Recently the Executive Chairman of the Center for the exchange of intellectual opinions (CEIO), Franklin K.Wesseh during the inauguration of the leadership of the Liberian Association of Northern California (LANC), Oakland, California, the United States of America on April 1, 2017 on the theme: The elevation of Liberia depends on you.
Below is the full text of Mr. Wesseh’s address:
Other constituents of the leadership of LANC
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
I bring you warm felicitations from the Center for the exchange of intellectual opinions (CEIO)
It is my esteemed honor that from a list of renowned, prominent and more qualified Liberians, you chose me to grace this auspicious occasion as a keynote speaker. Thanks so kindly for your preferment.
Those who know me will expect that today is one of those days that I will exhibit my usual vulgar fire-brand style, but sadly, I crave your indulgence to permit me to restrict my speech to the purpose of this occasion. We will save other serious national issues for some other time.
My fellow countrymen, the gap between the diaspora and home-based Liberians is widening at an increased rate. There is huge disconnect between the two parties. This is sadly stalling the progress and elevation of our beloved country.
You might be having flourishing relationships among yourselves here, but if the conduct of your leadership does not translate into lifting our people from the dungeon of abject poverty to a renaissance of economic vibrancy, it is meaningless. Liberia, though the oldest African republic, is at a snail- pace in terms of development in every aspect. Liberia is inarguably challenged in many sectors: health, education, agriculture, etc. there is no safe drinking water; electricity is only available to the elite few. There are basically no farm-to-market roads; farm produce from rural dwellers rot on the way before they get to major market grounds.
Our people don’t have access to good Medicare, people die from curable diseases even in urban clinics and hospitals; you can imagine the fate of rural dwellers. Our clinics and hospitals throughout the country are unequipped and understaffed.
Education, which is the bed-rock of any vibrant society, is yet to recover from what seems to be in perpetual coma. It might interest you to know that in this modern age, our kids in some parts of Liberia still go to school bare footed and take their lessons sitting on bare floor.
If you look at what is allotted in our national budget for education, you tend to wonder if our government is serious at all.
Agriculture, which is supposed to be the driving force behind the economy, is nothing to write about. Rice is our staple food, instead of growing enough rice to feed our people; we still import rice, as well as almost every essential commodity.
The youths of our country are resulting to prostitution and drug addiction for living. Teen pregnancy is too high in Liberia. Liberia is among eight countries with the highest rate of teenage pregnancy, standing at 38% according to UNICEF report in July 2016.
My reason for drawing your attention to these concerns is not necessarily to expose the weakness of the government but to challenge you to be a contribution to your country. A former president of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy said; “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.
There are several opportunities that brought most of you to this great land. However way you came here, I urge you to ask yourselves, what have you done for your country? Or are you consumed in the luxury and comfort of another people’s country, so much such that you have forgotten your roots? Or are you still drowned in the tendency of “thank God I am not in that country”?
Reflecting on the tragic and nightmarish times in our country’s dark history, we realize we cannot undo the crimes and wars of yesterday, but we can give meaning to the past by learning its lessons. What have we learned from our disgusting past? Benjamin Franklin said, “Doing the same thing over and again and expecting different result is stupidity”.
As we draw closer to another crucial time in our country’s history (2017 elections), I admonish all of us to encourage our people to turn out to vote and vote wisely; let our votes emanate from an informed background. President Ellen Johnson Sirleafhas played her part, she won’t appear on the ballot paper this time around, and ourjudgment will be based on the contestants.
Beware of those economic vampires and micro nationalists who are masquerading in the corridors of our political landscape, swimming in deception and enticing you to give them the keys (your vote) to the nation’s treasury. We know them by their names forms and shapes. Those fly-by- night angels must be resisted in a resounding tone! They want to further gang-rape our economy and endlessly pillage our country’s resources.
Let’s thoroughly evaluate those aspiring for public offices (representatives-to-president). Our country has been lacking because of bad and selfish leaders, which results to bad governance. If I had my will, those who perpetrated mayhem and atrocities against our people and brought untold sufferings upon them are not deserving of public trust. Resist them at the polls!!!!
Finally, I want to admonish you to get involved with activities in Liberia. Liaise with the community-based organizations (CBOs) and identify projects you can undertake to address some of the basic needs of the people.
Leadership is a timeless practice of guiding others in pursuit of a goal, destination and desired outcome. A leader is one who motivates, inspires and guides others toward pre-established goals.
A leader might lead through official authority and power. Yet, just as often, great leaders lead through inspiration; they lead by examples. A leader is tolerant, accommodating and people-centered.
Liberia needs you. Bridge the gap between you and our people back home. Be leaders and not rulers.
May God guide and protect us all and bless our country.
Franklin K. Wesseh