Liberia: Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe’s Acceptance and Declaration Speech For Liberia Presidency




Distinguished platform guests, 

Officials and members of the Liberian People’s Party, LPP, 

Members and officers of Team Gongloe Liberia and USA,

Members and officers of Team Gongloe Global,

Members and officers of Friends of Gongloe,

 Members and officers of Wings of Gongloe,

 Officials and members of other political parties, 

Chiefs and elders of Nimba County, Bong County and other counties,

The youth organizations, union of motor cyclists, 

The Market women, 

The business community, 

The Christian and Muslim communities, our traditional zoes,

 The Struggling Health Workers, Teachers, and other civil servants

Petite Traders, Transport Unions, Musical and other performing artists  

the concerned women, the Lappa Revolution and women of Liberia;

Members of the fourth estate

Other distinguished ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon, my fellow Liberians 

I greet you all in the name of the Almighty and Merciful God, who made our gathering here today possible. Before proceeding any further, may I ask you all to please stand with me in one moment of silence to the memory of all those who died as a result of fratricidal civil conflict caused by bad governance in this country. May their souls and those of other faithful departed rest in perpetual peace

Let me attempt to greet you in the various languages of Liberia.

In Mah Katuo, in Dan Nanweeya, in Kpelleh Yahown aye, in Krahn Nawro, Talo, Zohnzein, in Bassa and Gbi wrain, in Mandingo, Newula, in Kru Nuaneh, Dewah, Foehdey, in Belleh A kloh Nyayah, in Grebo Tato, Naweayo, in Lorma Nyanaye, in Gbandi Ouwunga, in Kisi Aouseh, Ayokeneh, in Gola Makeh, in Vai, Yakonehaye, in Sapo Talo, in Dein Makeh and in Fula Jahyalama. 

Ladies and gentlemen, there comes a time in life when a man or a woman must make a serious decision in the interest of his or her country. Today, December 4, 2021 is my time to make a very serious decision in the interest of my dear country, Liberia, the country that was meant to be a land of liberty for all its citizens, but a country, that has always been a land of liberty, mostly for a few greedy men and women, from one generation to another, to the exclusion of the majority of our people. 

Our history has shown that the suffering of the masses of the Liberian people has not been based on any tribal or religious differences but by people who over the years have come to power only to satisfy themselves.  

When a few people take and enjoy what belongs to all citizens of Liberia, the rest of the citizens are left with nothing and therefore, they suffer. This kind of leadership increases poverty, unhappiness and hopelessness, even where those in power were elected on the promise that their government would bring “change for hope”. 

Whatever this rather strange expression means, the words change and hope made a majority of the Liberian people to vote for the party now in power. But some Liberians knew that the expression was strange and confusing that it would not bring the change that the people hoped for, because normally people hope for change and not “change for hope”. 

Today, prices of food and other essential commodities have gone up; as a result, life has become so hard and tough, especially for the masses of the people who voted for the party in power. Given this development some of our citizens are now saying that they will never vote again. 

In other words, the change that the voters thought was meant to bring hope has brought hopelessness and despair thereby making life meaningless for the masses of the people. 

Yet, those who promised change that would bring hope to a majority of the people are living, virtually in heaven on earth. In less than a year many of the promisors of change for hope, including their chief, built mansions, as if they were money magicians. 

Now, the people know that this promise of “change for hope” was meant exclusively for a few Liberians; not all the Liberian people. These few Liberians play with millions of brand new Liberian notes, every day as if each of them has a money machine. They throw money at the people, as if they are feeding their chickens or dogs. 

The CDC, having made a majority of the people so poor, some of its partisans in power are now presenting themselves as saviors of the poor. The Liberian people know better. They will not accept this falsehood. CDC has become a producer of poverty in Liberia. Therefore, the Liberian people will not vote for the CDC in 2023. The Liberian people will definitely vote CDC out of office in 2023. For the Liberian people to make progress, CDC must be kicked out of office in 2023.

These people are virtually living in heaven on earth. The question is where are they getting all this money from? How come in less than four years some people in government, who were even struggling to pay rent, or buy a gallon of gasoline for their tiger-generators, have become so rich and most Liberians so poor. The answer is simple. 

They are stealing our money! Should the Liberian people give this bunch of dishonest people a second chance to control our resources? Of course, the answer is a unanimous No!

