The Rationale

Table 1: Distribution of Counties in the States of Liberia Western State Central State Eastern State

  1. Grand Cape Mount 1. Grand Bassa 1.Grand Gedeh
  2. Bomi 2. Margibi 2. Grand Kru
  3. Gbarpolu 3. Rivercess 3. River Gee
  4. Lofa 4. Bong 4. Sinoe
  5. Montserrado 5.Nimba 5. Maryland

Experiments have been carried out to create and effectively manage a viable Republic of Liberia over the last 174 years of the nation’s existence. Results from these experiments are yet to deliver a stronger and viable Liberia. Managing the Nation State effectively and efficiently calls for a proactive and innovative governance system capable of having a distributive impact on those governed and those governed. The process benefits from a system that places shared responsibilities on the shoulders of the governors and those governed. This

means that both governors and the governed are all initiators, providers, and beneficiaries of an effective and efficient governance system.

Consequently, there is no illusion associated with governance, and there is no room nor justification for strangulating the nation building process. What is required to build and operate an effective nation state is developing and utilizing capable and competitive institutions with clear jurisdictions, mandates supported by a critical mass of adequate human and financial resources. Unfortunately, improving these vital ingredients in Liberia is still in its infancy stage, despite the many unanswered calls to build a strong and viable Republic of Liberia.

The clarion call embraces two fundamental imperatives that have been tingled with by past governments. First, an effective political participation of the nation’s governance and resource management processes, is a must. Second, it is imperative not to compromise anything that shall ensure Liberia’s sustained socio-economic viability and equitable distribution of growth and wealth. We hold the conviction that two bold interventions must be taken to drive the search for an appropriate solution in meeting these two imperatives: (i) the geo- political decentralization of governance institutions and processes; and (ii) the decentralization of economic and social opportunities and facilities within the Republic. An intent to begin the change process along these two interventions is stated in the platform of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change. Still, sadly, little has been heard of or done in addressing these two critical nations building strategies. I have nurtured over the years hoping that the appropriate Government would come along and lead our nation and its peoples in an effective and comprehensive restructuring exercise that will give birth to a strong and viable Republic. What follows in this brief article is the description of my dream and vision of a New Republic of Liberia, following the successful implementation of the two critical interventions.

Geo-Political and Governance Institutions

    1. Political Sub-Divisions

For an effective and inclusive political participation of the nation’s development process and outcome, the New Republic is divided into three (3) autonomous geo-political States or regions as the second layer of the nation politic: Western Region; Central Region; and Eastern Region. Each State, respectively named to appropriately reflect a particular national monument in that specific part of the nation or named after a national historical issue or event, has equal access to the Atlantic Coast beach and Sea. Boundaries of the existing 15 counties are kept as is, with five counties grouped within each of the three States and considered the third political layer as shown in Table 1.

The existing districts within each of the 15 counties remained the same and considered the fourth layer within the national body politic. The structures within districts remained the same as with the clans and villages. Each State and its constituent counties have identifiable unique symbols and flags to personify the State and counties. The Seat of Government (the National Capital District) is situated at the country’s central point, which incorporates land spaces from Bong, Grand Bassa and Nimba counties. The former capital city of Monrovia is now the Commercial Capital of the nation. The long- term Physical Plan and Blueprint for the National Capital District, designed to meet with required international standards of a major City, has been prepared by the Executive, approved by the legislature, and development works are ongoing. The geo-political map of the New Republic of Liberia is shown in Figure 1.

    1. Deconcentrated Governing Powers

The Liberian Constitution gives the responsibilities of governing and managing the Republic of Liberia to three independent but interrelated branches: The Legislative, The Executive, and The Judiciary. The governing and managing powers in the Restructured Republic are distributed from the Seat of Government to the States. The move is a powerful strategy to ensure political stability; effective participation of the Liberian people in the development process; poverty reduction; and sustained growth and development. The nature and

Seat of Government

structures of each branch of government in the New Republic are described below.

      1. The Legislative

The parliament in the New Republic sits and operates at two levels. There is the State Parliament and the National Parliament. The 5 counties within the respective States elects its Senators and Law Makers from within the constituent counties, for a period specified in the Constitution, to represent their respective counties in the State Legislative Parliament. The number of representatives is in proportion to the county’s population size, and each county has two elected Senators renewable at the will of the people. Matters concerning the growth and development of the specific

State constitute the agenda of the State Parliament. Members of parliament conduct their respective state duties over seven months seated at the State House of Parliament. For two additional months, following a short vacation, the National Parliament is convened at the National House of Parliament seated in the Nation Capital. During the National Lawmakers sessions, State Speakers presides on a rotational basis, while the Vice President presides during senatorial national sessions. State Senators and lawmakers’ positions on national issues are discussed, consolidated, and presented for consideration and endorsement.

