The proliferation of protests almost throughout the country keenly portrayed two fundamental dimensions which speak of the important tenet of democracy being put into action, and the other, clearly presents the poor leadership exhibited by the government in not being fully in charge of the governance system and absolute control of managing the expectations of the people in a dynamic manner to maintain calm and progress in the country.
The democratic aspect of the people’s protest is performing a right sanctions by the Constitution which permits the citizens to assemble peacefully and to petition their leaders about the way they want things to be and happen or to voice out through peaceful manner and form, situations that are inimical to the wellbeing of the state, to the unworkable government’s policies wherein the power of the day will see, hear and come to term with prevailing circumstances that must be addressed, if such government sincerely cares for the growth, security, happiness and development of the people. This democratic tenet must not, should not and cannot be denied by the government, despite putting a spin on the latter by the authority to enable it exercise command and control over such right and the people. In most instances, government’s inconsistence and persistence to keep that authorization (verdict) close to its heartbeat, the issue of hullabaloos attending such imposed disagreement is often challenged by the wanting-to-protest elements.
However, the magnitude of protests storming the country in the past to present and even more to come is based on failure to do the right things at the right time; unconcerned about managing the hope and aspirations of the people, inability to communicate with and to the people in a meaningful way to allay the grave harbored fears and suspicions, and above all things, the displayed lackadaisical attitude toward transparency and accountability are enough signals of concern to take to the streets wherein the voice of the unheard attracts maximum attention from those with no expectation of even being stunned in the first place.
In view of the above mentioned, one needs not be told that the current wave of protests almost nationwide is hinged on justice, disrespect, denial of just attention and accommodation nationally and the odd treatments meted out against them as though they possess no right to be called citizens in the only God given country they know and legitimately are wholly and solely part and parcel of. To do otherwise, is tantamount to disservice as most protesters firmly believe that the government that fails to prepare its programs effectively, equally so, prepared to fail.
In two days, beginning from Monday, August 2, to Tuesday, August 3, 2021 the nation has been massively taken by a breezy storm of protests on Capitol Hill, former Somalia Drive now Japan Freeway and Kakata in Margibi County, besides the protest held in Lofa County, all with different reasons, speak volumes of amazing things that are not going well for the country and people.
On Capitol Hill, the University Students, meanly spearheaded by the Vanguard Student Unification Party (SUP) unleashed a protest against the University of Liberia authority’s controversial eLearning program which ended in a clash with the police leaving some students wounded, and in total defiance, SUP vowed to come back and continue the protest, noting that protest is the voice of the unheard.
At the same time, protesters from Gardnerville who came to the Police Headquarters on Capitol Hill to demand justice for the murdered Aleo Sheriff, a truck driver, set road block until the police had to move in robustly with tear gas in the quest to clear the street. Based on the excessive mounted pressure on the police, despite the police strong-arm method used on the protesters, it was reported that the three police officers involved with the death of the truck driver have been arrested taken, to the Professional Standard Division for investigation upon being disrobed for an act most people described as ethical aggression and complete police brutality which has now tarnished the image of the police.
Despite the intervention of President George M. Weah and the setting up of a committee to thoroughly investigate the truck driver who was allegedly killed by three policemen, and to also visit the bereaved family, the massive protest by people from Somalia drive comprised men, women and children, the spokesman of the protesters, Amara Fofana being aware that most often, when committee is set up to probe any unfavorable development or case, the end result is farewell, for the case will be considered closed, recommendations placed on the shelf, while it turns out to be business as usual, adopted a tough posture by given the team of investigators 10 days to receive justice for the murdered truck driver allegedly by three police officers.
With simmering reports of protests in Kakata, Redlight, Omega 14 Market in Paynesville and Lofa County all speak out for different reasons, but the larger picture points to the government’s inability to lead the country progressively coupled with its insensitivity to its duty which has dampened the hope and aspirations including their dreams, whereas, most people are alarmingly lashing out that the fate of Liberia is like lhaving small boys to do big men’s jobs.
From the background where the eLearning originates, its intent is very praiseworthy and most welcoming, purposely ensuring that students of the University of Liberia are placed on the pedestal of technology with the attended opportunity to engage, operate and utilize the immense benefits to accumulate therein, but it must be carefully implemented with deep considerations of several obstacles and the Coronavirus hurdles that must be properly resolved before the great forward march.
Firstly, we must call spade a spade. The launching of the eLearning at the University of Liberia (UL) is saddled with grave complications, beginning with the ill-preparedness of most, if not close to almost 90% of the students’ population is computer-illiterate and do not possess each a personal computer(laptop), which also extends to most of the professors; and to enable the computer technology to genuinely serve the user’s best interest, the users must independently be up-to-date with its operational know-hows to avoid running from place to place hustling someone who may or may not be willing to cooperate with and conduct a mini-tutorial space, which could pose serious embarrassment to the students or professors who could be confronted with such challenge at a very crucial moment.
As a means to curbing the current hullaballoos making headway on the campuses of the University, the issue of the economic dimension cannot, and must not be rendered with cold-shoulder which makes the scheme unrealistic and unreasonable; also considering the payment of delayed salaries on one hand, as many students are unable to afford the resources to obtain data regularly when most parents are without a job nor stable or reliable incomes to foot the bills of their children’s data cost, there, and then a frustrating setback soon sets in born out of morale crunch.
While it is true that some professors and students may independently have the ability-opportunity and resources to weather such storm, and may afford to stay away and conduct their activities online, those without such blessing could come to class in their full gear in keeping with the current health protocols and in thorough observance of the social; distancing, could carry out their duty due to their incapacitated status, and that goes to the students who are unable to live up to the online scheme.
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