Of all of the great men and women who have gone down in history’s hall of fame, we would be hard pressed to find any who took the easy road; who were afraid to disappoint friends and family; who were afraid to rock the boat, to upset entitlements; who were afraid to change the course of history; who were afraid to stand up for what was right but instead chose what was convenient; who let sleeping dogs lie; who were afraid to put their very lives on the line.
No, history's hall of fame is replete with men and women who stood up for what was right even when it was unpopular; when it wasn't what everybody wanted to hear; even when it cost them the ultimate sacrifice — their very lives. From the ancient prophets to the new testament martyrs, to the Rosa Parkses, Martin Luther Kings, Nelson Mandelas, Jerry Rawlingses, Leymah Gbowees and Malala Yousefzais of our time, as well as those who stood with them; the one thing they all had in common was the courage to go against the grain; to do something radical; something never before done. And not just for self; but they realized soon enough that what may have begun as a personal struggle had become a fight for the human dignity of millions more than just themselves.
They realized that if they had to please the establishment, they would be slaves a long time; slaves to others, slaves to systems, slaves to tyranny, corruption and terror.
It is time Liberia did something different; something radical. The solutions to our problems are not in the World Bank safe; not under lock and key at the International Monetary Fund; not the exclusive intellectual property of the United States government. The solutions to our problems lie right here with us, in our very hands. It is our very will to change and to succeed. Our power to succeed is directly proportional to our will to do so.
So what does that mean in practical terms?
It means we stop importing rice, especially during the peak of production, after the harvest; we promote the sale of locally grown “country rice”, which is much tastier and much more nutritious anyway. That means we get Lofa, Nimba and Bong back in business, and hire some cargo aircraft to transport produce to our markets until we can pave those roads and build some railroads.
It means we stop importing any foods that can be grown or raised here. In addition to rice, that includes poultry, beef, fish and vegetables. If we expect to eat everyday, that will force us to quadruple our production and get our goods to market.
It means whatever we have to import (most manufactured goods for example), we import from Africa first. If it absolutely cannot be found in Africa, the we import from further away as demand dictates. That means if Mr. Trawally on the Kakata highway produces toilet tissue, we prioritize his produce. Insofar as his production capacity is insufficient to meet the demands of the market (in terms of quantity as well as quality), we then import from a regional partner (Ghana for example). If it cannot be found in ECOWAS, we source from SADC or East Africa.
Would it not be less expensive for us to import from Ghana than from the Middle East? But if everything we use, eat and drink comes from so far away, no wonder prices are so much higher than people can afford!
“We Buy African First” should be the commercial mantra of the continent.
And why does the country with the largest shipping registry in the world not have vessels of its own? What do LISCR and Maritime do with all that money?
It means we set our own agenda and operate according to timed deliverables. That means any development plan (master, medium and short term) has to have a TIMETABLE for EXECUTION. If we continue to produce 100-page documents outlining what we'd like to see done in the future, none of it will ever get done. We need measurable goals and deliverables. Measurements make for accountability.
It means we begin to prosecute LACC offenders with immediate effect, regardless of status or class, and reward those who did accurately declare their assets. It is much more possible to build capacity than to teach integrity.
It means we remove family members from positions of authority, to include negotiations and advisory posts. We eliminate the stench of nepotism.
With three more years to go, if this administration wants a legacy, it can be done. But it will take Iron Lady backbone, which not even blood can break.