There are too many Liberian heroes and heroines, whether alive or dead, whose names and deeds are etched and will remain plastered on the pages of history. Many are unsung and unassuming, but their actions and legacies glitter and blasts powerfully like sharp light beaming afar. Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has just spotted one whom she labelled, “my trusted friend and brother”. He’s former Finance Minister of Liberia, a Liberian businessman of international stature, Mr. John G. Bestman. He has ceased to exist when, according to former President Sirleaf, Liberia is hungering for more John G. Bestmans. She tendered an enthralling eulogy for Mr. Bestman. See Tribute below:
A TRIBUTE TO
JOHN G. BESTMAN
A TRUSTED FRIEND, AND DISTINGUISHED PUBLIC SERVANT
ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF
John rendered public service as a national duty. His works were dedicated to make Liberia, the country he loves, a better nation. I came to know this over the period of many years because I worked with John. I knew John G. Bestman. He was my friend.
John’s services to the land of his birth knew no boundaries. It was not to gain any personal favors or promote any party’s interests. His commitment and dedication to country was simply to push the frontiers of human development to achieve national goals.
Six successive Presidents of Liberia recognized John’s talents and love for country. Even if opposed to each other politically, each President saw in John, an honest capable and qualified Liberian, and provided him opportunities to continue to serve. It was undisputed that to every tasks assigned this distinguished Liberian, he served with diligence bringing both academic qualifications and experiential learnings to every office in his practice of financial management.
From his days at Syracuse University to becoming one of the country’s long-serving financial managers and advisors, John distinguished himself and placed honorable reverence on the name John G. Bestman. Always proud of his humble beginnings, he bore himself with deserved dignity and respect measuring himself not by beginnings or accomplishments, but by the quality of his service and commitments to national duties.
Untiring, John was also an astute entrepreneur. In every problem, John saw an opportunity and ventured out with admiration and respect to excel in a mercantile environment dominated by foreign residents. His exploits in rice importation created new partnerships for Liberian businesses.
John was a co-worker. He was my mentor, and became my compass in a difficult, complex and challenging environment. Such was the depth of our friendship that John would provide guidance to my sons in a field common to his own, and encouraged his very able wife to provide much-needed executive assistance to me.
As with all true friendships, we had our share of disagreements. However, we remained close and trusting of each other. Even when the ownership of the Roberts International Airport land disagreement between the Government of Liberia, which I headed at the time, and John’s family appeared initially to risk our bond of friendship, we found a way to pull ourselves back together. Despite the initial difficulties, together, and amicably in the end, we preserved the superior interests of the country, which John has always cherished as a national and patriotic duty.
John G. Bestman was truly a man of the people. Although he had a residence in the confines of the capitol city, he constructed a building in Marshall where he would often reside. His was a decision to be close to his people.
I was therefore pleased to name the Liberia Maritime Institute, which is located in Marshall City, in his name and to his memory. John deserved it. His public services deserved nothing less, and his love for Marshall and its people certainly deserved the institutionalization of his memory in that beautiful place.
He departs this life at a difficult time for Liberia when we need more John G. Bestmans. May his soul rest in perpetual peace, and his cherished memory of dedicated and committed public service inspire all of us to continue to build a better Liberia for all citizens.