Business, Academic Pundits Explore Causes of Liberia’s Underdevelopment

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Liberian businessman Clemenceau Urey has begun organizing likeminded Liberians to identify Liberia’s underdevelopment problems and to find solutions for them.

Mr. Urey, a onetime Board Chairman of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), recently published an article in the Daily Observer, delving into to how Liberians can achieve their own ‘Great Leap Forward’.

In the publication, he mentioned Rwanda, Ethiopia, the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone as countries that were at war, like Liberia, but have made strides in development, while Liberia still lags behind.

Mr. Urey said his article was a wakeup call for Liberians to develop a national sense of purpose and good governance and to change attitudes that are responsible for the country’s retrogression.

In a meeting on September 29 at a local resort in Monrovia, attendees responded to Mr. Urey’s call and identified some of the problems to include poor leadership and governance, selfish attitude, sectionalism and tribalism, desertion of ethics in national duty, among others.

Professor Felix Adesina of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion University said there is no clear demarcation between political administration and public administration.

According to him, what should be administratively solved is always politicized, making reference to the Ebola crisis as one situation that was approached politically instead of administratively.

Dr. Joseph Isaac, President of the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU), made emphasis on poor education as one of the hindrances to Liberia’s development. In his view, Dr. Isaac said Liberian students of today prefer degrees over knowledge, and as a result many prefer paying money to teachers to acquire degrees rather than to gain knowledge.

An emotional and concerned Liberian, Elsie Cooper, said that tribalism and sectionalism are deeply undermining the development of the country. She said tribal and sectional divisions have become entrenched in the Liberian society so much so that one tribe considers itself more Liberian than the other.

She added that those without tribal designations also see tribal people as not real Liberians, while tribal people on the other hand see them as migrants.

“We are in a fragile society. Tribal and sectional differences have reached the peak with one tribe considering itself more Liberian than the other. We who are without a particular tribe are not seen as different; and I am not responsible for not having a tribe. I did not sell myself, but was sold by the same tribal people that existed here. And even from the group I originated, there is a problem – not realizing that whether from the tribal or the other group, we are all black people. We Liberians need to revisit our history,” she concluded.

About 18 persons participated in the discussion, and they all concurred that there are serious attitudes affecting the growth of the country.

They then arrived at a point to form a movement, without any political association, to reach Liberians through the media and community discussions to identify the problems and find solutions that will build the spirit of patriotism among citizens.

They observed that the multiplicity of political parties in the country is part of the social scourge, and that many candidates forming parties do not even have platforms.

They also agreed to organize a debate for candidates to appear and state their platforms and tell the Liberian people how they will deliver them.

The meeting was graced by Liberian businesspeople and instructors of universities and secondary schools, among others.

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