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UL urged to be neutral ground for election actors

–At its 72nd Founder’s Day intellectual discourse

The University of Liberia (UL) has been admonished during an intellectual discourse marking its 72nd Founder’s Day celebration to have an enabling environment that enables election actors to view the institution as neutral.

Delivering a keynote speech Thursday, February 16, 2023, in the UL Auditorium Capitol Hill, Mr. Vafolay Mbandoe Tulay suggested that such an environment should enable election actors to debate issues freely at the university without any fear or favor. 

The University of Liberia began a three-day celebration on Wednesday, February 15 in observance of the day of its founding on 15 February 1951, otherwise known as ‘UL Founder’s Day.’

The UL 72nd Founder’s Day is celebrated under the theme: “Sustaining Governance, Democracy, Peace, and Stability in Liberia.”

The celebration will climax on Friday, February 17, 2023, with a parade and sporting activities at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.

Following the keynote speech, South African Ambassador to Liberia H.E. Prof. Iqbal Jhazbhay; U.S Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Mr. Joel A. Kopp; Liberian media executive Mr. Frank Sainworla; Liberia National Students Union (LINSU) representative James Washington; and a representative of the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY) took part in a panel discussion.

The University of Liberia Vice President for Institutional Development Associate Prof. Weade Kobbah-Boley moderated the intellectual discourse.

In his keynote speech on the topic “Election in Liberia and Across Africa,” Mr. Vafolay Mbandoe Tulay challenged the University to seek ways to work with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as far as its Protocol on Good Governance and Democracy are concerned.

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“You have ECOWAS Elections Observers coming in the country, how can the University of Liberia form part?” he said about this year’s presidential and legislative elections.

Meanwhile, Mr. Tulay applauded the University of Liberia for the intellectual discourse, noting that the forum resonated with provisions of the ECOWAS Protocol.

Mr. Tulay said this year, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria will be holding elections, unlike in 2020 when six African countries conducted elections.

He also raised a concern about the impact of these elections on the citizens of these countries, especially taking into account their populations.

He also challenged the panelists to critically analyze the election issues in these three countries.

Mr. Tulay is a visionary leader with solid experience and expertise in strategic management and executive leadership in the United Nations (UN) system, the United States public sector (education), and ECOWAS.

He is a candidate for a Ph.D. degree in Strategic Management and Leadership (Completing dissertation) in 2023 from WALDEN UNIVERSITY, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.

Here in Liberia, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Mathematics in 2000 from the University of Liberia.

He graduated as a Valedictorian in 1994 from the Matilda Newport High School in Monrovia.

He has a higher-level knowledge with terminal academic qualifications, industry training, and skills in leadership and strategic management.

He directed the project leading to the establishment and operationalization of the first SAP-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for ECOWAS covering finance, audit, business intelligence, HR, procurement, travel management, and facility management, among others.

In the UN Systems (UNHCR) from 2013 – 2018, he provided strategic leadership for the Learning Solutions and Project Management Unit, responsible for project and change management for business improvement, business automation, and continuity.

In a special statement, the President of the University of Liberia Prof. Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, Jr., said the University should be the center of academic excellence, scholarship, research, and creativity.

He added that it should be a place of intellectualism, stability, unity, peace, love, understanding, cooperation, and collaboration.

The UL President urged the university family to celebrate the diversity of culture, tradition, ethnicity, tribe, religion, and political identity, instead of being at each other’s throats.

“Let us sustain our democracy, let us promote good governance, peace, civility, and stability in Liberia,” he noted.

Dr. Nelson called on members of the university family to minimize their differences and work together to achieve the goals and objectives of the University of Liberia.

During the panel discussion, U.S. Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Mr. Joel A. Kopp stressed the importance of encouraging participation in a democratic process, and not walking away or pursuing other means.

South African Ambassador to Liberia H.E. Prof. Iqbal Jhazbhay, said the project of sustaining democracy has to speak to the present economic challenges.

However, he said he believes that everyone has to engage their minds and their resources in the process.

Liberian media executive Mr. Frank Sainworla also noted that an election is not a democracy, but urged the need to stop corruption and build a system that works.

“Our peace continues to remain quote unquote fragile. Why is it fragile? Because there are underlined factors,” said Mr. Sainworla.

Prof. Sekou W. Konneh, the University of Liberia Vice President for Students Affairs and chair of the 72nd Founder’s Day organizing committee said the UL 72nd Founder’s Day is significant in many ways.

As a University, he said the day allows reflecting on where UL has come from, and the number of scholars the institution has produced over the years.

He also said the University wants to use intellectual discourse to send a message to its students that one of the ways to pass on knowledge is through such programs.

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