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Just This Last Time

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We Liberians like the easy way out of hard times – always trusting the wolves that come in sheep’s clothing than the white chicken that we’ve known to be white no matter how much dirt it may be covered with. We begin to regret after missing out on our only window of opportunity to make the right decision. Then all of the sweet talks and nice promises become bitterer, raining in more hard times with no one dare talk or risk disappearing.

“Where has the campaign moral gone”? We begin to ask. As the new people start chopping, their leadership becomes nuisance to us. No one comes to you anymore to cast blame of what the last leader did not do. Even some of their followers who campaigned hard for them will have no jobs. Every day it will be “bro, let’s talk tomorrow.” Disappointments sink in and we all get freaked up.

Every elections year reminds us, as did the April 12, 1980 coup and the start of the 1989 National Patriotic retribution war that many of our people are vulnerable to false prophets promising our streets to be paved with gold without sweat. Though it may be possible, but it’s not as easy as they are saying it. We have tried it before and gotten nowhere. We saw blood instead of gold.

Change – peaceful perhaps – seems ideal solution. But this reasonable solution can be potentially a dual blade answer that will cut us when we the people fail to use our power wisely to elect people that will work for us That is, the change can be costly in money and sometimes, the money is wasted with no tangible result because we have chosen the wrong people.

Who told you rebuilding our country was going to be a piece of cake? Do you have party when your house is wrecked? When do you enjoy – before or after rebuilding you home?

The same is with us in Liberia today. Did we expect to have booming economy immediately after the stupid tragedy of war we brought upon ourselves? We destroyed our country. To start enjoying, we have to rebuild what we destroyed.

To build what we destroyed, we need money. To get money, we must borrow money and raise some of the money ourselves. But there is this: Before the war we owed so much debt than we could pay that our creditors (bi-lateral and multi-lateral as well as private institutions) refused to lend us money again.

Today, there are those who say President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf failed the Liberian people. In what way Ellen “failed” is very hard to understand. And those who are making the allegations are not helping to explain their charges.

It is true that Liberia has many problems after the war. After all, the warrior-in-chief, Charles Taylor and his cartel spent six years without attempting to solve any of the problems they largely created. So much was expected of Ellen too soon. Six years are going to pass, people wanted to see more from her administration than she did.

Here is what we know, and think you should also know about why it is important we as voters make clear choice on whom to vote for as President come elections day next month.

Liberia has moved to a whole new level of good standing in the international community. This is the result of Ellen’s effort to restore the lost image abroad; an image we will need to start any serious post war national reconstruction program. So Ellen brought a two-part plan with her to the presidency. First, our country lost its respect during the war years. Nothing good could come out of Liberia except for video films of children shooting and killing, looting, hunger, fragrant human rights violation, pillaging of our natural resources, blood diamonds and all of the wicked things you can imagine.

Ellen worked hard to erase the negative image. The improvement in our international image became a necessary point to begin a nation building, while at the same time she started tackling other domestic social programs for basic social services as the foundational platform for national progress.

The reconditioning and improvement of city streets and rural roads, provision of safe drinking water though at a gradual pace, rehabilitation of public utilities (power included), reopening of schools and the re-programming of the delivery of health care are key examples forming a body of evidence demanding voters’ verdict by re-electing Ellen.

Secondly, the trust that Ellen built amongst the international friends of Liberia, including some traditional ones, resulted to the forgiveness of our debts. This gives us a new slate to start a new page of credit. That means, much of the money we need to begin reconstruction of bridges, highways, telecommunications, education and healthcare delivery system can be borrowed because creditors now have faith in our President that Liberia can pay back the money.

It also means foreign investors will now have the confidence to invest in Liberia so that we have more jobs for our people to work and feed their families. Fixing a broken country, not only in economy but in social and cultural values is not easy.

It takes time. If we can look at Ellen’s first six years as the foundation years in which the direction our post war development should take was being mapped out, then it’s logical to consider her second term as the period Liberia will experience transformational change – real development and re-development that will spur economic growth and jobs creation we had been anticipating. This is the time you will see our people going back to work to reduce the current rate of unemployment, improved health care system that increases access and affordability as well as an educational system that will make our students and graduates competitive locally and internationally to foster Liberian entrepreneurship.  .

Now, if we can just give Ellen this one more time to complete her mission, much would have been accomplished at the end of the next six years. It may not be perfect because she doesn’t have the magic for everything. But a system of development to lift Liberia from the economic abyss and misery of poverty would have been put in place for future government to build upon.

About the author: Joe Teh is former News Editor of the New Democrat and Star Radio in Monrovia. He can be reached at

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