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Internal Brain Drain: Potential Consequences on the Liberia National Police

Premised on the argument that Police part of the global community are not highly paid organizations, no reasonable person will want to negate the fact that the Police being considered as one of the professional organizations by virtue of the services rendered that required special education, training or skills deserve the attention of national government so as to retain officers that attained some level of professional credentials beside the Basic Police Science Education or Recruit Training similar to other professionals in the Civil Service sector or other areas.


For example, In Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria etc. officers that attained professional credentials such as Physician Assistant, Medical Doctor, Lawyers, Ballistician, Nurse, Educator, Instructors, etc. relevant for professionalizing the Police organizations earned professional remuneration and incentives similar to other professionals in the Civil Service sector or other areas.  These professionals though play pivotal leadership roles, but are not necessarily political appointees. 

Unequivocally, the essence for such professional scheme or benefits is to avoid the phenomenon called “Internal Brain Drain” in which professional organizations including the Police are vulnerable to. Against this backdrop, the caption or title of this article was framed as a result of scrupulous observation. 

For the benefit of some our audiences or readers who may not be familiar with the phenomenon, Internal Brain Drain, it behooves me to do a succinct revision before discussing the crux of the article.

In a general sense, internal brain drain, depicts or describes situations in which employees that attained professional credentials within an organization leave or resign and seek employment in different or another organization in the same country due to what researchers categorized as push and pull factors. The push factors are conditions that motivate or force professionals to leave or resign from the organization or institution.

These conditions generally viewed as job dissatisfactions include low remuneration and incentives and to some extent poor working conditions as manifested by inadequate office space, lack of vehicle and among others. The pull factors generally viewed as job satisfactions include handsome remuneration and incentives and good working conditions compared to similar professionals with the same or at times less credentials and experiences in another organizations that attract the attentions and perhaps influence the resignation of those affected by the push factors. 

Evidently, researches have documented the consequences of internal brain drain on any organization to be disastrous. It gives rise to poor leadership and corruption, undermined the cradle of professionalism. In many places, it is plagued by bureaucratic incompetence and resistance to change.

In others words, when people whose professional credentials are enriched by a decade of experience that really understand the organizational culture resign for another job due to push and pull factors, imagine the potential problems created by the gap.

This has been one of the challenges the continent of Africa continued to face due to professionals mainly medical doctors and engineers that migrated to the West for attractive remuneration and incentives and better working conditions.

Let’s look at the Liberia National Police seen as the crux of this article. Despites the obvious challenges incurred from the current reformation and restructure by the international community inaugurated since 2004, there are some gains that worth commendation.

One of the gains the reform and restructure has scored significantly is the level of universities graduates that put the Liberia National Police on the trajectory of building professionalism which has been a clarion called by the people in post conflict Liberia.

 According to research, there are 340 officers with undergraduate degrees in diverse academic disciplines besides the Basic Police Recruit Training and other In-services or capacity building trainings as of now; three officers with LLB degrees beside the same Basic Police Recruit Training and other In-services or capacity building trainings as of now; four officers with Master degrees besides the same Basic Police Recruit Training and other In-services or capacity building trainings as of now; 19 officers sponsored by the International community successfully underwent post graduate diploma in Public Administration at the Ghana Institute for Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) as of now; about 40 officers sponsored by the International Community successfully underwent post graduate certificate program in Public Administration  at GIMPA. Presently, three officers are pursuing their Master degrees outside Liberia.

Precisely, one is at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria reading Peace and Conflict Studies, another officer in Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana is writing his dissertation and the other is at GIMPA for Master in Public Policy.

In addition to this, there are sizable number of officers pursuing master degree programs at the University of Liberia graduate school, Cuttington graduate school and the Louis Arthur Grant School of law. These achievements or efforts as you may agree are evidence of any professional organization on the right or correct trajectory. Moreover, majority of these officers in leadership positions have ten or more than ten years of experience that can be equated to other professionals in elsewhere or other organizations but continue to endure due what could be argued as passion for the job. 

Compared to other professional organizations be it the public or private sectors with people of similar credentials such as Master degree, lawyers, post graduate diploma and certificates that evidently earned handsome remuneration and incentives couple with better working conditions than LNP officers according to Liberia standard, the potential for internal brain drain is obvious if nothing is done by the national government to start thinking about professional benefits for officers that can be equated with other professionals in other professional organizations.

Think about the significance of lawyers as it relates to prosecution. This is one of the reasons why the LNP has a legal section. Do you expect these professional officers to survive with low remuneration and incentives and poor working conditions while their colleagues are paid better remuneration and incentives in the public and private sectors? Obviously, the push and pull factors will influence their leaving.

Think about the relevance for officers with Master degrees in Education, Peace and Conflict Studies, Public Policy, do you expect them to continue to be driven by passion for the job while their colleagues in the public or private sectors are better of?  The same push and pull factors for leaving are obvious.

Impractically, political appointments that are to some extent lucrative cannot accommodate all of these professionals. As such, the pull factors (better remuneration and incentives) will attract their attentions for leaving the LNP for another organization.

 It might interest you to know that the LNP has already lost two lawyers to another sector that reduced the number to three lawyers as of now. Two of the lawyers are Atty. James Fallah and Kasor Zubah.

Moreover, another two officers with master degrees in Management from Cuttington graduate school have also resigned for other lucrative jobs in both the public and private sectors. One of them is William T. Thompson that got employment with UNDP.

This unfortunate situation reduced the number of master degree holders to four as of now. These are young professionals having acquired close to ten years of experience in leadership force to resign because of low salaries and incentives.  

Let it be crystal clear that the potential for internal brain drain is not about Director of Police inability as you would want to think. It is about the national government and the Liberian society to understand the argument from Bruce and Neild (2005) that eloquently contributed to professional policing that “if society demands effective and respectful policing, the same society must give the professional skills and conditions of services that will allow the police to deliver services of the kind of the public”.

In other words, it might be safe to equate conditions of services to professional benefits. To support this assertion, you might want to think about the $150.00 USD added across the board to the individual salary of all officers that earned first university degree in the LNP. Sincerely, this commendable action arguably suggests that the LNP is gradually being viewed as professional organization critical for Liberia post conflict security development.

However, the national government must start to think about professional benefits that will retain lawyers, master degrees holders and probably those with post graduate diploma or certificates equivalent to professional credentials. 

Besides bureaucratic incompetence and resistance to change that result for internal brain drain, another potential consequence that will have leadership implication in the LNP stems from the lost to be incurred from officers sponsored to GIMPA in Ghana for professional skills should they start to leave the LNP for jobs with attractive remuneration and incentives.

If they cannot leave or resign, the possibility for moonlighting though appear less troubling but arguably reduce productivity or performance management. In paraphrase, moonlighting depicts a situation in which for some reasons, professionals will choose to be with the organization but engage into another part time job or employment in another organization so as to augment his/her earnings.

Where it affects the productivity can be seen from the less working hours the professionals put in for organization that pay lesser than the second employment.  In this kind of situation, the organization mainly the public sector that offers lesser remuneration and incentives fearing brain drain is obliged to accept the moonlighting despite the disadvantage.  If this can happen to professional organizations, it suggests that the LNP is no exception. 

In conclusion, it is worth to mention that in as much as the LNP is not considered as civil servants that may weaken the stance for professional benefits, it can also be argued that in as much as services delivery is common to all organizations in the public sectors that rely on professionals for quality delivery that attracts such benefits, it sounds reasonable to use this as a crutch to argue in favor of similar benefits for professionals in the LNP desired by the people of Liberia.

By Ambrues M. Nebo

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