Liberia’s 169th Independence Orator Outlines Requirements for Consolidating Progress
Monrovia – The National Orator of Liberia’s 169th Independence anniversary has warned politicians against making inflammatory comments that may intimidate voters and hinder the existing peace in the country.
Report by Alpha Daffae Senkpeni, [email protected]
Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan outlined unity, rule of law, national identity, multi-party system and good governance amongst others as core issues set as requirements for the consolidation of Africa’s oldest republic dangling progress. ‘Requirements For Consolidating Progress Toward Transformation of Liberia’
The biomedical expert who has an impeccable recognition for the invention of a scientific diagnostic method for several diseases including Ebola, HIV, Zika, and yellow fever amongst others, reminded Liberians gathered at the Centennial Pavilion and those listening via the electronic media that they have opted for a democratic change which has put the country ‘on its path to progress’ due to the 10 years of peace the country enjoys.
“Living in peace (and) having a peaceful mind in the day and the night comparably is far more than living in a skyscraper,” he said.
“Peace is what we need; peace is what we cried for yesterday and peace is what we got…, now that we have peace we must strongly protect it as a precious commodity.”
Speaking on the tenets of Liberia’s democracy, the outspoken progressive who was expelled from the University of Liberia back in 1988, said assuring mutual respect is key to democracy while he also stressed that the rule of law should be unbiased.
‘Tribalism and ethic politics’ must give way to Liberia’s common national interest, he said calling on the media and advocates to improve their work.
“The expression of free will and political demonstrations should also on the other hand not take the form of violence; they have to be peaceful because we are striving for peace and they should not go in the destruction of property and innocent people businesses,” he cautioned.
Earlier, Dr. Nyan warned that Liberians cannot allow ‘this peace’ to be threatened by anyone, calling on Liberians to unite against individuals who will attempt to start another war in the country.
Dr. Nyan, a native of River Gee County with years of working and education experience in the United States, used his oration to inspire Liberians to encourage each other’s with progressive ideas so as to rebuild the country once again as a proud of Africa and the envy of the world as it used to be.
“Now that we have peace, we must strongly protect it as a precious commodity.”
“We cannot allow this peace to be threatened by anyone. That is why the Liberian people must unite against individuals who will attempt to start another war in this country,” he said, also stressing the numerous challenges dogging the West African nation but said, these huddles were not created by a single political party.
“If you want war, let’s fight but you know what we want to fight?” he exclaimed.
“Let’s fight poverty, and fighting poverty will fight ignorance, in fight ignorance let the pencils be our guns and the papers (should) be our bullets. We will fight diseases, in fighting diseases let the syringes be our gun and the solutions (should) be our bullets”, he said.
He continued: “If you want to fight, let’s fight corruption. Let’s sincerity be our guns and honesty be our bullets…; if you want to fight, let’s fight against hatred (and) while we fighting hatred let’s love our guns and peace be our bullets,” he exclaimed, amid huge applauds from the audience.”
Later, he asserted that significant strides have been made towards the goal of consolidating a workable democratic process – a culture that the Liberian society is now experiencing. He outlined the proliferation of political institutions in the country as a reason Liberians should be proud of the level at reach their country’s democracy has reached.
“No, democracy is perfect,” he maintained. “What we now have is working and can be built upon. Political parties and their leaders have to be committed to democratic values to make Liberia’s democracy better. Also, we must institutionalize the core values of democracy and deepen its practice in order to avoid another breakdown of our society.”
He encouraged Liberians politicians to adhere to constructive politics and stressed the importance of Liberians participating in national life by using the ballot boxes instead of violence which will retard the existing peace the country enjoys following the recent exit of UNMIL and the impending 2017 general and Presidential elections termed by many observers as a crucial period for the state and its democracy.
Dr. Nyan recalled the trend that led to the colonization of Liberia, reemphasizing the country was never colonized by any nation but said, celebrating independence anniversary signifies the fundamental human principle the country was built upon – justice, liberty, freedom and respect for human dignity.
Recalling the crisis between the aboriginals and the settlers, the struggle to form multi-party democracy, the military Cope D’état of 1980 and the eruption of the civil war, he stressed the anarchy of the war which ravaged the fabric of the society.
He, however, said a renewed spirit and hope was gained due to the election of 1997 and the election of President Sirleaf in 2005.
“As we gathered here today in this great hall, we should asked ourselves after a 169 years of existence, what have we done, what have we achieved?,” he asked.
“What accomplishment can we make better; what could we tell our fore parents if they were sitting in this pavilion with us today,” mentioning that it took 10 out of 169 years for Liberia to be destroyed with a dangling chance of undoing the damage.
Describing Liberia as a great country like it’s traditional friend – the United States, he said there have been progresses despite huge challenges in the health, education, economy, and gender equity that must be remedy.
Requirements for Consolidating Liberia’s Transformation
Influenced by a chat with a young Liberian on flight while en route to Liberia from the USA, Dr. Nyan said guidelines and bench mark must be set and the country should consider practical approaches in order to consolidate and transform Liberia to meet the challenges in this dispensation.
