CSOs Want GOL to Fund Unification Day -Lament failure to elevate the holiday

MONROVIA: As a way to demonstrate its seriousness towards celebrating the National Unification Day annually as it relates to its importance to national development, a consortium of civil society organizations under the aegis of Partners for Democracy and Good Governance (PdG) being spearheaded by the Better Future Foundation (BFF) has petitioned on the Government of Liberia to prioritize the day through  adequate funding through the fiscal budget to facilitate programs, projects and activities to commemorate Unification Day nationwide annually.

In a strong worded petition addressed to the National Legislature of Liberia for the government to take “deliberate actions and steps to unify, reconcile and integrate the people of Liberia”, the institutions, Better Future Foundation (BFF), People United to Peace in Liberia (PUPL), Voices of the Elders –Republic of Liberia (VOTE), Rural Human Rights Activist Program (RHRAP), Liberia Institute of Growing Patriotism (LIGP). National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSUL), Youth Beyond Borders and Women Beyond Borders respectively, said it was high time that the government gives priority to observance the National Unification Day in a way it should have been.

“That the Government of Liberia, through the National Legislature should appropriate funds through the fiscal budget to facilitate programs, projects, and activities to commemorate Unification Day nationwide annually.

“That the Government of Liberia should provide support for the establishment of the Unification Diaspora Initiative (UDI), which will seek to identify and engage Liberians in the diaspora to contribute to unification, integration, sustainable peace, and inclusive development in Liberia; and to at all times exhibit lawful and good citizenship as ambassadors to promote national self-esteem abroad.

“That the Unification Monument in Voinjama City, Lofa County, should be renovated so as to revive and preserve the facility which is a symbol for the unification and integration of the country and to host tourists and inspire the idea of patriotism amongst Liberians”, the release said.

The release also looked at the effects of the prolonged civil war and its impact it created and the need to document the uneventful occurrence and urged the government to “build a War Memorial to remember all the lives lost during Liberia’s civil wars and to remind Liberians never again to resort to violence to solve any issue that may arise between and/or among themselves” as well as initiating, a regular Government-Civil Society Dialogue “so as to remain constructively engaged within scope to ensure that CSOs are adequately informed and supportive of the Government’s policies and national development agenda as the Dialogue broadly seeks to bridge the gap of low citizens’ perception of and further improve public confidence in the Government”.

“That the Government of Liberia should facilitate national discussion, aid in the formulation of a policy, and enact a law to address the plight of senior citizens in order to meet its social welfare obligation. These senior citizens contributed to the development of Liberia in yesteryears but are now experiencing glaring neglect, abandonment, and they have limited access to pension and social security benefits.

“That the Government of Liberia should support the compilation and publication of a National Unification Day Celebration Compendium from 2014 to 2024 to aid the teaching of civics and peace education in learning institutions in Liberia. When this compendium is published digitally, Liberians in the diaspora and in the country will benefit from the literature and this will lead to a ripple effect in preserving the sustenance of peace in the country”, the group concluded.

The group premised its petition on some constitutional provisions, relying on several articles in the 1986 constitution for the people in whom the power that gives authority to any leadership resides to make informed input on how the country is to be governed.

“Whereas, Article 5 of the Constitution states that the Republic of Liberia shall aim at strengthening the national integration and unity of the people of Liberia regardless of ethnic, regional or other differences, into one body politic; and the Legislature shall enact laws promoting national unification and the encouragement of all citizens to participate in government;

“Whereas, Article 8 of the Constitution of Liberia states that the Republic shall direct its policy towards ensuring for all citizens, without discrimination, opportunities for employment and livelihood under just and humane conditions towards promoting safety, health, and welfare;

“Whereas, Article 17 of the Constitution further states that all persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceable manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good, to instruct their representatives, to petition the Government or other functionaries for the redress of grievances”, the release quoted provisions of the 1986 constitution.

The group also made reference to the National Pledge of the Country, and said “this pledge provides the foundational principles for unification, integration, justice, and inclusive governance of Liberia. To the contrary, since the founding of Liberia 200 years ago and since the passage of the National Unification and Integration Policy 60 years ago, national reconciliation and unification are yet to be actualized in Liberia with widespread division across the country”.

In furthering their cause for the National Unification Day to be elected, the group went in memory lane to trace the path of how national unification as a policy of the government evolved and how the initiative over the years faded away under successful leaderships.

“Whereas, the National Unification Policy was enacted in 1964 to bridge the socio-economic and political barriers and differences in the country and to further unite and integrate the indigenous population with that of the settlers;

“Whereas, 200 years on since the founding of the Liberian state in 1822 and 60 years after the formal launch of the National Unification and Integration Policy in 1964; actualizing genuine peace, reconciliation, and integration remains a critical challenge in Liberia;

“Whereas, successive administrations of the Liberian Government have failed to actualize genuine peace, reconciliation, and integration of the Liberian people consistent with Article 5 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia”, the group said.

According to the release, it was on the account of failure to uphold the tenet of the National Unification Policy that prompted them to petition the National legislature to ensure that adequate attention is accorded the national holiday through appropriate actions such as funding of the annual celebration throughout the country.

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