By Martin K. N. Kollie
Greetings with a bleeding heart from Dakar, Senegal to my brothers and sisters who intend to give up as a result of what they are going through each day. I know reaching thus far was tough, but you must never abandon this worthwhile journey. You are about to propel to a new future and arriving finally may require prodigious courage and endurance. Sometimes, you may want to forget about the word HOPE and embrace DESPAIR. I know times are hard and those you have given authority to careless about improving your living condition for almost a decade now. What is even more appalling is that they misuse your resources and abuse you as though you were wrong to give them power.
Now we have discovered who they really are and have detected their creepy ambition to keep us down as a nation and people. We know that they are aware about our alarming and degrading condition. They are aware that we don’t have quality education. They are aware that our health care delivery system is completely broken. They are aware that we drink unsafe water. They are aware that we don’t have electricity. They are aware that our roads are bad. They are aware that majority of us are unemployed.
They are aware that young people are becoming professional gamblers, drug addicts, prostitutes, beggars, push-push riders, motorcyclists and car loaders. They are aware that we live in shacks and huts. They are aware that the number of children selling cold water has increased sharply. They are aware about the ongoing ‘land-grab’ in our country. They are aware that food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition are stabbing us. They are aware that justice is on sale and corruption is destroying us like Ebola.
The question now is ‘are they unaware about the solution(s) to these existing problem(s)?’ or ‘are they ignorant to addressing these challenges?’ The real answer is, they are knowledgeable about these prevailing challenges and know how to solve them. Disappointingly, they care more about pocketing millions of tax-dollars while vast majority of the citizenry remains economically enslaved. This mode of governance has to stop!
No one must tell me that we don’t have the resources to make our country better. We have all it takes to make Liberia an earthly paradise and an economic powerhouse. The resources of our nation is more than its people. We have iron ore, rubber, oil, diamond, gold, timber, vast forest land for agriculture and logging, etc. Our country is endowed with huge deposit of natural resources, but why are our people so poor? After more than one and the half century, we are still depending on financial aid, grant and loan. In 2005, our national budget was $US80 million, but today it is $US622.7 million. Why must basic social services be lacking when we now have a budget of over half a billion?
Why must our economy be controlled and managed by foreigners as though we are incapable of driving it ourselves? Today in our country, the gap between the haves and the have-not is too wide. Either you are poor or rich. There is no middle class to bridge this vacuum. Those who now occupy our middle class are the Lebanese, Indians, Fulani, Nigerians, Chinese, etc. After these foreign nationals make huge profits from their businesses, they do not invest those profits here. Capital flight is creating serious leakage in our economy.
We can take over our economy and build a vibrant middle class if we increase or improve human capital, expand local markets, promote agro-productivity and stimulate the energy sector. Additionally, government needs to prioritize export over import. Are they not aware about these basic strategies to disconnect our people from poverty? Of course, they are! Sadly, they have subjected themselves to greed, deceit and all forms of self-seeking ventures.
From the Executive to the Legislature, they care more about themselves and less about the people. Least to talk about the Judiciary. These classical crooks and renowned economic migrants have forgotten that working in government is about providing service(s) and not about self-enrichment. This pattern of governance serves as the basis for what we currently endure. It is time for a paradigm shift. It is time to reshape a new beginning.
Slum-dwellers, permit me now to speak to our consciences. Do you know really who we are? We are the people in whom all power is inherent according to Article one (1) of the Liberian Constitution. We have the authority to establish a legitimate government and alter it if we so desire. We have the power to decide who our next President, Vice President and Lawmakers become. How long will it take us to discover our real purpose and power? We are complaining today, because of the decision we took yesterday! Whenever we fail to make the right choices, we amputate our destiny and cripple our chances.
The power to elect is ours, but overtime we have misused this opportunity to transform our lives and build a new Liberia. It is not too late to make a U-turn. We still have another opportunity to either help or harm ourselves further. 2017 General and Presidential Election is the solution. You must be a part of this change. The road towards this political dispensation may seem rocky and hilly, but it is not impossible for us to reach our final destination together.
