot country, you sweat a lot and most Liberians sweat and sweat is one of the major conduits of Ebola. Thus in a densely populated area, sweaty contacts are easy to come by. Just walk along streets in Monrovia and it will become apparent how easily sweaty contacts can be made.Let us take a look at some density issues. Guinea occupying an area of about 95,000 square miles has a population of around 12 million. Metro Conakry has a population of about two million or about one-sixth of the population, or roughly 17% . Sierra Leone occupying an area of about 28,000 square miles has a population of around six  million. Metro Freetown has a population of around 1.1 million or, again, around 18% of the population. Compare these to Liberia, occupying an area of around 43,000 square miles, with a population of roughly four million. Metro Monrovia has a population of around 1.3 million or about 32%.  So, roughly one-third of the population of Liberia is in the Metro Monrovia area. We can see how dense the Monrovia environ is and, therefore, how easily the Ebola virus can spread.Why did Liberia have more than half of the Ebola deaths? We should remind ourselves that we cannot excuse ourselves because of coups and wars. Both Sierra Leone and Guinea have had the same disruptive issues. Indeed the more gruesome things like lost limbs occurred more in Sierra Leone than in any other place. So we should really and seriously consider the reasons why we should account for more than half of all the deaths from the Ebola virus. Maybe it is the bad things we should not have done but have done and the good things we should have done but have left undone.Let us take a look at some of these. Liberia cannot develop the way it wants to without a robust and effective devolution of powers and resources to the counties or regions. Dr. Sawyer knows how hard I have insisted on this, way back, even before the 1986 Constitution. We had worked on a pattern of devolution with, at that time, fewer counties. I still wish that, for purposes of development, we had fewer counties but we can not go there now because of political and delimitation issues. I was told, at that time, that the legal advisers of President Doe did not think that that is how a strong man governed and, to put it in colloquial terms, he should be able, and have the power, to appoint the lowest dog catcher in the smallest village. So it was not done. I have been adamant about this issue of devolution and I have come back to it time and time again, this time, recently, even suggesting a formula for revenue reallocation and enduring political structures for the counties. Some have argued that with devolution there will be too much corruption in the counties to which I counter by saying that even now there is a huge volume of corruption in “River City”; that the counties with their own resources can manage their development and even compete with one another; that the counties will be able to attract indigenous people and technically skilled people to increase the population and help the development. I am still insisting on a robust devolution because I am convinced that it will bring about excellent benefits to the Nation and spread the wealth of the country more evenly and more equitably.One of the effects of devolution, I submit to you, is the even distribution of the population, easing the population pressure on Monrovia and its environs. I am always puzzled why most of the Ministries do not have full functioning branches in all the counties —Agriculture, Youth & Sports, Commerce, Finance, Information, Transport, Public Works, Labor, Gender, Posts & Telecom, Health and Human Services, etc and agencies like EPA, Forestry, GSA. Indeed, these regional or county branch offices can make effective local data collectors for the central government, thereby making it possible for the government to have more accurate and reliable national data. With a functioning devolution and regional or county branches of Central ministries, we will have these regions developing robustly and fast, while, at the same time, reducing the pressure on Monrovia and its environs. I am sure that Monrovia is not able now and will be far less able in the future to sustain the influx and growth of its population. It does not now and will not have the amenities nor the basic infrastructure to sustain a larger and growing population.There is also another growth effect. As the counties have their own resources to develop, other businesses like banks, restaurants, barber shops, tailors and seamstresses and other shops will spring up thereby attracting more people and, again, reducing the pressure on Monrovia. Monrovia will not be the only center of government and population growth and that will be good for the entire Nation.There is also an additional benefit that accrues from this. We may not know it or we may know it and look away, but as the “up country” pours into Monrovia, foreigners (you know who they are) pour in to fill the vacant spaces. There are now many towns in Liberia that have “plenty” of foreigners, good neither for our growth and development nor for loyalty to the Motherland. A robust devolution will help us solve some of these issues and problems. If more and more indigenous Liberians stayed behind “up country”, it will be more difficult for foreigners to invade and occupy our towns and villages.One of the arguments when Ebola first showed its ugly head from Guinea into Liberia was that we could not close the border because of the food coming in from Guinea. We have a very fertile land, why have we so neglected our agriculture? Agriculture should be a major priority and with it and many road arteries to bring the food to the market we can have food sufficiency. There is, for example, a 1970 extensive study on the problems and prospects of rice production in Liberia that is still relevant today. If the recommendations were followed, we may be self-sufficient in rice production today and less reliant on imports. It is important to note here that the concentration of the population in the urban area has constrained governments to advocate and make policies that are urban-friendly and appease the urban dwellers to the detriment of the whole country. The importation of rice and its heavy subsidization has blunted the domestic rice production. No well-meaning farmer will make an input of, say, seven dollars in producing a hundred-pound bag of rice and sell it for six dollars while at the same time giving away, free, a couple of bags to politicians, soldiers, police officers and the like. Local farmers are not stupid. They are experienced and are economically savvy.Why did all those who took the entrance examination to the University of Liberia fail? Why are more and more students taking the West Africa examinations failing? Why do we not have enough seats in schools even at the university? Why are there not enough, some times no, books for students? Why aren’t there enough qualified teachers in the schools? There is also an earlier study on teacher retention in Liberia done with Dr. Jabaru Carlon. We cannot continue to blame all our social, economic and development problems on the civil war. We are more than ten years from the war and more than eight years into a democratically elected government. As the editorial said, we need to start  doing things differently. Maybe this ugly Ebola has come to open our eyes to the fact that we should figure out new