By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
Since report of the death of former President Moses Z. Blah, there have been reports in some quarters of the Liberian media that the late President’s demise might have been the result of neglect, especially by the Liberian Government. One newspaper, in its headline on the matter said, “Neglected to the end, “while another newspaper this week reported that “Moses Blah Dies of Poverty,” which was followed by another headline that “UP Government Must Apologize To Blah’s Family” for “wanton neglect and denial of legitimate benefits.” Besides these publications, many callers on radio talk shows accused the Liberian government of neglecting and abandoning the former President, something they claimed caused his death.
Even though Press Secretary, Jerelinmick Piah denied that the government ever abandoned or neglected the former President, it is still believed that the late Blah was neglected. In his reaction to the claim of neglect, Mr. Piah as published on April 3, by the FRONTPAGE Newspaper said, “The Government is pleased that the family of the late President is appreciative that the government did what was lawfully required of it; that it does not make sense for a President to give a litany of interventions made both by herself or the government at-large because the government cannot be seen boasting about what is required of it by law. We will not be tempted to be drawn into public debate over the former President Blah at a time we should be focused on giving him a befitting burial and consoling his family.”
Considering the claims and counter-claims, it is befitting to join the discussions or debate as to whether or not the government of Liberia did abandon or neglect the former President, something that led to his death. Since the discussions on the issue, many questions continue to linger on my mind. Did the government really neglect or abandon the former President? Was he denied of his legitimate benefits as former President of this country? What role did his family play in the face of this reported or alleged neglect and abandonment? If this former official of the nation’s highest office was neglected or abandoned, why wasn’t it reported to the media or leaked out to the media to create the awareness?
I ask these questions because these are some of the questions that will come to one’s mind whenever the issue of neglect is cited as the reason for his demise. Neglect, as one book puts it, simply means, “to give too little care or attention to; to have undone; not attended to.” From this definition as it relates to neglect, one can deduce that the former President did not get assistance when he needed it; he did not get the necessary funds when he needed it. If this is the situation, why wasn’t this made known? Why should we wait until his death before raising this issue?
When the word “neglect” is used in this kind of situation, it simply means that the former President did not get help when he needed and that attention was not given when it was necessary. As the definition succinctly states, may be little was done or nothing was done to identify with him.
I am concerned about this issue of neglect because this man besides being a former official of this country did not live in isolation. He had a family and even his kinsmen. Again, weren’t they informed about his condition to act promptly to save the day?
Indeed, I agree with those who say that if it is true that this man died because of neglect, the government should take a greater responsibility on this matter. Although the Press Secretary said the government was not prepared to state the number of interventions it made to the deceased, many still believe that this man was neglected by the government. Equally, others should take responsibility for not bringing the plight of the former President to the attention of the public.
Today, I heard that massive preparation is going on to give him a “befitting funeral or burial,” instead of the necessary support and care while he was alive. Why didn’t we give him the support he needed it? We should learn to be our brother’s keepers and that the government should look into the issue of benefits for former officials, as this has been a matter of great concern by many former officials of government.
It is sickening to note that after serving the country as public officials, the issue of benefits or emoluments is always a problem. Let those in power today remember that tomorrow, they will find themselves in similar position, as it is said, “what goes around comes around.” MAY HIS SOUL AND THOSE OF OTHER FAITHFUL DEPARTED REST IN PERFECT PEACE AND LIFE PERPETUAL SHINE UPON THEM.