By Arthur Ballah
The Liberty Party standard bearer, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, has been very busy recently touting what the party calls policy statements, which are supposed to be coming from the party’s platform. As an observer of how the political scene is shaping up, it seems that most of what Brumskine is saying is coming from the statements of the standard bearer of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), Dr. J. Mills Jones. But this is not surprising. Cllr. Brumskine ran two previous campaigns before, vying for the Liberian presidency, but has not been known for having any new ideas to support why he wants to be president, certainly not on the matter of economic empowerment and poverty reduction. And if he has had any such idea, he has not done anything about it. So it seems that he has decided to borrow brilliant ideas from others, run with them and make the loudest noise to give the impression that he is a thinker, even if not a doer. Our eyes are open. Not even opening a car dealership will fool us.
A few days ago, Cllr. Brumskine was on a Truth FM radio talk show making the pronouncement that Liberians should be able to get credit so that they do not have to just lease their land to foreigners who then borrow money to construct buildings. When did Cllr. Brumskine know this? This view was expressed way back by the standard bearer of the Movement for Economic Empowerment when such thinking was not part of the political discussion among the regular politicians like Cllr. Brumskine. If one had to take a guess, one would come up with the view that Cllr. Brumskine would be more content to be the lawyer for the foreigners leasing the land, instead of calling for access to finance for Liberians. Everyone knows who has been the champion of access to finance for Liberians: the standard bearer of the Movement for Economic Empowerment, Dr. Jones, who has been consistent in making the case that the economic empowerment of Liberians is an idea whose time has come. In his acceptance speech after being elected Standard Bearer of the Movement for Economic Empowerment in February, 2017, Dr. Jones offered these words of hope “…that we can do more than be owners of land to be leased by non-Liberians, a situation which if left to go on can lead to a situation where Liberians become renters in their own country. Yes, owners of land, but renters of shelter.” Based on Dr. Jones’ track record, this concern is more believable coming from him than from Cllr. Brumskine, since Brumskine can be considered a new convert to this idea of economic empowerment of Liberians.
Another view of Cllr. Brumskine that resembles that stated earlier by the standard bearer of the Movement for Economic Empowerment has to do with student loans to help make education accessible to those who may be lacking the means to pay for their education. Dr. Jones talked about this more than a year ago when he responded to the petition of citizens to contest for the position of President of Liberia. At the time, Dr. Jones said, “we intend to look into establishing a student loan initiative to provide funding to cover the cost of tuition and books at all accredited colleges, universities, and technical and trade schools. Let us keep in mind that the boy who sells bread in the streets today could be the next Liberian scientist. The girl who sells fish at ELWA junction today could be the next Liberian doctor. As a country, we must provide the opportunity to them to move upwards.” This sounds like a person with conviction, who from day one is set on creating opportunities for Liberians, not waiting to borrow ideas. The MOVEE standard bearer at that time also talked about establishing a Youth Service Corp to promote the spirit of community development, national unity and public service, with young people serving in regions of the country where they have no roots to gain a better appreciation of the country and learn to provide service to all. It has been noticed that Cllr. Brumskine has also picked up on this idea. Brumskine also came lately to the idea of denouncing tribalism, after having touted the horn of tribalism as a means of winning over the Bassa people. He is on record talking about the Bassa people will beat ‘dumboy’ in the Executive Mansion. Of course, the Bassa people have shown that they know better and will show in a more pronounced way that they know better in this election. It is well known who has given hope that for Liberia to go far the people of Liberia must go together. And that person is the standard bearer of the Movement for Economic Empowerment, Dr. J. Mills Jones. Dr. Jones has been crystal clear, tribalism and sectionalism have no place in modern Liberia. We agree, and most Liberians agree, that Liberians in the towns, cities and villages are more concerned with getting out of poverty, better schools for their children, safe drinking water, better health care, increased agricultural production, better roads, etc., not building their hope on tribalism. Let Vice President Joseph Boakai, Cllr. Brumskine and their supporters continue to see who more “Country” than the other is. That is the domain of losers. Liberia is looking for leadership that can transform.
The simple question for the voters is, who has been consistent in making the case to put Liberians first in their own country, that it is time for the government to create a more enabling environment to help Liberians get out of poverty, that it is time for Liberians to be major players in the Liberian economy, and that Liberians must move forward together?
The election for president hangs on this simple question. Certainly, Dr. Jones, both in words and deeds, stands above the other aspirants. The poor and the marginalized throughout Liberia know this.