Referencing a 2010 UNESCO statistics on Liberia’s literacy rate, the 2016 National Orator underpins the significance of female empowerment and the impact it has on national development and growth.
“We know that low levels of literacy and education in general, can impede the economic development of a country in the current rapidly changing, technology-driven world,” he said.
“We agree that the devastating civil war led to the destruction of educational infrastructures and flight of trained teachers, thus contributing to the poor quality of primary, secondary, and tertiary education in the country.”
He called on Liberians to venture into tackling its own gender gap instead of only relying on international partners and agencies advising that programs should be organized with the requisite material and financial support which will attract Liberians to helping to improve the system.
“We must ensure that the teachers who teach our children are themselves well trained to be in the classroom and if they are well trained, in order to maintain them, just as they do in the West, teachers should then be given good incentives to keep them in the class room,” he pointed out.
He further suggested that in order to improve Liberia’s education, the country needs to focus on vocational education; also, he openly proposing a program which he suggests will ensure Liberians in the Diaspora work to transform the ‘messy’ education system.
Touching on the importance of a common national identity, principle or philosophy, Dr. Nyan questioned the audience about ‘the one thing that bonds us together,” saying, it is a question that Liberians should ponder and take practical steps to remedying these concerns.
He called on Liberians to mobilize around the ‘spirit of unity’ more than ever before to build a viable nation – something, he’s optimistic is a major requirement and a driving force to ensure transformation.
Oppositions’ ‘Big Role’ to Play
Dr. Nyan reckons that oppositions politicians have a ‘big role’ to play in nurturing the emerging democracy, saying that their contribution in critiquing the government should be void of malice and done maturely by using facts and evidences and at the same time proffer practical solutions to help move the country forward.
“This requirement is fundamental to consolidating peace and progress in this country’s transformation into a viable democracy,” he said, also adding that transforming the society comes with good governance empowering full participation to ensure freed of expression.
“Marching into the future, we must ensure that public institutions are able to effectively and honestly manage public resources and conduct public affairs in a manner that is free of corruption and abuses, and upholds the rule of law. We must boldly hold leaders accountable for their actions as public servants when they abuse their power or indulge in corruption.”
He continued: “And that is exactly what the Liberian people have witnessed in the last several weeks when the government initiated legal actions in the Sable Mining Company Corruption Case that involved several government officials. “
“Both the Liberian people and the international community have applauded the government for the actions taken in this case, demonstrating that no one is above the law, and that Liberia belongs to all, not a few.”
‘Develop Love for Country’ – President Sirleaf
Making remarks, President Sirleaf recalled the country’s 168th independence anniversary held in Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties which she said was in recognition of the communities relating to their ‘aggressive’ fight against the Ebola virus.
The Liberian leader called on Liberians to develop love for country by adopting a new mind set of patriotism if the country is determine to consolidate the progress made so far.
Mentioning the pullout of Unmil from the country June this year, she praised the international community for the support as her government moves forward to improving the existing structures in taking full control of its own security.
“Let us as Liberians learn to love our beloved country,” she said. “Let us develop a sense our culture of self-pride and sense of belonging, there’s no one who will carry Liberia forward but Liberians themselves.”
Observers Hail Oration
Liberians attending the independence celebration described the message contained in the national oration as inspirational. Former Presidential candidate for the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) in 2011, Winston Tubman said it was ‘good to give the orator the opportunity for Liberians to see him and hear his message’, adding that a lot of progress has been made since the country’s independence.
“Even now you can look at the progress we made in overcoming Ebola, that’s progress,” Cllr. Tubman said. “But more than that, we have kept the peace and the peace is here…, what we look for at programs like this, you want to be inspired, you want look back at something in our history.”
But he suggested that more young people must be encouraged to attend such programs to ensure they too are inspired.
“We turned 169 years old; it’s a milestone for us Liberians,” added former Senate Pro Temp, Gbehzngar Findley who was in attendance at the program.
“I hope Liberians can be more tolerant of each other views and be diverse and I hope we can put our hands around each other and work for the growth and development of our country despite our differences.” He agrees that the orator’s words appeal to all the diversities of the country in transforming the country.
Former Foreign Minister, Augustine Ngafuan termed the program as ‘great’ saying the concept of the message that focused on peace and unity captivated him.
“We have too many things to debate, but one thing we cannot debate about is that we have peace, and protecting the peace – each and every Liberian needs to do a part…, all of our argument can only be sustained in a peaceful environment.”
However, the President of the Christian Association of the Blind, Beyan Kota says he hopes the celebration of the country’s independence will bring equalization of opportunities for Liberians.
“We are still struggling with the issue of enrollment at the University of Liberia, equality in the enjoyment of employment, equity in the distribution of the country wealth…; we still have underdeveloped communities –slum – which needs to be transform to impact national development,” Mr. Kota told reporters after the program.