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STATE OF THE PEOPLE – Togba-Nah Tipoteh

By Togba-Nah Tipoteh         Togba-Nah Tipoteh
February 3, 2014
Let me thank the offlicers and membersof the Flamah Future Intellectual
Discourse Center for making It possible to have this Annual Message on the
^te of the People delivered here today.
This Annual Message Is dedicated to the World Leader Madlba Nelson
Rolihiahia Mandela and Liberian Leader Michael Kpakala Francis.
May I begin this Annual Message by extending New Year Greetings to the
people of Liberia:
Rivercess County – Ah po Glaypor Zuo Zeh diaye jaye
River Gee County – Jolojah jloh eh-chuhn
Grand Kru – Sohn day- day ah Sankan
Gbarpolu County – Ahlaseh gola nelhn – na mahn-nee-mahn; kunaneenehn
BomI County – Seh dwakeh yor
Grand Cape Mount County – Kamba ehyeryee sanama mayun
Maryland County – Jolo jah jloh eh-chuhn
SInoe County Sohnday-day ah sankan; ah po Nyihnswa troh daysuh-
day kpahnnn
Marglbl County – Ahlaseh gola nelhn na mahn-nee- mahn; Ah po Glaypor
zuo zohn diaye jaye
Grand Gedeh County – Ah po Nylhuswa troh day-suhn-day kpahnnn
Grand Bassa County – Ah po Qaypor Zou zohn diaye jaye
Bong County – Ahlaseh gola nelhn-na mahn-nee-mahn
Lofa County – Kunaneenehn; fowonee – nalhn wohelhnnelhn
Yaye-Jor wor-^lo sen-neih yor
Nimba County – Kwa kweh dor yo-o; kwa keh deh guelor; sankula
kaila Allah dee ahma
Montserrado County – Happy New Year
We are here today to talk about the most important problem that the
people of Liberia continue to face. We are here today to help more and
more Liberians to understand better where their main problem comes from
and how we as a people can work together to end the problem in the
shortest possible time in a way that the problem will not come back. This
main problem facing the people of Liberia is mass poverty. Nearly all
Liberians continue to be poor.
In the 2014 Annual Message of the President of Liberia, it is declared
conclusively that “our Republic of Liberia Is stronger, safer, securer and
steadier than it has been in many years”. The government of Liberia’s own
facts show that the Republic is not stronger, safer, securer and steadier
than in the past. The Republic is the people and it is not possible for the
Republic to be making progress when the people are not making progress.
Let us use the government’s own facts, some of which are in the
President’s Annual Message to make this point convincing.
The Annual Progress Report of the Lift Liberia Poverty Reduction Strategy
says that 64 percent or nearly two out of every three Liberians were very
poor in 2006. The President’s 2014 Annual Message says that 77.9 percent
or almost eight out of every ten Liberians in need of income -earning work
cannot find work and they cannot manage to live under the present
economic conditions In Liberia. It is this very high vulnerable
unemployment situation that made United Nations Secretary General to say
the very high unemployment in Liberia means that national security in
Liberia is fragile or shaky or not stable or weak or nothing to depend on.
The World Bank, the main international economic partner of the
government, says that nearly 9 out of 10 Liberians in need of incomeearning
work cannot find work to do and this is what makes them
unemployed. According to the World Bank, Liberians living on less than
USD 2 a day are 95 percent of Liberia’s population, while Liberians living on
less than USD1.25 a day are 83 percent of the population and Liberians
living on less than a lUS dollar a day are 63.8 percent of the population.
But the government of Liberia and the World Bank with its twin, the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) continue to make a big mistake by
saying that there is progress In the Liberian economy because of the high
growth of the economy. The President’s 2014 Annual Message reports that
the average economic growth rate a year for 2006 to 2013 is 8 percent.
The government, The World Bank and the IMF are still making the gross
mistake by saying that Liberia is experiencing progress because the
economic growth rate per capita or per person is rising. Let us consider a
situation where there are 10 persons in a group but only one of them is
employed, with an income of 10,000 dollars a year. Although the average
income of the group of 10 persons is 1,000 dollars a year, only one person
earns any money while 9 persons remain unemployed. Therefore, it is
absolutely wrong to use the income per person amount to say anything
about the economic condition of the 9 unemployed persons in the group.
In the 2014 Annual Message, the President says that although there is
progress, “we must collectively do more, as the public fight against
corruption, abuses of power and the misuse of government resources is
being emboldened and intensified”. In this public fight, the government has
its agents, the Governance Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission
and the General Auditing Commission. With the government showing a lack
of commitment to establishing good governance and ending corruption,
there is most urgent need for the emergence of good leadership to
establish good governance and end corruption for Liberia to be a better
place for all Liberians.
