In recent days some politicians aspiring for the presidency have used demeaning words against one another in their pursuit of political relevance. The first person to begin the attack was Cllr. Charles Brumskine, standard bearer of the Liberty Party. In a speech delivered to his partisans and supporters in March this year, Cllr. Brumskine described as “Stupid” a comment reportedly made by Vice President Joseph Boakai that President Sirleaf was secretly supporting the Liberty Party. Brumskine went on to brand Boakai as a “country man,” a demeaning description of Liberians perceived as uncivilized and illiterate people.
This description was severely criticized by individuals and political parties, including the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the National Democratic Coalition (NDC). Just last week another politician and former warlord, Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson, came out with a divisive statement that no descendent of Americo-Liberians (otherwise Congo) should be elected President, only an indigenous Liberian. This statement has the propensity not only to set Liberians against one another, but also to divert the minds of people from the main issues to something of no significance to the growth and development of the country.
The problem affecting Liberia is not due to a person being of settler or native origin, rather, a mindset of corruption resulting from an unpatriotic and negative mental attitude. Although nepotism and one-party rule that marginalized many Liberians reflected on his regime, you will recall for a fact that William R. Tolbert, Jr. was not an indigenous Liberian. Yet his leadership brought a vibrant economy and improved infrastructure, agricultural development and a better education system, among other benefits. Tolbert brought about free public primary and junior secondary education, subsidized 50% tuition for senior high students, began the construction of the Fendell campus of the University of Liberia, and opened vocational institutions including the Kwendin Mission in Nimba County. Every elderly person in Liberia can attest to President Tolbert’s policy of “Total Involvement towards Higher Heights.”
Samuel Doe was not of settler descent; yet he attempted to expand development in the country by taking the initiative to erect public buildings, build roads and improve agriculture, despite the hostilities and human rights abuses that marred his regime. The Babangida Highway in Grand Cape Mount County, the Central Bank Building on Ashmun Street and the current headquarters of the Liberia National Police are solid marks of Samuel Doe’s administration. Like Tolbert, Doe tried to expand the “Green Revolution” toward increasing agricultural productivity, enhancing the work of the Bong County Agriculture Development Project (BCADP), the Lofa Agricultural Development Project (LCADP) and the Nimba County Agriculture Project (NCRDP), all started by President Tolbert and continued by President Samuel Doe. We emphasize these achievements to register the fact that the problem affecting the country is not about who is from where, but who knows the actual problems of the country and can lead the people to solve them.
Brumskine, Johnson and all of their kind should understand that Liberians have over a long period of time heard insults and political rhetoric and are tired of that. Liberians are now seeking a leader who, regardless of background or status, will take tangible steps to address the problems affecting our country. Liberia’s health system is vulnerable, education is still a mess, agriculture and infrastructure are still seriously challenging us, our economy is in the hands of foreigners, and security is still weak and exposed to danger. Additionally, corruption is rampant; the justice system is poor and weak, and reconciliation is still a distant dream. These are just a few of the issues that Liberians are seeking a leader to help address so that the country may move forward and come on par with other African countries like Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, and Tanzania —all fast growing in socioeconomic development.
Which politician is patriotically prepared to restore Liberians’ hope? What approach will that person take to address the multiple challenges affecting our country? Who is willing to be the one to fix our education and health systems? Who is that head that will serve instead of being served? Who is he that will bring about food self-sufficiency? Who will make the judicial system credible, truly just and effective, ensuring that the poor and rich alike will have equal, fair, and transparent justice? Who has a plan to develop our beaches, Lake Shepherd in Harper, Cape Palmas, Maryland County, Lake Piso in Grand Cape Mount County, the waterfalls in Patawee, Bong County and Ganta in Nimba County and other potential tourist attractions across the country? These are questions for which Liberians are seeking answers from a compassionate, level headed, and patriotic politician that can be trusted with state power, not people who will use divisive politics and insults as a means of gaining popularity or prominence.
This newspaper, therefore, continues to call for and insist that politicians set a clear political agenda that will be in the highest interest of the country and its people, and explain how they are going to carry out their deliverables. We are urging that political conversation and campaign messages not consist of personal attacks, rather that they are issues-oriented, giving our people HOPE that the problems that have bedeviled us for so long will be finally fixed.