  • Should the Liberian people give them a second chance to continue to steal our money? No!  
  • Our civil servants and law enforcement officers who have reached retirement are not pensioned in a dignified manner, but are treated with total disrespect as if they are criminals and many of them go through difficulties to even get their first retirement pay. Should a government that treats its civil servants like criminals be given a second chance? No! 
  • Should a government that says it has surplus, but cannot pay domestic debt and thereby strangulate Liberian contractors and other business entities be given a second chance? No!
  • Should a government that builds paved roads, largely, to communities in which top government officials live be given a chance? No!
  • Should a government that travels with large delegations and engages in wasteful spending abroad be given a second chance? No!

The Liberian people know better. President Abraham Lincoln once said “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time!” In Liberia we say “first fool not be fool, but second fool be real fool”.  

The only way for Liberia to make progress, is to retire the CDC!  CDC must be retired, declared redundant and kicked out of office in 2023.

Under this situation, what do you expect me to say to you, my fellow Liberians, for the country that I suffered for by going to jail and being tortured?  What do you expect me to say for a country in which I have freed journalists, human rights advocates and other pro-democracy advocates from the hands of bad governments for speaking truth to power? 

Over the years many Liberians, including my friends, clients, amongst others have asked me to run for the office of the presidency of this country. But, each time I have turned them down, giving them excuses such as lack of experience and other reasons. 

Having served for four years as executive assistant to the interim president of Liberia from the end of 1990 to March 1994; as Solicitor General from 2006 to 2009 and Minister of Labor from mid-2009 to 2010 November, as well as working briefly as a United Nations Observer in South Africa in 1994 and an electoral consultant with Carter Center in Ethiopia in 2005 followed by serving as President of the Liberian National Bar Association, I cannot give excuse anymore that I not have attained the requisite experience to serve my country as president. 

I am not counted among the rich contenders for political office in this country and do not regret being one. But a good book tells us that a good name is better than silver and gold. I believe that for most of my life I have earned a little bit of a good name. 

On this little bit of good name and my loyalty to my country and my conscience, I accept the appeal of Team Gongloe, Team Gongloe Global, Friends of Gongloe, Wings of Gongloe and all the old and young men and women of Liberia who have appealed to me over the years to run for the presidency of Liberia and declare here today, December 4, 2021 that I will run for the Presidency of Liberia in the 2023 legislative and Presidential Elections. 

I make this declaration here today in Gumpa City, where I started kindergarten in 1963 at the JW Pearson School with my classmates, Borbor Buddy of Gumpa City, Saye Walakewon of Deakehmein and others because I know that I cannot succeed without the blessing of my people. As the saying goes, if the house does not sell you, the street will not buy you. 

Yesterday, the elders of Nimba County my county, and Bong County, the home of my late mother showered their blessings on me in Saclepea. Therefore, on the foundation of the leadership laid by the Late Gabriel Fangalo, the first Superintendent of Nimba County, James Y. Gbarbea, the first Superintendent of Bong County and the enviable political life of the Late Jackson Fiah Doe, I make a solemn pledge today to lead Liberia on the Agenda of a Better Liberia for sustained peace, progressive development and prosperity for all Liberians. 

I offer myself for the presidency to be a servant leader and to fight for justice and the Rule of Law.

The only way to achieve this is to elect a Liberian leader who has served the Liberian people without stealing their money. The election of a person who does not steal government’s money is important because, if the president does not steal his ministers and those who serve under the ministers will not steal.

The second important step for a better Liberia is to promote strict adherence to the rule of law. Our laws must be enforced for the equal protection of all Liberians against all violators without distinction. 

Therefore, in my first 100 days in office, I will issue an executive order that any minister or official of government that does not respect the police and other law enforcement officers, or interferes, influences, or obstructs the functions of law enforcement officers shall be immediately dismissed following a summary investigation for the violation of such executive order. 

Also, I will issue another executive order for the protection of judicial officers in the performance of their judicial functions. Under such executive order, any minister or official of government who does not respect judicial officers, the independence and the authority of members of the judiciary from the bailiff in the magistrate court to the marshall of the Supreme Court and from the magistrates to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia shall be immediately dismissed, following a brief administrative finding of facts regarding the violation of said executive order. 

It is important to note that my government will scrupulously monitor the performance of law enforcement officers and judicial officers to ensure that they conduct themselves consistent with their professional codes of conduct. The use of cameras to record the actions of police officers and judicial officers outside the courtroom will be promoted and protected. 

It is important to note that it was the photo taken by a 17 year old girl in the United States that made the world to know how George Floyd died.  Where a law enforcement officer or judicial officer is found guilty of professional misconduct, a swift action will be taken, including an impeachment, where required, in order to weed such officer out of public service. 