      1. The Executive

The President, Vice President, State Governors, County Superintendents and District Administrators are elected to serve for a specified period per the National Constitution and Electoral Laws. Members of the Supreme Court, Cabinet Ministers and their Deputies; Heads and Deputies of specialized autonomous Agencies; and Accredited Ambassadors to countries and international institutions, are nominated by the President and subsequently appointed following the advice and consent of the Liberian Senate. Each State has all major public institutions and agencies located in the State Capital respectively headed by Deputies supported by subject-matter Directors, professionals, technical and administrative staff. A skeleton head office is located at the seat of the National Government with the Minister as head and supported by a Principal Deputy responsible for Administration, a core team of technical and professional advisors, and not more than five administrative staff.

State Governors and their deputies, County Superintendents and Deputy Superintendents, and District Administrators and their Deputies are elected by the peoples within each constituency and serve under the mandates and jurisdiction of the state, county, and districts respectively. Each county has a traditional Council of Chiefs, and the heads and authorities of each Council are members of the State Traditional Council. Annual National Traditional Council Conventions are held with accredited delegations attending following the constitution and byelaws of the National Traditional Council of Chiefs and Elders.

      1. The Judiciary

The Supreme Court operates from the Nation’s Capital, with scheduled working sittings in States as programed by the Court from time to time. The Court is headed by the Chief Justice who is supported by four Justices all appointed by the President in consultation with the Liberian Bar Association, and with advice and consent of the Liberian Senate to serve as stipulated by Law. Magisterial and other appropriate Courts are seated in the capital city of each State with branches located and operating in County capitals. Judges are appointed to these courts by the Chief Justice in consultation with the Liberian Bar Association, and with advice and consent of the Liberian Senate. A core of professionals and administrative staff are working in the various offices carrying out the day-to-day activities.


III Economic and Social Opportunities and Facilities

    1. National and Regional Development Agenda Successive 5-year development plans with targeted and impactful deliverables for each State and constituent county are periodically prepared and monitored by the National Planning Commission located in the President’s office. Planned activities within County Plans are aggregated into the appropriate regional development plan and the National Development Agenda. Three strategic policies are in operation to drive the national and regional development plan.
      1. Financial Institutions

A Policy to guide the national and regional resource mobilization process and outcome together with a regional resource sharing strategy in force and working well under the supervision of the National Budget Bureau within the National Planning Commission. A well-staffed and liquid Central Bank is in operation formulating and guiding the monetary policy of the Republic. Three development banks jointly owned by private shareholders and the government on a 60-40 percentage ownership share arrangement, are operating in each State with branches in counties and districts. These are the Agriculture Development Bank, Liberia Investment and Industrial Bank, and the National Bank for Social Development. Several commercial banks are in operation to support the economy and the living conditions of the people.

      1. A Vibrant Private Sector

A national private sector development policy is in place fully supported by national and state governments. Two key decisions have given meaning and effectiveness to the policy. There are at least two major economic activities allocated by the Government to, and promoted in, each State based on a comparative and competitive analysis amongst the States. Two, appropriate legislation is in force to create and promote an enabling business environment that (a) effectively supports the pronounced Liberianization policy, and (b) the development, operation, and sustainability of vibrant private sector enterprises.

    1. Distribution of Social Facilities
      1. Education

Public primary, elementary, Jr and Sr secondary, and technical and vocational training schools’ curricula are revised, and teaching capacities are strengthened to adequately prepare current and future human capital for managing and serving the new Republic. These schools are strategically distributed amongst and throughout the States and functioning. There are the Western State University; the Central State University; and the Eastern State University, each supervised by a Council Chaired by the State Governor. Bachelor’s degrees are offered and awarded in liberal and social arts, humanities, and sciences in all three universities. Each university’s management and operation team is headed by a President supported by 2 Vice Presidents (Academic & Administration), faculties, and staff. As agreed by the National Government, specific State Universities offer graduate and post graduate studies and degrees in special fields of study as listed in the following Table. A vibrant National Youth Service Program is in operation with all first-degree graduates providing special community services within the various cities and districts for one year before taking up an assignment in the employment market.

      1. Health

A well-equipped and staffed medical referral hospital is in the seat of State governments, with at least two functioning hospitals located in each county. Every district has a clinic with health posts distributed in towns and villages. Several privately owned hospitals, clinics, and laboratories are found in the Nation’s capital, states, and counties. A functioning health subsidy program for our citizens below the poverty line are prioritized. Free medical services for maternal care and children under the age of five (5) years are provided at public health facilities. An active emergency medical service including a referral system between primary, secondary, and tertiary care is ongoing. Appropriate scheme of remuneration and benefits payment for healthcare workers is in place and implemented.

