Consummate Academic Quits Politics -Dr. Sawyer Pledges Unshakable Commitment To Liberia

That Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer, former Liberian head of state is a ‘man of letters’, a shrewd political activist and consummate intellectual is an understatement. Pundits and commentators are unanimous in the view that only he and a few other Liberians merit the epithet of “true champions of multiparty democracy in Liberia”, for burning out their youthful and adult lives in long struggle for mass enlightenment and popular participation in this country. It is he and a few others who chopped up the roots of hegemonic governance leading Liberians breathing prevailing fresh air of civil liberties, freedom and democracy today. Though of these “engendered species” are less celebrated, history holds them an amiable place. Instead of waiting until he inhales his last drop of oxygen, the erudite Liberian statesman is voluntarily withdrawing from partisan politics and renewing commitment to Liberia’s nation-building process. The Analyst leafs through expressed reasons for his action with a brief look of his sociopolitical past.

One of Liberia’s longtime political activists and educators, Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer, has announced his resignation from active partisan politics, as he put it, “continue my engagement as a senior scholar and citizen.”

Releasing Resignation Announcement

In a statement released and signed by his assistant, Mr. Ibrahim Nyei, Dr. Sawyer said his action would allow him to begin “working along with others to sustain peace and reconciliation, strengthen democracy and enhance development in our dear country and our region.”

“I announce today my retirement from partisan politics in Liberia. I have been a member of the Liberian People’s Party since its founding by MOJA in 1980 at MOJA’s Second Congress,” Dr. Sawyer, who served as President of the Interim Government of National Unity from 1990 to 1994, said in a statement.

He noted that his retirement is due to health challenges which, according to him, “limit the range of activities in which I can fully and productively engage”.

“Hereafter,” Dr. Sawyer averred, “I intend to continue my engagement as a senior scholar and citizen, working along with others to sustain peace and reconciliation, strengthen democracy and enhance development in our dear country and our region.”

He tendered special thanks to all who have worked with him over the decades of his involvement in national political affairs as a partisan, adding: “Needless to say, my commitment to Liberia and the people of Africa remains unshakable.”

Sawyer: Liberia’s Academic Gem

The academic history of Liberia would be incomplete without mention of Dr. Sawyer who, at a youthful age, earned a Ph.D. Degree in Political Science from Northwestern University in the United States in 1973.

What distinguishes him amongst his Liberian peers is first and foremost in mastery of the “Queen’s Language, given to superb eloquence and histrionics.

Whenever he told to the public speaking stage, where it was the heydays of the progressive struggle in the 1970s and at the University of Liberia as Politic Science lecturer or as head of statement speaking to the nation, students of literature had much takeaways intellectually.

As an academic, he served as Associate Professor of Political Science in the University of Liberia in the late 1970s and as Dean of the faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities in the early 1980s.

From 2000 to 2009, he was a professor at Indiana University, serving as Research Scientist and Co-director of the public policy institute called The Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis.

Professor Sawyer has published widely on issues and challenges of democratization, governance and peace building in Africa.

His book, The Emergence of Autocracy in Liberia, Tragedy and Challenge (published 1992) is still considered a seminal work on Liberian political economy. His book, Beyond Plunder, Toward Democratic Governance in Liberia (published 2005), makes an important contribution to the analysis of governance breakdown as well as the formulation of post-conflict recovery policies in Liberia with significant lessons for other post-conflict African countries.

Since retiring from the Governance Commission in January 2018, Professor Sawyer has been engaged in the area of citizenship education in Liberia, maintaining that the nurturing of citizens who are informed and efficacious is indispensable to sustaining peace and democratic governance.

A set of citizenship education textbooks for use in Liberian schools is being completed under his aegis. He has also been participating in high-level discourses on deepening democratic governance in Botswana, The Gambia, Nigeria and Liberia.

Dr. Sawyer: Man of Multiple Utility

Having returned to Liberia in the 1970s, armed with a solid Doctorate Degree, Professor Sawyer took strategic position at the University of Liberia, where he and others engaged into mass political education of young Liberian students during an oligarchic governance epoch. He is a founding member of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) which was a major conveyor belt upon which civil enlightenment and anti-establishment awareness reached every nook and corner of the country.

When the “progressive forces” of the 1970s sought to test the democratic temperament of the True Whig Party Government, it was Dr. Sawyer who risked his life to be put forward as the candidate in the mayoral elections against the heavily vindictive establishment.

The ripples of that election provided the defining moment and compost that exposed the tyrannical establishment to sustained agitation that hardly quenched until it was finally severed out of order.

Professor Amos C. Sawyer is a Liberian citizen who has worked tirelessly for peace and the establishment of democratic governance in his home country as well as for the establishment and strengthening of institutions and processes of democratic governance and development in Africa.

He has a distinguished record of public service in Liberia and Africa and an impressive record of academic achievements.

After the military takeover in Liberia in 1980, he was called upon to head the National Constitution Commission to draft a new constitution for Liberia, as a major part of the transition to civilian rule.  In 1990, when Liberia was engulfed in civil war, he was called upon to serve as President of the Interim Government of National Unity and tasked with the responsibility of leading the search for peace among Liberians.

Since Liberia’s return to constitutional rule, following the holding of democratic elections in 2005, Professor Sawyer has been active in the efforts to ensure that Liberia’s institutions and processes of governance are more accountable, participatory, efficient and effective, meeting standards of good governance.

At the request of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, he took up the position of Chairman of the Governance Reform Commission of Liberia (now Governance Commission of Liberia), the body charged with the responsibility of crafting reform policies and implementation strategies for sustaining peace advancing reconciliation, and attaining good governance in post-conflict Liberia.

He also serves as Lead Convener of the Zero Hunger Initiative designed to advance Liberia’s achievement of Sustainable Development Goal on eliminating hunger (SDG #2).

It was under Professor Sawyer’s leadership at the Governance Commission that the Commission played the lead role in crafting Code of Conduct for public and civil servants, establishing the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, the National Policy on Decentralization and Local Government, the Land Reform Commission, the National Vision Exercise and the roadmap for managing the 2017 post-elections political transition, among other deliverables.

Dr. Sawyer: Man of International Repute

On the African continent, Professor Sawyer is well known for his work in promotion of democratic governance and socio-economic development through regional integration.

He has led numerous missions on peacebuilding and elections observation and has been deeply involved in the strengthening of civil society and the building of African capacity to sustain institutions and processes of democratic governance.

He also has served as Chairman of the Panel of Eminent Persons of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), an affiliate of NEPAD, after serving as a Member of the Panel for two years.

Members of the Panel have the responsibility of leading technical missions to review the performance of APRM member- countries in critical areas of political, economic and social governance.

He has also served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Centre for Development and Strategic Studies (ACDESS), the Wahala Publishing House and as a consultant in managing post-conflict transitions.

Flood of Accolades

Dr. Sawyer’s noble struggle for human advancement has made him one of Liberia’s most decorated statesman. Prominent are three outstanding honors he has received from his country.

In 2011, he was accorded Liberia’s highest distinction, the Grand Cordon of the Knighthood of the Most Venerable Order of the Pioneers. He is the recipient of the 2011 Gusi Peace Prize. In 2015, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) by the University of Liberia, and in 2017 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) by Indiana University.

He earned a Masters of Arts (MA) degree from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA:

Masters of Arts (MA) Political Science, June 1970, having gotten Bachelor of Arts (BA), History & Government, December 1966 from the University of Liberia.

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