Dr. Levi Zangai, President, AMEU University; Dr. Wilmot Sampson, VP President for Administration , AMEU University; Members of the Faculty; Officers and members of the Student Council; Fellow Liberians and Friends of Liberia; Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
I want to thank the God of our forefathers for blessing our forefathers and mothers in erecting kingdoms with no standing army, no police force, and no prisons but rather learning institutions (Poro and Sande Universities ) which chronically tilted them toward the highest spirituality, kindness, peace, self-esteem and actualization. These relics of generations past are unfolding within these walls of AMEU University today.
I want to also thank the administrators, faculty, and students of AMEU University for organizing this forum to facilitate a frank exchange and humble discussion of issues affecting our homeland. As we look around Liberia today, we have thongs of issues to talk about. We could talk about the October Elections, unemployment in Liberia , strike action by Liberian civil servants, the rebirth of the “heartmen” (“gboyos”), our nation unimpressive records in the 2005 World Cup qualifications, or the ritualistic killing business in Liberia . We could also talk about Liberia ’s political history, consequences of the 14-year Liberian civil war, the proposed Economic Plan for Liberia , and so forth. But I have decided to speak to you about the proposed Liberian Economic Governance Action Plan under the topic, “The Dangers of Trusteeship in the Republic of Liberia.” Right now in Monrovia , if you listen to many fellow educated Liberians, they will tell you that the Economic Plan is not “trusteeship” but a “partnership” with the Liberian government to help improve economic conditions in Liberia . Other people say too much corruption is going on in Liberia , so what is wrong with outside people trying to help us to improve our economic conditions? I think these are good selling points for the Economic Plan considering the poor standards of living in Liberia today. Many parents are forced to send their children out there to get money for the family to live. No jobs, no good house to live in, no good car to ride, no public toilet to go to, no personal security, no law and no real future for most of our people if we really come to think of the present conditions in Liberia .
In school, many of you are making great sacrifices. The schoolhouse is leaking all the time and no good chairs or desks to sit on. You have to walk long distances to school because you don’t have money to pay the high price for the few cars around. If you or your parents are working with the government, well the main rule is “go to work so you can’t feel bore but forget about pay.” The payment of the salaries of civil servants is usually a great event to celebrate just like the birth of a child because all the newspapers and radio stations will carry the news all week. Our people are really suffering, and many of you are suffering. Many schools don’t have sufficient teachers and textbooks, so students are not learning the way they should. Beyond that, many teachers who are lucky to get pay at all, don’t get their pay on time, which add more drama to the confusion in Liberia . So guess what my brothers and sisters, if under this kind of suffering someone comes to you and say I have an Economic Plan that will solve all your problems, you will be a fool if you don’t go home and dance all night. But is the Economic Plan really what the people behind it tell you it is? Just ask yourself. You live here in Monrovia and you see how you live and how the UNMIL people and the other foreign troops live. Do they live in darkness just like many of you? Do they walk just like many of you? Do they lack jobs just like many of you? Do they live in old house or internally displaced camps just like many of you? Let us be real my people. I think you know the answer to these questions, so I will move on.
For 14 years in Liberia parents killed their children and children killed their parents. Sisters killed brothers and brothers killed sisters. We killed one another in Liberia and destroyed everything we had. Hate became our weapon of mass destruction. So it is good that somebody from the outside to come and ask us to make peace with ourselves. But there is nothing new about this. I bet if I ask you to raise your hands if you have ever intervened to stop two friends from fighting or fussing, many hands will go up. ECOMOG, UNMIL and all the other international NGOs and organizations in Liberia are here to stop us from fighting and fussing with one another. We are happy that they are helping us, and we are happy that they are here. But let me ask you this: How many of you after making peace between your friend and his girlfriend will takeover your friend’s girlfriend or boyfriend? How many of you after making peace between a man and his wife, will take over the home of the man and his family? I believe none of you (oh well, maybe a few of you on the boyfriend or girlfriend side) but this is exactly what the people behind the Economic Plan are trying to do to Liberia . They say after helping Liberia in the last two years to reach a peace agreement in Ghana in order to create the current transitional government in Liberia , they still want to control the financial resources of Liberia even as we plan to elect a new president and a new government in October 2005, less than three months to ago? But the question is why? Well, Liberia is sweet, and Liberians are a divided people, so why other people can’t take advantage of us? I don’t think this is the way to help a people who are hurt, left in the dark, pushed around, or on the edge of breaking down. You don’t help people by taking over what they got, even if they don’t realized what they have.
