Liberia: Welcoming 2017 With Cautious Optimism
It is always a joyous moment around the world to fortunately witness the ushering in of a brand new year. This is not because everything is perfect or rosy in our world, which may seem a utopia, but it is based on the fact that this marks an unveiling of a novel parcel and a fresh start of a calendar year.
For many this is a period of introspection, retrospection, reflection and reformation. Unarguably, the ecstatic twinkling crossover to the New Year is as a consequence of the sustained gift of life, without which all is finished for this earthly journey.
As humans, it is our ardent hope for life longevity to see the total and holistic fulfilment of our personal dreams and perhaps, those of our grand children as well as our nation’s dream inclusive of peace, liberty and justice for all.
As we commence unveiling our parcels for 2017, it is advisable to approach them with fervent optimism, trusting our Creator that they are cocktails filled with goodness to become better individuals and society. This is an important pillar to avoid self-fulfilling prophecies, getting the reality of what we envisage.
Not to digress, when 2016 was been ushered in, as a country we did not anticipate that we were going to experience much perilous distractions economically, making our development agenda tepidly slow and the array of untimely demises of great men and women from the Executive to the Legislature and from the Media to the Security Sector and other spheres of the Liberian state. However, this is inevitably a natural phenomenon and it is beyond human control and comprehension.
As living beings, all we can say is may their souls and the souls of faithfully departed rest in perfect peace. But, we must do so with an unpretending valour and firm commitment to stand tall and do whatever is good, kind and necessary to make our country better and proud in recognition of their efforts.
Retrospectively, 2016 was not all a gloomy and doomy year. The highly desired peace in Liberia, which is a precursor for development, was sustained despite the departure of the UNMIL troops in June. With security in our own hands, we once again demonstrated never to revert to our distasteful past.
Besides, the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led us in executing some infrastructural developments including roads (Red-Light to Guinea border, etc.), while there are also steady prospects for other projects to be completed and dedicated to boost our forward match.
More importantly, the long awaited Mount Coffee Hydro Dam came back to life in December, 2016 after more than two and a half decades of languishing in ruins. Kudos to the Government and partners for the job well done! Even though its power supply is coming in trenches and the full capacity is anticipated early this year, the Hydro Dam coming back to life was in some way a rekindling of hopes and aspirations for many Liberians, who are desperately optimistic that Liberia is and will get better as electricity is one of the engines for this betterment.
As a nation, we have come a long way. With 169 years already gone by, it is prudent to be quickly reminded that our maturity, respectability and reverence among the comity of nations is predicated upon the level of progress we make in our socio-economic development and political stability.
Undeniably, Liberia is not where it should be relative to the nation’s growth and development in commensuration with our independence and abundant natural and other resources the country is endowed with. Accordingly, it is incumbent upon us to take a reflective look at whence we’ve come and where we are heading as a nation. 2017 must therefore be that momentous year to firmly reaffirm our allegiance to national renewal and tranquillity.
Individually, we may have different set goals (not at the expense of Liberia) for 2017, which are absolutely necessary. This is because the development of a nation must first begin with the development of its people.
However, as a country and people, we have a shared nationalistic agenda that we ought to implement to ensure the survivability of our cherished nation. Hence, as we Liberians unveil our collective and mutual packages for 2017, we see a number of plans.
Top among them include presidential and representative elections and ensuring a peaceful transition with an unhindered development trend. Thus, the remainder of this article would concisely dissect these two aspects and proffer some motivation, moving forward.
Firstly, the democratic system of governance is considered by many as the best around the world because it enables the people to have freedoms, ranging from exercising political franchise about whom should lead them to holding leaders accountable.
Without flipping the other side of the coin, 2017 is going to be another defining moment for Liberia through a democratic process to elect our national leaders from the Presidency to the House of Representatives.
It is a critical juncture because all eyes will be on Liberia for its transition from one democratic hand of power to the next, especially when the level playing field is created with no incumbent on the stage for the hot seat, the presidency. The way we will proceed will definitely shape our destiny for the better or worse, which is not an option.
