"Fellow Liberians, I am increasingly of the view that we all care about the future of our country as demonstrated by your presence here today. For the last 14 years, our country was totally engulfed in a self-inflicted violence punctuated by hatred, anger and vengeance towards one another. We have had 14 years of fratricidal war that has nearly rendered our country extinct in the vastness of global economic, social and infrastructure development. We have had 14 years of misadventures and transitional political arrangements pillage the country meager resources. We have had 14 long years of failed state that has become a haven for criminal gangsters disguised as economic partners thus rendering a once proud nation a pariah in the comity of nations"
Before we begin these proceedings, please join us in invoking the sacred memory of my personal friend and brother, the late Dr. Harry F. Moniba, former vice president of the Republic of Liberia and standard bearer of the Liberian National Union. Please join us, also, in observing a moment of silence in memory of my elder brother, the Late Gabriel Nama Morlu, former assistant minister of Revenues and Commissioner of Internal Revenue, and all Liberians who lay down their lives in the quest for social justice, freedom and peace so that you and I as well as our children can live in a society free from the current social decadence we see around us today. Amen!
The leadership of LINU; our elders; students; the hardworking men and women of this great country; market women; the yana boys; members of various associations; the displaced people of this land of opportunity and liberty; the leadership of various counties; members of government; foreign dignitaries; distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
We thank you for coming. We thank you for the wonderful welcome we received. Your invaluable support continues to touch our hearts in ways that are unprecedented. We are truly moved by your embrace since we landed on these great shores to embark on a journey to provide a true leadership to a humble, promising people and nation, whose humanity continues to be bruised by self-centered, self-proclaiming leaders whose only interest is to perpetuate the status quo and continue business as usual.
This nation, once a beacon of hope and freedom for Africa and all oppressed people, has to assume its rightful role again. After 158 years of existence, we definitely need a transformation—a transformation that is people-centered, people-directed and people-managed. It is a transformation that will place our destiny in our own hands.
The urgency of this task therefore requires a leadership that focuses on people; a leadership that develops a common vision; a leadership that seeks challenging opportunities; a leadership that empowers people; a leadership that builds a learning community; that celebrates team achievements and recognizes individual contributions; a leadership that respects diversity and builds trust;
This embattled nation, among other things, needs a leadership that imagines a positive future for a people who truly deserve, at all times—and in all seasons—to be happiest. This is why we have come to join you in executing this daunting task…knowing our commitment and selfless intents to see this nation move forward again. We will not hesitate to roll our sleeves and plow these shores in a formal conventional way so that our people can bask in peace, progress and prosperity, once again.
We are truly moved to tears by your presence here today. It is against this background that we will make a deal with the Liberian people today—and right now. Henceforth, this country will move away from a leadership that administers, maintains, controls and focuses on structure. Instead, this country and people will choose a leadership that develops, challenges, trusts and focuses on people. This is why we have come to join you to lead rather than manage our country. And we thank you for your support.
Fellow Liberians, I am increasingly of the view that we all care about the future of our country as demonstrated by your presence here today. For the last 14 years, our country was totally engulfed in a self-inflicted violence punctuated by hatred, anger and vengeance towards one another. We have had 14 years of fratricidal war that has nearly rendered our country extinct in the vastness of global economic, social and infrastructure development. We have had 14 years of misadventures and transitional political arrangements pillage the country meager resources. We have had 14 long years of failed state that has become a haven for criminal gangsters disguised as economic partners thus rendering a once proud nation a pariah in the comity of nations.
Sadly, indeed, those 14 years of violence has only spelled for us the darkest era of our history. These years have not only been the most unproductive years in the history of our country. These years have put us in a juvenile position of not knowing what we truly want for our country.
We have become a laughing stock in the eyes of the international community. Our governments—now and then—have been characterized with massive corruption, waste, fraud and financial mismanagement in all forms and shapes. Our governments have demonstrated benign neglect for the sufferings of our people. Our governments have missed every opportunity to make the dream of shared economic prosperity, democracy and freedom a reality. Our governments have failed to support job creation for the record number of unemployed people in this country.
Our governments have failed to provide financial and business support to our farmers, the market women and the yana boys. Instead, they have over the years placed the future of our country in the hands of their cronies by giving then unguided access to our natural resources, monopoly over basic commodities, like the nation’s staple, and provided financial backings for their select group of economic partners since our leaders also own shares in these business enterprises.
Look around, you will find nothing but massive human suffering, broken schools, broken hospitals and infrastructure that are virtually non-existing. Fellow Liberians, we are in the deep. We are far behind the curve on practically every social and economic indicator. It is time to make a drastic change—a transformation in the right direction. That change cannot wait. It has to be now. We cannot afford to add another year to those unproductive years. The time is reap—and the opportunities avail themselves at this momemt.
We have a historic opportunity to change course—and change course we must this October. Come this October 11 every eligible Liberian will have the opportunity to cast a vote for change. This will be our second chance to truly define our future and determine our destiny. It will be a chance to elect a leadership that sees the horizon instead of the bottom line.
