Ken Best Wants Emphasis on Good Governance; Challenges Liberians to Elect ‘Honest, Dynamic, Visionary Leader’
The National Reformation Alliance Movement, Inc. (NARAMO), whose primary aim is to promote good governance in Liberia, was launched last Friday in Monrovia. In his remarks, Kenneth Y. Best, publisher of the Daily Observer newspaper reflected that bad governance was the primary reason that the 170-year-old Liberia, Africa’s oldest independent republic, remains one of the continent’s poorest and most backward nations.
Mr. Best lauded the leaders of NARAMO for including among its objectives the promotion of human rights, good governance and the rule of law, adding that the absence of these great concepts in many of the republic’s administrations, led to the Liberian civil conflict, during which this nation became a failed state. He quickly cautioned the guests, and the people of Liberia, that we must all wisely and very carefully chose a competent leader for Liberia in the October 10 elections. If we do not, and instead allow ourselves to be mesmerized (hypnotized, captivated) by bags of rice, money or false promises, Best said we run the risk of choosing the wrong leader who will lead us further down the drain again. He pleaded with the audience, which included many Christians and Muslims, and all citizens of the country to unite and pray for God’s will guidance in choosing the right person to lead Liberia over the next six years.
Mr. Best recalled that the nation has experienced bad governance since the 1920s, which culminated (ended) with terribly rigged elections and the Fernando Po Crisis, leading to the forced resignation of President Charles D.B. King and his Vice President, Allen Yancy. That was when Liberia’s political, literary and musical genius, Edwin J. Barclay, was ushered in as President. Barclay, assisted by his equally erudite Secretary of State, Louis Arthur Grimes, saved Liberia from being taken over by European powers. To his credit, President Barclay voluntarily retired from office in 1943.
Unfortunately, recalled Mr. Best, President Barclay missed the opportunity to democratize Liberia by opening up the field and allowing all to freely contest the presidential election that year. Instead, he handpicked Associate Justice W.V.S. Tubman for the succession, a decision President Barclay came to bitterly regret soon after. When he eventually formed the Independent True Whig Party (ITWP) in 1953 to challenge Tubman in the 1955 elections, Tubman repressively outmaneuvered the ITWP by jailing and deporting, respectively, two of the party’s editors, S. Tuan Wreh and Bertha Corbin; killing S. David Coleman and his young civil engineer son John; and jailing Counselors Nete Sie Brownell, Barclay’s vice standard bearer, S. Raymond Horace and hundreds of ITWP partisans. And while these leaders and partisans languished in prison, the election was held and Tubman had a free sail to a third term of office.
Tubman made great strides in education, creating the University of Liberia, sending hundreds abroad to attain professional training in a wide range of fields and, above all, enunciating the National Unification Policy that created four new counties—Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Gedeh. This shrewd political move gave considerable political power to indigenous Liberians. The people rewarded him by maintaining him in power for 27 years. But Liberia during that period, and with all our natural resources, diamond, gold, iron ore and rubber, yet missed the opportunity to develop along the same path as Singapore and South Korea, both of which in 1960 were on the same development plane as Liberia. Korea and Singapore are today among the world’s richest nations, while Liberia, despite all its natural resources, is among the poorest. This is the result of bad governance, said Best.
Mr. Best continued by recalling that though President Tolbert took some serious development initiatives, especially in agriculture and housing, he failed to take the Unification Policy to its logical conclusion by bringing the indigenous majority into serious power sharing. This failure led to the 1980 coup d’état, to Tolbert’s death and that of several of his topmost officials, and to the civil war. “Our focus in these ensuing elections,” Mr. Best cautioned Liberians, “should be on that one person for the presidency who we reckon will be a good, honest and visionary leader that will lift Liberia and carry her forward.”
Following his formal launching of NARAMO, Mr. Best installed the organization’s 10 officers, headed by the national coordinator, Mr. Soko V. Sackor.
Mr. Sackor pledged that NARAMO will fight the menace of corruption in Liberia from top to bottom. He urged Liberians irrespective of sociopolitical background to join in the fight against corruption in all sectors of the country. Mr. Sackor assured Liberians that NARAMO would endeavor to relate genuine information to the 73 electoral districts of Liberia and encourage international organizations to support free, fair and transparent elections in Liberia.
He cautioned the winner of the October 10 race for the presidency to identify qualified and honest men and women to form an inclusive government, as opposed to a winner takes all scenario. Sackor called on politicians to be sincere, transparent and fair with one another and make strenuous efforts to avoid the recurrence of Liberia’s ugly past of political mistakes.
The NARAMO leader warned eligible voters not to trade their votes for money, or any material gain, adding, “the country is at crossroads to chart a new course in a landmark elections.”
Sheik J. M. Alieu Swaray, deputy coordinator – Planning, Education and Programs, admonished those installed to steer the affairs of the pro-democracy and advocacy organization with efficiency and determination.
Those installed were Soko V. Sackor, national coordinator, Lawrence A. George, deputy national coordinator, Ways, Means and Finance; and Sheik J. M. Alieu Swaray, deputy coordinator, Planning, Education and Programs. Others were, K. Mamadee Keita, deputy coordinator, Good Governance Compliance; W. Omecee Johnson, assistant coordinator, Public Relations and Information Management; Mrs. Martha M. Steven, assistant coordinator, Marginalized Women, Youth and Children; Charles D. F. Jrateh, Sr., assistant coordinator, People with Disability and Unemployed; Morris Kromah, assistant coordinator, Mobilization; Mrs. Mawah Kamara Verdier, assistant coordinator, Finance; and Edward Massaquoi, assistant coordinator, Head of Secretariat.