By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
One of the things that I have always spoken of is the understanding of the MESSAGE in a piece of communication. Communication is not just the collocation of words to express an idea or suggest something to people, a group or institution. Principally, it is always geared towards sending a particular message out. And so when the intent or message that piece of communication is not properly understood, then, actual communication, whether it is verbal or nonverbal has not really taken place.
The issue of MESSAGE is also important during an occasion involving group, and not only in interpersonal communication. For example, during national events like the recent Independence Day celebration of this country, where an orator spoke on issues of national concern, if such a message in that oration is not understood, then, the audience or citizens, have not learned from such the issues raised and suggestions advanced by the orator, this time, Liberia’s former Ambassador to the United States, Charles Minor.
One of the many issues that was touched by the orator was how some officials of government carried out their functions, and how some of them behave as public servants. Moreover, he raised the issue of how some of them egregiously failed to uphold the tenets of the Separation of Power, as enshrined in the Liberian Constitution, as some of these officials’ behave like they are in COMPETITION, only because they found themselves in either branch of the government.
The Liberian constitution, though speaks of three branches of government, it makes it clear that this is a unitary state, as such; these branches must coordinate for the smooth running of the government. Based on this, one can deduce that for the work of the government to go on, members of the three braches must work together, coordinate, collaborate and cooperate to have the people’s business go on.
In that provision, as contained in Article Three, it states, “Liberia is a unitary sovereign state divided into counties for administrative purposes. The form of government is Republican with three separate coordinate branches: the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary. Consistent with the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances, no person holding office in one of these branches shall hold office in or exercise any of the powers assigned to either of the other two branches except as otherwise provided in this Constitution; and no person holding office in one of the said branches shall serve on any autonomous public agency.
Unfortunately, as observed by the orator, over the time it has been observed that some of those in the government do not really understand this provision, especially so as it relates to “SEPARATE COORDINATE BRANCHES’ of the government. As a result, they engage in acts to project themselves, as the “master of all, “while at times there is show of disrespect or show of arrogance of power to make others in other branches of the government to public ridicule and disgrace.
Pointing out his concern to elected and appointed officials in his oration, Ambassador Minor said, ‘honorable elected and high officials in government: You have been the target of criticisms and you have also been pointing the fingers to others, perceived to be corrupt. I wish to call attention to the fact that you have chosen to pursue and have accepted positions of leadership in our nation. By accepting to lead, you accept the responsibility of STEWARDSHIP of our people. The principle of stewardship is the principle of focusing on responsibilities, assignments and duties given to you with the goal of magnifying and enhancing the quality of life for our people.
Still on stewardship, the orator said this is “not defined as aggrandizement, as self-centeredness and self-interest-serving, neither is it defined as acquiring absolute power. History will judge you not on the basis of your influence, your popularity, your wealth or your possession; but to the extent of your intervention, your passion and your labor to improve the situation affecting Liberians everywhere.”
“Let me also indicate what experts advise: “To improve any situation, you must improve yourself.” To even change your spouse, you must first change yourself. To change the attitude of your co-workers, your constituencies, your own attitude must change.” Change requires taking responsibility and being responsible. Change requires exercising discipline.
“As a steward, may I suggest that whether you are levying taxes, making budgetary decisions, passing laws or implementing policies, you should not think about yourself; how do I benefit from this? Or how can I win this one and people out there lose. Instead you must think “win-win” and focus on “inclusion,” he said.
“Such thinking broadens our vision and gives us a better prospect for abundance and prosperity for all and not scarcity and deprivation. The paradigm then becomes one of sharing, be it of your privileges or your prestige, your reward or your compensation; your decision making and your support should be for those you lead.”
Closing on this, he said to officials, “Let me also add that our Branches of Government should never be perceived to be in competition. What is needed far more than competition is the opening of possibilities for determining alternatives and for creativity in all spheres of our endeavors.”
I join to comment on this issue raised by the orator because of the embarrassment sometimes this nation faces because of the failure of some officials of government who do not really understand the intents of the separation of power. Sometimes, lawmakers declare “VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE” against appointed officials or those in the Executive Branch, something that is not applicable under our governance system. Disgustingly, at times, Country Legislative Caucuses and county officials are at loggerheads on matter only because of show of power.
Again, there is no question that there are three branches of government that constitute this unit, called ‘The Government.’ The fact that one finds himself or herself in one of the three should in no way suggest that they are in competition, but rather, as being as part of this unit to contribute to its success, which required 3 c’s- coordination, collaboration and cooperation.
Frankly, the unitary nature of the government can be likened to the human body with different parts that MUST work together to keep the body alive, active and moving. This means that each part of the body should perform its task.
As I close, I hope that the message of the orator is well understood by both elected and appointed in the three branches of government, when he said, “.our Branches of Government should never be perceived to be in competition. What is needed far more than competition is the opening of possibilities for determining alternatives and for creativity in all spheres of our endeavors.” I Rest My Case.