– Says Dr. J. Mills Jones
In his campaign to identify the causes of Liberia’s underdevelopment, both human and infrastructural, since independence in 1847, Dr. J. Mills Jones, the political leader of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), said “Liberia’s greatest enemy is poverty.”
Dr. Jones told partisan crowds during meetings in the Bong County cities of Salala, Totota, Zeansue and Ganta last Friday that Liberians must not continue to do things the same old way.
“When the Republic of Ghana gained independence in 1957, Liberia as a nation was 110 years old,” Dr. Jones said. “But today they are ahead of us, likewise the Republic of Ivory Coast.” The argument then, said the man referred to as ‘Poverty Doctor,’ is “not that we are not doing anything, but we are not doing enough.”
After clarifying to his members that the Code of Conduct has no hold on his political ambition and that his name will be on the ballot for the presidency in October, Dr. Jones said leadership of the nation must be held by or given to those who have a track record of working for the interest of the people.
“When you hear us talk about Liberia,” Dr. Jones said, “we don’t mean the trees and rocks in the country, but the people; therefore, it means the leadership must do enough to lift the people from hard times.”
As the crowds cheered him on, Dr. Jones said, “When you are poor and don’t have much to eat and not much to care for your children, you lose your dignity. And if the issue of what to eat becomes your daily struggle, and then you only exist.”
“Hence as leaders, our concern should be how to improve the people’s living standards, and this is what our party, MOVEE, is all about.”
Jones said if Liberians don’t change the way things are done and “look up to the same people to do for us, we will get the same result.”
The Movement for Economic Empowerment’s position on poverty, according to Dr. Jones, “is not how long we work to bring the change, but how well we work.” He said MOVEE will change the future of the poor by empowering them financially, “because poverty is not the destiny of the Liberian people.”
Consoling the various groups he met, Dr. Jones said in the life of a people, there comes a time when the people must decide to make a change for the better, “and that time is now, in October.”
He urged the people to take interest in the October elections and warned them not to deliver their Voter Registration Cards to others ‘to keep.’ He said since poverty afflicts all Liberians, they must watch out for politicians that will preach tribal politics, adding: “Poverty has no tribe.”
In their reactions, representatives of the Welekermah Women of Salala, the National Petty Traders Union of Totota, Zeansue Group, and members of the Village Savings and Loans Association expressed their support for Dr. Jones’ presidential bid.
Dr. Jones’ statement that “Liberia’s greatest enemy is poverty” holds a somewhat contrarian perspective to that of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who, during her inaugural address in 2005, described ‘corruption’ as “public enemy number one.” And though, more than a decade later, the President finally admitted that the battle against corruption turned out more challenging than expected, it remains to be seen how the battle against poverty in Liberia will turn out against Jones, should he be elected president.
Comfort Washington, chair lady of the Liberia Marketing Association of Salala, told Dr. Jones, “We will be with you wherever you go.”
In Ganta, Dr. Jones spoke to delegates of the St. Luke Lutheran Church at their annual convention, where he shared his vision to take the country from poverty to higher heights.