and creatively novel ways of approaching and solving our problems. We need to ask ourselves very serious questions about the way forward.Our health and road infrastructures need to be attended to urgently. I am not unaware of the flow directions of Liberian rivers, from north to south, and therefore the engineering difficulties in road and bridge construction. But I am told that this can be overcome by long north south roads and short east west roads. We need good roads all over the country and not just in the Monrovia area. The road system will facilitate agriculture, health delivery and even education. It will facilitate trade and communication.As I see it, devolution will help us solve a lot of our problems and we will not be in a position where a catastrophe like Ebola will impact us far more than it impacted countries much larger than we are. Let us get our priorities straight. Let us provide the leadership to significantly curb, abate and reduce CORRUPTION (notice that I did not say ERADICATE because, for all practical reasons, that is an impossibility). Let us go out and resolve to make a better Liberia. Let us chart a new course and apply new ideas, even organize a THINK-TANK to help us chart new and novel territories. We have abundant resources.  Let us use them wisely, prudently and equitably for the benefit of all Liberians.Dr. Igolima T. D. Amachree is a professor of Sociology emeritus. He can be reached at         [email protected] Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Simple Logic and the Law: Why Hasn’t the “Superior” Court Held Chambers And His…

first_imgSeen here is 90-year-old Annie Yancy Constance, as a young miss. At this stage, she is the splitting image of an estranged daughter she has not seen in years.By Attorney Keith Neville Asumuyaya Best TO RECAP: We began PART 1 of this series with the question above, hoping that the answer would slap us in the face. It didn’t! So we tried to go about it another way: “Where in the world had such chutzpah, (gall, nerve, balls) been found, that together, dashed the Supreme Court Justices enough girth, (areas around their waists, stomachs and backs) it left them a little higher than the other two competing branches of government.Who could have guessed that our Justices would today find themselves practically at sea, following their election to do a volte face, (an about face, backpedal) into a ‘superior’ court-fumble, as a viable way forward out of the current ‘writ of prohibition’ wrangle?It was that boost that allowed the Bench to reach out, bridging the gulf to another world that lay between them and the House of Representatives. That bridge allowed them to take on a bunch of legislative rebels from one of the other two branches, putting them where they belonged: in their place.   (NOW READ ON!)How had they arrived at this juncture? The Supreme Court Justices–we have to presume, must have simply freaked out over the word: ‘supreme.’ Hadn’t they always been enamored, (charmed by, in love with) that word? Now they could take it one step higher. The British had been right, they told themselves: the supreme court had — in that (early tradition – started off, technically, (scientifically, practically) as a ‘superior court.’‘Superior’ Court“One of their better minds, it seems, soon came up with a brilliant idea: that the Judiciary had been the best—and the strongest player amongst the three branches. Again, that’s the way the Justices’ thinking seemed to have been running.The Founding-Fathers might have fooled the Liberian nation. The Judiciary, to begin with, then, should have been the First Branch of Government; Let the other two Branches make the laws; it would be the Judiciary interpreting and deciding which laws would hold, and which ones would not.Thinking this way must have turned their heads, edging them onto a pedestal of their own making:  a pedestal that ‘juked’ (cajoled, flattered) them into reconsidering themselves with exaggerated (over-blown) self-regard.Something else was happening at the same time: all personal imperfections — that each Justice may have been nurturing, or laboring under — simply faded out of existence for now; only to return later, to haunt them.With a dose of chutzpah, they had “built a bridge too far,” only to find out — a bit too late — as Julius Caesar had discovered in 49 B.C: that to “cross the Rubicon,” meant to embark on an undertaking from which one cannot turn back! (Rubicon: a small river in northern Italy.) Caesar’s crossing it with his army, represented an illegal entry into Italy and thereby initiated civil war!“Crossing the Rubicon”“We wanted no ‘Superior’ Court, like what the British once had, Liberia’s Founding Fathers had hinted without hesitation, almost two centuries before. Had they still been alive a few months ago, they would have declined a Liberian ‘Superior’ Court, again, this second time around.Liberia’s Founding Fathers understood only too well, that the British had been forced to keep adjusting, (fine-tuning, fiddling) with the numerous, (many) changing judicial options the British had no choice but to switch to from one tryout to the other, given the major social and political challenges involved with moving from a Monarchy to something less autocratic. That had been simply to make sure that power-sharing remained manageable, (simple, easy to handle).And that was eons, (ages) ago. Though, the British Empire is no more, Great Britain persists, (endures, continues) today, and thrives. Would that be reason enough for Britain to want to revert, (go back to the old ways she had given up? No!  So, what part of this re-invented, newly-minted, improved, Liberian ‘Superior’ Court, do our Justices find appealing in this day and age?A Rock and a Hard-PlaceToday, the Judiciary finds itself between the proverbial “rock and a hard place, in connection with designs and steps by some members of the legislature who want to see Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh removed from the Supreme Court. Something appeared screwed up a good while back—long before activity on both sides of the controversy began stalling, (slowing down, getting stuck). Some finger-pointing has been going on for some time as well. All of it has to do with the Law, though no side involved is going to admit to being on the wrong side.(Once again, for the benefit of our readers) Prohibition is “a writ directed to the judge, and parties of a suit in any inferior court, commanding them to cease from the prosecution thereof upon a surmise either that the cause originally or some collateral matter arising therein does not belong to that jurisdiction, but to the cognizance of some other court.Also, it may be used to restrain an official from doing an administrative ministerial or legislative act not falling within his province. So to whom does the public turn, when the prohibition police, (meaning, the Supreme Court) proceeds to act ultra vires, outside the scope of their responsibilities?This document shows the 1960 birth date recorded in a court-document, that defies logic. Why, because the creation and legalization of the procedure is predicated on Letters of Administration that the court-/document claims were issued to a child who was only four years old when said Letters were issued him in 1960 — four year after his birth in 1956, as can be seen — here.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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