Liberia: Youthful Presidential Aspirant Mengistu Wolokollie Withdraws From The Presidential Race

Mr. Mengistu Wolokollie

MONROVIA – Ahead of the October 10, 2023 general elections in Liberia, youthful presidential aspirant Mengistu Wolokollie has renounced his ambition to contest for the country’s highest seat due to the entrenched “belly driven” habit of vast majority of Liberians to sell their constitutional rights for better living conditions and his uncompromising stance to avoid being deceived in his political sojourn.

By Obediah Johnson

For a little over two years now, Mr. Wolokollie has been holding engagements and consultations with cross section of citizens across Liberia, explaining his platform and vision for Liberia and its citizens. He was planning to contest for the presidency as an independent candidate.

But addressing a news conference in Paynesville, outside Monrovia on Monday, March 6, Mr. Wolokollie shockingly announced that he will not be contesting in October 2023.

He observed that vast majority of Liberians do not care about the innovations, ideas, and vision of those vying for elected positions, especially for the presidency.

He added that these citizens are only concerned about what has been done or what can be offered to them by those aspiring for public offices.

Mr. Wolokollie maintained that many citizens are uncompromised on voting or exercising their constitutional franchise based on party lines, thinking less of their future and the future of their children and unborn generation.

He stated that the election of leaders at the national level based on tribalism, political party affiliation, and age discrimination, among others, has not done well for Liberia and its citizens in the past.

“I started this mission almost 30-plus years ago. I live my life in such a way as to be ready for this job and the role of President, but Liberian citizens are not prepared for the vision we have for Liberia. I understand but disagree with this reality wholeheartedly. We are belly-driven in our politics; we continue to allow the older generations to control our minds. For the next six years, we, the people of Liberia, will see that it is time to turn the page from these old politicians.”

“To all my supporters and well-wishers, if you feel let down by this announcement, I sincerely apologize. I am suspending the campaign for President of Liberia. I am suspending my campaign not because I’m not too fond of the grueling task of traveling all over the nation, because that is what I enjoy the most. Not because I don’t think I can win, and not because I don’t think I will be a great president, but because I don’t have the resources to go on any longer. What I can and could do with my limited resources cannot take this campaign to the next level.”

No positive history of government

He observed that during his tour holding consultations with citizens across the country, many Liberians do not have any positive story of their government, but rather of NGOs.

He noted that citizens believed that “things were good when NGOs were in their county, city, or village.”

But when these NGO departed the country, he added that, development went wrong.

“For forty-two years, the government of Liberia passed its responsibilities and obligations onto NGOs and other nations to take care of its citizens. The government of Liberia has made us lazy and dependent on others. Instead of building factories and manufacturing plants, we have settled on NGOs to bring Liberia into the 21st century. I am disappointed to say that we are Africa’s oldest nation, but it seems we are the poorest nation. Teach us to fish and don’t give us the fish.”

Mr. Wolokollie said his decision to contest the presidency previously was to provide a better Liberia for the young and future generations.

He indicated that young Liberians have been denied opportunities in their own country.

“We are not ready for a country where drug store like “Lucky Pharmacy” has more drugs than JFK hospital and Jackson F. Doe Hospital than our government-run hospitals. Citizens have to buy medicines outside and bring them to hospitals to be given to patients by nurses and doctors. We are not ready to make our nation healthier, even though we know that Liberia’s four leading causes of death are connected to a lack of clean drinking water and sanitation systems.”

Mr. Wolokollie said leaders in the nation either don’t know this basic fact or are willfully doing nothing, leaving the citizens to die needlessly.

“All the things needed in this country require money. But Cllr Gongloe, Mr. Cummings, President Weah, and Vice President Boakai will not tell us – the citizens they serve – how they plan to get the money to fulfill their pie-in-the-sky, lofty dreams. Our government will borrow a lot of money, knowing they will not be alive when it’s time to pay for it. We will borrow money we don’t have the means to pay back, and we will misuse it. Then we will have to deal with the headaches.”

He maintained that time after time, those heading and planning to lead Liberia have failed to stand up for what is right for the young generation.

“When you love someone or something, and they are not ready to love you back, you must let them go. When they are prepared to love you back, you will still be ready. You cannot force anyone to love you. Maya Angelou once said, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Over the past year, Liberia and Liberians have shown me who we are. And who we are, was shown on February 4 at the ATS when thousands of our young brothers and sisters showed up to support a party and government that, by all accounts, has failed the people of Liberia.”