Good leadership in Liberia calls for a leader to take peaceful action with as
many persons as possible to prevent the suffering of at least most
Liberians. When the suffering already exists, good leadership calls for a
leader to take peaceful action with as many persons as possible to end the
suffering in a way that it will not happen again. When we speak about the
suffering of the people of Liberia, we are speaking about the poverty of the
people of Liberia. When we speak about poverty, we are speaking about
the people of Liberia who have less than 80 Liberian dollars or 1 United
States dollar a day to use for one person.
There was too much poverty in Liberia to the point that some Liberians and
their foreign friends who wanted to take over the government used violent
ways to overthrow the government, telling the Liberian people and the rest
of the world that the new government was necessary to end the suffering
of the people of Liberia. The overthrow of the government by the civil war
used poverty as the main excuse for the overthrow. Therefore, good
leadership calls for talking peaceful action with as many persons as possible
to end the poverty of the people of Liberia and to prevent it from
happening again.
Progress in any country means that change is taking place that brings
down the level of poverty in the country. It Is not possible for any person
or government to talk credibly about progress In any country when the
person or government does not tell the truth that shows the level of
poverty going down. When a baby is dying from malaria, no one can say
credibly that the baby is doing well by showing new clothes for the baby.
To say credibly that the baby is doing well, the truth about the ending of
the malaria in the baby has to be presented. For over fifty years,
governments of Liberia, including the present government of Liberia, say
that there is progress in Liberia when the facts showing the truth tell us
that the main way in which government takes action for the production and
distribution of goods and services is what brings suffering, poverty to the
people of Liberia. The truth about this relationship between the main way
of production and distribution and the poverty in Liberia has been openly
known to the government of Liberia since 1960, based on the examination
of the facts of the economy of Liberia throughout 1950s.
Despite all this talk about Liberia being founded on a religious foundation,
the truth is that the government of Liberia does not value highly what God
has given to Liberia. For example, the government of Liberia continues to
preside over an economy owned by foreigners because the government
continues to allow foreigners to take Liberia’s natural resources like iron
ore, rubber and logs into their foreign countries without having factories in
Liberia to create liundreds of tliousands of jobs and ownersliip for
Liberians by producing steel rods, rubber products and furniture in Liberia.
The Liberian economy could be growing with more revenue coming in but
most Liberians would not benefit because the rights of the people continue
to be given to foreigners. As we are now assembled here, there are
thousands of foreigners in jobs and doing business that Liberians,
especially the youth, can do and should be doing according to the
Constitution of Liberia. Liberia continues to produce what Liberians do not
consume and continues to consume what foreigners produce. The main
reason why the Liberian dollar loses value is that the government places
much more value on what is foreign than what is Liberian. This
longstanding bad situation dominates the economy of Liberia and It is
called “economic growth without economic development” or “growth
without development”for short. •*>”
No country in this world has experienced progress, the sustained
Improvement in the living conditions of its citizens, by using the way to
manage the economy that the government of Liberia continues to use. This
reality should be easy to understand because if any country were to allow
another country to do what the country can do for itself, then the other
country would benefit from what is done at the expense of the country that
gives away Its rights to other countries.
The people of Liberia know this reality. But the government of Liberia is
not promoting the addition of value to Liberia’s natural resources. Over
hundreds of years, villages in the geographical space called Liberia have
been using iron ore to make their farm tools. This is why every village has
a blacksmith facility that produces farm tools. During the 1990s, former
LAMCO machine shop workers, with former combatants and displaced
Liberians used scrap metal to produce internationally marketable farm tools
under the sponsorship of Susukuu, the 43 years old Liberian poverty
reduction organization. Susukuu, an NGO, also organized and supported
former combatants to use logs thrown away to produce furniture for the
Liberian market, while the government of Liberia continues to spend
hundreds of millions of dollars buying foreign furniture.
The government of Liberia continues to show its lack of commitment to
end mass poverty and corruption. From the remonopolization of the rice
market in early 2006 to the legislative buying of votes in the speakership
elections, to the Acelor-Mittal donation of 100 vehicles to the National
Legislature through the sponsorship of the Presidency, to the
mismanagement of the county development fund, the Poverty Reduction
Strategy and the National Vision 2030, to the attempt to reintroduce the
hut tax, the most inhumane poverty increasing government practice in the
history of Liberia, to the malaise on the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission Report, to the closure of the Price Commission Report, to the
second place status of the Independent Human Rights Commission, to the
lack of prosecution powers for the Anti-Corruption Commission and to the
flow of the People’s money into the hands of government officials who
mismanage the people’s money, the present government of Liberia has
provided sufficient evidence pointing to its lack of preparation and its lack
of commitment to end mass poverty and corruption and work for justice
that brings peace.
