Critically Looking Across Landscape and Providing Best Way Forward
Like many Liberians, I am fed up with the status quo and I have developed the passion to overthrow it, not through revolutionary arm struggle but rather at the ballot box comes 2017. For more than ten years, this status quo has governed on a political and economic platform that has failed to improve the material welfare of our people.
It has refused to bring about the economic emancipation of a people that have suffered too long in the midst of abundant wealth. Vast majority of our people still live in mass abject poverty, and there is no assurance of delivering our people from such misery due to the lack of will in our leaders to leapfrog from such a system that has time without numbers operated at the detriment of the citizenry.
This regime like the Tubman, Tolbert, Doe and Taylor regimes has only exposed our natural wealth to multinational and private corporations’ exploitation, while our society lies in extreme ruins and tatters. I am referring to a regime that functions on a neo-liberal platform that allows for our corrupt leaders to give away our God given wealth in exchange of peanuts in bribery, little taxes and rent, while our educational, health, infrastructure, and security sectors remain devastated.
Consequently, the future of the young people has no positive prospect. Sport betting is a permanent job for majority of our young people who supposed to be assets to the state as a result of state sponsored capacity building programs around the country. Our mothers have been reduced to rock crushers just to fetch for a daily meal. Due to idleness, many of our brothers have been victimized by drug and excessive alcohol usage. Many of our sisters have no option, but to use their womanhood just to earn a living. University graduates have been involuntarily transformed into pedestrian intellectuals because they cannot be accommodated by the job market in our economy.
The care for humanity in Liberia now has been monetized. The majority without money have been isolated and thrown into possible invisibility. Only those few who have been absorbed by this bankrupt system and have money are being care for; when they are feverish, they are flown across the Atlantic for treatment at the expense of state resources, while our people are dying every day at the nation’s biggest referral hospital (JFK). Liberia still remains a permanent mark in the conscience of international humanitarian organizations, as if they were the ones who were voted for in 2005 and 2011. In fact, there is no country in Sub-Sahara Africa that has boast of being developed as the result of the aids and grants provided by those international governmental and non-governmental organizations.
We salute those great men and women who in the 60’s and 70’s struggled for the relative political freedom that we enjoy today. Like in South Africa, it is as though they never struggled at all for political emancipation. Our people are still being marginalized and taken for granted at the various mining pits in Putu, Grand Gedeh County, Yekepa and Butwa, Nimba County. Our economy is still suffering from the consequences of the Tubman’s “Open Door Policy”.
Like it is normally said by many of the African and Marxist revolutionaries, “Political freedom without the economic emancipation of the people is meaningless”. The over ten year status quo wants to make us believe that there will be serious economic transformation with the consistent usage of the same recipe that have failed to yield any positive result since our sham independence in 1847.
They consistently put us under the false impression that the solution to our economic enigma is the continue dominance of private corporations in our emerging economy, specifically the natural and mineral resource sector. That is sheer hypocrisy. It has never worked and will never work. Our land will only remain the supplier of primary commodities to the European and American Markets; our people will remain the consumers of imported finished goods and services; their labor will remain mistreated at Firestone, Mittal Steel, Putu Iron Ore Mining Company, Golden Veroleum, etc.
In a democratic state like Liberia, when the status quo goes outside of the social contract it signed with the electorates and makes them live in misery and boredom , the latter will have no alternative but to democratically confide in someone from the opposition block of the national political theatre who they think can positively drive a national agenda that will take them from the cesspool of poverty, disease and ignorance and take them to a celestial height of political and economic revolution.
In 2014, the people of Nigeria demonstrated such axiom when they overwhelmingly preferred general emeritus Mohammadu Buhari over the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan. The willingness of the people to get rid of a status quo that enthusiastically or reluctantly lacks the fundamental understanding of how to move the people forward was also proven when the Malawian incumbent President, Joyce Banda was defeated in 2014 by opposition leader Peter Mutharika.
Like the people of Nigeria and Malawi were in dying need of alternatives that would replace the wretched and bankrupt status quo, so too are Liberians thirsty for an option that will lead the drive for the unprecedented economic emancipation of their motherland since its formation. Unfortunately, the Liberian story is a sad narrative one. The irony and tragedy is that the alternatives that are available are of no difference from the western remote controlled status quo. Looking across the political landscape, I and many other Liberians have not seen any opposition political party with a clear cut ideological itinerary that would holistically regard the people, their history, their aspirations and culture.
They all look up to the same neo-liberal platforms which have kept our people backward for over one and the half centuries for political and economic directions. All we see from these ideologically insolvent institutions are disagreements with the government of the day on superficial issues that have no bearing on the forward march of a people eager for economic liberation. We have not seen from any of our governments in waiting a critique and substitution of this government’s developmental agenda (PRS, 150Day Action Plan, Agenda for Transformation, Vision 2030).
