Why We Seek National Leadership
As we approach the next Presidential and Legislative elections, Liberia again finds itself at the crossroads. On the eve of these pivotal elections, as throughout our past—long and immediate–the Liberian people face great challenges, justifiably with grave apprehension. Our greatest challenges today as a people and as a nation include the need to build and strengthen the peace, invest in the youth, the flag bearers of our future—for competent and responsible future leadership, create jobs in the private sector to reduce poverty, provide the necessary assistance and incentives that will ensure food security, and provide the physical infrastructure to connect our people one with the other, and provide health services with emphasis on prevention.
Our population is still young. With nearly half (40 percent) of our voters below 28 years old, the demand for relevant training facilities and substantive jobs grow, but remain unmet. So our young people are apprehensive about the future—their future. And ordinary Liberians hunger for hope and positive change, for freedom from fear and violence, because:
- No Liberian remained unaffected by the wars.
- The wars destroyed what little we had–our homes, our farms, our businesses, our few industries, our schools and hospitals, our roads–all our infrastructure, and especially our self-esteem.
- Liberians, not unjustifiably, profoundly distrust their central government and authority at every level—there is a government without legitimacy.
- All our central and local government institutions have collapsed, and the structures housing their offices are non-existent.
- More than half of our people remain displaced one way or another.
- Successive governments have disappointed generations of Liberian who hoped for lasting peace, and justice from a responsive and transparent government.
- The entire world now regards Liberia as a failed state—a people unable to manage our own affairs and who should not be seated among responsible nations of the world. Worst still, our responses to revelations of the inadequacies long embedded in our behavior and attitudes, institutions and structures, as well as our governance practice, tend to confirm our lack of will to do what we know to be right. We not only blame others for our failures, but also become annoyed when outsiders fail to rescue us from our own follies.
How did we allow this to happen?
We allowed all of these maladies to happen when we lost sight of our goals and objectives. The Liberian state came into being espousing the view that “The end of the institution, maintenance and administration of government is to secure the existence of the body politic, to protect it, and to furnish the individuals who compose it, with the power of enjoying in safety and tranquility their natural rights and the blessings of life…” Our organic law noted that, to secure these blessings for posterity, Liberia would
“Ensure domestic peace,
“Promote the general welfare”.
In 1986, Liberians again confirmed these same ideals and today they remain and constitute our collective Vision. But at the beginning, Liberia betrayed its promise and rejected the notion of popular sovereignty. We lost sight of where we were going along the way. So, Liberia was not created as an inclusive body politic, a divided Liberia has remained unstable. Instead, Liberia began as an enclave state within a complex society. Our political leaders let the things that divide us stand before love for our country. We lost our Vision as a nation. But while our leaders can take most of the blame, the truth is, all Liberians played a part one way or another in the loss of the noble, and timeless vision, which inevitably brought about state collapse.
To remake Liberia into the country of the dream, the Liberty Party (Liberty) offers this Contract to the people of Liberia. The Contract is predicated on the wholehearted acceptance of the ageless Vision; it states our commitment to remake the Liberia of the dream. In addition to our commitment to realize the Vision, this Contract outlines practical measures to address the main challenges facing the Liberian people today.
Liberty believes that our people are tired of empty promises from people who do not have the vision or the ability to translate their visions into realistic, attainable goals.
We do not promise what our resources, capacities, and commitment judiciously employed cannot achieve. The programs we propose are based on a thorough diagnosis of the challenges we, as a people, face. The promises we make are informed by the latest available national and international expert opinion on the causes of our problems and the available remedies. The promises and their underlying analyses were influenced by the interface of knowledge of our culture and history with “best practices” in countries like ours in our region and elsewhere, who have faced or are facing similar circumstances.
- We will Lead with Vision, Conviction, and Commitment
So we offer this Contract to all the Liberian people. We pledge to lead our country with vision and commitment. Our vision commits us to national goals, not to any particular family, tribal, or sectional goals. With your resources and votes, we will immediately begin the long process of reconnecting Liberia with those ideals that constitute the subject of this contract. To bring our vision into reality, the Government of Liberia—your government– needs
To establish justice…
…because all Liberians should stand as equals before the law. In addition to naked greed for unearned wealth and undeserved power, we have turned to a backlog of injustices that do not find relief and redress through our judicial system or political institutions and practices. While a rotating band of small elite and leaders are rich and richer, the growing majority of our people are becoming poorer and poorer. We must create and broaden access to justice, improve the effectiveness of our Constitution and our court processes, advance the rights of women and children through legal and judicial reform, and create jobs for the Liberian people.
To ensure domestic peace…
…because we need to reconcile and come together as one people with a common destiny, to establish and confirm our unique national identity. Every Liberian needs to feel safe at home, on the street, on the farm, at place of work, or at school, regardless of one’s religious or ethnic background. The reform of our Police and the Armed Forces of Liberia must continue robustly so that the military and other security personnel would never again seek to usurp the functions of the civilian authority by threat of violence or force. The Armed Forces of Liberia shall always be subordinated to the civilian authority, as mandated by the Constitution.
