The persistent battles that Liberians waged against backwardness, misrepresentation, mediocrity, misogyny and self-glorification in the past must not be abandoned until poverty is destroyed, former Labor and Public Works Minister, Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods has said.
Despite the gains, including the exercise of political pluralism in the country, “We still have challenges and we need a government that will address miserable insufficiency that afflicts the people,” Atty. Woods urged.
To do that, he said the people must be ready to recognize the “elites that are appearing in different forms, building alliances in the rank and file of our own. Their attitudes and their values must be defeated with the same conviction and passion of the 70s and 80s.”
Speaking at the 46th anniversary of the Students Unification Party (SUP) of the University of Liberia recently in Monrovia, Woods said like years past, “you (students) are now seeking an agenda to deliberately and radically transform our country come 2017.”
On the gains achieved so far, Woods recounted political pluralism in the country, evidenced by the 23 political parties of all forms, colors and limitations, adding that “this is the political marketplace where all formations are on display and we can and do make choices, sometimes bad ones, but choices nonetheless. We have a plethora of news outlets: more radio stations than we have ever had, more newspapers than we have ever had, and more television stations than we have ever had.”
Woods said though freedom of speech thrives under intimidation from those who claim to be the custodians of power, “we will strive to consolidate and make it better. We can all appreciate the common heritage bequeathed by our forefathers. We want to build a country that is free and democratic where all of our people are provided an enabling environment to improve their material circumstances.”
“Indeed we devote ourselves to a preferential option for the poor; the vast majority of our people, who go to bed each night on empty stomachs, who cannot read or write, who cannot access a hospital, a school or a court. It is our right, our obligation to build this new society. We will not waver, we will not cower, we will not betray the people.”
To address poverty in the country, Woods hit upon the restoration of the family and its values, education and developing the total person.
He said a formation process should involve the family, “our communities, our religious institutions, traditional African systems of training and discipline. We cannot depend on an educational system that does not transform the living conditions of our people; that prepares us to seek only self-glorification and crushes individualism, consumerism and materialism. It must be an education for service and integrity. Government officials must send their children to public schools as a matter of policy.”
On the health system, Woods called for the building of a resilient health system; one that works and responds to the epidemiological problems that confront our people. In fact we might want to consider a policy measure that requires those who are duty bearers in our government to be required to seek treatment and care in our public health system or pay for their personal health care.”
On food sufficiency, Woods called for “a path to the future that places the well-being of our people as the central focus of public policy; and food security questions must capture our every imagination and our every action.”
Woods said infrastructural development, road networks and clean, affordable drinking water for “our people along with electricity are some measures that should be considered; and communication, be it road network or information technology, must be at the service of our people.”