By Kruah Thompson
Former Finance Minister, M. Nathaniel Barnes is concerned about the state of the Liberian economy, education, healthcare delivery, and infrastructure under President George Weah.
Addressing a news conference on Monday, June 5, in Monrovia, Ambassador Barnes, who is considering to contest for the presidency for the second time, described the current state of the economy as severely compromised.
He says his primary concern lies with widespread unemployment that is affecting a significant number of Liberians, who are unable to secure jobs.
Barnes emphasizes a need for innovative solutions to create employment opportunities particularly, for the country’s youth. He suggests identifying sectors where young people can be engaged and productive, while also providing them a guaranteed income.
He criticizes President Weah’s appointment of individuals who, he says lack the necessary education and experience, resulting in their inability to effectively deliver on their responsibilities.
He believes that the current administration has a unique opportunity for transformative change, as President Weah himself emerged from poverty and understands the impact of politics on individual lives.
Barnes, also a former ambassador, notes that the fundamental problem with the current administration is the appointment of inexperienced individuals to positions of power.
He further criticizes that these officials lack requisite expertise and intellectual capacity to identify and address the country’s problems and issues.
He calls for a complete overhaul of government personnel to bring onboard technocrats to positions of authority.
“These technocrats would be responsible for recruiting, vetting, hiring, providing appropriate training, and monitoring individuals in their roles.” He explains.
Barnes stresses the importance of building solid institutions as the foundation of effective governance, which he believes is lacking in Liberia. He argues that establishing such institutions would also help in controlling corruption, as employees would understand their roles and the consequences of engaging in corrupt practices.
Furthermore, the former presidential candidate highlights corruption as a significant challenge that is hindering Liberia’s progress, noting that corruption permeates the government, preventing effective employment practices, financial management, and the establishment of a robust revenue system.
He emphasizes that combating corruption is essential to addressing the country’s problems.
He laments the overall condition of Liberia, describing it as a broken system, and points out that education, healthcare, and infrastructure are all in dire need of repair.
Therefore, he calls for a collective effort from both leaders and citizens to rebuild Liberia from the ground up, rather than merely addressing the symptoms of its problems.
He acknowledges that the problems in Liberia have deep historical roots and have been ignored for a long time due to national denial.
However, the former ambassador expresses hope that by acknowledging the problems and channeling energy into solving them, Liberia can overcome its challenges.
He says corruption is not just an institutional or systemic issue but also a psychological one and frowned at the belief that engaging in corruption is necessary for success or wealth accumulation, considering it a fallacy.
Meanwhile, Amb. Barnes says his intention to run again for the presidency is driven by his commitment to addressing these issues. He vows to, if elected President, uphold the law and hold accountable corrupt officials across all branches of government.
The presidential hopeful emphasizes the need for urgent action to address the deep crisis facing Liberia, calling for a comprehensive approach to tackle the economy, education system, corruption, and infrastructure while urging Liberians to actively work towards improving the country rather than simply seeking leadership. Editing by Jonathan Browne