Transparency in law enforcement and court proceedings tend to promote peace and foreign investment in any country. 

There will be no selective application of the law under a Gongloe administration because selective justice is no justice. There must be justice for all in Liberia for the attainment of sustainable peace, progress and prosperity.

The third important step is to redirect the economy of Liberia towards self-sufficiency in food production, engaging in import substitution and value-added export promotion as well as expanding economic activities in the rural parts of Liberia by granting tax incentives to rural based manufacturing companies, with the objective of slowing down the current level of rural urban migration and unemployment among the youth.

One of the first actions that I will take in my first hundred days in office will be to issue an executive order to stop the exportation of round logs from Liberia. 

The processing of wood in to sawn timbers, wood veneers, furniture, amongst other wood products, have the potential to bring this country higher revenue, increase youth employment and stop the current waste of wood by logging companies. 

Further, I will issue an Executive Order in my first 100 days to carry out a thorough review of our economy in order to determine our real strengths and weaknesses. 

Towards this end, all governmental agencies and various sectors of the economy will be evaluated, including being audited to determine their viability. 

There will be no stone left unturned! To effect this, I will set up a Task Force, comprised of seasoned Liberian professionals from all sectors, including economists, development and public policy experts, accountants, etc. who will advise me on the future direction of the Liberian economy.

 I promise to build a new Liberia through a new system of governance that is decentralized, gender-sensitive, participatory, inclusive and accountable. I will reach out across party lines to employ only those who in their lifetime, have demonstrated honesty and are capable.

Specifically, in my effort to build a better Liberia, I promise that not less than fifty percent of my cabinet ministers will be women. 

In this regard, I will pay special attention to the physically challenged as well as other citizens who are marginalized in one way or another. Nobody will be left behind in the nation’s match to a better Liberia. I want the women and physically challenged as well as other marginalized groups to hold me accountable for these promises that I am making here today.

What I am saying here to you today is not new. This is the progressive agenda that men and women have struggled and died for over the years. 

All Liberians who have traveled abroad and have seen how other countries, including the ones around us have developed, must all come together to make the ultimate sacrifice of honest service to lift Liberia out of the ashes of ignorance, disease and the current corruption pandemic, in order to give our people a new beginning. 

I call upon the agents of change of the 1970s, the women movements for greater participation of women in government; all members of the Liberian Peoples Party, the United People’s Party, the National Democratic Coalition, the New Deal Movement, the Collaborating Political Parties, the revived True Whig Party, the revived National Democratic Party, and members and sympathizers of all the parties that support an agenda for a better Liberia, as well as members of the CDC who are disappointed with the current bad governance and desire positive change to come on board this train that will take Liberia from backwardness to sustained peace, progressive development and prosperity for all Liberians. 

Certainly, with a Gongloe administration and the support of all well-meaning Liberians, a better Liberia is possible. 

But a better Liberia is not possible with the kind of politicians that are currently on the political scene. 

In order to get to a better Liberia, the Liberian people need an alternative leader who knows Liberian political history and has been a part of the struggle of the Liberian people for making Liberia a better place for all Liberians. 

 Do the Liberian people need and are yearning for an alternative leader who is not motivated by the greed for power and money? Yes they do! Do the Liberian people need a leader who is self-less and cares more about other people than himself? Yes they do! Do the Liberian people need an alternative leader who understands the challenges of governance based on his or her experience in government service? 

Yes, they do! Do the Liberian people need an alternative leader who is not arrogant and full of bigotry in any form, shape or manner? Yes they do.  Do the Liberian people need an alternative leader who is not a tribalist, sectionalist or regionalist or a religious fundamentalist?  Yes they do! 

As my uncles and aunts of Bong County say “KUKLE Kuka Tunoh” We are all one people! One indication of our oneness is the fact that all tribes in Liberia use the word KEH, which means BUT in every Liberian language.  

 The Liberian people need an alternative leader who does not say one thing and does something different.   The Liberian people need an alternative leader who will not lie to them. The Liberian people need a leader whose income and sources of income will be known to the people at all times.

It is for these reasons, among many that I have decided to transition from advocacy to electoral politics and to accept the appeals of many Liberians, especially the young men and women because it is their votes that usually decide who becomes a representative, senator or president in Liberia. I declare here today that I am the alternative leader that Liberia needs. 

I have advocated along with many well-meaning Liberians for good governance in Liberia for many years without any government listening and changing from bad governance to good governance. 

