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Expressed commitment alone cannot guarantee the kind of Security Envisage for UNMIL Drawdown

Ever since the adoption of the United Nations resolution 2190 (2014), that explicitly called upon the Government of Liberia to start preparing for complete security responsibilities from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) no later than 30 June 2016, the imminent or obvious security implications or concerns continue to be discussed in every quarter including the National Legislature.

One of the legitimate concerns recently raised by Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence was whether the Army, Police, and Immigration are sufficiently equipped and financially potent to carry out their respective mandates, and whether they are capable of defending the country and its citizens after the departure of UNMIL. From all indications, the senator and other that shared similar concerns reflect the kind of vibrant national security envisage for UNMIL drawdown.  The kinds of security that we envisage for UNMIL drawdown are the agencies that the people of Liberia can rely on with little reservation on grounds that we cannot attain perfection for now but at a gradual process.  

In African politics, expressed commitment has become part of the political culture embodiment. As a dimension of political commitment, expressed commitment is characterized by how often and early key government leaders make public statements about ongoing projects or development or its determination to deal with a particular problem. To put simple, it asserts what governments say rather than what they do. Peterson (2001). In other words, it explains verbal declarations of support for an issue by high level, influential political leaders. For example, declaring or denouncing corruption as public enemy number one or vampire is an expressed commitment to fighting corruption. 

With specific reference to the caption of this article, the Senate Committee on Defense, Security, Intelligence & Veterans Affairs report to the Senate plenary that the proposed UNMIL drawdown plan developed by the Government of Liberia and UNMIL is doubtlessly an expressed commitment that reflects the determination to tackle or deal with the security concerns, gaps or implications that are likely to emerge.  Arguably, these intentions are good but not enough to guarantee the kind of national security the people of Liberia envisage.  This is because; expressed commitment alone cannot tackle any development or particular problem.

According to research, expressed commitment on its own without policies or budgetary allocations to back it up can be thought of as rhetoric. This is the reason why the Senate Committee on Defense, Security, Intelligence & Veterans Affairs report to the Senate plenary that the proposed UNMIL drawdown plan developed by the Government of Liberia and UNMIL proposed the aggregate cost for US$76,188.89.

Budgetary Commitment. According Lieberman (2009), public pronouncements and policy enactments alone may not provide a complete picture of governmental commitment to respond to development or tackle a given problem without tangible resource allocations to support these pronouncements and policies. As mentioned earlier in this article, there is a positive correlation between Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and Lieberman assertion. 

Coming up with budgetary allocation to back up expressed commitment does not necessarily means the problem will be solved. It means proportionality between the two dimensions. In other words, the budget must be proportional to the kind of security envisage. In African politics, governments are on records for scanty budgetary allocations that fail to translate expressed commitment into desire outcomes. For example, you want a vibrant security but ironically approved a budget that has the implications for security compromises and perhaps ethical transgressions. 

Budgetary commitment must not only focus on logistics but also take cognizance of Abraham Maslow concept of motivation (better incentives, insurance & job security) that has the implications for public trust in the Police, Bureau of Immigration & Naturalization, Drug Enforcement Agency, the Armed forces of Liberia and other relevant security Institutions. In other words, what is the essence of having logistically equipped security institutions and at the same time paying low salaries that also has the implications for the usage of logistics? Think about it. 

Policies: Are deliberate actions meant for behavioral control or compliance and guide expenditure or procurement appropriately. This too has implications for logistic. No matter how much logistics coming out from budgetary allocation, the absence of workable and enforceable policies critical for a culture of maintenance and usage of these logistics will have another security implications such as responding on time to crime due to lack of vehicles damaged by carelessness or recklessness that could have been prevented. 

If this sounds impossible, then let’s think about some kind of mechanism that will institutionalize a culture of maintenance especially for vehicles that influence responsiveness. At least something serious must be done.

Therefore, as our National legislature are considering budgetary allocations and assistance from international partner, it is equally important that the Senate Committee on Defense, Security, Intelligence & Veterans Affairs ensure that relevant policies of all security institutions critical to the UNMIL drawdown plan commence the formulation or revisions of policies and if possible heads of these institutions appear before the Committee for deliberation and subsequent endorsement that must not only be documented but enforced and periodically report progress to the Committee having oversight.

All of us from now on must be aware or realized that the kind of security we envisage for UNMIL drawdown is critical to the holding of the 2017 general elections especially a post conflict striving to institutionalize democracy. It is about time that we aloof rhetoric from security bearing in mind that all of the developments envisage cannot be sustained when our internal security is prone or vulnerable to compromises.

By Ambrues M. Nebo

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