My fellow Liberians, members of the esteemed Fourth Estate, gallant men and women of the working poor, members of the hustling communities, members of the class of Liberians that get up at 4 in the morning and go to bed at 12 midnight just looking for it – all Liberians, rich or poor, haves or have nots, Country or Congo, educated or not; whatever situation you find yourself in, I speak to you today, because we are all in the same boat, a Liberian boat that seems to be taking water.
However, before I go on, let me wish us all a Happy New Year – or simply put, we thank God for a New Year, because for many, there was not much to be happy for.
In our almost 169 years of existence as a nation, every successive government has taken us from one milestone to the next. Madam President and her administration in two terms, for 12 years, the second longest serving leader in our history have done theirs. It is a journey for which she is to be praised – Madam President, thank you ever so much and Happy New Year.
We wish you well as you sail into your political sunset.
Notwithstanding, amidst the milestones we have travelled thus far, the history of this nation is ripe with our quests for a leader who will truly unify our people to focus on the tasks of building a desirable nation.
For too long nevertheless, Liberia has yearned for a leader who will cut across the divide, bring us all together to truly focus on the greatness of this nation, to leverage our enviable God given resources in lifting us all from a self-inflicted slum of perpetual poverty that has practically span our entire existence.
Primarily, we must admit that from our founding, we were living in a bubble, existing and just going along with some settlers using the nation as a farm to come-get-and-go back to whence they came.
Unfortunately, a practice that continues to date in several different forms with many of us. On the other hand, greedy locals left the tasks of nation building to the settlers, rather selling their land and each other into slavery for little or nothing; although some were forced to leave their villages and move deeper into the forests of this Green Coast.
By force or farce, we managed to live together as peacefully as possible, with all the powers and wealth in the hands of a few people who resisted change in the right direction. They used brute force where they could, handed out token to quell opposition and killed those who were seen as too strong headed.
They created a bubble, make it seem that all was well, that the nation was flourishing and that we were all getting bits and pieces of the national pie – it was not so, it was a bubble, we were living in a very big and thick bubble that would eventually get thin and burst.
As expected, the revolutionary uptake in the 70’s, the Coup that ushered in the military junta in 1980 and the subsequent years of turmoil deflated this bubble.
Many of our differences and lines of divides became visible, we needed to plat a newer national mat – we did, with a new constitution and a multi party election that took us back to years past. The military, in its quest, failed to unify the people.
Along the way, came those who agitated for change via warfare, financed by well-heeled Liberians and their supporters here and abroad.
Although an election was held in 1997 where the seemingly stronger of the factions won, overwhelming greed for power, money and apparent dissatisfactions overtook visions for growth and development; political and military factions mushroomed across the country killing over a quarter million of our people.
Thank God, for the support of ECOWAS, America and many other international organizations, the peace we now enjoy was restored and we can now move freely in our own country.
Hope was in the air, Liberians thought they have seen a new day with the election of the first female president in Africa.
Then, with the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led administration, Liberians were hoping that Mama had come – as you can all see now, after 10 years on the road, Mama never will and Papa is still far behind, too shame to even show his face.
Well, we are once again approaching a point of critical decision making; the coming 2017 Presidential and general elections will give us another chance to do it better; so that Papa and Mama can both come home separately or together with smiles on their faces.
My fellow Liberians, this is a decisive moment in our history – a transforming moment that could afford us the opportunity to truly transform and reconcile our nation.
This will be a moment that will allow us to peddle our boats to a unique point – known to and by all of us as a place where we settle our differences and make progress on issues, soft or critical; this moment will bring all of us under the National Palava Hut to settle our differences and build a productive nation capable of growing its own rice, leveraging our resources to build roads, schools, healthcare facilities and modernize our national space for generations yet unborn.
Liberia is an elder in Africa; it must now show that eldership and lead by example. President William V. S. Tubman diplomatically set that model as a milestone for us before; all we have to do is follow through, with major emphasis on national development.
Ours is a great nation, fertile with resources and potentials that allow people with vision and passion to come in, invest a little, work a bit harder, commit themselves to what they do and this friendly nation with its welcoming people will propel them into realities beyond their wildest dreams.
Look around you and see the foreign business communities, they have prospered because they have committed themselves to what they do and work harder at doing it. We have made them into very rich people – some multi millionaires with multinational corporations.
