Congratulations on your ascension to the position of president of Liberia.
In February of 2002 in Harbel, you were guest speaking at the induction of officers of the local YMCA. I was a teenager then sitting in the audience, and I remember a line in your speech quoting Shakespeare’s famous words “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” Years later, you would become Vice President of the Republic and, by that very fact, come to experience how actually heavy is the head that wears a stately crown. If the crown you wore as Vice President was not heavy, the one you have worn since Inauguration Day 2024 promises to be even heavier! May God grant you the grace and fortitude to carry on.
Permit me to remind you of a phenomenon I observed during last year’s presidential campaign. As you traversed the country to make your case for the presidency, there was a familiar chorus that greeted your appearance at campaign rallies. The chorus, sung by despondent yet anxious young people, went thus: “Our Pa, [we are] sorry; we made mistake.” By singing “Our Pa sorry; we made mistake” the youth of Liberia were regretful and at once expressing their disappointment and distrust in George Weah, your predecessor in whom the very same youth had reposed unreserved trust when they overwhelmingly voted him to the presidency back in 2017. In the span of six years, the unquestionable trust placed in Weah had given way to decadence and bad governance, and hence the hope of the youth had withered. In their despondency, they turned to you for rescue as they apologetically chanted “Our Pa, sorry; we made mistake.”
Who can forget such an apology so full of remorse that it manifested into your election and subsequent inauguration? For all the days of your presidency, I urge you, Sir, to remember these words: Our Pa sorry; we made mistake. You should even have these words engraved on a plaque and placed on your executive desk so that you may read them every day.
As you embark on the herculean task of governing Liberia for the next six years, remember that the youth of Liberia have high hopes. They are confident that your election to the presidency is a correction of the mistake made in 2017. You cannot afford to let the youth down. You must make the youth your PRIORITY NUMBER ONE. Direct your administration’s policies towards programs that empower the youth. Your administration must create jobs for our young people. Create opportunities for young people to go to school. Where possible, you must enlist the support of friendly nations and philanthropists to enable many of our youth, in their multitude, pursue specialized education and training abroad, focusing on the sciences and especially mechanized agriculture and manufacturing. Your administration must set as a condition the requirement that youth sent abroad to study MUST return home and be PROVIDED with the means to set up industries creating jobs for the wider population.
Wishing you Goodspeed, Mr. President!
Alston C. Armah