With Liberia in Medical and Economic Crisis, Wrong Time to Sell Oil Blocks

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The Liberian people, still reeling (staggering) amidst one of the most desperate and tragic moments in their history–the Ebola crisis—in which people are dropping dead around the country, awoke Monday morning to some most shocking and unbelievable news.  Their government has suddenly decided to auction off some of the nation's most treasured assets–four oil blocks.

Oil, or petroleum, is a new resource which the good Lord has granted this beleaguered country, Liberia. This is in addition being already richly endowed with so many other resources, including rich agricultural land, abundant rainfall, many rainforests, the capacity for all kinds of tree crops, 350 miles of coastline and beautiful beaches, lagoons and lakes, plus iron ore, gold and diamond.  Despite all of these enviable resources, Liberia has failed to develop.

The problem has been mainly national   leadership, which over a long period has failed to inspire, motivate and train our people to take full control of their economy.  The Liberian economy is totally in the hands of foreigners who, with very few exception, are the only ones with money in their pockets and therefore calling the shots in every direction–financial, political and even judicial.  These foreign businesspeople everyday spew out (discharge, spit) in the faces of the miserable, luckless Liberians–oppressed and downtrodden in their own country–the contemptible (disgraceful, shameful, humiliating) boast: "Take me anywhere, and NOTHING will come out of it!"

The Daily Observer has, throughout our 33-year existence, consistently and passionately appealed to the government to do everything possible to empower Liberians in business.  Okay, they say Liberians are "not entrepreneurial," meaning they don't like or know how to create businesses.   But even if this were true–and most of it is not–it does not have to remain that way.  That is the purpose of parental upbringing and education, to fill the child's "tabula rasa." Philosophers throughout the centuries, probably beginning with Aristotle, have long argued that the child is born with a blank mind–"blank slate."  The English philosopher and physician John Locke, an Enlightenment thinker, more than anyone else popularized this philosophical principle, that human beings are born with blank minds, and begin to acquire knowledge and experience as  they grow and develop.

So it is with every one of us.  We have the capacity to learn anything.  It all depends upon exposure and opportunity.  So one cannot dismiss a whole nation of people because they have not been given the opportunity and encouragement to pursue and excel in a particular vocation.  Success is within anyone's grasp, depending on the available exposure and opportunity.

That is what parents are for, to give their   children proper upbringing and help them develop their God-given talents.  That is what governments are for–to build schools, colleges,  universities, to help the students develop their latent creative energies and expose them to new vistas of learning and opportunity; to gauge (estimate) the needs of society, for example, how many teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers, businesspeople a country needs at a particular time, and produce them to fulfill the national need.

This newspaper is opposed to the auction of the four oil blocks.  A time of national emergency, when we are all consumed with the deadly Ebola crisis, is NOT the time to auction our treasured national assets.  Three reasons: first, the nation and people are right now too vulnerable; and foreign enterprises knowing that would take undue advantage of us.  We would be short-changing (cheating) ourselves.

Secondly, this is not something on Liberians' mind right now.  All our faculties are consumed by Ebola, and how to stop our people from dropping dead.

Thirdly, because of this Ebola preoccupation, its deadly consequences and the headache and heartache in dealing with our pitiful dead and our overwhelming sorrow, how many of us are prepared to step forward to bid on these blocks?  And with most Liberians, since the war and throughout this administration, left out of the moneymaking mainstream, who has the money to participate in these auctions?  This, therefore, means is that all the blocks will go to foreigners, further empowering them take control of the little that is left in Liberia.

Do the President and her team contemplate the   consequences of handing over all the nation's assets to foreigners?  There are primarily three consequences: first, further surrendering control of the economy to foreigners; second, leaving Liberians perpetually poor, miserable and powerless; and third, totally unnecessarily threatening our fragile peace.

Madam President, please defer the oil block auctions.  A more appropriate time will come.

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