Liberians must not lose hope and must trust in their ability to triumph over the country’s current difficulties as well as endeavoring to reclaim its leadership on the African continent, head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia Farid Zarif told journalists yesterday.
In an informal meeting with Mr. Zarif at the UNMIL headquarters, he said no matter how long UNMIL soldiers remain in Liberia, it is only Liberians that can develop trust in each other to build a viable nation for all.
“I’m optimistic of Liberia’s positive future,” Mr. Zarif said, adding, “all it takes is for the journalist, the minister, the farmer, the trader and everyone to begin to have a little love for your country.”
He said he has refuted claims that Liberians are unable to depend on themselves for their survival and called on the media to demonstrate responsibility and accuracy in their reports of events in and about the country.
Zarif said while he has always encouraged unhindered press freedom, he does not encourage inaccurate reporting that creates tension and hurt the national cause.
“You have beautiful weather, plenty of rain and natural resources that can be used properly to build your nation and so you must show responsibility in your actions to build your country,” he stated.
He told the gathering of media leaders that freedom comes with responsibility and therefore they must endeavor not to create room and the condition for others to question their trustworthiness as professionals because they share part of the country’s destiny. “Your role is to enhance public trust and be careful that you don’t leave room for someone to question your truthfulness,” he said.
Mr. Zarif appealed to Liberians to own their country. “You must insist on owning your country and don’t let outsiders determine what should happen in Liberia.
“That is why the 2017 elections will be important for you to make the decision to select people who are capable to lead the country to make a difference for you and your children,” he said.
He regretted that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration suffered greatly during the period of the Ebola virus disease where resources were diverted to fight the scourge.
“Eighty seven percent of your budget is devoted to salaries leaving the remaining 13 percent that is not enough to maintain vehicles, infrastructure and to generate resources for investment, and to create jobs for Liberians,” he said.
Mr. Zarif reminded Liberians that the security of the state is a state of mind and justice for those who were involved in the crisis should be looked at broadly “because the fragility of peace is such that if carefulness is not looked into it, you will find yourself back on what you intended to avoid.”
He said if he does not believe in the ability of Liberians to own their country and be able to build a viable country, he would not have been here serving in his current position.
Zarif called on Liberians to believe in themselves to make things better for the country.