If you are old enough, you will remember that in the 1960s when the people of Congo had they own civil war, the United Nations intervened just as the ECOMOG and UNMIL intervened in the Liberian civil war. Guest who raised the UN flag to bring an end to the Congo war? Capt. Henry Koboia Johnson, the late Liberian Chief of Staff. Capt. Johnson was part of the Liberian troops sent to Congo to bring peace to that country, just as Nigerian and Ghanaian troops are part of UNMIL to help to bring peace to Liberia today. Moreover, between 1966 and 67 when the Biafra war threatened to split up Nigeria , Liberia intervened and Nigeria remained one country today. Moreover, as the oldest independent African country, Liberia helped with money and other resources to promote the liberation and independence struggles of Ghana , Nigeria , South Africa , Namibia , Zimbabwe , and a host of other African countries. In each case, Liberia was influential in the world enough to send people to run certain institutions in those countries, but Liberia did not demand to takeover the resources of those countries. So why should Liberia permit people who said they came to help us when we were in need, now want to control all the economic resources of Liberia?
Just last month, a group of dismissed Liberian workers with the UNMIL office at the Free Zone Authority on Bushrod Island alleged that they were illegally dismissed to make way for non-Liberians. They also alleged that while they were being paid $150 to $200 dollars per month, the financial record of UNMIL showed that they were being paid about $720 a month. Whether that allegation is true or not, it warrants investigation. In addition, UNMIL spends about $3.5 million dollars a day on its operations in Liberia . And that dollar amount will go up the longer UNMIL stays in Liberia that they were paid. Each soldier with UNMIL is paid $1000 US dollars per month, more than Liberian cabinet ministers and other officials.
My fellow Liberians, you will hear many supporters of the Economic Plan tell you that those of us who see the dangers to the sovereignty of Liberia should the Economic Plan be implemented in its current form, that we are opposing the plan because we want to keep on stealing the Liberian people money. Well, I have never worked for the Liberian government, and I don’t have any plans right now to work with the Liberian government, so I cannot be against the plan because I want to get rich on the backs of my fellow Liberians. I see the plan as a “trusteeship” and not a “partnership” because no partnership will permit foreigners to have veto power over the policy decisions of the president of Liberia . I do not also want foreigners coming in, taking over the financial resources of Liberia , and living large with new cars and decent homes while my people still continue to suffer. The Economic Plan is de facto trusteeship” or “colonization” and there is no way around it.
Now let me give you a practical example so you can see what I mean. A rich man dies and leaves his two children a huge pile of money. Instead of the children using the money wisely, they start fighting among themselves. So an elderly man who lives in the neighborhood and was the friend of the rich man who died, intervened and asked the children to make peace. The children made peace and were about to elect someone to take care of their money, then the oldman who helped them to make peace comes back and tell the two children don’t bother because I have already decided to take care of the money for you. I will collect all money for you, and I will tell you when and how much you need use. Does this oldman have good intention for the children or what?
Well, may be. But it is not clear by his action. The oldman didn’t consult with the children to see if they want him to take care of the money for them. The oldman did not tell the children how the money will be collected and where the money will be kept. The oldman did not tell the children if he will pay himself from their money and how much. The oldman did not tell the children how long he plans to take care of their money. The oldman did not tell the children if he would invest part of the money in houses, cars, or bonds. The oldman tells the children they should believe him because he cares for them. The people behind the economic plan are behaving just like the oldman in this example. Simply, an astute undertaking requires two persons or good decision making or planning requires the participation or involvement of more than one person.
Recently, the Officer-in-Charge of UNMIL, Abou Moussa admitted during a press conference in Monrovia that idea for the Liberian Economic Governance Action Plan was first conceived at a May 2005 meeting of the International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL), which includes the UN, ECOWAS, the United States, the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Nigeria, Ghana, the IMF, the World Bank and others countries. Moussa said the Contact Group drew up the Economic Plan before being submitted to the Transitional Government in Monrovia for its input. But the document did not ask for the input of the Transitional Government per se. The first draft of the Plan released to the public said in plain language:
- The implementation of this Action Plan will be immediate and will be monitored by the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC). The IMC will report regularly to the ICGL as the representative body of the wider International Community. The active participation of the Liberian Government in implementation of this “Liberian Economic Governance Plan” is a sine qua non.
