Nimba Again?

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We fail to understand why some people of Nimba County always force us to ask, “what is wrong with Nimba?”  Why are they always putting themselves and their county negatively in the news?    

This is a question not for the politicians, who are usually at the center of the problem, but for the religious, educational and social people and institutions to wrestle with.

Scarcely a year ago, Liberia’s Mano River Union partners, notably La Cote d’Ivoire, were installing light poles and electric wires in Nimba.  This was an initiative of the West African Power Pool (WAPP), to supply electricity to several interior counties, including Nimba County!

But no sooner had technicians of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) begun installing the poles and wires, that people in the county started stealing the light poles, bulbs and wires!

A few months ago Nimba youths staged a riot on the premises of ArcelorMittal, causing millions of dollars in damages.  Their mothers and aunts begged President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was visiting Nimba last week, to forgive the youths and release them from prison.  But the President said she preferred to let the law take its course.

Also last week the county’s Development Superintendent, Teeko Yorlay, was fired because lawmakers accused him of disrespecting them.  The County Legislative Caucus asked the President to summarily dismiss him, which she promptly did. 

But Mr. Yorlay said he was dismissed because he refused to be part of a corruption ring surrounding the County Development Funds.

And here comes another unfavorable story from Nimba, one of the counties hardest hit by Ebola with 135 deaths leaving many orphaned.  Our correspondent, Ishmael Menkor, reported in yesterday’s edition that five persons had been charged with theft of Ebola supplies.   

The story recounts that for months the Nimba people were waiting for ArcelorMittal to complete an Ebola treatment unit, which was finally done.  Through the tenacious efforts of the Liberian government, one of the organizations coming forward with support for the Ebola fight is the World Food Program, which recently dispatched to Nimba a huge consignment of food, including beans, rice and cooking oil for Ebola victims.

The report of the theft of food supplies meant for people suffering and dying from Ebola is shocking enough.  But to learn that four of the five perpetrators were members of the County Health Team is most disturbing.

How does one steal from people who are suffering and dying, one’s own people at that—no, not strangers, but Nimba people in that Nimba quarantine center?  What does it say about us?

With such behaviors and attitudes is it ever possible that Liberians can develop this country?  Do we really want development?

Why were these people taking the rice to Saclapea, far away from the quarantine center in Ganta? 

The word “serious” is probably the most frequently used word in the Observer Editorial Column.  We have constantly appealed to, encouraged, even begged our people to become more serious about our country and people and more serious in our quest for national development.

We seem always to forget that we are Africa’s oldest independent republic.  We surely cannot be satisfied with where we are in national development, when most of our people are illiterate or semi-educated at best, when most of our high school students cannot pass a University of Liberia entrance examination; when our healthcare delivery system is stunted, leaving us incapable of managing ourselves in the worst health crisis in our history; when our roads, energy and water supplies are down, among so many other development deficits.

Is it not about time we got serious about life, about self-improvement as Liberians and about the survival, growth and development of our country?

The only way we can transcend our failings is when we all join together in diligence, honesty, patriotism and conscientiousness to make it happen. 

May God grant!

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