Dr. J. Mills Jones, the standard bearer of the opposition Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), says Liberia can develop only if there is unity and reconciliation among the people.
In a keynote address at the 4th Kru National Congress in Togbaville, Sehnkwehn Statutory District, Sinoe County, Dr. Jones admonished Liberians to free themselves from the shackles of divisiveness to foster a new course of unity.
At the well-attended and colorful event, he told his listeners to go back to the teachings of their parents who, while cherishing their ethnic heritage, helped each other.
“Ethnicity is good, we must uphold it, but we can do so without being tribalistic. We like our culture, the way we sing and dance.
“This is also what the future of our country is about, and I have consistently said we must aim at more inclusive growth and development that would rapidly reduce poverty,” Dr. Jones added.
He continued: “This is why we should begin at the county level. If we go to the road of sectionalism at the county level, we will end-up with a snake with many heads that is bound to show up at the national level and could be a cancer to keep us in a pit of underdevelopment.”
He then expressed the hope that in the near future people from Sinoe of all ethnic backgrounds would have a Sinoe “Development Annual Conference” to consider the needs and concerns of the county.
Dr. Jones emphasized the traditional behaviors of the people of Sinoe, which he termed as hospitable; and advised them to move together as one people with a common destiny.
He also stated a sense of togetherness is the guiding principle behind his policy of financial inclusion that he pursued along with the Board of Governors while serving as Executive Governor of the CBL.
“After 169 years of independence, few will disagree that we need a more concerted effort to raise the standard of living of our people to lift them out of poverty; that means not only focusing on a few urban areas, but going to towns and villages,” he told the gathering.
Justifying the microfinance program introduced during his tenure as Governor at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Dr. Jones noted that lifting Liberians out of poverty was the reason for the program.
“This is why it was important for our policy of financial inclusion that involved market women, the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA), the Credit Union National Association and petty traders, farmers etc.”
However, he noted that those he called “Enemies of Progress,” having failed to defeat the idea, are going after the messenger by trying to create doubts on his candidacy for President of Liberia, including audits, after he left the CBL.
He called on these individuals to stop because former governors can also tell stories “and true stories as well.”
Dr. Jones referred to a Methodist hymn called “Yong and Fearless Prophet” as a way of awakening the nation and its leadership to be more caring.
He quoted the stanza of the hymn that says, “Stir up a protest against our greed for wealth while others stave and hunger and plead for work and help.”
Meanwhile, Sinoe County Senator Milton Teahjay said, “In the history of the 48 Sections of Kru, this 4th National Kru Congress is very important because major decisions will be taken to impact the future of Sinoe County and the Republic of Liberia.”
Since the independence of Liberia, he explained, Sinoe County has produced Representatives, Senators, Chief Justices, “but we have not produced the Chief Executive, which is the President of the Republic of Liberia.”
The Sinoe County strongman said he started a journey to the presidency in 2005, like Moses in the Bible, to free the Israelites from Egypt, but that such a journey will be completed by someone from Sinoe who has rightfully stood up to contest the 2017 legislative and Presidential elections.
“In 2005, many people, including myself, decided to run for the presidency but I was not able to reach the Promised Land; however, here comes another son of Sinoe County that will deliver us to the Promised Land,” Senator Teahjay said.
“We must seize this opportunity to support this great son of ours who has stood-up to contest the Presidency of Liberia because political pundits are inferring that such a statement is an apparent endorsement of Dr. J. Mills Jones’ presidential bid in 2017.
“Politicians have the history of making individual commitment on issues, but the direction you will take at the end of this Congress is what we will follow despite previous commitments we had made.”
Dr. Jones was well received by chiefs, elders, youth and women’s groups in Tarjuowon, Juahzon, Butaw, and Dubee River, all in Sinoe County.