By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
Human Rights lawyer, Samuel Kofi Woods, has noticed that over the past few months, government has been slipping into the state of extreme paranoia, with its reaction to issues and questions raised about governance that has not been addressed within the framework of willingness to dialogue but rather with acrimony and utter arrogance.
With this observation, Atty. Woods believes that it is dangerous for any government to thread on this path. He noted that every kind word is seen with an evil intent, every good deed is rewarded with evil and rebuff, sincere effort is met with anger, vindictiveness and disdain while proposals are accepted or rejected with cynicism.
“We find a way forward and entertain alternative views on our national progress and development. No view no matter how ignorant must be discouraged. It is within the cross-fertilization of ideas that our nation will prosper,” Woods asserted.
Being aware of rebuff and renewed protégé’ propaganda that is expected from the usual quarters, the Human Rights lawyer spoke tough that he would like to offer his views on several national questions re-emphasizing some with utmost urgency while insisting on what should be done to reverse this unfortunate course the country is now set upon.
Addressing a group of journalists yesterday at his law firm office in Monrovia, Atty. Woods narrated that there has been indications of increasing anger and anxiety on the governance of the country.
According to him, Liberians are beginning to lose faith in national leaders to proactively address the teetering problems facing the country. This situation needs to be addressed irrespective of political, social and economic persuasions and later recommended the need for a national consultative process to manage and address what is becoming a national discontent.
Woods named the prevailing economic conditions exhibited by increasing poverty, high costs of living, increase in the rate of exchange affecting disposable income and savings, lack of a clear economic plan of action and a deep sense economic injustice are among the national discontent taking place.
Atty. Woods, who served as former Labor and Public Works Minister during the first and second regime of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has also recommended that as part of the national discontent, there is a need that concessions agreements negotiated by this government be revisited.
Former Minister Woods argued that since the commencement of oil exploration in the country, there have been continuous argument in various quarters not only regarding the commercial viability of the samples that have been found so far but also the management of resources that have been accrued as a result of the sale of oil blocks with almost little or no consideration for local content.
He indicated that the rising insecurity, vandalism and threat to life which seems to be on the rise have the propensity to drag the country back into another conflict.
Woods, also a former Director of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) asserted that the recent Nimba incident is an indicator of the national discontent associated with the various concessions ranging from Nimba, Bassa, Sinoe to Maryland.
He reechoed his position that this year’s Independence celebration should be celebrated as national fast and prayer day which would afford Liberians the opportunity to pray for the country regarding the deadly Ebola epidemic and the lack of trust in public officials to deal with it. “This year’s budget must be used to support victims of the increasing flood and victims of Ebola,” Atty. Woods indicated.
He however used the occasion for a sober reflection on the country’s national situation thereby calling for a national consultative process to be structured and organized by the leadership of the religious community to manage and calm the anger, discontent and anxiety of the country’s population.