This lack of preparedness and commitment on the part of the present
government of Liberia to take action for “growth with development” and
for justice and peace means that It is the people of Liberia who must take
action to make Liberia a better place for all Liberians. From the action of
January 10, 1997 on disarmament that registered the most democratic
event in the history of Liberia when over one million Liberians in Monrovia
voted for disarmament by staying home for one day, to the prevention of
war over the past 10 years, to the stopping of the government’s attempt to
reintroduce the hut tax in 2011, to the peaceful people’s action on
government entering into concession agreements, taking away farm land
for food production while trampling upon cultural rights without the
participation of the people and to the removal of nearly all members of the
52″^ legislature seeking reelection through the 2011 elections, the people
of Liberia are demonstrating their preparedness and commitment for
working together to end mass poverty and corruption.
All of the Annual Messages, including the one delivered one week ago, by
the present President of Liberia, keep Liberia within the “growth without
development” syndrome or nightmare. The way to get out of this
nightmare and prevent violence. Instability and insecurity in Liberia is for
the people of Liberia to push peacefully for a fair electoral process that can
produce a national leadership with a publicly known commitment to the
“growth with development” strategy that can end the mass poverty in
Liberia within one Presidential term of office; and that is possible.
In terms of the electoral process, as senatorial elections are due this year.
It is most important to reorganize immediately the National Elections
Commission (NEC) to enable it to conduct fair elections. Civil society and
religious community Involvement In this reorganization is necessary. NEC
has exhibited its inability to conduct fair elections when in 2011 it placed
deliberately the wrong last name of a presidential candidate on the ballot
paper and refused to correct it when informed about the mistake which
could have caused considerable unrest and instability. The recent media
revelation about the presence in the Commission, as a Commissioner, of a
citizen of the United States of America must be investigated immediately
prior to the full commencement of the present civil education drive.
The present way of running Liberia, as in the past, benefits mainly a few
persons at the expense of the people of Liberia. There is a way through fair
elections to get a better way of running Liberia, a way that benefits at least
most Liberians and Liberia’s foreign friends who have the people of Liberia
at heart. It is only the people of Liberia who can change the running of
Liberia for the better by not putting money first during elections and giving
first place to record or performance by electing persons who are honest
with a publicly known record of being on the side of the poor people of
Liberia. If the people of Liberia do not come together to end the suffering
and save Liberia, then the people have only themselves to blame for their
continuous suffering.
The people of Liberia remain united more than ever before on the choice of
peace over war. This is why the people of Liberia are still saying clearly and
loudly: WE WANT PEACE, NO MORE WAR! For hundreds of years, the
people of Liberia have known that It is only justice that brings peace and
this is why the people of Liberia support the struggle for justice when they
say Gweh Feh Kpei, Kpelle for “The Struggle continues”.
The fact that the government of Liberia continues to ignore the mandate of
the people of Liberia for justice as the way to peace by insisting that there
is peace without justice means that the government is not prepared to
build democratic institutions and that the government is not ready to work
for peace. Instead of celebrating 10 years of peace which does not exist,
the government should be celebrating 10 years of the absence of war.
Peace comes not from the absence of war but from the presence of justice.
So, the people of Liberia are still saying “Gweh Feh Kpei,” the struggle
This insensivity of the government to the mandate of the people of Liberia
for justice to get peace is clearly seen in the government’s disregard for
the mandate of the people on value addition, as reflected in the cry of the
17 years old child from Crozerville, Montserrado County, who said: God has
given Liberia iron ore, why don’t we make steel rods?
When the people of Liberia have personal health problems, they get a
medical doctor or some health worker to help them get better health. Now,
as the health of Liberia is terrible, with poverty and corruption, let us
express the hope that the people of Liberia will find a people’s doctor or a
health worker who is honest and has a good record of working with the
people to provide leadership to end Liberia’s health problems of mass
poverty and corruption.
Let me bring this Annual Message to a closure by expressing confidence in
the people of Liberia that the people working together will take action
urgently now to empower the Youth of Liberia. This action is urgent
because the Unity Party Youth demonstrated their frustration a year ago
with the Unity Party led government by calling upon its Political Leader to
step down from the Presidency on account of the Party’s failure to keep
promises made to the Youth. >
Let us all commit ourselves to telling the truth in ways that bring peaceful
change to end mass poverty by improving the living conditions of at least
most Liberians. We must always remember that failure to tell the truth
about Liberia Is bad for Liberia, because it prevents the taking of action to
end the suffering in Liberia. It is this failure to tell the truth that prevented
action to stop the Civil War from taking place. Now, let the people elect the
kind of leadership that will appreciate truth telling to end mass poverty and
corruption , the evil in the Liberian society that can bring another Civil War.
Let us be confident that the people of Liberia will not make the same
mistakes over as the government does, let the people of Liberia begin now
to elect good leaders, leaders who can unite Liberians to work to end mass
poverty and corruption to bring justice for peace that makes Liberia a
better country for all of the people of Liberia.
Baika – way
La balika yor
Eseh emama
Enaykay, kobaleka
Aa troh
Ah-troh -wa
Eh kon bislaye
My people, thank you plenty for listening.

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