As Africa’s oldest Republic, Liberia, clocks 174 years since its independence in 1847, the customary debate over whether or not the country’s age commensurate with its social, economic and political progress has heightened once again. As is often the case, there are some pundits, specifically politically inclined Liberians, who often posit that there is no reason to celebrate the nation’s independence, arguing that nothing much has happened for which to be happy. Of course, there are citizens who counter that there is something for which to celebrate, for every political epoch has left behind a worthy history that makes the country an oasis of freedom and peace. Towards the 174th anniversary of the nation, the noise about Liberia’s progress or the lack of it has taken center stage in the national discourse, and one of the country’s foremost opposition politicians has got a barrage of indignation. In the view of Mr. Alexander Cummings, Political Leader of the Alternative National Congress, so much has gone wrong in the national political sphere over the years, and there is a dire need to right the wrongs and create a sprawling future of the people of Liberia. The Analyst reports.
The Political Leader of Alternative National Congress (ANC), Mr. Alexander Cummings, has been pointing out a litany of political failures in Liberia which have not been going away despite the rise of successive administrations that got to power on the mantra of change.
Mr. Cummings maintained that somewhere between the date of the declaration of independence and today, Liberians have lost their way resulting into backwardness, poverty and endemic corruption.
In his 2021 Independence Day statement, the ANC leader asserted that at 174 years, Liberia is still in a difficult place.
“Regardless of who we prefer to blame, the truth is that we are all in serious trouble,” Cummings said, noting that at 174 years of age, Liberia does not need a few citizens for its development, but rather needs “all of us”.
At 174, he noted, “our country does not need to settle more ethnic and political scores. It needs all of us to work together to achieve higher national goals,” and that the country is old to have hospitals without essential medicines and diagnostic equipment, while officials of our government with the responsibility to correct this are themselves seeking treatment in neighboring countries, or farther abroad.
According to Cummings, if the government cannot fix the hospitals that the people they serve will go to when they are sick, no official of government ought to seek medical checkups or treatment in a foreign hospital at government’s expense.
“Therefore, fix the hospitals, or use it as it is,” he demanded.
He continued: “At 174, Liberia is too old to continue to allow greed and corruption to substitute for the duty of public accountability and integrity.”
According to him, in both 2019 and 2020, Liberia recorded the lowest scores representing high level of corruption reported in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index since 2008. Our country is too old to view honesty in public service as naivety, and to let ourselves continue to lose the duty of citizenship to partisanship.
At 174, Mr. Cummings said, “Liberia is too old to continue to allow our politics to be about our tribes or religions. All of our tribes and experiences make us Liberians, and must never be used to divide us. Instead, our politics must be about ideas – ideas to improve and empower Liberians, ideas to build our country and manage our wealth better, and ideas to finally end the things that have continued to keep us down and backward.”
We Cannot Change Our past, But We Can Create Our Future.
Having lamented the horrible history of Liberia’s underdevelopment and misrule, the ANC Political Leader turned on what can be done to improve service to the people of Liberia and preparing a better future for Liberian children.
He said while “we cannot change our past,” Liberians can create a better future for all.
To do this, he noted Liberians must change the mindset that got them to where the Liberia is today.
He said: “We must adopt a new national perspective that Liberia belongs to all Liberians. All Liberians, therefore, owe a duty to the country to be good citizens – to work as hard and as honestly as we can to make Liberia better for ourselves and for our children.”
Defining good citizens, Mr. Cummings said good citizens do not steal from the people. Good citizens do not deceive the people.
“Good citizens stand for that which is right for the country even if they anger a few friends and political allies. The fundamental duty of citizenship – of belonging to Liberia and being called a Liberian citizen – is to build a better country,” he said, adding that obedience to the law is a duty of good citizenship.
He also noted that good citizens take responsibility and accept the failures of getting it wrong just as they will accept the benefits of getting it right. He called on national leaders – political, religious, community, and traditional – to be more accountable to each other and to the country.
Leaders must lead by good examples so that others are encouraged to follow, he said, adding: “We will not grow until we allow our visions, expectations, dreams, and aspirations to also grow. Therefore, national goals must be bigger, allowing us to set our sights higher, and extend our collective endeavors further.”
Change of Hard
Acknowledging the difficulties that come with change, Mr. Cummings however indicated that change requires hard work and determination and that it takes time.
He said: “But like success, change can happen. Liberia can be better. We can build a prosperous future for all. We can unite ourselves. We can expand the economy. We can grow the national budget. We can fight corruption. We can genuinely reconcile our fractured nation. We can heal the wounds and pull ourselves together. We can end the culture of impunity and establish a war and economic crimes court.”
He said Liberians can fix their own schools, hospitals, and roads so that the movement of people, goods and services are unhindered throughout the year.
“We can feed ourselves and export our surplus to the world. We can manufacture and add value to what God has naturally blessed our country to have,” he said as if no one had done in the past or doing it now. “We can electrify villages and towns just as we are trying to do in Monrovia because Liberia is more than Monrovia.”
He added: “Let there be no mistake: We will not do these things overnight, immediately or magically, but we can do all of them if we took collective responsibility for the development of our country and refuse — for example, to sell our natural resources cheaply or for kickbacks, and refuse to engage in the mismanagement of our wealth.”
At 174 years, there may not be much to celebrate, the ANC boss said, but noted that “we can begin to write a new chapter in the journey of Liberia.”
“The next chapter can inspire the world again because we can let the new statistics reveal that although we fell, we refused to remain down,” he averred. “We stood up, and together, we forged new roads and found different paths to a better and more prosperous future for all Liberians. That we became good to each other and treated each other with love and respect; that we put our love for country above our love for personalities; that we honored excellence and frowned on mediocrity; that we became the beacon of hope again. The next chapter can show that although we lost our way, we found a new way and found ourselves again.” See full text of Mr. Cummings’ 174TH INDEPENDENCE DAY ADDRESS 2021 on page 9 of this edition.