...Says President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Albert T. Chie
The President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Prof. Albert T. Chie has described the University of Liberia as “the birthplace of multiparty democracy through the voice of students and faculty; the training ground for the workforce that drove the economy and consequently opened up the country."
The Grand Kru County Senator Albert T. Chie, on March 16, 2022 served as the convocation principal speaker of the 102nd Graduating Class of the University of Liberia, held on the Fendell Campus of the University.
The President Pro Tempore, who has served the University for close to 20 years, from Instructor of Geology and General Engineering, to an Assistant Professor, Head of Department and finally an Associate Dean of Engineering, was privileged to address 789 graduates of the Thomas J. R. Faulkner College of Science & Technology, the College of Engineering, the W.R. Tolbert, Jr. College of Agriculture & Forestry and School of Nursing and Midwifery.
The Pro Tempore also admonished Liberians that in memory of those who set their feet on the soil circa 1821/1822, "we must consider it most appropriate for Liberia to use part of this year to also pay respect to those who also fought for equality, justice, respect for human rights and multiparty democracy."
The 102nd convocation speaker made special mention of great Liberians such as Albert Porte, D. Tweh, Juah Nimely, P. G. Wollor, and younger contemporaries like Gabriel Baccus Matthews, President Samuel K. Doe, Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, who have transitioned to eternal life, and few others like Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh who are all still alive.
Speaking at the occasion, Prof. Chie also called on Liberians in this Bicentennial Year to take a final move to review some of the country's national symbols to reflect the true historical identity of the nation, as many people say: for the same “Love of Liberty that brought some of us here, the same Love of Liberty met some of us here”. The Pro-Tempore, therefore, suggested that the national motto must be rephrased as: THE LOVE OF LIBERTY UNITES US.
Additionally, the principal speaker of the convocation stated that, "as we place medals on some Liberians and foreign friends for good works and ordain them into the “Order of the Pioneers," there is a need to create another Order to reflect the true nature of our history; hence, Senator Chie committed the Liberian Senate to take the lead in further deliberation and resolution of the matter.
“The future is yours and your destiny lies in your own hands. But always remember what Shakespeare said: ‘Life is like a candle on a stage …’ very brief. Make the most of it, while you can. Liberia depends on you to change the narrative,” said Sen. Chie.
The Pro Tempore, who spoke on the topic: “Science as a basic ingredient in a Political and Economic Recipe: Are you ready to change the narrative”?, told graduates that the figures of Scientists and Engineers are accurate, their predictions have scientific basis and are mostly concerned with speed and accuracy.
Prof. Chie also admonished the graduates that as they leave the walls of the University, they must work harder, do more, talk little and only when they have something positive to contribute. The Pro-Tempore further told graduates to engage in activities that will lead to economic productivity and a better Liberia.
Interestingly, from his point of view, Pro-Tempore Chie decried the failure of the government in the areas of Agriculture and Electricity, stating that despite the bountiful rain, vast stretches of land, trained manpower just like the graduates, an array of programs well-funded by the National Budget and international donations and contributions, "our country has failed in agricultural production."
According to the Pro Tempore, Liberia imports almost everything, including oranges and pepper and self-sufficiency in the production of rice, the country's staple food, remains elusive. Statistically, Pro Tempore stated that on the average, Liberia imports approximately 250,000 metric tons of rice (10 million of the 25 kg bag) at the cost of US$140m annually and this continues to dwindle "our foreign exchange reserve and impacts negatively on our balance of trade position and the achievement of macroeconomic stability."
“We import almost everything, including Oranges and pepper. Self - sufficiency in the production of rice, our staple food, remains elusive,” he said, adding that on the average, Liberia imports approximately 250,000 metric tons of rice or 10 million of the 25 kg bags at the cost of US$140 million annually.
“Leadership in the agriculture sector also remains elusive. One President after the other has tried various qualified personnel to run the agricultural sector, including managers from the private sector. Still agricultural productivity remains very low,” Sen. Chie stated.
On the issue of electricity, the Pro-Tempore noted that the Government and its partners have spent hundreds of millions of US dollars since the end of the civil crisis to now in an attempt to provide reasonable and affordable electricity to the various households and businesses, adding that power supply still remains elusive.
“The Government has taken steps to reform the sector: In 2015, the Legislature passed a new electricity law that unbundled the sector, that is, opportunities for private sector investment were created, and monopoly by the LEC was to have ended; the reform, done in line with international best practices, saw the designation of the Ministry of Mines and Energy as the institution for policy setting, the creation of the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission as the institution for regulation and the LEC as an operator. Windows were also opened for more operators” he added.
Pro-Tempore Chie mentioned that due to failure, Liberians have facetiously named the LEC (Liberia Expecting Current); or (Liberia Emergency Current).
“Some of the problems in the power sector can be put squarely at the feet of the engineers and technicians. Prospective Electrical Engineers, your Country is waiting on you to change the narrative,” he said.