Conversely, with the bubble mentality, Liberians continue to struggle. Arguably, we have low level of literacy, serious individualism as opposed to nationalism and working in-group for the common good, lack of access or the will and training to manage finances that would enable us to build the kinds of businesses like our foreign counterparts, lack of extensive business experiences, etc. However, we must all recognize something we have been missing or choosing to miss over the years; WE ARE THE PROBLEM OF OUR OWN PROBLEMS; We have welcomed foreign business dominance over our own, we have been far too friendly to foreign businesses than our own, we have given far too many opportunities to foreign businesses than our own, we have taken too many bribes in goods, services and cash to the point where they hardly respect our officials, we have visited their stores, offices and homes for too many Saturdays, Holidays and gifts, so much so that they don’t know when we are serious, we give them the room to take us and our laws for granted, we have shown them how to manipulate our laws and other officials, by ensuring them that we will always rescue them whenever, in exchange for a few dollars, we have helped them to propel, prosper and have economic leverage over us to the point that it will eventually become a security risk, that is, if it is not already so, we have also devalued ourselves, strengths, lowered our standings, and prestige, with corruption eating us up.
Notwithstanding, with a national dedication to the call of nation building, we can reverse the trend; but first and foremost, We must revisit our foreign policy doctrine, maintain our traditional friends and allies where possible, but reach out to those who will be willing to help us forge ahead a bit faster, efficiently and effectively to fall in line with the levels of development going on around us in the region and beyond.
We must setup a concession evaluation body that will originate, negotiate, evaluate, monitor and govern all concession agreements across the country, even when powers are subscribed to local authorities. There has to be a paradigm shift in how we do business as it relates to letting our natural resources go.
We must learn to leverage our resources and national space for local economic empowerment; for example, if you want the Wologisi Mountain, build us a super highway from Lofa to Bassa; if you want the Western Clusters, build us a super highway from Cape Mount to Cape Palmas or if you want Oil Block XY or Z, build us a state of the art modern hospital in Marshall, Buchanan or Rivercess.n
We must examine our constitution to see if we can make room for the judiciary to be a little more robust and given more discretionary power over matters of billable cases.
We must create special fast track courts, especially one for corruption cases.
We must empower graft-fighting institutions by giving them independence and prosecuting powers to truly be able to fight corruption, void of political manipulations from all branches of government and the powers that be.
We must re-introduce the teaching of civic education into our educational curriculum, spiced with anti corruption lessons and the teaching of the constitution to our future leaders.
We must revisit and evaluate our labor, immigration, finance and commerce laws to make it compatible with our Liberianization policies that will enable Liberians get into co- ownership and ownership of businesses. Move into managerial and upper managerial positions within international organizations and businesses operating in Liberia that have over the years been diverted to foreigners. Gone are the days when our leaders, manipulators and so-called international labor brokers or human resource managers thought Liberians were below standards – Get this now and forever, Liberians are ready to control the destiny of this nation.
We must setup knowledge and business incubators in conjunction with both international and local partners, especially members of the foreign business community in this country, to collaborate with our people in building successful businesses.
We must improve services across all platforms, improve customer service and professional conducts to enable us increase our local tax base.
We must revisit our contracting laws so that specific contracts are restricted to Liberians only.
We must use the military and para military organizations as conduit for vocational training in various fields like agriculture, journey men, building trades, private security training, mechanics, etc. to increase the capacities of our young people – this process must start from as low as 6th grade.
We must capacitate the Agriculture and Industrial Training Bureau (AITB) to increase the level of vocational training in schools across the country. Vocational training must be mandatory from 6th – 12th grade.
Community Colleges should be tailored to provide specific trainings so that they are not all competing for liberal arts education. For example, Nimba Community College could be tailored for mining engineering and or the sciences. Lofa Community College could be tailored towards Agriculture and Agricultural Sciences, etc.
We must increase the level of civic responsibilities by requiring or mandating volunteerism by our students from 6th grade to college or vocational school graduation. This could also be a vehicle for vocational and or professional training.
We must setup a body that will take our economy – which is also our security, from the hands of foreigners.
We must decentralize the government and give power to local authorities.
We must comprehensively readjust or realign our economic activities so that foreigners do not dominate it where you see millions of dollars flying out of this country every day by way of bank transfers and suitcases, with the help of crooks who do not believe in this nation.
We must recognize that our people – all of our people, regardless of their statuses, structures, standards, stripes, sins and stains, they all matter in building a stronger society.
They are our strength, the foundation on which we stand. And so, We must bring our ex security workers back into the fold or give them the kind of retirement they deserve.
We must find lasting solutions to the issues of the widows of ex-soldiers who from time to time jump in the streets to demand compensations.
We must bring our exiled brothers and sisters back and have them capacitated to empower them join in the nation building process.
We must bring our brothers and sisters in jail on mere suspicions back and let justice truly prevail.
We must bring our farmers driven from their farms back, negotiate with them and pay them just due for their farmlands.