- Liberian civil society representatives shall be informed by the Group of the content of this “resolution”. They will be requested to assist the Group in ensuring the scrupulous implementation of the Action Plan, whenever they can play a role, and to use their channels of communication to spread the information amongst their members. An important aspect of this role will be to inform the presidential and legislative aspirants of the crucial importance of adopting the principles and technical aspects of the Action Plan since the International Community will expect any future Government to continue to support the Action Plan.
- To develop, after consultation with the Government, and Economic Governance Action Plan (EGAP) …covering revenue, expenditure, procurement, corruption and new contracts and concessions, for immediate implementation by the NTGL and subsequent adherence by any future Government of Liberia.
- A new oversight steering body will be established, to be co-chair by the Government of Liberia and a representative of the International Partners. The economic Governance Steering Committee (EGSC) will be responsible for the supervision and monitoring of the EGAP and will provide the necessary political leadership, technical direction and approval (including right of veto) for economic governance and reforms…EGSC membership will be limited to the following: UN, ECOWAS, EC, US, IMF, and WB; the Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Liberia, CMC Chair, and GRC Chair; and a representative of Liberian civil society.
- The EGSC will liaise, where necessary, with other coordinating bodies on relevant aspects of implementing the RFTF and subsequently an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy. This is essential for eventual re-assumption of responsibilities by Liberians, once it has been demonstrated that they will handle their economic and fiscal management in an accountable and transparent manner.
Fellow Liberians, you heard the key phrase “eventual re-assumption of responsibilities by Liberians, once it has been demonstrated that they will handle their economic and fiscal management in an accountable and transparent manner.” Now if this is not trusteeship, then what is it? A group of foreigners hold in three-day meeting in May in a foreign country and decide at that meeting that they will draw up a Plan to control all the financial resources of Liberia, including awarding contracts for oil, gold and diamond, iron ore, and other mineral resources of Liberia only if Liberians have “demonstrated” that they can manage their own resources. They decide which Liberian government ministries and agencies can participate in the implementation of the Plan, and they will the Plan will go into “IMMEDIATE” but they cannot tell us when it will “END.” They did not give the Liberian government and people any chance to decide if they want the Economic Plan, and they did not say who would pay them while working on the Economic Plan.
In addition, they decided that the Economic Plan would include a reform of court system in Liberia , so they tell us that “Reform of Liberia’s justice sector requires three elements. In the short term, outside judges must be brought in to return the rule of law to Liberia . These judges will dispense justice while international partners work to revive the Liberian justice system…” They don’t care if bringing in foreigners to serve as judges in Liberian courts is a violation of the Articles 65-74 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution. The Economic Plan talks about 1) Securing Liberia's Revenue Base; 2) Improving Budgeting and Expenditure Management; 3) Improving procurement practices and granting of concessions’ 4) Establishing Effective Judicial Processes to Control Corruption; 5) Supporting Key Institutions, and 6) Capacity Building but say nothing about how electricity, water, and telephone services will be restored or rebuilt, how roads, b ridges, housing, schools, clinics, and other economic development projects will be undertaken and by whom. And, under Capacity Building , they say, “targeting national revenues and expenditures, will be accompanied by a plan to enable medium-term planning for poverty reduction and capacity building.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but if someone will draw up an Economic Plan in which you have got no say in, will you just accept it? Will you not ask the person I appreciate what you are trying to do for me, but let me look at the Plan you have put together. I think this is one reason the Transitional Government is refusing to accept the Economic Plan in its current form, and this is why many Liberians from home and abroad want the Economic Plan to be modified with specific timetable and benchmarks. We want to see in writing what how the Economic Plan will stop corruption in Liberia, how it will create more jobs for Liberians, how it will improve health, education, electricity, water, housing, and sanitation services in Liberia, how long it for the Economic Plan to accomplish these things. But more important, why will be the role of Liberians in the design and implementation of the Economic Plan, and what relationship the new government of Liberia will have in regard to the Economic Plan.
So are we not talking about real issues that will affect our generation and the next generations of Liberians unborn? Even the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission is on record for supporting the Economic Plan, but it too wants changes to the Plan. The Daily Observer (2005) quoted the head of the commission as saying in party, “if the Economic Governance Action Plan is to be headed and managed by a committee, who will monitor the entire revenue generated and its expenditure, we would want to see that grants and loans given to Liberia should be monitored too. The concern of this committee should not be only the internal revenue that is generated. Their own expenditure should be transparent.” Yet Mr. Toe felt by calling the Economic Plan a “trusteeship,” the Transitional government was engaging in a campaign of disinformation and misinformation.” But really, let us see what the United Nations and others say about trusteeship.
