Mr. Speaker of the Honorable House of Representatives, Mr. President Protemp of the Liberian Senate, distinguished Senators and Representatives of the National Legislature, here present, Mr. Chairman , members of the Executive Committee and partisans of the Mighty Congress for Democratic Change, officials and citizens of Nimba County – particularly this great City of Ganta, officials of other Political Parties, International guests, members of the business community, prelates, traditional leaders, marketers, transport and Pampam Unions, our gallant health workers, teachers, student bodies , farmers ,members of the fourth Esteem, ladies and gentlemen
We are particularly appreciative to all of our special guests and well-wishers for honoring our invitation to share this historic moment with us. We are very delighted by your presence and look forward to further mutual support in the future.
Distinguished guests, well-wishers , fellow partisans, ladies and gentlemen , we have gathered here today to commemorate the tenth Anniversary of the Congress for Democratic Change. Ten years ago a few of us with shared vision on the direction of our country should take to prosperity, embarked on this worthy course to establish the Congress for Democratic Change. Many members of the Organizing Committee in early 2005 have left the vanguard – either for personal or compelling reasons, but what is most important is that this shared national vision remains deeply rooted and ever expanding in numbers and strength. Notwithstanding the many hurdles we have endured, the CDC is, undisputable , the largest , most admired and most formidable political party in Liberia since 1847.
However, we remain humble and are constantly challenged by the confidence our partisans and well-wishes, nationwide, have reposed and demonstrated in us . Consequently, we are very careful not to abuse this confidence because it is the ethos of our very survival over the years. We are also very mindful that the unfolding political equation towards 2017 speaks to cooperation and collaboration amongst political parties and politicians with shared vision. The key term here is “ shared vision”. When we speak of political collaboration we speak not solely of increased numerical strength; but essentially for consensus building on key national issues. The CDC is therefore open to dialogue and will in fact encouraged cooperation and collaboration with other political parties and politicians . However, we will certainly not sacrifice our code values and shared vision on the altar of numerical strength. If we have to do it alone, we can and we will , but we rather not , because, political cooperation and collaboration will strengthen our national vision and build consensus on national policy issues. This incentive is essential in sustaining the peace and driving development. To achieve this policy objection, the CDC will and must remain at the helm of any political collaboration to ensure that the confidence reposed in us by our mass followers is not betrayed.
What is this shared vision? The CDC believes that peace is cardinal to development and it can only be achieved through social justice, equal opportunity and equitable distribution of the national wealth. Since 1847, Liberia has never had a shortage of sufficient well-schooled or educated men and women to lead this country but we have always and continue to lack leaders with passion . The CDC was established solely to fill this gap.
Plato said evil would never cease for men until philosophers became king or kings where schooled into becoming philosophers . But Aristotle disagreed and dismissed Plato’s analysis as “reckless” – observing instead that Knowledge without Passion is evil. We agreed with Aristotle . Students of modern comparative politics observed that leaders with knowledge but without passion usually lead to a corrupt and failed State. Passion is that which makes leaders hunger and thirst for the betterment of their people. It is an emotional craving ; an irresistible inner urging for economic and social change; a desire to move a people from underdeveloped to developed – and even through drastic political, economic and social changes, if necessary.
In 1961 – 62 a team of development economists and scholars headed by Robert Clower was commission by USAID and the Liberian Government to carry out an extensive economic field survey on Liberia. The study essentially concluded that Liberia was entrapped into the quagmire of “Growth without Development”. In its 1966 Report the team observed that while Liberia’s GDP was almost the highest in the world – second only to Japan, actual development on the ground was far legging and without signs of redirection. The team found a growing and alarming imbalance between rural and urban areas which was rapidly making towns and villages, and I quote : “parasitic rather than generative”. This is a classic example of the application of knowledge without passion. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, what the report was shy to say so as not to upset US – Liberia relationship during this cold war period is that endemic corruption , greed and selfishness by successive Liberian governments were the major root causes of this economic down trend. NOTHING HAS CHANGE! It is said that after the publication of this report, Singapore who was a very under-developed country at the time immediately dispatched a team of scholars to Liberia to understand how to accelerate growth and how to avoid under-development. Singapore is now a first world developed country while Liberia is still a third world under-developed country . WHAT A SHAME!
Fellow partisans, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, education, health, electricity and agriculture are crucial in our national development agenda for Liberia. Our education and health systems are in deep crisis, electricity which drives industrialization is extremely scarce and very expensive, and our farmers are not encourage to produce more food due to lack government subsidy and other supports, and because majority of their products rotsin their hands due of lack of access to sure markets, food preservation storage facilities, road network, and purchasing power of consumers – due to the ever growing high unemployment rate in the country.
We need to focus on the real issues and stop joking with the future of our children. Our educational and health institutions need robust overhauling with massive infusion of resources to bring them on par with international standards. The generation and distribution of electricity need to be given to the private sector as was done to the telecommunication sector – this will surely boost industrialization . Our farmers need to be given support in capacity development , mini mechanization and market security for their crops. Our educational institutions must start producing experts of international standards , and our farms and industries must start exporting food and made-in-Liberia products before the end of our first term in office after the 2017 Presidential and general elections. It is therefore a historical imperative that the CDC led government comes to power in 2017
Distinguished guests, fellow citizens, the CDC wonders why despite a constitutional requirement and demand that chiefs be elected , there has been no chiefdomship election in Liberia for 30 years – since 1985. The CDC disagrees with the excuse of lack of funds and believes that this lapse is intentional and designed for the sole purpose for weakening traditional leadership and undermining cultural values . Over eighty percent of our citizens live in the rural areas. When chiefs are not elected their legitimacy is questioned and their authority is weaken . They are subjected to the abuse and misused by the ruling party through the Ministry of Internal Affairs who assumes the role of their employer. They therefore become answerable to the government that be and not to the people from who their authority should derived. This seriously undermines rural development and erodes dialogues aimed at sustaining national peace . The CDC therefore calls on government and international partners to prioritize the convening of chiefdomship elections – if possible before or during the ensuing 2017 presidential and general elections. This will enable our chiefs and elders regain respect in the exercise of their respective offices, legitimize and strengthen their authority, and afford them independence of judgments in attending to the affairs of their peoples. This we must all advocate for on their behalf ; because to do it for themselves may threaten their jobs through dismissal or other punitive measures.
Before closing, we are concern and uncomfortable with the planned drawdown of UNMIL to coincide with the 2017 presidential and general elections. Our recent experiences in Montserrado ,Bomi and other counties during the December 2014 senatorial election, evident that our Police force is not mature enough for such a delicate task. During these elections we saw some units of the LNP drawn into partisan politics and glaringly siding with candidates of the ruling party and harassing partisans of the opposition during political rallies . The 2017 presidential and general elections is a test of the UN success story in Liberia; and this must not be allowed to ruin due to the premature exit of UNMIL military and police from Liberia because our national security apparatus are just not ready for this task. Any abuse of power and excesses by state security during the ensuing 2017 presidential and general elections may be responded to in a manner that could derail our peace process. This we do not want to happen and we are confident the UN would share our line thinking.
I once more thank all of you for coming to celebrate with us on our 10th Anniversary and I wish you all a safereturn home. We are particularly grateful to the city major and good loving people of this great city of Ganta for hosting us and for the warm welcome we received. Thanks for making us feel at home during our stay here.
May God bless mamma Liberia.