Nat Barnes to contest 2023
As Independent Presidential candidate
By Othello B. Garblah
Liberia’s former Ambassador to the United States, Milton Nathaniel Barnes has declared his intention to contest the upcoming 2023 presidential election as an independent candidate.
The former Destiny Party political leader and 2005 presidential candidate says he will run on the platform of Reconciliation, Positive Change, Self-Reliance, and the Emergence of a New Breed of Liberian Leaders who exhibit the key qualities of Character, Competence and Courage.
Barnes is so far the first politician to announce his intention as an independent candidate in the pending highly competitive presidential election.
Speaking to the New Dawn via WhatsApp on Monday, Jan. 17, Barnes said his decision to go independent is due to the Liberian people growing lack of confidence in their political institutions, adding that to “start a new Liberia, we need to go independent.” He also alluded to the most recent Representative by-election in which three independent candidates won.
Barnes, also Liberia’s former Permanent Representative to the UN, step away as the Vice Chairman of the Coalition for Democratic Change in 2017 before the elections in October that year.
He explained that he stepped away because he realized that the CDC agenda and his vision were not consistent. “So, I politely stepped away as vice chairman of the Coalition on Governance.”
The former Liberian diplomat has since been out of the lamplight lecturing at both the State-run University of Liberia and the African Methodist Episcopal University graduate programs.
But he told this paper after being in the shadows all these years, 2023 is the best time for him to step out and make the difference on the Liberian political scene.
Barnes Liberia’s former Finance Minister under the Charles Taylor regime also told the New Dawn that he knows the solution to the country’s economic woes-corruption and the lack of cost control, things he planned to tackle when he wins the election in 2023.
Barnes: “Corruption is psychological. People think to survive you have to cheat. This is not in government alone but the entire country (and the reason is) the full resources of the country is not accessible to all the people.”
“Control cost…our revenue is limited but we are not controlling cost. We are still buying US$80,000.00 car for ministers. Inequalities-(between) teachers and Legislators for example.”
He argued that an average teacher earned US$150 per month while a lawmaker makes US15, 000 monthly.
Barnes further argued that the government needs to go back to the basis, “we need to spend smart. The government is bloated,” he asserted. “It needs to be fixed.” “Plenty people in government about 80 to 89 percent are doing nothing,” he exclaimed.
He explained that the way to do this is to empower local Liberian entrepreneurs to absorb those who could be downsized by the government.
Barnes says he will run on a platform of Reconciliation, Positive Change, Self-Reliance, and the Emergence of a New Breed of Liberian Leaders who exhibit the key qualities of Character, Competence and Courage.
According to him, he will bring to the Presidency elements that have been missing from governance in Liberia for many years: Integrity, Accountability, the Rule of Law, Individual & Mutual Respect for One Another and Our Beloved Liberia.
He notes that with his charisma and professional skills, he will create the incentive for Liberians all over the world to return to Liberia to help develop their native land.
“Liberians at home will feel safe and secure. They will be reconciled and find their common destiny. They will find new hope where they had given up all aspirations for a better future”.
Barnes epitomizes the New Breed of Liberian Leaders. He is humble yet courageous; visionary yet practical. He says he will build the right team to lead Liberia to a brighter future by bringing true reconciliation to the people, ending corruption with impunity and fostering real growth and prosperity for all Liberians.
Milton Nathaniel Barnes was born on April 6, 1954 in Monrovia, Montserrado County, Liberia to the late Justice Roland T. Barnes and Mrs. Eudora Nassau Barnes.
Nat is the second of their 4 children. Nat, as he is best known, grew up in Harper, Maryland County and Monrovia, Montserrado County, Liberia.
He completed high school at the College of West Africa in 1972 and worked for a short time as a clerk at Bank of Monrovia/Citibank.
Nat traveled to the United States to pursue his college education at Rider College (now Rider University) in Lawrenceville, New Jersey earning his BSc Degree in Finance in 1978.
In 1979, Barnes matriculated to Pace University in New York City where he earned an MBA in Finance and Banking.
Nat returned to Liberia shortly after completing his studies and began his professional career as a manager at INTRUSCO – Insurance Company of Africa.
With the political unrest in Liberia starting in 1980, Nat and his family relocated to the United States where he began a distinguished career as a corporate executive.
Nat spent fourteen years at Nortel Networks, Inc. beginning as a Financial Analyst in the company’s Treasury Department and moving up steadily through various functions within Finance, Marketing and Internal Audit.
In 1998, Nat felt the call to return to his native Liberia in order to serve in the rebuilding of the war-torn nation after the Civil War ended.
He began as a Consultant at the Ministry of Finance. Within a year, President Charles Taylor appointed Nat as Director General of the National Social Security Corporation (NASSCORP) where he transformed the corporation into a streamlined and effective public entity.
Not surprisingly, Nat was appointed as Minister of Finance, Republic of Liberia in September 1999. As Minister of Finance, Barnes was able to implement a new national tax code with the assistance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Fiscal Affairs Department.
In 2005, Nathaniel Barnes founded the Liberian Destiny Party (LDP), was elected Standard Bearer of the party, and ran as a presidential candidate in the 2005 General and Presidential Elections.
He placed 12th out of 22 candidates. During the RunOff Elections in which George Weah and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf competed, Nat became the first former candidate to support Mrs. Sirleaf rallying his fellow candidates to do the same given her international stature and experience compared to that of Mr. Weah.