I think it is about time that for every elementary, junior, or senior high school, college or university, and religious or civil organization in Liberia to convene a hearing on the issue of trusteeship to give our people, especially the future generation of Liberians an opportunity to discuss this Economic Plan. It doesn’t even hurt to learn about the history or legacy of trusteeship.
What is Trusteeship?
Believe it or not, “trusteeship” is just like “colonization.” It is a system under which one group of people decides for another group of people what is best for them and then set out to manage the financial, natural, and human resources of that group of people. The only difference between “trusteeship” and “colonization” is that the United Nations is usually involved in “trusteeship” by asking one country or a group of countries to manage the affairs of another, while under colonization, the colonial power runs the other country any way it wants without any accountability to the people being governed. This is exactly what the people behind the Economic Plan set out to do in Liberia people. They will let us elect our president, senators, and representatives, and appoint our county and government officials, but they will control how any money is generated in Liberia and spent. Neither the president of Liberia or any government official of Liberia will be able to buy new office furniture, computers, cars, or travel inside or outside Liberia without the approval of the people behind the Economic Plan.
In 1902, English economist and journalist John Atkinson Hobson described “trusteeship" as a “means of managing the problem of the "lower races." By that he explained in Imperialism, “The real issue is whether, and under what circumstances, it is justifiable for Western nations to use compulsory government for the control and education in the arts of industrial and political civilization of the inhabitants of tropical countries and other so-called lower races.” The encyclopedia Britannica defines trusteeship as “a relationship between persons in which one has the power to manage property and the other has the privilege of receiving the benefits from that property.” The Economic Plan seeks to “manage” the economic and financial resources of Liberia , therefore the Economic Plan is a “trusteeship” and not a “partnership/, regardless of the word used to describe the Economic Plan. Liberia did not ask for help as proposed under the Economic Plan, some outsiders only thought the Economic Plan is a good thing for Liberia so they want to impose it on Liberia . Unfortunately, some Liberians have not enlightened themselves to the realities of 1889; when Emperor von Bismarck hosted the Berlin Conference that sealed the fate of African leadership. When one adds up two and two the political effects on Africa today are vivid. The Continent was divided between Belgian, France , Britain , and the like for economic exploitation and European market expansion. The same fate awaits our motherland. Were we never taught by our parent s to see beyond appearances into the true nature of people and to discern the good from the bad? Are we really prepared to sell our country to foreign bidders because we are displeased with the current Liberian government due to widespread corruption? Does the government still not have the right to speak on our behalf? Are we not about to elect new national leaders? The chairman of the transitional government has rejected the Economic Plan because it seeks to place Liberia under a de factor trusteeship, so why the rush to sign-off on such an Economic Plan before national elections in less than three months? Is this not trusteeship?
UNMIL, the Contact Group, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission and individual Liberians can deny all they want that the Economic Plan is not a trusteeship, but when UNMIL was being formed in 2003, the whole goal was for it to serve as trustee of Liberia. In "Experts Split on Plan for U.N. Trusteeship of Liberia,” Thalif Deen of Inter Press Service Agency, reported that “A proposal for a virtual takeover of war-devastated Liberia by the United Nations is being given a mixed reception by African advocacy groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and human rights bodies." He quoted Bill Fletcher, president of TransAfrica Forum as saying: ‘‘it would be inappropriate to turn Liberia over to the United Nations,'' ( http://www.ipsnews.net/print.asp?idnews=19710). Deen also reported that “The proposal, being informally discussed in U.N. circles, calls for Liberia to be under a "trusteeship" for at least two years, so that the West African nation can be "governed" by a senior U.N. official authorized by the 15-member Security Council. During this period, the country would be funded by international donors and policed by a U.N. peacekeeping force” (IPS, 2003).
