Ambassador McClain Takes Public Agenda to Task

Reference to the article which appeared in the Public Agenda of August 3, 2009, someone has to say a few things in response to the incessant yet unfounded accusations levied against the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Olubanke King-Akerele, on matters that the writer does not make any effort to comprehend.  It is so true that an attentive mind does not easily stray but the reckless mind is forever in the wilderness.

Anyone with the faintest sense of honesty needs to make no effort to recall that over the troubled years spanning two decades, Liberian Diplomatic Missions abroad were a source of embarrassment to our country and a symbol of a failed State. It is also known to anyone with some principles that a country’s diplomatic mission is its frontline in international interactions with other nations in this world of virulent contradictions.

It suffices therefore to remind the writer and readers of the Public Agenda newspaper, that in a conscious effort to correct the image we have so irresponsibly damaged, the Ministry will forego lesser priorities to meet the challenges out there in the field where other Liberians are striving to rebuild the broken image of a country that was once the epitome of correctness in international relations and diplomatic behavior.

If tyranny is defined as re-engineering of priorities for better results then the Minister should be proud to implement the Ministry’s programs tyrannically but being aware of the true meaning of tyranny,  the writer is indeed in the wilderness. 

The recent history of our diplomatic missions is replete with unscrupulous activities by officers whose living conditions may have driven them into the abyss of disgrace, dishonesty and the sins of limited choices.  There were times when the belongings – both personal effects and Government properties were emptied onto the street from residencies occupied by Liberian Ambassadors and diplomatic officers for non-payment of rent and other charges. 

There were times that host nations refused to do business with Liberian Diplomatic Missions for negating on their obligations to public and private providers of services (light, water, telephones, etc).

These are the scourges of shame and humiliation in the name of bad governance that the Ministry is determined to obliterate from Liberia’s records of  international relations. Write what the Public Agenda may, this Administration is focused on transforming Liberia’s international image at a time when it needs a renaissance of its international posture.

The writer and readers must be told of some of the commendable activities of the Ministry in the interest of rebuilding a credible diplomatic outreach program to which the reckless mind is  unrelentingly oblivious: training for Liberia’s Foreign Service, respectability enhanced for the Foreign Service by providing the minimum for its upkeep, Liberia’s diplomatic practice is evolving from cocktails and political reporting to economic and development diplomacy thereby nurturing partnerships that are rewarding to Liberia and to the other side of the relations – be it a nation or a private entity,  and an aggressive engagement with host nations and parties concerned to recover Liberia’s Real Estate properties around the world that were illegally disposed of by unpatriotic elements within our ranks among other landmark programs.

The knowledgeable observer of administrative practices would dare not consider “budgetary Transfers” as being a misapplication of resources. But thank God, this routine administrative action has not been interpreted to denote embezzlement in the mind of the writer.

Reading through the article in reference, dishonesty is its highlight. It is unethical and against all principles of the deontology of the journalism profession to use the infamous claims that the subject of the recriminations contained in such a piece of imagination “could not be reached”. It is a well known cliché employed by apologies within the craft.

Speaking to some of the likely sources of the writer, it is soon established that such venom is spurred out of sheer selfish considerations.  One  is therefore obliged to wonder what is wrong with skipping a year to buy vehicles for home-based officers in order to put food on the table of our foreign service officers in the field and pay the bills of overdue government financial obligations to service providers who would care less about our self inflicted woes.

It is equally perplexing to observe that the writer, in spite of it all, admitted that there are appropriations for the purchase of vehicles in the current FY 2009/2010. What is all the hullabaloo about then.  The Liberian public is clairvoyant and no machinations will derail it from the path of rebuilding a nation of men and women of integrity and resilience.

Finally, and this is where I am coming from. It is a sad commentary to say the least, that diplomatic courtesies or reciprocity is now being construed to be criminal. A friendly gesture from a nation to another such as Senegal  and the Peoples Republic of China graciously providing premises for the Liberian Diplomatic Missions for a limited period (the case of Senegal) being portrayed as part of  “the Foreign Ministry is a Mess” confounds the attentive mind and shows the depth of understanding of international affairs.

Thank you, Mr. Editor, for allowing the space to attempt to correct some of the anomalies  within,  what can be consider to a large extent,  to be a vibrant and resourceful media of which  Liberians  should be proud.