THE impetus to James Marape’s vision to create Papua New Guinea a Black Rich Christian Nation was fully conceived not until June 4, 2019, on the floor of Parliament when the numbers miraculously skewed markedly towards his favour in 101 to 8.
If God had a hand in it, it was true indeed.
A rousing route heralding a new beginning when the elected leaders of our nation for once stood in unison in a grand coalition.
Grand coalition is when opposing parties in multi-party system like ours agree to work together to form a single coalition government.
Ensuring government stability is obviously the good in a grand coalition but it has to come with a price and the dearest of them all is parliament will not be having an opposition entailing the absence of democracy’s most precious Siamese twins, check and balance.
Check and balance as we all know provides the golden virtues of accountability, transparency, honesty and good governance.
It might be safe to say that we cannot bank on the allegiance of the grand coalition to the next election in 2022 with the National Alliance Party and those MPs missing a cut in the Marape-Davis cabinet will be soon be making their way to the opposite house.
But what is far more important is for us to fully understand and appreciate the prime minister’s bold yet ambitious statement of making Papua New Guinea a Black Rich Christian Nation in ten years.
It might seem crazily audacious but our leader meant what he said.
What this means is from this moment on the prime minister’s statement will become the creed and catechism for every Papua New Guinean in planning to design, strategy and alignment, implementation and service delivery and in all manner of civil and public life to harmoniously realise this vision.
Essentially, a decade from now would be June 2029.
This effectively means a Marape led government must survive two National Elections – 2022 and 2027- vote-of-no confidences (if any) and overcome all challenges on government stability we all know.
Thus, government stability is very crucial for Marape achieving his far-reaching objective.
Things like public sector reforms including review of mining and petroleum arrangements, taxation, agriculture and primary industry sector reforms – including overhauling forestry and fisheries economy generation- overhauling the performance of state-owned enterprises, investigations into public fund mismanagement, drafting anti-graft legislations, systems and institutional strengthening, capacity enhancement, and improvement of service delivery mechanisms and so forth all hinge on a stable, consistent and strong leadership.
Our own history shows government instability has been throwing the country’s political establishment into tumult and stunted growth since independence.
Successive governments were busy looking over the shoulder than focusing on driving policy and impacting change.
Government instability have always been counter-productive to real growth and integral development.
It’s time we must learn from our own past, experiences from our neighbours in the region and from economies similar to ours.
Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore and Paul Kagame’s Rwanda – one is a neighbour and the other is a fast-developing black nation with a population and economy similar to ours – have versions of their democracy conveniently tuned to meet their respective development aspirations.
We must not be there to please the West and necessarily adapt their values but we must be more inward looking to nurture and grow our own values.
In the words of Lee Kuan Yew: “Westerners value the freedoms and liberties of the individual. As an Asian of Chinese cultural background, my values for a government which honest, effective and efficient.”
The Marape government will have to take on a reform agenda in both structural and institutional adjustment.
This would involve restructuring key state apparatuses like internal security to effectively drive and implement government focus.
For the notion of a Black Rich Christian Nation to materialise there has to pain and sacrifices.
Just like the famous saying goes: “It’s not the destination but the journey that matters.”