Before he became director of the UN Trusteeship Department in 1947, Ralph Johnson Bunche, the first African American Nobel Peace Prize winner had advocated for a UN trusteeship system to bring about an “international accountability” that would stop then prevailing abuses by the colonial powers in colonized countries. Bunche argued that “left to their own devices, the colonial powers will never inspire confidence in their local people to participate in the development of the colonies, therefore an international system of supervision was necessary to halt all “exploitative practices” by the colonizers. Trusteeship was not meant for the UN to takeover a country like Liberia , which has been on its own for nearly 158 years. And this might be one reason why the people behind the Economic Plan did not mention the word “trusteeship” anywhere in the document. But the Economic Plan is a trusteeship of Liberia because foreigners will come in to control our courts and our financial resources or our money. You saw that Mr. Deen used the word “trusteeship” in his report about UNMIL, but the UNMIL document avoided the use of the use of “trusteeship,” just as the Economic Plan is avoiding the use of “trusteeship.”
But let us look at the intent of the Economic Plan more closely. One of the reasons for the Plan is that the transitional government is corrupt so action must be taken to manage the economic resources of Liberia for proper use. Good idea, but what do we know about the people who will be “managing” our money? In Klein Leaves Mistress, the Vanguard Newspaper reported that Jacques Klein, the former head of UNMIL permitted his girlfriend, a Ms. Fawaz, to attend UNMIL meetings, ride UNMIL cars and helicopters, and interfere with Liberia ’s Liberianization Policy. The Vanguard said UNMIL under Klein failed to restore electricity, water, road networks, and other services Mr. Klein had promised the Liberian people when he took over as head of UNMIL. The paper said UNMIL under Klein opted to bring in a floating hotel under the influence of Ms. Fawaz instead of renovating Ducor Hotel, Hotel Africa and the BTC. The Vanguard also quoted Abou Moussa of UNMIL saying in February 2005 that US$ 359 million of the 520 million pledged by donors had been received and spent, but he did not explain how the money was spent and for what. So if influence peddling and lack of accountability and transparency are the reasons for the Economic Plan, then the UNMIL has not been a good example of the UN or outside agencies controlling the money of Liberia . But just imagine UNMIL never had total control of the financial resources of Liberia for the lack of transparency and accountability. Mentioned in the Vanguard story, now go figure what may happen if UNMIL or other UN agencies are given full control of Liberian revenue, expenditure, and gold, diamond, and oil contracts. Brothers and sisters, rat does not help the other rat to peel a piece of corn, meaning it is not always easy for people with the identical problem to counsel each other.
This whole Economic Plan is what the Bassa people would call, “ Sooh zao gbo win baah” wh ich literally means chicken begins scratching from the door. In other words, trusteeship has not worked throughout UN history and trusteeship will not work in Liberia . Namibia was placed under the trusteeship of the UN and White South Africa was designated to “manage” Namibia just as the people behind the Economic Plan want to “manage” Liberia . But due to the poor treatment of the Namibian people by South Africa, the only two oldest independent African Liberia and Ethiopia, sued the League of Nations to the International Court of “to have the mandate [over Namibia] declared as being in force and to have South Africa charged with failing to fulfill the terms of the mandate.” But the court ruled in 1966 that Liberia and Ethiopia did not establish “a legal right or interest entitling them to bring the case.” After the verdict, the Namibian people established the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) and launched a full-scale guerrilla war against South Africa for their independence. Namibia was under UN trusteeship from 1967 until 1990, but the University of Namibia (Unam) came into existence in 1992, the Roads Authority of Namibia was established April 2000 while the Namibian Starline Passenger Services were introduced in 1995. The Namibian people had nothing to show for the years under UN Trusteeship.
In fact, while other African states experienced trusteeship in addition to Namibia , trusteeship is now a relic of the past. In November 1994 Palau , the last modern UN trust territory got its independence. And UN Secretary General Kofi Anna has since dropped trusteeship as a viable UN administrative option (www.un.org/documents/tc.htm).
Fellow Liberians, we have seen too much bloodshed, human suffering, and uncertainty in the last 14 years, so some of us might think out of frustration that trusteeship would solve our problem. But it cannot. All we will get under the Economic Plan is non-Liberians taking over country of our financial and natural resources and being paid three or more times the local salary that Liberians supposed to get just for doing so. As Liberians we need jobs and basic facilities to live and rebuild our country. Yes, we fought war, we made mistakes. But I believe among the 56 people running to be president of Liberia in the next elections, there must be one person good among them. Let us look carefully and elect such a person who has Liberia at heart as opposed to saying among the 3.4 million Liberians, (including 450, 000 educated according to the Economist Magazine, there is not a single person we can trust so we should put the future of our country in the hands of non-Liberians.