To guarantee this, the political players, without hesitation, are ought to be moderate, tolerant, respectful and above all, put the interest of the nation above selves for the sake of moving Liberia forward to avoid the 2005 and 2011 election scenarios that were somehow characterized by the trading of abhorrence messages, fracas and contestations among contending parties.
It is also expedient for political actors to stop hanging on whims and caprices and gullibility of some Liberians for self-aggrandizement. As Liberians, we must be very cautious as we go to the polls, not allowing politicians to manipulate us for whatsoever reason. The decision we would make will be the determinant of Liberia’s future—a Liberia we would love to live in. As Abigail Adam reminds us ‘these are the times in which a genius would wish to live.
Great necessities call forth great leaders’, we must vote for the best of the best leaders to avoid any leadership deficit. Therefore, it strongly behoves every citizen to use this electoral year as the finest time to demonstrate to our globalizing world Liberia’s unflinching commitment to positive chance, democracy, civility and peace.
Secondly, as indicated earlier, it is no secret that Liberia is by far lagging behind among many countries in Africa and the rest of the world. This means to be par excellence, we cannot afford to waste a week, month, least to mention a year without staying on the path of economic growth and development of Liberia. In other words, nothing, not even these elections, must stop or slow down the developmental agenda of the country.
Intuitively, some devious individuals, particularly those at the helm of power may tend to use this defining epoch of transition to abuse public trust by squandering the country’s highly scare resources as an atonement for being given the privilege to serve the motherland. In the strongest term, every peace loving Liberian must resist such devilish move from each fabric of the Liberian society.
Further, though maintaining Liberia on its recovery trajectory requires the combined efforts of all Liberians, it is mandatory for the leadership of President Sirleaf to set the tone for followership and emulation. In fact, 2017 needs to be seen by the Sirleaf administration as a painstaking opportunity to finish well. In order to do this, our leader is candidly required to tighten her avowed ‘iron lady garment’ to meticulously and arduously correct the ills that have befallen her administration including corruption, which has metamorphosed from public enemy number one to a vampire.
As Confucius once said ‘I am obliged not only to give ear to what they (people) say, but also to keep an eye on what they do’, Liberians are graciously keeping an eye on what the President does and how she directs her lieutenants.
The action the President takes to compel compliance void of whom is involved to ensure they deliver on government’s agenda for transformation would determine the finishing line. As John Gardiner advises ‘the ablest and most effective leaders do not hold to a single style, they may be highly supportive in personal relations when that is needed yet capable of a quick authoritative decision when the situation requires it’, our leaders must mean their words and act swiftly and drastically to move Liberia from a somewhat state of despair to a resounding land of hope and opportunities.
Emphatically, 2017 should be considered as a ‘no joke year’, geared towards mending and polishing President Sirleaf’s legacy as the first democratically elected female president of Liberia and Africa.
It must be re-echoed that the legacy of Madam Sirleaf has the proclivity to firstly lift Liberia and then the resilient women of Africa, whose future leadership role heavily depends on Liberia’s litmus test female presidential leadership. It is time to win the fight or lose it! Hence, the honeymoon spirit must not seize, but rather it must continue for every minute to accomplish this enormous and enviable presidential task. It is never too late to do the right things.
Conclusively, it is an awesome unmerited blessing from our Creator that has enabled us to crossover to 2017. Thank God for sparing our lives to remain accountable to Him and to our beloved nation, Liberia. It is my ardent prayer that as we welcome 2017 with cautious optimism, the year will be filled with showers of blessings to lift us to the higher heights as a country and people.
Let us not allow the vigour that starts with the New Year to die down, but let us remain steadfast, resilient and optimistic that Liberia is and will get better in this generation. With God above, our rights to prove, we will overall prevail in this transitional year and years to come. 2017, you are cautiously and optimistically welcome!
Happy New Year! God bless you. And, God bless the Republic of Liberia in all its undertakings!
Charles Gbollie is a PhD candidate at Central China Normal University, Wuhan City, China. He holds Master’s degree in Education (Hons) with specificity in Developmental & Educational Psychology. He also holds BA degree in Sociology from AME University and has several certificates to his credit. He has over 7 years of work experience