National Unification: Promoting Unity & Equal Distribution of Resource Wealth
Tuesday, May 12, 22013 is National Unification Day in Liberia. Every year in Liberia, May 14 is set aside by a Presidential Proclamation as National Unification Day- a public holiday across the country. The Proclamation is in Consonance with an Act enacted by the Liberian Legislature in 1960 declaring the 14thDay of May of each year as National Unification Day of the Republic of Liberia.
The Observance of National Unification Day every year in Liberia attempts to attract the attention of Liberians to one of the most serious issues confronting them throughout their history, i.e., the animosity between the Americo-Liberian elite and their majority indigenous counterparts. The socio-economic and political gab between the two groups diminished through the initiative of Liberia’s 18th President, the Late William V. S. Tubman, who led the country from 1944 to 1971.
Sensing the divide between the Americo-Liberians and the indigenous majority as having the propensity of keeping the country’s general progress at bay, President Tubman, in his first Inaugural address in Monrovia, introduced his National Unification Policy, highlighting voting rights to women and indigenous Liberians, among other key issues which kept the two far apart since the inception of the Liberian nation.
The emergence of the Unification and Integration Day, as the official anniversary was sometimes referred to, was a way of attracting support for the policy, as well as reminding Liberians about their commonality and not their divergence. Since the Tubman era annual President Presidential Proclamations issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on behalf of various Liberian Presidencies declaring the day highly speak of the wisdom of the Unification Policy as “finding expression in the national fabric through the representation of all sections of the country in the Legislature, Executive and Judicial Branches of the Liberian Government, thereby promoting condition of peace and unity in the country.
In acquiescence with the foregoing, while efforts may have succeeded, Liberia still remains a nation divided with bitterness, not because of the “Americo-Liberian versus Indigenous” factor, but the current disunity within the so-called Indigenous Liberian community. The current issue of contention as far as national unity is concerned, is the fact that most indigenous Liberians with western (American) education given the opportunity to one or the other to serve in the public sector (government) under-rate others without such opportunities. This is evidenced by the disparities in salaries and other benefits in most public offices where the “American Teams or AT” are visible.
It is not because indigenous Liberians who may not have had the opportunity to travel to the west, especially the United States are not capacitated to perform, but the fact that they may not be members of the “A.T”, which compromises old school mates, relatives, kinsmen and neighborhood friends living abroad. Another issue of contention regarding national unity is the decision by a certain group of indigenous Liberians, especially in the current Liberian Legislature to make economic marginalization a policy against their compatriots, including civil servants, as well as office staff, among others.
When the country’s resources continue to be improperly management to the detriment of the majority by a few so-called indigenous Liberians and not “Americo-Liberians anymore”, national unity is seriously threatened. It is in view of the foregoing that many Liberians strongly reject the suggestion as made to Liberian Legislature that the Seal, Motto, as well as National Anthem, Flag, among others were keeping Liberians “far apart” in terms of national reconciliation. It is an open fact that what’s keeping Liberians far apart is the way country’s resources-whether in the past or now, are managed to always and only benefit a very minute group of its population.
The true meaning of National Unification can only be manifested in the management of Liberia’s natural resources to one way or the other benefit the entire nation. If those who Administer the affairs of state could ensure true justice for all and the availability of schools with equipped libraries, laboratories, well trained and paid teachers/instructors in major cities and towns; equipped clinic/hospitals with well paid doctors and other medical practitioners in major cities and towns; good roads, including farm-to-market roads across the country; as well as low-cost housing programs nation-wide; improved electricity and water and sewer systems, among other basic social services through the proper management of Liberia’s resources, national unification could easily find its way among the people of Liberia.