Our nation might not enjoy 100 percent peace right now, and no nation on earth will ever enjoy 100 percent peace, but trusteeship is not the answer. Liberia has passed that stage and election is pending, so we only need to design a new system that works by putting a trustworthy person in power. As a professor of occupational safety and environmental health, one of the concepts in our field is that every profession or plan has an inherent hazard. In other words, a system (plan) must be purposive. And because a system (plan) has a sub-system, there is a need for all the subsystems to function correctly the first time, always and all the time so that the failure on one of the subsystem doesn’t cause a cataclysmic destruction as we saw in the case of the space shuttle Challenger when the failure of one “O-ring” led to disintegration of the space shuttle and all the astronauts on board.
My dear brothers and sisters, some of our brothers and sisters invented the myth of “paranoia nationalism” to de-legitimize pertinent questions about the Economic Plan. But anyone who asks critical questions about the Economic Plan is sound minded and not paranoia. Even in the United States that we have been imitating for 158 years has a forum called congressional hearing where Americans debate key issues before their senators and representatives for days, weeks and months before arriving at a decision they consider to be in their best interest of the United States. Liberia should not accept an Economic Plan by outsiders, no matter how good intentioned the outsiders are, without first debating the Economic Plan to understand its cost and benefit to the Liberia and the Liberian people. Our great, great grandparents fought off colonial administration in Liberia with their blood and we must not betray them ever.
I never imagine in my life that my generation and your generation would be talking about UN, EU, USA, World Bank, ECOWAS, UNMIL and others baby sitting our nation. I do not want Liberia to go under a colonial administration after 157 years of self-governance. Colonization or trusteeship usually leads to social degradation, exploitation, indigenous cultural destruction, and societal segregation. Let me make one thing clear before we proceed. If you do not learn anything I say here today, I want you to understand one thing. I am not against any plan whose sole objectives are to control corruption and promote national development in Liberia . I love Liberia and would not do anything to hurt this nation. And I know you do also but trusteeship is by no means an ideal, or even an attractive, proposition that some of us can digest easily because a vague Economic Plan that is not a panacea to socio-economic and political problems of Liberia. My point is the proposed Economic Plan is not only illegal but asks the Liberian people to re-colonize themselves by assigning judicial and executive powers to non-Liberians. As Liberians, we need to wake up because these kinds of meek and a trusting nature are usually seen as signs of naiveté and weakness in our common world.
Being independent and nationalistic, we could rebuild our nation without putting non-Liberians in charge of our resources. An adage from our African tradition says: "You cannot make somebody else’s your child.” When Liberians rediscover their role as the conscience of Africa, Liberia will actually be built on the highest level of patriotism. I don’t think we in Liberia need to sit around and cry about the kind of infrastructure developments and standards of living we should have been enjoying instead of begging for handouts from others. But we are not the only nation playing catch up in terms of our development. The great nations of Europe had to count on the generosity of the Americans through the Marshall Plan to rebuild their societies. We can do the same. We can start with developing a plan that has Liberians in charge because we know this nation, its culture, its people and its government. We can point to these things easily without research. But in our quest we must not abandon our sovereignty and violate our basic traditions, norms, mores, values and organic laws. If we do, we would have become betrayals of our own values, our own causes, and our abilities, and our own culture and history.
I fervently hope and pray that the God of our Ancestors will guide us to work hard to restore and uphold the national honor, liberty, and glory associated with our national sovereignty. It is in honor of our national sovereignty that I beseech you, my fellow Liberians, to weigh this whole matter of trusteeship of our nation in the sanctum of your heart and reject Economic Governance Action Plan in its current form. If they do not want to have qualified Liberians in charge, I believe if we can search our individual hearts and find that self-governance, no matter how problematic am better than trusteeship. We need to put aside our difference and join hands together as one people and speak forcefully against trusteeship. The fate of Liberia now trembles at potential loss of our self-determination, sovereignty, and independence if we permit outsiders to take advantage of our divisions and impose trusteeship on our country and ourselves. With a deep-seated love for our country, and ourselves we can rebuild Liberia to become a paradise of liberty, the germ of Africa . I believe no hardship or the threat death can ever destroy the ideas and visions of a great people, so we should never surrender our national sovereignty to anyone because of our present hardship. Say no to the Economic Plan in its current form. The authors of the Economic Plan do not love Liberia more than we love Liberia , so they are not helping us by taking over our financial and mineral resources. So often, outsiders tend to deceive and exploit us under the pretext of helping us. Liberians should be mindful of this kind of outside help, which seeks to control the country’s resources. I thank you.