 Therefore, my fellow Liberians, on this day, December 4, 2021, I offer myself to you as the alternative leader that you need to move Liberia from backwardness to forwardness. I call on all Liberians to join me on the train that will move Liberia from backwardness to forwardness. 

Trust me and get on board the train that will take all Liberians to a better Liberia, for a better Liberia is possible. Today I offer myself as the driver of the train that will take all Liberians to a better Liberia. 

This train to a better Liberia will drop despair, desperation and hopelessness off the train and bring on board the train happiness, delight, optimism and confidence in the government of Liberia. Join the train fellow Liberians to a better Liberia. The choice is yours.

The choice that Liberian voters have to make in the 2023 presidential election is clear. You must make a choice between a candidate with a track record of fighting at the risk of his or her life and those who have not stood up for the Liberian people in any manner, form or shape. 

You have a choice to make between a leader that does not have a track record of stealing government money and those who have stolen government money or have not spoken against stealing government money in the past.

You have a choice to make between a leader who has been planting the seed for a better Liberia and those who want to reap where they have not sown. 

The question every Liberian voter should ask every presidential candidate is, “what risk have you taken for the Liberian people before or what have you ever in your life sacrificed for the Liberian people?” 

History is not made by people who remain silent when the people are suffering or those who agree with every leader in order not to lose any opportunity or suffer any discomfort or injury. History is made by people who have principles that they live by and are prepared to die for, if need be.  

  Like the late Albert, I have remained consistent, insistent and persistent in fighting for the common good of the people. Hence, the declaration that I am making here today is based on a solid background of advocacy for the good of Liberia.

The following are the policies that I want to pursue for a better Liberia: 

  1. Protecting freedom of expression;
  2. Promoting Education, skill-training and creativity at little or no cost;
  3. Promoting environmentally sensitive agricultural program with emphasis on self-sufficiency in food production, especially rice;
  4. Promoting strong environmental protection program, clean air and conservation of the forest and nature;
  5. Promoting affordable and efficient healthcare services throughout Liberia;
  6. Expanding the economy and increasing employment through manufacturing and value addition to locally produced goods, fostering a strong tourism program, given Liberia’s comparative advantage of having the largest forest with exotic tropical species and sandy coastline from Cape Mount to Cape Palmas;
  7. Infrastructural development, with emphasis on farm to market roads, school buildings and clinics;
  8. Promoting gender balance in government with at least fifty percent of the cabinet ministerial positions occupied by women.
  9. Clean Energy program that is available to every Liberian through mini-hydropower dams, wind mills and solar power.
  10. A Comprehensive Youth Development Program, including academic and skill training programs, sports and athletics, talents in music, drama, and other entertainment programs.

I do not boast of singularly having all the ideas and strategies for the attainment of a better Liberia. I will rely on all Liberians to support me in moving this country forward, beyond tribal, religious, regional and political party lines. 

I will also learn from the strengths of some of our past leaders such Joseph Jenkins Robert who demonstrated a strong national leadership by getting Liberia independent and an enviable level of generosity evidenced by the fact that he directed in his will that his properties be used for the education of the Liberian children. 

The J.J. Roberts Educational Foundation is still educating our children today. I will learn from the strong unification policies of Arthur Barclay and William V.S. Tubman to keep the country united. I will learn from William R. Tolbert’s strong integrated rural development program as it was meant to slow down rural urban migration. 

I remember him saying “The soil is a bank”, “I will lift Liberians from mats to mattresses” and that he promised to build “a wholesome functioning society” with people in the city and the interior being kept busy for the development of Liberia.

I will take lessons from President Samuel Doe’s Green Revolution program that was geared towards self-sufficiency in rice production. I intend to clean Liberia of corruption and to keep it environmentally clean, beautiful and safe for all Liberians. 

Therefore, the broom, the symbol of the Liberian People’s Party shall be the symbol of our campaign. I call upon all in the audience who have brooms to lift them up for all to see. We will sweep Liberia of corruption at every level of government. 

I want to be a president who will be a servant of all Liberians, not some Liberians. I want to make Liberia a land of liberty for all Liberians, not some Liberians.

With the advice and support of my lovely wife, Sonie Kolako Gongloe, my children, my family, friends, Team Gongloe, Team Gongloe Global, Friends of Gongloe and Wings of Gongloe, well-wishers, and most importantly the guidance and protection of the Almighty God, I will live up to these solemn declarations that I have made here today. I will remain loyal to my country and my conscience.

God bless Liberia and save the state.

 I love my country and I love you all.

I thank you.