Ambassador Mayson calls for “Putting People back to Work”

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
August 18, 2011


Editor’s Note: On Saturday, July 16, 2011, the National Democratic Coalition (NDC), one of Liberia’s newest political parties, comprising more than 8 other political parties, elected its Standard Bearer and corps of national officers. Ambassador Dew Tuan-Wleh Mayson was elected as the NDC’s standard bearer at its first national convention held at the Hotel Africa, located in Virginia, a suburb of Monrovia. Below is Ambassador Mayson's acceptance speech:

Men and women of the National Democratic Coalition, Men and women of this dearly beloved country of ours – the Republic of Liberia.

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Inspired by the burning desire to serve our beloved native land and in profound gratitude for the honor you have bestowed on me, I accept this nomination to lead our people to victory in the forthcoming presidential elections.

And I accept this nomination with a promise: That I, Dew Tuan Wleh Mayson, am ready, willing and able to lead our campaign to victory so that our people will be lifted out of the poverty-stricken conditions with which they are saddled. Our people to smile again.

As you know, our gathering here today is in itself history in the making. For the first time in a long time we have successfully assembled a large number of opposition parties in a grand coalition under the umbrella of the National Democratic Coalition. This has not been an easy task and secondary contradictions continue to bedevil the Coalition. We cannot deny that. But we shall remain united in our common goal to defeat this government which has promised so much but delivered so little.

We want it to be known that we shall continue to struggle for the unity of the opposition parties because we know that it is only through the progressive unity of our people that we shall be able to achieve victory in the forthcoming elections in October.

Let me therefore, once again, raise my voice to plead with those parties which have not already done so, let me say to these parties: put aside the unnecessary hesitancy and join the National Democratic Coalition in a united front for victory of our people.

Those parties who do so will receive the gratitude of our people who are tired of our disunity and are clamoring for our unity. Those parties who fall prey to the inducements of the ruling party and those parties who manufactured all kinds of spurious excuses to frustrate the unity of the opposition will, in the crucible of time, be exposed, and they shall receive the wrath and indignation of our people. We can be sure of that.

And we need to act now because the present situation in our Liberia is so tragically ironic. Here is a country with relatively small population but endowed with huge natural resources, including oil. Yet the major indices of human development are most alarming: high unemployment, extremely high infant mortality rate, widespread poverty, high rate of illiteracy, inadequate schools and even more inadequate health centers, growing inequality and insecurity. Then there is the corruption so rampant that our country is now listed as “one of the most corrupt in the world”. In a word we are a very rich country but with a very poor people.

That is why we need to change this leadership.

We need a leadership that understands the importance of putting our people back to work. Because when our people are unemployed, they cannot provide enough food for their family; they cannot pay their children’s school fees; they cannot pay hospital bills when they and their children are sick. And most importantly, our unemployed people lose the dignity and pride to which every Liberian is entitled.

We need a leadership which – by deeds – not by words and a fingerful of examples – will empower Liberians to fully participate in the development of their country. Is it not a matter of national shame that in the concessions granted for exploration of our mineral and petroleum resources, the present government has given no thought to reserving a portion of these resources for Liberians or at least getting Liberians to partner with the foreign concessions?

And while this government promulgates an investment code with huge incentives for foreign businesses, what incentives and help are being given Liberian businesses? What meaningful assistance is there for the Liberia business person – the market women, carpenters, masoners, shoe shine boys, restaurant owners, et al? Tell me, what meaningful assistance is there for farmers who constitute an overwhelming majority of our working population?

And what initiatives are being launched to train the Liberian engineers and other experts to man the mines and petroleum operations? Are Liberians to be employed only as domestic servants and in other secondary positions?

We need a leadership that will give priority to the special requirements of young people who need to be educated, trained and gainfully employed. Our women, the bearer of our children, need to be respected and assisted so that we can achieve gender balance in elected positions and in all other spheres of national life. We shall assist the handicapped and prove to our people that disability is not inability by appointing a qualified physically-challenge person to the cabinet.

In almost six years of governance, this government continues to ignore its responsibility to repatriate the large numbers of Liberians who are stuck in refugee camps in Nigeria, Ghana, La Cote d’Ivoire, and in Guinea. This government continues to treat with benign neglect former soldiers and the widows of former soldiers. It gives the same treatment to ex-combatants and former child soldiers.

And this government refuses to intervene on behalf of its citizens on travel ban, etc. Under our laws, and the laws of the international community, a person is adjudged to be innocent until proven guilty. If Liberian citizens slapped with travel ban have committed any crime, they should be tried in a court of law. But Liberian citizens cannot be subjected to travel ban for over ten years without being given their day in court.

When the leadership has compassion for our people, they will not throw people out of their jobs in this already difficult economic environment; they will not refuse to pay just compensation to people they have retired or thrown out of work; they will not use so much of our capital expenditure s to buy luxury vehicles because the money used to buy those vehicles could be used to build a school, equip a clinic, provide seed rice for the farmers.

During the last period of voter’s registration, if this leadership had compassion for our people, they would not have asked them to walk three, four five hours to get registered. Why couldn’t government have used some of its vehicles to go to the people and register them near their villages? Why?

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich”- so warned the late American President John F. Kennedy, many, many years ago.

Today, I join our people in saying to this government that enough is enough! At this juncture in our history, the forthcoming election gives us the opportunity to change this government and install a government of our people, with compassion for our people. The challenge to our Liberian people is this: show love for our country by not permitting the next six years to like the last six years. Six is enough – quite enough.

But let us remind ourselves that the change we seek in October will not be easy to achieve. We know that already the government is using its position of incumbency to bribe its opponents and slander its critics. Read the latest report of the National Democratic Initiative where there is documented various acts of fraud and irregularities. And so, in spite of the difficulties ahead, let us go forth, brothers and sisters, confident in the righteousness of our cause and energized by the determination of our people to achieve victory so that they can attain a better life for themselves and for their children.

Our path to victory begins with our campaign to defeat the forthcoming referendum. We must defeat this referendum because it holds no good for our people. It does not provide schools for our children. It does not help our farmers nor does it provide jobs for our unemployed. It provides no assistance to the Liberian market women, etc.

The only people who stand to benefit if the referendum passes are Mrs. Sirleaf and her Unity Party. That is why we call on our people to reject this referendum. And when we reject the referendum, we would have sent a clear signal to this government that they should start packing. We will then sign their eviction on 11 October 2011.

Let us therefore come together, fellow Liberians – young men and women, old soldiers and former combatants, Christians and Muslims, the handicapped, market women and business persons, shoe shine boys, pen-pen drivers and wheel barrel boys – all of you, let us come together.

Ours is not a caravan of despair. It is a ship of hope. It doesn’t matter if you have not done well in school or in the society. Still come, and yet again, come. Make yourself available, we shall see the invisible and then do what they consider the impossible.

Instead of a breakdown, we shall achieve a breakthrough.

We, the people now rejected, will certainly become the people selected. Let us therefore, in the words of that Biblical passage: “Let us: Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed.”

Brothers and Sisters: If we are able to maintain a solid unity, by the time 2011 ends, we shall look back with joy and ahead with great hopes and expectations.

Because for people like you and people like me – with God’s help, the word failure does not exist. Our success is non-negotiable.

And so, like our brother, President Obama, Yes, We can! Vero possumus – as they say in Latin. And as our people say in Kpelleh: Gweh Feh Kpeh – the struggle continues. And as we Catholics would say: Pax Domini si simper vobiscum: The Peace of God remains with you always.

© 2011 by The Perspective

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