Despite the masses of the people being sick and tired with the prevailing reality which has refused to act in their collective favor, the alternatives available have demonstrated no serious willingness to leapfrog from an age old system that has only distributed poverty, disease and ignorance, and allow for the consistent exploitation and exportation of the country’s natural wealth in its raw state; thus, disregarding industrialization.
They have refused to counter argue with facts and figures those western recommended policies through Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) which are foundation on economic methods and theories that lack the will to implement in the interest of the people. They have shown no concern in unearthing the cruelty and barbarity of a system that only works in the selfish interest of foreign investors and those leaders who lack national consciousness. They have refused to plant in them the will to divert from a capitalist based economic trajectory which has time without numbers economically disregarded our people in a sea of abundant wealth.
They parrot with the same believe that a capitalist based economic model will ensure economic transformation, when in fact Liberia lacks the necessary ingredients to go in such direction. Liberia does not have the power base to establish colonies which will be exploited of their resources in order to build and maintain a capitalist welfare state, like was done to Africa, Asia, and Latin America in the 18th, 19th, and 20th, centuries. The masses of the people are desirous of an alternative that will not always look up to outside institutions that will dictate the economic policy of the space they occupy, because those institutions like the IMF and World Bank do what is in the national interest of the so called big guns of the world economic order.
The people want an alternative that will draw up economic policies taking into consideration their aspirations, culture and their history. These are some questions our alternative governments supposed to be debating now: As an emerging economy, will we economically advance without government having control over the strategic means of production like iron ore, rubber, gold, possibly oil, etc.? Will we economically take a leap with Liberia remaining the consistent merchant of principal commodities in their raw state to the European and American industrialized market? Will it not economically benefit us as a people and country if we discontinue the multinational and private domination and ownership of the commanding heights of Liberia’s economy and give way to state-led and aided industrial development?
Should we continue to adhere to the terms and conditions within the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) or the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) as recommended by the IMF and World Bank, if we want to bring about total unprecedented economic transformation in a country that is still a developmental state? Unfortunately, these points which are ideologically driven have not been the central points of discourse among opposition political parties in Liberia. The regime and its alternatives voluntarily lack the determination to understand the people’s aspiration. Therefore, if men of conscience and ideas do not rise up to the occasion in order to seize the moment and provide the right direction for the people, Liberia will remain a plantation where gluttonous men will continue to come and amass ill-fated affluence at the expense of the people.
We appreciate the democratic rights being enjoyed by every Liberian in this present political dispensation. We have the highest level of press freedom since our existence as a country, evidence by the proliferation of media houses. Our people have the rights to express their thoughts about the governance of the state without being intimidated or harassed by state security apparatus. But we want to be the first to lament that these rights are not sustainable in the absence of economic growth and development. Ensuring the economic rights/wellbeing of majority of the people is the prerequisite to maintaining these democratic rights.
This is the mission that a segment of our generation, out of relative obscurity has identified, and we will exert all our youthful exuberance to ensure that the masses of our people get conscious of the aim and objective of our struggle. As we move forward to 2017, a very critical period in our nation’s existence, it is very important to stressed that our people must look up to an alternative that will commit itself to adopting the best economic policies that will ensure their economic freedom, which will empower and assist them to build a viable future for their children and generation unborn.
We remain steadfast in our quest to politically educate our people. We are unapologetic in our drive to make our people aware that Liberia’s economic transformation cannot be achieved through the application of neo-liberal economic policies taking into consideration the emerging status of our economy. The Privatization of the strategic sectors of our economy has only benefited few Liberians who are at the peak of making decisions relating to concessions, Mineral Development Agreements, etc., and the owners of those multinational and private corporations that are not owned by Liberians.
We need the robust involvement of the state in the production process of our economy. This cannot be overly emphasized. It is being done in Botswana, with government having 50% ownership in the country’s biggest diamond mining company (Debswana Mining Company) which contributes more than 30% of the South African Nation’s annual revenue.
China, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, etc. went in this direction, and we have seen the level of economic transformation in these countries. I know some elements will want to come out with their communist buggy argument. There is nothing communist about having a state-own mining company. There is nothing communist about having a state-own food stocking company which will help greatly in regulating the prices of basic food stuffs and ensure food security in Liberia.
There is nothing wrong with establishing state-own cement, pharmaceuticals, road construction companies and farms since Liberia is still a developing nation. This will greatly help in mobilizing resources in order to provide free education, free health care, a vibrant and dependable security sector, satisfactory salary and benefits for our civil servants, sustainable energy, etc.
This is the best way to go economically for Liberia, which is still at its economic catch-up period, despite gaining independence since 1847. We can still replenish all that the locusts have eaten. It will require a nationally conscious leader and people to lead this drive. This is why we will continue to condemn the status quo and the alternatives in opposition that have refused to understand these actualities until our people can be provided the right direction to experience full economic emancipation.
About the Author:
Brother Moses Uneh Yahmia is a simple student who attends the University of Liberia. He studies Political Science and Economics, with emphasis in International Relations. Yahmia is normally inspired by the courage and zest of mothers who sacrifice every day in Bantustan markets just to send their children to school.