“But, my fellow compatriots, it is not late. We still have the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and build a new Liberia,” says July 26 Orator
National Independence Day Orator, Dr. Julius Nelson, Jr., has opined that Liberia is plagued with systemic corruption and entrenched negative practices that continue to slow down the country’s progress.
Dr. Nelson is the President of the University of Liberia.
In a pre-recorded Independence Day address to the nation on the occasion marking the country’s 174 birthday, Dr. Nelson asserted that it is heartbreakingly sad that after 174 years of independence, Liberia is still being called a developing nation.
Dr. Nelson noted that due to systemic corruption, Liberia after independence has nothing to be proud of especially “when some of the countries we supported, to gain their independence,” are far ahead on the ladder of human capital and infrastructure development.
Dr. Nelson added that developments will be hard to come by when people placed in positions of trust are in the habit of betraying that trust as well as when people think that they are more Liberian than others.
“It is counter-productive to development when we are placed in a position of trust and we betray that trust; it is counter-productive to development when some of us begin to think that we are more Liberian than others.
“It is counter-productive to development when we demonstrate that we do not care for the needs and welfare of others. It is counter-productive to development when we exploit our children who are pursuing their education while speaking well about the educational standards in other countries,” Dr. Nelson argued.
Dr. Nelson spoke on the theme; “Together, We Are Stronger: Fighting COVID-19 and Achieving Development, Peace, Human Rights, Justice, Health and Prosperity for All.”
According to him, it is also mind-blowing that Liberia is rich, yet relies on donor assistance and remittances from the diaspora. Dr. Nelson added that in many respects, Liberians are the cause of their own lack of growth; therefore, it is time for the citizenry to own up to their responsibilities and correct the errors as a means of moving the country forward.
Dr. Nelson however warned that growth and development are only possible if Liberians hold together, “work together, share together, and support each other.”
Dr. Nelson further said that while partners will support developmental efforts, it is the square responsibility of all Liberians to lead and sustain the process of national development and patriotism.
“We must therefore muster the courage and rally our nationalistic spirit to stand up to these vices together. For this to be possible, we have to remember the golden rule that states, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’,” he said. “In other words, treat others as you would want to be treated if you were in their place and position. This cannot be done by demonstrating hate and dislike for each other, whether we are in government or out of government.”
“But, my fellow compatriots, it is not late. We still have the opportunity to end the blame game, renew our minds, reconcile our differences, focus on what unites us, roll up our sleeves and build a new Liberia. Pride divides the community and society. Unity and peace bring the community and society together. The issue of unity is not just theoretical, it is practical. We should not only talk unity, we should practice unity concretely. We can demonstrate unity by the attitudes of gentleness, humility, and patience,” Dr. Nelson said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Nelson has reminded the government that despite missed opportunities, there is still hope for redemption and development provided that education is a priority.
The University of Liberia President added that education is the sole cross-cutting factor that will enable Liberia to achieve all of its bold and lofty development aspirations in the medium to long term.
Dr. Nelson stressed that giving power to the people, improving the economy and increasing jobs, maintaining the peace “that was earned with sweat and blood,” cannot be sustainably achieved without the angling support of an informed and competitively educated citizenry.
“Having charted the course of our conflict-ridden history highlighted the struggles to endure nuanced calamities and survive as a nation for 174 years, and elaborated on the sad reality of where we are versus where we ought to be, given our history, size, and natural resource endowment, there emerges a portrait of missed opportunities. But we should not despair as there is still a big wave to ride ourselves to redemption and become the oasis of development we know we should be. That big wave is Education,” he noted.
Dr. Nelson furthered that, “as we use this occasion to convey a pivotal message of strength through unity and rally national support for the attainment of sustainable development and prosperity for all Liberians, let us realize that education is the fulcrum.”
Dr. Nelson also used the occasion to remind the government that domestic violence, rape, and the abuse of women and girls is a serious problem “in our society”, and that strong corrective actions are needed against this problem.
“It must be clear that women’s rights are human rights. Our women and girls need justice in the many reported rape cases across the country,” he said. On September 11, 2020, the Government of Liberia declared rape a National Emergency. Let us match this declaration with action by bringing the perpetrators of rape cases to justice.”