It will be an opportunity to elect a leadership that sees a nation rather than an individual. October 11 will be a time to say NO to any candidate who, in the past, ordered thugs to rain deadly missiles on you; it will be your chance to bury any leadership contender who connived with business cronies to exploit you; this October will be your chance, also, to destroy candidates who defended and connived with a criminal government, like the Taylor government, to destroy this country in such unimaginable ways. October 11 is a grand opportunity for change—we mean real change…change for the better.
Yes, Liberians have a right to be frustrated and even mad at their leadership. Time and time again, our political leadership has failed us miserably. Not too many people can dispute the fact that politicians have made several promises in the past, but have yet to deliver on them. Just look around you again, and you will see a country, in every respect, that lies in total ruined. Not withstanding the massive suffering of the people, the Liberian people have an important responsibility to vote in a leadership that will not steal their money, mortgage their future and abuse their rights.
So, the decision we will make in the coming elections will help to define our resolve as a people, who have unquestionably learned from the mistakes of self-imposed human catastrophe. We can not afford to return to our odious past by entrusting those architects of our nightmare with state power, again. It is the time to make real the promise of democracy as enshrined in our constitution, which states that power lies in the hands of the governed, not the governors for it is the people who determine who leads them. This October 11 is the time to make practical that portion of our constitutional provision.
Undoubtedly, the future of the great land of opportunity premised on democratic freedom, the rule of law, unfettered justice and shared economic prosperity is now squarely in the hands of ordinary Liberians, not the politicians.
Many of you might be politically enervated by the number of candidates in the race. It goes without saying that the number of candidates should in no way overwhelm anyone from truly discerning the quality among the quantities.
I have come from a humble beginning and climbed a ladder of living in the comfort of western capital, but that doesn’t make me better than anyone of you in here. I am also not better than any Liberian living in Kokoya, Karnplay, Weala, Zwedru, West Point, New Kru town, Feisebu, Mbakanda, Harper, Buchanan, Tubmanburg, Gbarnga, etc.
Many of you may ask why I have decided to join this crowded field of self-proclaimed announcers for the Liberian presidency, some of whom only developed the passion for doing so because they saw others doing it. The answer is simple. I strongly believe that it is now time that we turn the “corners” around to make Liberia better for all Liberians. It is now time that this country and people have a selfless leadership that transcends tribe, clan and social status. It is time for this nation to have a leadership who sees people, rather than individuals, as a dynamic force in nation building. It is time for this nation to hang heads to cultivate a common vision that reflects our aspirations as a people and a nation.
It is time for this nation to be empowered organically by encouraging teamwork, credibility and trust. It is time to have a leadership in which people identify their own needs and embark on initiatives to resolve pressing problems facing them. It is time to have a creative leadership that works honestly and selflessly to improve the social, economic conditions of Liberians.
Given our passion to see this nation germinate from the many years of ruins and self-inflicted destruction, we believe that we are quite capable of restoring the dignity and humanity of this great nation and its people. We are leaders, not managers. We look at the nation from a broader perspective. We do not see individuals. We see a promising people—full of energies, yearning for redemption from deprivations and war.
We see children walking aimlessly in the street pondering over their future in a country that continues to fail them. We see mothers frantically laboring to make ends meet and wondering whether their children will ever live and enjoy the basic amenities of life.
We see a wounded nation. We see a failed state. We see a leaderless nation that has existed for nearly 158 years. We can no longer afford to see this nation tumble down the steep of war, self-destruction and mismanagement.
Your call for our intervention is timely and appropriate. We are, at your behest, prepared to fill the leadership vacuum in this country—a leadership created and managed by the people and for the people.
I believe that letting bygones be bygones should in no way blind us to the reality of rewarding people who have made a mess of the system by using state power. The 1997 elections are a living testimony of our people good-naturedness to reward people who inflicted so much pains and sufferings on them with the hope that these people will realize their mistakes and make amends. Taylor and his cronies are living beneficiaries of the good-heartedness of the Liberian people.
But see where they took the nation. They simply mortgaged and looted the country. They plunged us into chaos and turned a decent country into a pariah state totally abhorred by the rest of the civilized world. Don’t let it happened again. Never again, my fellow compatriots. Never again!
We need a new direction that is fundamentally based on one simple principle: Putting Liberians first. But the critical question is: How do we do that?
Obviously, we do not need a life long politician, particularly a politician whose only interest is about securing a job for himself; a politician who is solely beholding to business interests in Monrovia; a politician who was an integral part of this war that damaged our country; or, a politician who will say anything to get elected but soon turns his back on the people. Liberia also does not need a leader, who lacks the moral vestiges to the extent that just by calling his name ignites thousands of shockwaves in people.
So what kind of leadership does Liberia need today? A corporate lawyer who values profits over people? A Harvard law graduate, whose education was paid by taxpayers, but never raised a voice when criminals pillaged the country?
