Before reading today’s Editorial, we would urge all our readers first to read our last Friday’s Editorial, and the comprehensive and profound companion op-ed to yesterday’s Editorial, written by someone who KNOWS what she is talking about. Why do we say that? Because Madam Frances Johnson Allison has the training—a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Law. More besides, she has served, as did the eminent Louis Arthur Grimes and some others, both as Chief Justice and as Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia. So Madam Frances Allison knows what she is talking about.
In today’s Editorial, we go beyond the constitutional requirements for those running for President of Liberia, which we dealt with in Friday’s Editorial. We turn now to some of the basic ISSUES that each presidential candidate must have a grasp of and address in their respective platforms.
In this column, we have over the years always tried to highlight some of them, at least the most basic among them—Agriculture, Education, Health and economic marginalization, empowerment and economic dependence.
We have always stressed the need to push agriculture, to make better use of all the fertile land, water—our numerous rivers and streams found throughout the country—that God has blessed us with. There is, therefore, no reason why our people are so hungry and food dependent, why Liberia cannot be a net exporter of food and horticultural products, even flowers.
Somebody in government is responsible to ensure that this sector is FOCUSED upon, to ensure that our farmers are given utmost encouragement and support not only to become self-sufficient in food, but to become net exporters—how? By supporting our farmers with such basic inputs as seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, farm implements—not only cutlasses and hoes, but also mechanized equipment that will enable them to go into mechanized farming—and agricultural extension agents to facilitate the transfer of modern farm technology from the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) to our farmers.
Our politicians, especially the presidential candidates, need to know the details of HOW to fix agriculture in Liberia in order to make us food self-sufficient and also exporters. Primary among these is rice, our staple, vegetables, fruits—citrus, etc., meat and everything else.
The next major area of focus is Education. What plans do the presidential candidates have to fix Education, which is the future of our country? What can you do for all the children and young adults selling on the streets when they should be in school? How can you, in the shortest possible time, transform our educational system from the “mess” it is in to the mushrooming of schools, colleges and universities throughout the country, equipped and staffed with qualified teachers and equipped with all that is needed to ensure quality education?
Most of the people running for President–remember that even in poor Liberia where they were born and grew up, they attended reasonably good schools, despite the deprivations, for the most part no libraries and laboratories— are learned and were able to go to university and graduate school and do well in life.
You, presidential candidates and the rest of us, owe Liberian children the same or definitely better educational opportunities than what you and the rest of us adults received. What are your plans to make this happen? Tell us in your platforms.
Health—how can you make the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, named after one of America’s most highly educated and great Presidents, equipped and staffed with the best medical and paramedical minds and hands to meet the health and medical needs of our people?
How can we reach our mothers and children in all villages with hospitals and health centers to ensure optimum (best, finest) maternal and childcare and the eradication of all preventable diseases that continue to kill our children?
For starts, we all know that prevention is better than cure: what plans do our presidential candidates, many of whom have traveled all over the world, to fix sanitation in Liberia?
How can we improve the existing hospitals? How can we improve the A.M. Dogliotti Medical College and the newly created Post Graduate Medical College where specialists are trained right here in Liberia?
Also to be seriously considered, how do we keep our doctors and nurses home, instead of surrendering them to America and Europe?
We want to know what plans our presidential candidates have to fix our economic and business situation, which has been for a long time in the hands of foreigners.
This newspaper has always contended that so long as this despicable status quo maintains, so long will our people remain poor and powerless. Are the presidential candidates aware of this reality?
All of us, including the presidential candidates, know of the serious issue of joblessness in Liberia. Neither our high school nor college graduates can find jobs. Yet every day we help Lebanon and India to solve their job problems by allowing thousands of their youth to come to Liberia for work. What is the response of our presidential candidates to this malaise? How many of them are prepared to turn a blind eye to this in return for handouts from foreign businesspeople as campaign assistance?
What plans do our presidential candidates have to change Liberia’s housing and building landscape—to provide affordable modern housing for our people throughout the country; to modernize our cities, beginning with the capital?
We are talking in this Editorial about vision; a vision to transform Liberia into a modern country, to give Liberia a future and a hope. Who can rise to this challenge? If it is you—anyone of the presidential candidates, tell us how you plan to do it.