‘Come Forward to Change the Narrative’ -Senate Pro Temp Albert Chie Tells UL Graduates

The President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Mr. Albert Chie, has called on members of the 102nd graduating class of the University of Liberia to see their transition to the public space as an opportunity to get involved efforts that would change Liberia’s narratives regarding socioeconomic and political growth.

He said there are many challenges plaguing the development that need permanent solutions that will put the nation in a comfortable state of being, and the graduates could play a vital role in achieving that.

Senator Chie made the statement yesterday, Wednesday, March 16, 2022 when he delivered the convocation address of the graduation exercise of the state-run institution held on the Fendell Campus.

Hundreds of candidates for Bachelor’s degrees from the TJR Faulkner College of Science and Technology and Climate Change, School of Nursing and Midwifery, and the William Richard Tolbert Jr College of Agriculture and Forestry received their academic certification.

“Having acquired the knowledge and skills from the University of Liberia, I challenge you to go out and make a difference; begin to ask yourself what you are going to do with what you have taken from this institution that will change the narratives and make Liberia a better place,” the Grand Kru Senator stressed. “It involves putting to proper use what this institution has impacted into you.”

In order for his message to resonate with the graduates, Senator Chie directed his admonition by college where he told each group what they needed to do to make the various sectors of the economy based on their areas of specifications.

For the College of Agriculture and Forestry, he said despite the vast stretches of land, bountiful rainfall and trained manpower, the country has failed to feed itself to the extent of importing thousands of metric tons of rice annually at an average cost of some $140m.

He said this situation has affected the balance of trade of the country and caused macroeconomic disturbances.

“Our graduating agriculturists must now begin to think of new ways to change the narratives so that we can have food security. Let us stop importing basic agricultural products, like pepper, from neighboring countries,” he said.

Senator Chie bemoaned the state of the forestry industry which he attributed to the lack of trained manpower and some of the errors in the various reforms adopted in the forestry sector some of which have to do with preserving the forest in the name of mitigating against climate change.

Such a scheme, according to him, only benefits the industrialized countries and nothing meaningful comes to the less developed countries like Liberia.

He continued: “They pollute the air to make money and we are told to keep our forest to absorb the pollutants. In the 70’s and 80’s, there were logging companies that built and maintained our roads, but today, if you look at places like the Southeastern part of the Country, you will find very deplorable roads because there are no logging companies again to undertake road projects. We will need you to come up with strategies on how we will undertake measures so that our forest will benefit us and not the industrialized countries as it is now.”

Turning to the Engineering graduates, the Grand Kru County Senator said that the bulk of the problems being encountered in the power, construction and mining sectors of the country can be attributed to the quality of engineers in the country, making specific reference to their lack of competence, untrustworthiness and patriotism.

He said since the end of the civil war, the Government of Liberia and its development partners have put in more money in the power sector, but unfortunately the availability of electricity remains very elusive.

Pro Temp Chie said in 2014, the government undertook reform programs which unbundle the power sector, where the Ministry of Mines and Energy playing supervisory role, the Liberia Energy Regulatory Commission (LERC) becoming the regulator and the Liberia Electricity Corporation being the operator.

He said with all the measures taken, the country cannot boast of a steady supply of electricity.

Senator Chie said the same challenges can be found in the Mining Sector where illicit mining has become a national emergency. He said the wave of foreigners infiltrating the sector and engaging in illicit mining is unprecedented and this has caused the nation to suffer from revenue losses.

He added: “We have a similar situation with the construction side. Poor engineering designs, poor supervision over projects and lack of patriotism have caused the poor quality of works done on our roads and other structures. Some Liberian construction companies given contracts to either construct or maintain our roads did poor jobs and left our roads in bad conditions.”

Also cautioning the prospective medical practitioners, Senator Chie said that in the last 3 years there has been a steady increase in the budgetary allocations starting from $47M in the 2018/19 fiscal year, $58M in the 2019/2020 fiscal year and $66 m in the 2020/21.

He also said there are other funding from international sources to bolster Government’s support and if the practitioners have also committed themselves to the cause of the Liberian people, the better it would be for the country.

“We have seen the situation where our medical professionals will fight hard to get on the payroll but once that is done, you find the same people giving all kinds of excuses to come back to Monrovia,” the Senate boss said. “I urge you to come to the labor force with new narratives to change the face of the health sector to help the country.”

Senator Chie also used the occasion to dismiss the insinuation from the public space that the government has not been able to encourage Liberians to go into businesses and compete with foreigners in the economy.

He noted that the reasons why Liberians do not do well in businesses has to do with their poor attitude of managing businesses and should not be blamed on the government.

According to him, “there was a time during the administration of the former Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, loans were given to Liberians to go into businesses, but what has become of them today, breeze.”

“The LBDI is the only Liberian commercial bank among other commercial banks in the country. Loans were given to Liberians to do business in various areas such as construction, agriculture, mining, etc, but what became the story today, breeze. Go to the other commercial banks in the country and look at the credit records of our people. They collected money but could not pay back, what became of the story breeze.”

Senator Chie presented a check of $100,000 donated by the Liberian Senate for various colleges and groups in the University.

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