When Veteran Liberian Lawyer and astute lawmaker Varney Gbotoe Namie Sherman delivered the July 26 independent day oration in the western cluster counties several years ago, he made specific reference of economic deprivation and exclusion as some of the bad practices of the system that ordinary Liberians continued to face under the Unity Party regime, even though he received barrage of criticisms from junior stalwarts of the party and folks at the Information Ministry including the loud trumpeter political Bishop Lewis G. Brown, but these vices really still exist.
In-spite of the huge resource deposit that Liberia continues to boast of and the presence of huge muti-million dollars companies, many of these companies continue to threatened dismissals of employees due to the global economic crunch and the huge tax regime imposed by the government.
Although the government continues to boast of empowerment through Job Creation, many Liberians are barely making ends meet while others have turned into beggars. As Liberians speak of the neglect and depravation by the UP led government , officials who are benefiting from the loots of the resources continue to defend their actions against the poor , saying they are doing well.
I was astonished, when a local daily quoted Finance and Development Minister Amara Konneh as saying that the government has performed well, well could be relative though, but what impact is their governance making on the lives of the ordinary Liberian citizens?
Developmental wise, Liberia still remained a poor state with poor infrastructures, with more than half of the population living below the survival belt; with all of the defense from the government, I would like to proffer this economic argument, though I am not an economist but research has landed me well on top of this.
Development as a normative concept; which aims at realizing the potential of human being, is no longer discussed in terms of economic growth with savings and investment indicators, rather, it is defined in terms of reduction or elimination of poverty, inequality, and unemployment within the context of a growing economy, sure in the words of Dudley Seers in 1971.
Also as a multidimensional process, development involves changes in structures, attitudes, and institutions and the acceleration of economic growth, the reduction of inequality, and the eradication of absolute poverty, but are the attitudes of our governors changing, are we experiencing growth?
Should these theories be the best economic notes for African heads of states and fiscal governors including Africa’s first woman President and the most publicized Harvard trained Economist, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to follow in order to emancipate Liberia and its people from the hopeless economic backwardness and increasing appalling poverty, one would simply wonder why a vast majority of Liberia’s 3.5 million population continued to live far below the survival line for the past ten years in -spite of huge donor support coupled with the most talked about 16 billion foreign direct development package.
Perhaps, it is arguably the popular view however, that the obstacles to Liberia’s economic development agenda are deeply rooted in the incompetence, harshness, and inadequacy of the established institutions and the attitudes on the Unity Party led government economic vampires to rape the already struggling economy by depleting the state covers through means of corruption and huge capital flight. Majority of these government officials are wiring countless bags of monies to their families oversee and building huge structures while their own motherland remains underdeveloped and their compatriots live in abject povery.
In-fact the President herself had admitted to the purchase of expensive homes abroad by government officials. When she spoke at the dedication of the Obasanjo’s poultry farm in Bomi County, Madam President frowned at such act by her officials, but with the frown on her face, what has she done to put an end to that, can she stop it in the first place?
From whence I see it, it is an absolute mockery and big political bluff and I think the poverty reduction approach or PRS of the Sirleaf’s regime is the most useless development framework that did not achieve an objective and cannot still achieve its until the regime crumples. This could probably be my reason: For ten years now, the purchasing power of hundreds of thousands of Liberians can hardly feed their household due to high sky rocking prices, inflationary exchange rate, and the failed ten twenty thousand jobs promised per annual
But there are questions that even our politicians some of whom faces you seen above my writing need to answer. Can they provide better option and redeem our people from mental and economic slavery when any is elected as our next president, what change have they envisioned, will they bring change to a system they keep criticizing without providing solutions, or are they bringing in even bigger crooks and thieves who are aliens to their own motherland to make our national coffers bleed like it is now again?
The onus is on you to help now and change the living condition of our people since the current governors are dragging their powers and blinding their eyes from the cries of the poor. But one thing I know about the typical Liberian politicians , they wait for the last minute before getting up to make fabulous promises to their voters.
The issue is not just about spreading money to well supporters who turned out to meet some of these politicians at political rallies or registrations of political parties, it is about investing in the livelihood of the people in the next two years ahead so that they would know what you politicians stand for, what are your plans for the building up of the human resources, are you aware of the mushrooming young people who lack opportunities to go to school now, are the economist presidential contenders looking at the economic variables, what sustainable thing can they do for the people in terms of empowering small holders businesses and helping the Yanna Boys Association who would in return give to their members on a revolving fund basis.
I must pause here therefore, on the issue of human resources and empowerment to salute the UP led government, even though the twenty thousand jobs promised by President Sirleaf for the young people is yet to come to reality, many of these young people in Liberia continue to benefit from Foreign and Local scholarships. Hundreds of young people have acquired education in different fields of study who have returned and serving their country in many areas of employment. Many are still pursuing Masters and PHDs in America, China and other countries, even some of those who have returned are serving with distinction, I can inarguably say, though stand to be corrected that this regime has provided the largest number of presidential appointments to young people unlike past regimes in the last five decades with those who even perform beyond expectations getting the blessing of President Sirleaf to excel in their work.
The likes of Elijah Shoniyin, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augustus Zayzay at the Finance Ministry, Labor Minister Neto Leigh and of course Albert Jaja, now named Minister Councilor at the The Court of St. James cannot be forgotten.
These are some good strides that we cannot blind our eyes to, but be it as it may; I have come back to reflect that throughout my travels in the length and breadth of my motherland, I have seen real poverty looking in the faces of Liberians, farmers who supplied our urban markets with produce cannot even get agriculture tools, one farmer Solo Zleh said to me in an interaction in Grand Gedeh: ” My son, these people don’t care about us, we voted them but they forget us, you see my farm how very small it is, I could get a bigger farm if I even got seed rice to plant, but the one I got is what I prepared for”. Old man Zleh said as he took his cutlass and walked away from me. How many of these politicians who are seeking state power have invested in the soil by empowering farmers through the supply of agriculture products, your patriotism and love of country should start from here, we don’t envy, but we detest you living in Mansions around the very poor people and continue to ignore their plights yet but want their votes.
One thing I know is that Liberia has faced and is currently facing myriad of huddles on its way of getting a very good leader that it has not gotten in the last 168 years, and “FROM WHENCE I SEE IT”. those huddles can only be removed if we don’t vote people for what they give us now to elect them to state power but what they can do to change the old traditional ways that past leaders have always instituted, by this I think we can move somewhere very positive.
As one African Analyst said, ” Stronger political and financial support should be invested in wider implementation of projects in Africa, this will foster a future that is not marked by conflict but by cooperation, not by human suffering but by human progress.” But can the state actors and would be actors muster the strong political and financial support needed to invest in their people’s projects, whatsoever the projects might be?
This question surely belongs to all the faces seen in the upper bar of my writing and those who are venturing in the political field who are still faceless and indisposed until the political light comes on in 2016.
As the United Nations Development Program, UNDP statistics shows recently, majority of Africa’s population live in gloomy poverty and are confronted with difficulty to live up to their basic needs including daily necessities, what then can you politicians do to lift the people from this depressing poverty, it is not just by condemning the current administration of failure, but by your own demonstration of support to whatever sector you can support to help the poor rise.
Long Live Liberia, the motherland must survive!, writes By: Jallah E. Grayfield, III.