“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Dr. Martin Luther King.
OPINION — The leading oil producing Unity State has dominated the news headlines for bad and worse, because of the rampant cases of immorality and break-down of law and order leading to wanton human rights violations with impunity.
The problems of Unity State are more and bigger than the problems of south Sudan’s nine states combined. Surprisingly, the national government seems to be putting less attention there. Sometimes, it looks like the increasing problems of unity state are becoming a blessing in disguise with the way the national government careless.
In fact, we can even say that the problems of South Sudan emanated from Unity State. For instance, the main armed rebellion of 2013, the incidents of burning criminal suspect/s alive, murdering by fire-squad, Amnesty International documented cases of human castration of 2018, runaway corruptions, and the unilateral dredging of the River Nile of 2022 just to mention but a few.
Subsequently, these recurring challenges and cases had given rise to continued and conspicuous absence of social amenities such as health centers, roads and standard primary and secondary schools and institution of higher learning putting young people’s lives and future at risk and jeopardy.
Now a day, if one want to talk about the things and the happenings in Unity State, he must talk about problems only, for there is nothing good happening there, and that’s a reason why vast majority of our people in Unity State have decided to maintained pin drop silence, for they don’t want to talk about these problems in the open for one reason or another.
In any event, when the privileged ones and the intellectuals keep quiet in the face of human rights abuses, they failed to realize that they are committing an offence called ‘conspiracy of silence.’ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said and I quote that “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” He further stated that ‘‘The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence by the good people.” At times, the solutions to social evils and problems are found by way of opening up and candid discussion between and among the abused and abusers.
More often than not, my decision to talk about these problems is based on the concept that ‘‘a problem shared is half solved.’’ Unfortunately, if we opted to refrain from these matters of live and death then we would hardly be off the hook. I think I’m not being petty but rather proactive.
Each time horrible incident occurred in unity state, the president and the international community via their embassies in Juba would be compelled to issue a statement. And that’s why I say Unity State problems are South Sudan problems, because it puts the image of our country into disrepute. In other words, the problems of Unity State have made south Sudan becomes a laughing stock regionally and internationally.
Today, if the actors of the international law and the United Nations member states were to withdraw their recognitions of South Sudan as sovereign country based on its failure to adhere to the international norms and standards, the blame would be apportioned on Unity State whether you like or not.
Yesterday, on 14th October, Unity State governor Dr. Joseph Nguen Manytuil Wejang left Juba for Unity State capital, Bentiu. On landing at Bentiu International Airport (BIA), the governor was received and welcome by thousands of supporters who were mobilized in advance.
Fortunately or unfortunately, he did not make a public address. The photos and video clips I saw on social media appeared like he did not utter a word to the crowd for apparent reason of insecurity. Interestingly, most of his personal security guards and soldiers who jetted back with him were all wearing bullet proofs. This was a sign indicating that the insecurity in unity state is real. In the trending photos, the governor appeared unhappy despite the huge turnout from the airport.
As matter of fact, his welcoming could not be likened to heroes welcoming, because he is yet to be exonerated from his case that took him to Juba in two months ago. To me, his failure to address the public on his welcoming day was a political blunder. No serious political leader except Governor Manytuil can think of missing such an opportunity in broad day light.
Most political leaders even those who had been away for long due to sickness or detention, they make public address on their return home. I think he could have addressed the rally and make promises to give people hope for bright or better future for Unity State.
As I whispered therein, the reason he did not make public address was because he was quite apprehensive and scared of the crown that were coerced to come and show loyalty for him. It’s obvious that the governor and his welcoming crowd do not trust each other.
There is a common saying that familiarity breeds contempt. The fact that Dr. Manytuil has been the governor for nearly ten years of problems without solution is the bone of contention. They are used to each other to a point where they cannot talk now.
Nonetheless, the governor could have made workable promises yesterday. Normally, a political leader delivers on promises that he made to the people. A political leader rarely surprise people with goodies. Thus, if the Governor Manytuil did not promise anything yesterday, it means he will do nothing in the coming days or months. He may have decided to sit and wait with his hands folded pending the release and determination of Mayom investigation committee. But I think this is inappropriate decision owing to the recurring problems of facing the people of unity state.
I believe Governor Manytuil still has an opportunity to make promises for Unity State residents. They often say better late than never. Hence, i would like to suggest that he should come out and address the public on the prevailing issues that our people are grappling with.
In his public statement, governor Manytuil should make these promises. First, he needs to make A PROMISE OF FREEDOM. The French Philosopher, Jean-Jacques once stated three kinds of freedom namely, freedom from the constrains of society, freedom to do what we want, and freedom not just to do what we can, but a freedom to be who we were meant to be.’’ The people of Unity State are tired and traumatized in the hands of Unity state government machinations.
The ordinary people of Unity state especially the Youth need freedom from arbitrary arrest, harassment and intimidation for simply exercising their right to expression and opinion. The governor should now order the release of Senior Youth who were recently detained without trailed.
Second, the governor needs to make A PROMISE OF THE RULE OF LAW. He should promise that nobody is above the law, and that everyone must be subjected to the same law. The governor should assure the public that extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detentions are now things of the past. Going forward, any accused person must be arrested and charged before a recognized legal mechanism either traditional or modern. To achieve this, the governor should make the state judiciary and the law operational forthwith.
Third, the governor needs to make A PROMISE OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION. The denial of the right to public participation should not continue in unity state especially as we approach an electioneering period. The people of unity state need to have their voices and opinions heard on anything that the governors or government decided to do for them. With Public participation, the state government will be in position to generate more ideas to make things work.
Fourth, the governor or government of unity state should A PROMISE OF FEMALE REPRESENTATION IN GOVERNANCE. It’s a shame to have a government without a single woman serving in ministerial, managerial and directorate positions. The open discrimination of women in governance must be brought to an end. In view of the forgoing, I believe the governor must make these promises and further make attempts to implement them to the letter and spirit.
Fifth, the governor must make A PROMISE OF COUNTY TOURS. The governor should make an attempt to visit counties other than the counties that he considers his home turf. Governor Manytuil should visit Panyijiar County that he never visited since he was appointed via presidential decree nearly ten years ago. This county tour is good because it can result to the restoration of trust and unity between the people of unity state and their government. To realize this noble agenda, the governor must pay courtesy visit to all people from other counties for him to hear their challenges in a face-to-face meeting.
Sixth, the governor needs to make A PROMISE OF FORGIVENESS AND POLITICAL TOLERANCE. The governor should promise to forgive his foes. This call will open doors for dialogue among people of divergent political views in unity state.
The Writer is the chairman of Liech Community Association in Kenya; the views expressed here are his own, and he can be reached for comments via email@example.com.
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