This newspaper has often asked the question, what kind of people are we?
This question becomes even more relevant today as the latest report on Liberia by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reveals the alarming report that our 169-year-old nation, Africa’s oldest Republic, is still lingering in rank at the bottom of the global infrastructure index—both social and physical.
The IMF’s 2016 Report on Liberia shows that the country’s scores on infrastructure, including social and physical, “are below the average of member states of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS).”
In his Keynote Address to the Liberian Religious Community last Saturday, Observer Publisher Kenneth Y. Best lamented that in terms of all aspects of development, Liberia, Africa’s oldest independent republic, was lagging behind most, if not all, of the newly independent African nations.
Here we are now, rated by one of our country’s closest development partners, the IMF, as “low” in the quality of infrastructure in two of the most vital areas, education and health. Where can any country go without a healthy population? Nowhere! Where can any country go without an educated population? The answer is obvious, especially as far as it concerns our children and our strong, able-bodied young men and women, mentioned in Mr. Best’s
Address last Saturday, “selling [chewing gum], towels and other trivialities on the streets when they should be in school, on the farm or in a technical institute learning a trade.”
Education and health are considered part of our “social infrastructure.” But what of our physical infrastructure, such as our roads and bridges? Alas, here again, the IMF states that Liberia is “much worse than the average ECOWAS countries, and among the lowest in the world.”
How is all this possible after 11 years of this Administration, under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is arguably the most educated person—Harvard graduate and all—ever to sit in the Mansion as President?
She is, moreover, one who in her professional career, acquired great experience working with the Liberian government (Finance Minister), in the Bretton Woods institutions, specifically the World Bank and the United Nations, as Director General of the UN Development Program (UNDP).
For this IMF revelation to be coming in the last months of her two-term presidency is a very sad commentary on her leadership.
But the IMF Report said more. “Liberia’s public capital per capita was still the lowest in the region, despite much investment in public spending through donor funding.”
Two quick questions here: first, what has been happening to the country’s own self-generating financial resources, produced from iron ore, rubber, coffee and cocoa sales; and from the substantial income-generating state enterprises such as the Forestry Development Authority, the National Port Authority, the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company, the National Oil Company of Liberia, the National Social Security Corporation and from the Liberia Maritime Authority?
The second question is, what happened to the huge amounts of money pumped in, as the IMF Report firmly stated, by donor funding?
Just in order for us Liberians to know what really happened in the past 11 years we need an audit of this Administration. This, we must emphatically state, is not punitive (castigatory or punishing). But we need to know what really happened. This is only intended to educate the Liberian people and the incoming administration about what happened in the economy in the past 11 years. The purpose here is to ensure that we do not repeat the same mistakes that have bedeviled (mercilessly plagued) Liberia since the 1920s and perilously continued the vicious and debilitating circle of mismanagement and failure.
No! Liberia MUST move forward. Here is the challenge to every one of us—to elect in the coming 2017 elections a president and members of the House of Representatives who are not only capable of good governance, but honest and wholly committed to pursue the highest interests of the Liberian people.
As the little six-year-old boy, Chris Saydee, told the Monrovia City Hall audience last Saturday, “We need a Moses to lead Liberia forward.”
Who will that Moses be? The answer lies in our careful examination of each presidential candidate, to determine the most honest, the most capable, the most spiritually and patriotically committed to lift our beleaguered country out of poverty and backwardness and set her on the path to development and prosperity.