2017 must not be seen primarily as a period of mere political contestation, rather it must be seen as a golden moment to chart a new course. It must be seen as a time to re-brand and reshape our nation. It must be seen as a unique occasion to graduate from a plain of poverty, inequality, injustice, and mediocrity. We must understand now that Liberia is greater than any political party or politician. These political institutions or actors will fade, but Liberia will never. Therefore, we must approach this era with an opened mind and a sense of patriotism. We must delete our errors of the past through the demonstration of our loyalty to nationhood. The election in 2017 is about giving Liberia a new look and a different future.
Our situation can change beyond 2017 if we make the right choices and the best decisions. Our nation is too old to be where it is, but one thing that is certain is that our story can change if we so desire. Be mindful of political rhetoric and false-prophets. They currently live in mansions while you live in shacks, as a result of using you as scapegoats. You must not allow this to happen again as we approach another critical epoch in our history. You deserve better than what you have.
They live in better houses while you live in huts. They drink imported mineral water while you drink from creeks and unsafe wells. They sleep under air-conditioners while you sleep in heat with mosquitoes surviving on your blood. They have 24/7 electricity while you use candles and Chinese lights. Their children and grandchildren are abroad acquiring quality education while you acquire messy education. When they are sick, they seek foreign medication while you die from curable sicknesses like malaria and cold.
They ride luxurious vehicles while you walk far distances and sometimes struggle to ride rusty buses. They eat chicken and drink expensive wine every day while you go to bed hungry and sometimes die from starvation. They mismanage and siphon your resources without any intention to improve your condition. They create conditions and take decisions to keep you down. They find pleasure in empowering foreigners and subjecting you to all forms of humiliations. Surely, they are enemies of the State and cruel characters that must be thrown through the backdoor in 2017.
I am talking about those self-seeking and unpatriotic rulers whose ultimate desire is to wreck our future and disintegrate our willpower to succeed. They are found in the Executive Mansion, ministries and agencies. They are in the Legislature and Judiciary! These ill-visionary and greedy public trustees masquerade in pretense and march in long line to loot what belongs to all Liberians. They divide our national cake without even the crumbs dropping down to slum-dwellers. They have established toothless anti-corruption agencies (LACC, GAC and IAS) and engendered failed economic policies for almost 10 years now.
They have master and PhD degrees in presenting flowery speeches and publicly pronouncing unrealistic policies. They have intentionally ratified and signed bogus concession agreements even though they once professed to have answers to our problems. Since 2006, they cannot show us one concrete achievement. They have not scored hundred percent (100%) in a single priority area, be it road, health, education, housing, electricity, employment, food security, reconciliation, infrastructure, safe drinking water, sanitation, agriculture, etc. Truly, they are monumental emblems of deep-seated failure.
The Masses must rise up now to rewrite their history. Make no mistake to entrust them with your future. Never again must you use your ballots to bullet yourselves. You must use your ballots to bullet those who have compromised your interest. With less than two (2) years to 2017, the choice to make Liberia better is in your hands. 2017 is about choosing between poverty and prosperity. 2017 is about prioritizing a new Liberia. It is about choosing between evil and good. It is about defeating inequality and injustice. It is about bidding farewell to hardship and nepotism. It is about emancipating ourselves from economic slavery and socio-political hostage. It is about reviving hope and renewing courage.
We must not abuse this occasion. It is all ours to advance our nation to an incomparable height and an irreversible apex of socio-economic parity. Be not deceived by what they tell you this time around. We must be wise to detect their schemes and plots to undermine our collective destiny as a people and a nation. Most of them are preparing to use illicit cash to buy your independence and integrity in 2017, but never again must you trade your votes for peanut ($20USD). You cannot continue to live in slums until you die. You too are human beings and deserve a better life.
I still hold to the belief that it is possible to make West Point like Mamba Point, Clara Town like Congo Town, and Plumkor like Sinkor! Therefore, this is a clarion call to all slum-dwellers to see 2017 as the solution to their existing condition. Slum-dwellers of Chicken-soup factory, Doe Community, Soniwen, Clara Town, West Point, New Kru Town, Logan Town, Red Light, and other slum communities in Liberia need to understand that the real motive of their oppressors is to keep them in long-lasting ignorance and poverty. Either we make the right choices in 2017 or risk a dead tomorrow.
About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth activist, student leader, and a young writer. He is currently a student at the University of Liberia reading Economics and a stalwart of the Vanguard Student Unification Party (SUP). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org