A desperate sponsor and initiator of the war that destroyed our social fabric and sent people in refugee camps around the subregion? A greedy lawyer, who once provided legal justification for and presided over Taylor ’s criminal enterprise, mortgaged the nation’s resources to mafia cronies and promulgated inimical legislations to plunder the country? A group of self-conceited people, who makes promises they cannot uphold and deliver? Or does Liberia need a leadership that will plead expediency for not fulfilling promises and expectations? We do not believe you want such leadership. Liberia is considered a failed state by the rest of the world.
Liberia , from all indications, needs a visionary, a technocrat, a true institutional builder. Our system is thoroughly broken down. We need someone with institutional mindset to fix it.
We are tired of the deep division in the country. So we need someone who can unite us, not someone who divides us.
There are too much corruption and financial mismanagement. So we need someone who can hold people accountable by prosecuting people who steal government money, confiscating their assets, and throwing them in prison.
Liberians lack economic opportunities. Unemployment is astronomically high. So we need someone who can create opportunities for all and put people back to work. We believe we are prepared to face these challenges. We are ready to be your leaders.
And this is why we have entered the race to bring about lasting reform and change in government. We would have done this long time ago, but our brother and dear friend, the late Dr. Harry F. Moniba, was in the race. We believe in our tradition that we pay respect to our elders, especially when they are doing a good job. And Dr. Moniba was a fine, conscientious, patriotic and decent man whose memories will forever remain in our minds. While no single individual can replace another person, it is time that we have a leader that shares the vision of some of the best people Liberia has produced over the years in the name of persons like King Sao Bosso, Edward Wilmot Blyden, D. Twe, Harry F. Moniba and the list goes on.
So we have come to take our case to Liberia , and to tell ordinary Liberians that this is their government. This is the leadership long overdue. That this leadership will empower them in ways never before experienced in the political existence of this nation. And that this leadership will stand for them and protect them against all forms of exploitation now and in the future. And that the days of conniving with unscrupulous businesses at the expense of ordinary Liberians are over. We will encourage honest investments and investors.
Our campaign for the presidency, therefore, is about putting Liberia and Liberians first. We intend to make fundamental reforms in Liberia so that government can efficiently serve the people it governs. We also intend to reconcile and become more inclusive, where every Liberian can be fully represented.
We will work towards an affirmative action program for women and the disabled. We intend to usher in a new era of accountability and transparency where the phrase—grabs what you can and get away—will be a thing of the past.
It will be a government where people will be vigorously prosecuted, and not rewarded, for engaging in corrupt practices. When the person is found to be corrupt, not only will he be dismissed, but he will also face the consequences of the law and will not serve in our administration. Unlike the past, such person will be rewarded by transferring him to another position.
Our government will be about creating opportunities for all Liberians, investing in primary education, establishing community colleges in every county, and providing free education up two years of college.
We will also create a Small Business Administration to help our people start small businesses. We cannot leave all aspects of our economy in the hands of others. We will ensure that self sufficiency in food production, particularly our staple food, becomes the thrust of our agricultural policy. We will provide government subsidies and loan guarantees to our hardworking farmers to produce enough food to make us self-sufficient and self-reliant.
We will balance the budget by ensuring that we don’t spend more than the revenue we take in, and that is only possible when we centralize our revenue collections and budget expenditure. We will reform government by decentralizing the political and administrative structure of government, and overhauling government ministries
We will work with the international community to rebuild our infrastructure, which includes roads, the water system, electricity, telecommunications, and housing, among others. We will make smart investments in health care and rely mostly on the construction and management of health clinics and community centers. We will work tireless to encourage foreign investment in our country and create a tax-free incentive for companies interested in establishing manufacturing businesses.
We have a clear cut agenda for this country. We have abundant resources, and if accounted for properly, we will be able to fund many of these agenda items that we have just presented. But we cannot do it when people are taking money here and there as though it were their personal private bank accounts. That’s why it is so important that we stop the massive corruption in this country.
We, therefore, urge you to join the fight in making our vision for a new Liberia a reality so that when the fight is finally won, all of us will take the credit for putting up a good fight. It is going to be difficult. But with consistent smart thinking and unresolved determination, we will win on October 11.
Far too long, we have allowed our destiny to be determined by a select group of politicians. Time and time again, they have made a mess of the system. It is our time to take our country back, put it on the right track, and show to these politicians that we are a credible alternative. We can do it. We must do it. So join us in taking back our country. All hope is not lost, my people. Liberia best days are still ahead of us. All we need to do now is to make sure we make the right choice for President and the National Legislature on October 11, 2005 . We cannot afford to make another catastrophic mistake in these elections. The consequences are too grave.
Once again, we thank all of you for your support and steadfastness tonight. We appreciate your identifying with this worthy cause. Let us go forward and usher in this new era of accountability, inclusiveness and opportunity for all. Together, we can build a better tomorrow.
Ladies and gentlemen, with this I take my case to the Liberian people. I am happy to make a deal with you—with the Liberian people, tonight.
God bless the Liberian nation. God bless the Liberian people. Long live Africa ’s first republic. In the cause of the people, the struggle will end on October 11, 2005 .
Thank you, thank you and thank you!
Related: Speech Delivered on May 6, 2005 at Robert International Airport by Presidential Aspirant John S. Morlu