Photo: People wait to vote during the presidential election at a polling station in Monrovia, Liberia, Oct. 10, 2017.
WASHINGTON, DC—-Liberia’s future is unknown to ordinary Liberian voters, especially as the country goes through its current political transition with the holding of Presidential and Legislative elections.
In the 10 October 2017 poll, no candidate reached the 50 percent plus margin needed to seal the deal, so two well-known and well-regarded candidates, Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai and ex-world soccer star, Senator George Manneh Weah, are going for a runoff within weeks.
Their fate will be decided by the Liberian people, many of whom are ordinary and poor citizens. The bottom line is, very poor and perhaps struggling young Liberians who are unemployed are eager to obtain employment and those with critical and related medical problems want to see improved or new and advanced medical facilities built.
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But as Liberians decide their preference, many of them are not taking into consideration the parameters of international concerns, especially since the country relies heavily on international relief aid and development assistance. From Germany to Brussels, London to Washington, DC, there are serious concerns and worries about Liberia, a poor, corrupt and badly governed West African nation.
These concerns by members of the international community are largely expressed by institutions and people who have the authority to decide whether Liberia obtains international assistance from their respective countries or not.
Several members of the US Congress are seriously concerned about Liberia, especially those on African subcommittee, and this is the first time that Liberia has been prominently featured on the foreign policy radar of several Congressional members as well as lawmakers in other developed nations like the United Kingdom.
A staffer from the office of an influential member of the US Senate told Globe Afrique today that Liberians have the right to decide their own destiny, but the rest of the world, certainly the people of the United States, have the right to help and work with whomever they want to help and work with. “That’s fair game,” he added.
Undoubtedly, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has dashed international expectations despite inflaming her profile and credentials internationally, according to New York’s resident Ann-Marie Dickenson, a right activist and global advocate for children education.
David Teah of New Jersey, a Liberian-born social worker agreed with Dickenson but added that soon Liberians will be crying for President Sirleaf.
“Liberians are good at punishing themselves by making bad choices and wrong decisions. From what I see, President Sirleaf wants to be seen as a better leader or manager than whoever replaces her. She is making sure her tactics work so that tomorrow she and her supporters can say, ‘see we told yall’ that the old lady was better,” he added.
Teah continued, “The lack of exposure coupled with the high degree of illiteracy has blinded our people. Even if one were speaking for their own good, their minds are made up. Our people only see reason when they feel the pains and they will very soon feel pains based on whatever decision they make.”
Liberia has multiple problems. Key among them are the lack of jobs and skills. Several US policymakers are encouraging qualified Liberians to return home to help the country. One of those highly sought after and encouraged by policymakers, with interests in Liberia, to return home is Jones Nhinson Williams.
Williams is a well-regarded labor market analysis and information professional with expertise in job creation policy, workforce development, and strategic management. During the global economic recession, he served as labor market analysis and information manager for the State of Maryland, chief of industry and occupational projections, and has been State Administrator of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics programs for years. As State Administrator, he manages the Current Employment Statistics program, the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program, the Occupational Employment Statistics program, and Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program among others.
In addition, he has provided expert advice to a number of countries on job creation, workforce development, apprenticeship, and innovation policies and programs.
A few months ago, he was encouraged, through a surrogate, by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to return home and help implement some of his expertise in Liberia. Others who have communicated with him regarding the need for him to return home and contribute to the country include veteran politician and economist, Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh.
Asked if he will return home to help his native country with his knowledge and expertise, Williams said it depends on the decision of the Liberian people during the presidential runoff.
“Jobs are only created in a system of law and order, where corruption is not organized and implemented from higher-ups, and where competent people are put in charge of important institutions,” said Williams.