We must bring back our chiefs and zoes who have been our brain thrusts over the years and recognize that not everything about Poro and Sande Societies is bad. We have to find a way to mutually co-exist, because those institutions have been the bedrock of our existence, providing fundamental training and education way before we were exposed to Western styled education and ways of doing things. Just as a segment of our citizens is comfortable with societies or organizations like the Knights, Mason and others, a segment is equally comfortable with the Poro and Sande societies. We must find a common ground to correct the ills in all and still co-exist in our separate practices under the law with keen attention to safety.
Finally, We must fully empower the media, it must be mandatory either through executive order or legislative mandate that all contracts and other national instruments be published via print and electronic in the local media for a given period before it is enacted.
The government must include the media in its national budget; after all, it is the fourth estate.
In doing so, we must make room for everyone under the Palava Hut; We must make room for the mentally retarded who walk the streets of Monrovia and other areas across the country, We must make room for the street kids, We must make room for those who sleep in the Palm Grove Cemetery and other cemeteries – easily referred to as Don Bosco Children across the country, We must make room for those who are challenged physically, mentally and visually, We must make room for those who feel disenfranchised, We must make room for those who are seen to be critical, We must make room for the media to be truly independent in its entire process – financially, environmentally and politically,
We must make room for our religious differences to flourish – be you a Christian, Moslem, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, Atheist, Pagan or otherwise.
When we make room for all, embracing our divergent views, critical or not, celebrating our strengths and weaknesses, bonding together as a unified people despite the politics that divide us, with all of our commitments and contributions, we can have a better discussion under this National Palava Hut, using it as a platform or springboard, if you will, as a roadmap to building a better Liberia.
We think with this as a foundation, we can build a better nation that we can all be proud of, build an economy that provides the opportunities that will lift us all, strengthen families and communities, fix our dysfunctional political, educational, health and agricultural systems to harness the kind of growth we wish to see.
My fellow Liberians, members of the esteemed Fourth Estate, gallant men and women of the working poor, members of the hustling communities, members of the class of Liberians that get up at 4 in the morning and go to bed at 12 midnight just looking for it – all Liberians, rich or poor, haves or have nots, Country or Congo, educated or not; whatever situation you find yourself, there is a tough and meandering journey ahead of us; a journey that will require true commitment to nation building by a visionary who has this nation at heart in the truest sense of the word. It is a journey of courage, strength, commitment and fortitude . . .
It is not for recycled politicians, It is not for those who have had the chance to do, but sat under the shadows without doing anything, It is not for those who wish that this nation be governed only by men hovering over us in black suits, top hats, tail coats and white gloves, It is not for politicians with appetites for being never ending or ceremonial presidential candidates who bring nothing to the table when the dust settles.
It is not for politicians who run only to secure a post within the government.
It is not for those who wish to use the presidency as a platform – a means to an end.
It is not for politicians who wish to use our own resources to campaign against us under the guise of helping or empowering the people.
It is not for fickle politicians sitting in powerful positions using their offices to do nothing meaningful for the Liberian people but would rather lead them down the same road to nowhere.
It is not for corruption tainted politicians or those who participated in the mayhem that devastated this nation, killed thousands of our brothers and sisters. As much as these kinds of politicians remain our brothers and sisters, it must be said that the presidency is too respected of a seat for them to occupy.
Hence, the presidency in this particular election The 2017 presidential election is for a new breed of Liberians with vision of transforming every aspect of this nation, incorporating all of our people.
My fellow Liberians and dear colleagues of the Fourth Estate, I have been petitioned, spoken to and asked by thousands of Liberians here and around the world to consider a run for the presidency.
After carefully reviewing their requests, consultations with family, friends, experts, supporters and selected groups across the country and abroad, I have decided to form an exploratory committee under the Friends of Carlton Boah or simply CB17 to further explore Over the next few weeks, we will be reaching out to you for financial and material help.
The road to changing the course of this nation will not be a cakewalk, we will have to listen better and more attentively, work harder, walk longer, talk effectively and efficiently, reach out to all Liberians regardless of where they live.
To our fellow Liberians residing or working abroad, you may not be able to vote, but your participations in motherland politics and other burning national issues have always been of essence and 2017 will be no exception.
We ask and encourage, as you have already registered your desire to forge this partnership in every way possible, especially so financially so that we can all build the kind of Liberia you would like to come back home to.
To our fellow citizens from other political camps and institutions, we ask you to join us in Transforming Liberia Through Reconciliation . . . driven by the Power Of The People.
I thank you ever so much for coming and may God forever bless this land of liberty . . . Our