Not ready

He claimed that the current generation remains unready to embrace a new relationship for the future of the country.

Mr. Wolokollie emphasized that though young people continue to think about the future of their children, they wrongly placed their future in the hands of some of the same old folks who are currently vying for the presidency, thinking that these people are working in the interest of the country.

“Since you can’t see your children’s future in me now, I have decided to suspend my run for President of Liberia.  The older generation will rule the day. And we will have allowed them. The older generation has said and will continue to repeat with good reasons that our age is belly driven. But guess what? They made us this way. They never showed us what it means to sacrifice. They only lead us to sacrifice when it is convenient.”

Selling rights for better living conditions

“As I traveled around this country over the past year, the questions I received from people were “what tribe are you from, and what have you done for Liberia in building roads, schools, hand pumps, wells, outhouses, and how many people have you sent to school?” For some reason, the people of Liberia sold their rights to better living conditions for bags of rice and quick cash. Since I am not willing to play ball to the tradition of Liberia, I couldn’t get the necessary help to run this campaign.”

Mr. Wolokollie added that visions and ideas are not what the Liberian people want.

He said most Liberians have a wrong mentality of only willing to accept lies from politicins.

‘I cannot lie to my fellow citizens about where the country is and where it should head. I vow always to tell the people what they need to know, not what they want to hear. So, to the people of Liberia, you may reelect President Weah after a failed first term. If we vote to elect the Weah-Taylor government, we deserve what will come to us. Suppose we elect Mr. Cummings, Former VP Boakai, or Cllr. Gongloe, we will continue to live in the tribalistic society that still haunts us today. Their mindset and governance will continue to hold us back behind other African nations.”

He used this medium to apologize to young men, women and others who saw their future in him to contest the presidency.

“I am sorry my generation failed you this time. I don’t believe it is too late to step up, but we need to change our mindset to become better public servants. When I expected our generation to step up and save our nation’s future, we allowed egos, pride, tribalistic divides, political ideologies that stand for nothing but lining up individuals’ wealth, and the older generation to influence our best interests.”

Mr. Wolokollie urged young Liberians to ensure that “when your time comes to step up to history, make sure you look for the best in your peers.”

“Do not be “crabs in a bucket.” Do not allow divisions to distract you from the bigger goal. I am dropping out because I don’t have the money to continue. I am dropping out because financial resources are needed to run our campaign. It’s not because this campaign can’t get money; not all money is good. This campaign has and would always do what is right morally and legally; that is why we didn’t want that kind of money behind our campaign.”

“I needed the people my age to fund our campaign and show you, the future generation, the true meaning of the “black power hand fist.” United, we stand, and divided, we fall. We needed our generation to show our parents’ generation – the one that says, “our era is the most corrupt, and all we care about is money.”

He said though naysayers may think that they have won this match as a result of his decision taken, the confrontation is not over as he intends to contest for the presidency in 2029.

He further disclosed that he has not make a determination to support the incumbent or nay of those contesting for the presidency come October 2023 elections.

Mr. Wolokollie added that despite this action, Liberians will still have a new breed of politicians to deal with while in office.

“We will come to the table to discuss what is in the best interests of Liberia. When you deal with me, know there will be no self-interest on my part.”

According to him, no opposition politician in Liberia is best suited to democratically unseat President Weah.

He said though he has reached a decision to support anyone, those vying for the presidency, including the incumbent President George Manneh Weah, do not care about the ordinary people.

 “At this time, I will not be endorsing anyone or the political party of the President. I will look for candidates who exemplify loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. In due time, I will endorse someone. But what I will tell my supporters and the rest of Liberia is simply this: when we look at a candidate or a party to vote for, look in them for our children’s futures.”

Mr. Wolokollie, however, pledged to refund money to anyone who donated to his ambition for the presidency.

He said funds needed to compete for the presidency has not been generated, and and as such, it is only fitting to return monies to people who contributed and believe in him to lead the country.

He stressed that financial and other supports to a presidential or any other candidate should be embraced by Liberians.

Mr. Wolokollie emphasized that an individual who won the presidency will feel more accountable to manage resources and give back to citizens, if he or she has been fully supported by those who stood in the rain and sun to canvass and vote during the elections.

He further announced that his next mission is to encourage and help Liberians to register and vote in the ensuing elections.

He vowed to continue his unbending advocacy for the well-being and betterment of Liberia and its citizens.