In 2006, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appointed Nat as Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Barnes served for 2 years in this capacity.
In 2008, extremely pleased with his performance at the UN, President Sirleaf appointed Nat as Liberia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America. As Ambassador to the United States, Nat actively engaged the Liberian Diaspora creating the Liberian Diaspora Advisory Council to assist in implementing President Sirleaf’s “Lift Liberia” agenda.
Ambassador Barnes first articulated the idea that economically the Diaspora represents Liberia’s Middle Class and, politically, the Diaspora is Liberia’s 16th county.
In 2009, Barnes received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from his alma mater, Rider University. He has travelled tirelessly across the United States as a Lecturer promoting the cause of Africa, in general, and Liberia in particular.
Back in Liberia since 2010, Nat established a private consulting firm – Aurora Solutions, Inc. He has also served regularly as a Lecturer at the Graduate Schools of the University of Liberia and African Methodist Episcopal University.
Since 2002, he and his wife, Dawn, have operated a charitable organization – Aurora Foundation of Liberia.
Milton Nathaniel Barnes is married to Dr. Dawn Cooper Barnes, university professor/administrator and professional performing artist. Dawn is the daughter of the late, Dr. H. Nehemiah Cooper and Mrs. Izetta Roberts Cooper.
A true “Renaissance Man,” Nat is an author and abstract painter. Nat and Dawn are the parents of six adult children and three grandchildren.
Nat Barnes’ Accomplishments
Barnes worked as Financial Analyst, Financial Manager, Controller, Senior Manager with NORTEL from July 1981 – September 1994
He served as Director Business Development for North American Wireless from January 1995 – July 1996
He served as Private Entrepreneur/Telecommunications Management Consultant from July 1996 to April 1998
He was the Coordinator for International Economic Cooperation & External Debt Management at the Ministry of Finance, Republic of Liberia from April 1998 – May 1999
Served as Director General of NASSCORP (National Social Security Corporation of Liberia) from May1999 – October 1999
Minister of Finance, Republic of Liberia from October 1999 – July 2002 with the following major achievements: • Chief architect of Liberia’s fiscal program
• Oversaw and implemented a new tax code for Liberia in consultation with the Fiscal Affairs Department of the International Monetary Fund.
• Conceptualized and developed a proposal for a Summit of Post-Conflict Nations in Africa where issues relevant to the peculiar and unique experiences of such countries would be analyzed with the objective of formulating a plan for post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation. He submitted proposal to global institutions through the African Development Bank for consideration.
• Developed a strong management team at the Ministry and tasked, challenged and motivated more than one thousand six hundred employees to new levels of productivity and excellence.
He’s the founder and Standard Bearer of Liberia Destiny Party (LDP) January 2004 – a national political institution focused on initiating positive economic, social, and political change in Liberia by aggressively pursuing justice, reconciliation, and the tenants of self-reliance while challenging Liberians to take their common destiny into their own hands.
Served as Ambassador from the Republic of Liberia to the Republic of Cuba from 2006 -2008 (concurrently serving as Ambassador to the United Nations): • Instrumental in re-establishing and solidifying diplomatic relations with Cuba
• Negotiated bi-lateral arrangements for the provisions of Cuban doctor to Liberia. • Scholarships for Liberian students to study in Cuba
He also served as Ambassador and Permanent Representative from the Republic of Liberia to the United Nations from May 2006 –September 2008: • Spearheaded and managed Liberian’s Foreign Policy within this specific environment.
• Represented Liberia with distinction at all conferences, meetings and forums at the U.N. including the Peace Building Commission Assessment Visit to Sierra Leone.
• Played a primary role in lifting of the economic sanctions against Liberia by the United Nations • Played a pivotal role in bringing Liberia back into the fold of the global community of nations after years of being classified as a lawless country.
• Focal point in the drive to return Liberia to a viable member state of the U.N by participating in crucial resolutions especially those concerning the ravages of war and conflict
• Successfully lobbied to have Liberia elected to the Executive Board of the UNICEF.
• Established important bi-lateral diplomatic relations for Liberia with several countries including Australia, Iceland, Malta, Uruguay St. Vincent, and the Grenadines.
His last portfolio was that he served as Ambassador from the Republic of Liberia to the United States of America from September 2008 to October 2010: • Spearheaded and managed Liberia’s Foreign Policy with this Key ally
• Played major role in keeping Liberia on U.S. foreign policy agenda during crucial period of Political/Presidential transition in the U.S.
• Effectively engaged U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch of U.S. Government to secure aid and assistance from U.S. – Making Liberia the third largest recipient of American aid in Sub-Saharan Africa.
• Played a vital role in orchestrating one -on-one visit by President Sirleaf with President Obama in the Oval Office making her the third African Head of State to be entertained at that level during the Obama administration
• Hosted two massively successful Liberian Independence Day Celebrations with the themes; “Unity in Diversity—One Liberia” (2009) “Educate to Elevate” (2010)
• Visited and engaged key leadership in the U.S. including President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, Congress, Corporations, Educational and Scientific Institutions focusing on Liberia’s interests.
He worked as Consultant on International Political, Social, and Economic Issues of Africa with Expertise in Post-Conflict Environments from 2010-present
He also served as Chief Operating Officer of Aurora Services, Inc. from 2010 – 2019 responsible for day to day operation of entrepreneurial ventures including commercial and industrial transportation, real-estate development, media production, and agriculture projects.