    1. Sports and Youth Reorientation

Each county has a Sports Administration Authority (SAA). Four sporting associations are operating within the County SAA system: (i) football and kickball; (ii) tennis and volleyball; (iii) track and field; and (iv) cycling and boxing. Similar sporting activities are organized within the educational programs and system from the primary level through the universities. A comprehensive, integrated Sports and Academic Academy established in each state to build solid and competitive sportsmen and women for national and international sporting competitions. A well-structured occupational skill- determination program is ongoing with a focus on re-orienting and refocusing the minds and attitudes of the street and out-of-school youths aimed at (i) restoring hope; (ii) refining character and values; and

(iii) preparing them adequately for further education and training.

    1. Supportive Infrastructural Capital
      1. Strategic Human Capital

A Comprehensive National Agenda for the effective programming, development, and utilization of the Republic human resource stock was developed and approved by the Legislature during the first two years of the New Republic. The Agenda is managed and monitored by a National Planning and Programming Commission (NPPC) located and operating within the President’s office. States have formulated and are executing their respective Human Capital Management Agenda, which contains three integrated components. The first is a strategic 10-year human resources development action plan, which incorporates the types and levels of human knowledge and skills required for efficiency and effectiveness in the public and private sectors over the ten years and beyond. The second component focuses on policy elements, institutional responsibilities, and resources to mobilize, program, and develop the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes to effectively man the sectors during the 10- year planned period and beyond. Component three contains appropriate policies, strategies, and incentives to create and sustain an environment that promotes effective competition, high-quality services, and greater productivity in the workforce.

      1. Transportation System and Networks

A major 4-lane expressway connects West to East, and a 4-lane expressway connecting Saniquellie to Buchana with adequately placed tollgates constructed and functioning. A coastal 2-lane paved ECOWAS regional highway running through the coastal counties within and across states with appropriately placed tollgates built and in use. These are shown in Figure 2. Appropriate all weather trunk roads linking the major express highways and the ECOWAS highway to the various States and County seats connected and functioning.

Table 2: Fields of Specialization by State Universities Western State Central State Eastern State

Agriculture Public Physical

Forestry Administration Sciences

Engineering Finance Natural

Business Economics Sciences

Administration Governance Medicine Education

Figure 2: Major Expressways in Liberia

Plans and provisions for constructing parallel rail tracks and facilities along the expressways are on the drawing board as a long-range plan. One ship carrying passengers and goods along the Atlantic from west to east while smaller boats are running up and down in waterways within the country.

      1. Communications & Energy

A practical and affordable communication and energy facility is developed within each of the three regions and serving the respective counties. Thirty percent of energy is derived from the West African Power Pool, 40 percent from 3 hydro stations respectively located within each state, and 30 percent from solar largely located in Districts and towns. These energy facilities are operated through an effective Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement and provided at affordable costs to the people and businesses. An effective mobile phone system is in operations throughout the country

IV. The Challenge: Bringing in the New Republic

The major challenge that emerged is affecting the change that brought into existence the New Republic of Liberia. A participatory approach was used in the process to ease the challenge. A National Convention convened over a three-year period that ultimately gave birth to the New Republic. Representatives from the counties to the Convention were from the public sector, the private sector, civil society, and Liberians in the diaspora and reflected gender and age balance appropriately. There were three sittings of the National Convention. The first reviewed the challenges and opportunities posed to ensuring effective development by current structures and organs of the Old Republic of Liberia and determined a feasible way forward for the Nation. Before the first sitting of the National Convention, an Independent High-Level National Reconstruction Committee was set up by the National Legislature and well-funded and conducted a nation-wide consultation exercise that sought guidance, suggestions and buy-in from the Liberian people on the extent and structures of a viable decentralized governing system and report to the Convention.

Following the debate on the report of the High- level Committee and in line with the conclusions and recommendations reached the Convention, a Constitution Drafting Committee, with all counties participating, was established, and reviewed, over four months, the old and drafted a new Constitution for the New Republic that took into account the Convention’s conclusions and recommendations. During its second sitting six months later, the National Convention debated, strengthened, and adopted the Constitution Drafting Committee’s Report and the Draft Constitution. The Convention also approved a two-year action-oriented roadmap developed by the Independent High-Level National Reconstruction Committee that contained interventions and operational arrangements to effect the change over the old to the new Republic. The two years were judged necessary to allow for the adequate preparation and organization of structures and organs of the New Republic and the elections of national, state, counties, and district officials accordingly.


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