Liberia is at a very critical crossroad today.When the guns went silent in 2003, following 14 years of brutal civil conflict, the people of Liberia, working alongside the international community, embraced the democratic system of governance as the best option in moving our country forward and addressing our leadership challenges.
Following two critically acclaimed national elections, the resilient people of this nation will again be going to the polls in October 2017 to choose who will lead them on this critical journey towards the 21st Century. The outcome of the 2017 elections will be a defining moment for Liberia and its citizens, both at home and in the Diaspora. The hard choices that we make will indicate whether or not this nation is prepared to move ahead or remain stuck in time, reliving the ugly past.
A decade of peace and quietude has allowed the current administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to work along with our citizens and the international community in moving Liberia from its past state to a 21st Century nation that is edging towards middle income status in terms of growth and development. Our nation still grapples with huge challenges when it comes to education, healthcare, electricity, water, land reform, among several other socioeconomic gaps.
As a former refugee who fled the civil conflict from Monrovia to Danane, in La Cote d’Ivoire in the early 1990s; I was fortunate to gain entry into the United States of America where I obtained my higher education. We all know firsthand what our people endured in the remotest parts of Liberia. The sad part is that even today in most areas of our country particularly in the Southeast, our people remain stuck in a weird time warp, as if the war has not ended.
My decision to enter the 2017 presidential race today rests on the backbone of hope and reform. As a former refugee girl, I bear testimony to the fact that education remains the greatest equalizer for hope and reform. When used constructively, education can transform anybody into somebody.
While I would hasten to acknowledge the significant progress made by this government in terms of socioeconomic transformation; the task to improve the lives of our people is far from completion. And I remain confident that the change our people so desperately crave can only be realized when we ourselves are ready to change. A holistic economic transformation has to completely trickle down to the citizenry if they must feel the ripple effects of development.
And so, over the next couple of months, we will robustly engage our citizens across the length and breadth of the country, as well as in the Diaspora, on a soul-searching mission to listen, learn and document what works best for our country Liberia. Our approach to developmental problem solving will not be a “one-size-fits-all”. The development needs of our people in River-Gee, of course, will be different contextually from those in Gbarpolu County; as so it is with other counties.
As we embark on this arduous journey together, we enjoin all Liberians – wherever you find yourself – to understand and propagate the message of hope and reform. We will forever ‘BE BETTER TOGETHER’.