…because we need to attack corruption aggressively for it disturbs our peace, robs each and every one of us, and limits equitable growth potentials of our economy. We must attack it robustly by reforming the institutions, customs and habits that have made corruption an integral part of our everyday life. Those who are in power unjustly deploy their privilege and take unfair advantage of those who are not. So many evil things have been done through corruption against the interest of Liberia and Liberians. Liberty Party will commit unreservedly to remove the plague of corruption from our society. We promise to drastically focus and attack all forms of corruption and corrupt practices in our society within the first year of taking office. We have the will and will strengthen our resolve to take those who engage in corrupt practices to courts and we pledge to develop the capacity and integrity of the judicial system.
…because the former fighters need to become useful, productive members of our communities. To be able to make individual progress and to contribute to the future of Liberia, every former combatant needs our support, but the welfare of the larger majority of our fellow citizens that were victimized will not be sacrificed. But those who held arms, whatever the reasons, have special needs. We must find the means and the will to help them and break to pieces forever this “pool of fighters for hire”. No demagogues must use them again to disturb the peace of our country and stability of our region.
…because our local communities need to take control of their development and governance. Wherever they live, our people should have the right at all times to determine who their local leaders should be. The residents of our communities should always have the right conferred on all citizens by our Constitution to renew local leaderships from time to time and direct them to meet their needs, while respecting the good in our local culture.
…because our peace is tied to peace in Guinea, in La Cote d’Ivoire, and in Sierra Leone. If there is no peace across our borders, we will not have peace. So we need to share sovereignty with our neighboring countries for economic growth and for peaceful development of the entire Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region, as provided by the ECOWAS Charter.
To promote the general welfare…
…because establishing justice and ensuring domestic peace are important but not enough for a better future. The purpose of a good government being to identify with the people and work in their interest to improve their standard of living, if our people continue to suffer in poverty, ignorance, and disease, then government has failed. To promote the general welfare, we need to invest in health services, preventive health care, better sanitation and nutrition programs through community health services. Safe drinking water for all of our people, irrespective of where they live, must henceforth be classified as fundamental rights. All of our children must have access to good quality education wherever they live in our country. The children are our future and their well-being will become our first priority. Without these basics, life is brutish, and cannot be long, healthy, and productive.
…because Liberians are also endowed by our common Creator with abundant ability to acquire the capacity to do for themselves those things that would improve their individual and collective standard of living, if given a fair chance and the necessary incentives. Liberty will develop the environment and create the opportunities conducive for Liberians to grow their businesses and commercialize their farms. Liberians need to be promoted and assisted. We need to rehabilitate our infrastructure in a way that provides jobs as well as affordable basic services— electricity (light), water, telephone, and roads–so people can grow more food and do bigger businesses and thereby create more and better jobs. We need to give incentives to, and protect our solvent banks to provide the “money” for trade and business development.
…because most of our people–80%–still make their living through farming, we need to assist them, through research, with improved farming methods, availing better planting materials, and encouraging fair competition through open produce buying arrangement, and assisting our farmers so that they can get more “money” in their hands to live better.
…because prices of basic commodities and services—rice, gasoline, cement, transport, among others–are too high, we need to improve our marketing arrangements as well as empower more Liberians to become entrepreneurs. The high prices of our basic commodities and services result primarily from corruption, although monopolies are also a huge problem. The incompetence and insensitivity of our government to the plight of the poor people are also factors. Most of our people cannot afford to meet their basic needs. Liberty will correct that situation by, among other things, empowering more Liberians to make the transition into the monetary sector of our economy—producing and selling goods and services.
We have seen that through open competition in the private sector, the cost of cell phone services have gone down. The same can happen with all basic commodities if we cancel all monopolies and vigorously institute and implement measures to prevent the birth of new monopolies or restoration of old ones. But also because there are those among us who are particularly vulnerable, we must begin to devise processes to strengthen institutions to care for such members of our common country.
…because we know that if our economy and public finances are managed more competently and without corruption, small though they may be, then we can do more for our people with the little “money” we have. A Liberty Party Government will operate a budget established by a participatory process, which prioritizes national goals and restricts the powers of government functionaries to change the priorities, as defined by the budgetary law. This can be done through the creation of an independent revenue authority and a well-managed and medium term budget framework. We need an audit bureau that reports to the Legislature, not the Executive Branch of Government. The competition for the right to procure goods and services on behalf of the government must be open. Every Liberian will be given an equal chance to do business with the government, but unfair practices will be heavily punished.
…because we need to act now (not tomorrow) to form effective partnerships with the international community to help create a more inclusive, accountable and open government, to help rebuild our governmental institutions and processes, re-equip the offices and build capacity at the central and local government levels, to help bring home Liberians to contribute to the development of this country, and to create opportunities for foreigners to invest in Liberia–creating jobs for our people, so that they would pay taxes that will be used for development.
For Liberty, the 2017 elections are a new opportunity for the people to transform Liberia and make a fresh start. We will break with the past, not return Liberia to politics as usual or to the same-old, old “Liberian way”. We will move away from those things that kept us divided and turn our attention to the things that unite us and can make us a proud people once again. We will make a new day for Liberia.
You, the people of Liberia, will change our national destiny by entering into this Contract with us and giving Liberty a mandate for us to Reform, Reconcile, Rebuild, and Recover. Our plans focus on the major challenges facing the country as we come to these elections. In this Contract we show how, together, we can do better.