resident-elect George Tawlon Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah is feeling presidential. His lifetime dream is fulfilled, but his educational dilemma still hovers over his head as he anxiously moves into his young and exciting presidency comes January 22nd, 2018. The president-elect case is not different from the case of the late President Doe’s own academic dilemma he once experienced after he gained prominence when he overthrew the ‘Congo elements’ in the early 80s and became president of the Republic of Liberia later on.
When the late Doe became president, a cross-session of the Liberian population especially, the intellectuals and educated Liberians did not welcome him on grounds that he was not educated enough to serve as president of the Republic of Liberia. Will president-elect Weah be bothered by the same academic dilemma the late President Doe did suffer from? The answer is yes, but with few key differences. The president-elect did not rise from the Armed Forces of Liberia to seize power through the barrel of the guns.
The president-elect Weah waited patiently in a democratic queue for over 12-years when he was finally elected on Tuesday, December 26, 2017. The president-elect did witness how the late President Doe was psychologically tormented by the intellectual and educated Liberians on grounds that he was uneducated to serve as president of the Republic of Liberia. The educated and intellectuals Liberians also develop another mindset that the late president Doe had little or no political experience to rule the nation. But Doe did not yield, neither did he abandon his ambition to become president of the Republic of Liberia.
President-elect Weah kept pressing on until he enrolled at the University of Liberia in the mid-80s, and earned a Bachelor degree in 1989 with summa cum laude. Doe was also awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Seoul by President Chun Doo-hwan, of South Korea in 1982, and was styled and called Dr. Doe. But yet, the intellectual and educated Liberians still regarded the late Doe as an uneducated president despite his earned Bachelor degree from UL and his awarded honorary doctorate degree from the University of South Korea, in South Korea.
Most Liberians had a mindset that the late president Doe did not merit his academic achievement including his honorary doctorate degree from the University of Seoul. President-elect Weah is also facing the same dilemma that affected the late president Doe in the 80s. The President-elect Weah did earn his Master degree in business administration from the DeVry University, in Miami, the United States of America, in mid-2006. The intellectual and educated Liberians still regard President-elect Weah as an uneducated person with little or no political experience to serve as President of the Republic of Liberia, despite his democratic victory that earned him 61.5% (732.185) of the entire votes.
The intellectual and educated Liberians still maintained that President-elect Weah doesn't merit his Master degree from the US. But the academic dilemma of President-elect Weah, like his counterpart the late Doe, refuses to vanish from the minds of Liberians. But the late President Doe still when on to rule the Republic of Liberia for over 9-years. Will this same type of history be repeated in the case of the president-elect Weah comes 22nd. January 2018 going forward?
But the late president Doe's regime was later characterized by bigotry, bitterness, division and marginalization against intellectuals and educated Liberians in Liberia. The late Doe later worked with some intellectual and educated Liberians who acknowledged and accepted him as President of the Republic of Liberia, despite his academic dilemma that ruined his academic image throughout the rough ages of his presidency. At one point, the late Doe didn't care anymore who accepted him and who didn't.
Can the president-elect Weah adopt the same approach, by going after the intellectual and educated Liberians who may reject his presidency? The irony is that president-elect Weah’s base doesn’t find a problem with the president-elect’s educational dilemma. His base is comfortable with what the intellectual and educated Liberians are not simply comfortable with, that is his demerited Master degree and his lack of political experience in the presidency. But most Liberians believe that President-elect Weah would marginalize the intellectual and educated Liberians who do not acknowledge his role as president of the Republic of Liberia.
The base of the President-elect believes that the intellectual and educated Liberians failed to develop Liberia in a meaningful way. The President-elect base strongly feels that "book" alone doesn't build a nation. A nation is built based on the combinations of other vital factors such as personal experience in other areas like sports or serving in the Liberian Senate or the House of Representatives. The idea that a Liberian doesn't necessarily need to be educated to become president of the Republic of Liberia is being brought slowly by the young people of Liberia who supports the president-elect Weah as seen from their utterances and practical actions.
This idea is becoming the norms rather than the exception in most Liberian circles. Others believe that education is not all about going to school and earning degrees or certificates. It could also be about experience. For instance, the late president William R. Tolbert had both the education and the experience, he was too much for the white people so they killed him. The late president Doe had his education later, but he did not have the experience, he later gambled with his life, in the end, he died disgracefully. Taylor is educated, but didn’t have the experience, he decided to steal and killed most Liberians. He was later placed behind bars outside Liberia.
The outgoing President Ellen Sirleaf has the education but doesn't have the experience. She did not develop Liberia from a modern perspective as expected from her diehards. How then, can the issue of education and experience be answered? There are those who feel that the presidency has no term of reference to follow. It could be defined by others as a mere “political hustlers” job with no clearly defined functions, apart from thinking “what can I do for my people or for the nation?”.
Since this matter did surface in the 80s and now in 2017, there are two recommendations that would solve the academic dilemma problem among Liberians who may one day want to contest the Liberian Presidency or any other elected portfolios in the future: First, if any Liberian who has the desire to contest the Liberian Presidency or other elected portfolios in the future, but has neither the education nor the political experience, the case should be decided by the voters and not by the intellectual and educated Liberians as it was done in the case of president-elect, Weah . Second, the issue of little or no political experience or lack of education can also be settled by amending the constitution to make provision for this matter promptly.