By Olando Testimony Zeongar

The orator for Liberia’s 174th Independence Day anniversary, Rev. Professor Julius Nelson, Jr., has lamented that Liberia is plagued with systemic corruption.

He stated that the forefathers and foremothers of Liberia, who he identified as both Americo-Liberians and Indigenous, envisioned Liberia as a nation where all of its people would live in harmony, love, peace, and prosperity, but indicated that sadly, there have been times when Liberians have painfully experienced oppression, marginalization, exploitation and corruption at the hands of some of their own leaders over the period of the country’s history.

He said such acts have often resulted into conflicts, sometimes wars, the loss of lives and destruction of properties, infrastructure and the very fabric of the Liberian society.

In his prerecorded Independence Day oration aired on State-radio Monday, prof. Nelson, who is also president of the government-run University of Liberia (UL), said it is no secret that the very fabric of the Liberian society is plagued with systemic challenges of corruption and other negative practices that have entrenched the nation.

Speaking on the theme: “Together, We are Stronger: Fighting COVID-19 and Achieving Development, Peace, Human Rights, Justice, Health and Prosperity for All,” Prof. Nelson emphasized that these vices have the propensity to impede the country’s progress toward its fight against the Coronavirus and other social and economic challenges.

In lieu of such reality, he reminded citizens of the country that only Liberians can develop Liberia.

“Our gracious partners will continue to support our efforts in this direction, but it takes us to lead and sustain the process of national development and patriotism,” he stressed.

Prof. Nelson added: “We must therefore muster the courage and rally our nationalistic spirit to stand up to these vices together.”

He recounted that the record shows that the entire planet is battling Covid-19, with some going into total lockdown, some into partial lockdown, others focusing on obtaining herd immunity through the vaccine, and many other approaches.

“But, one thing is certain; all of these countries are approaching their fight with a united effort, he noted, indicating,“Liberia being no exception requires more than just a united effort. Our actions must be propelled by love for country first, before our individual social, economic, cultural, religious or political interest.”

He stated that it is often said the darkest hour is just before dawn, adding, “If that is true, then there is always light at the end of the tunnel. But to reach the end of the tunnel, we must work towards it. We must not become complacent with the fact that our situation is improving, but rather continue to rally our efforts whether we find ourselves in government, the private sector, civil society, religious institutions, etc.”

He cautioned that Liberians have to work and continue a unified approach in standing up to this situation, and not getting weary until the fight against Covid-19 is over and the victory is theirs.

He said the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is challenging the socio-economic wellbeing of the country, is yet another evidence, that Liberians have not always been faithful stewards of Liberia, which he described as a gift, and a glorious land of liberty by God’s command.

He added that Liberians have also not always sustained the vision that birthed their nation, admonishing his fellow compatriots that it is not late.

“We still have the opportunity to end the blame game, renew our minds, reconcile our differences, focus on what unites us, roll up our sleeves and build a new Liberia,” he said.

“Pride divides the community and society. Unity and peace brings the community and society together. The issue of unity is not just theoretical, it is practical. We should not only talk unity, we should practice unity concretely,” the Independence Day orator emphasized, adding, “We can demonstrate unity by the attitudes of gentleness, humility, and patience.”

H continued: “The Psalmist says, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in unity or harmony”. Let us walk in and work for unity. Let us allow unity to be the foundation or cornerstone to achieving development in Liberia.”

He challenged Liberians, who he referred to as heirs of this sweet land of liberty, to ensure that the love of liberty must remain their national commitment until the vestiges of oppression and exploitation are no more, saying, “We should not relent until “Africa’s sons and daughters rise to nobler destiny.”

He then recounted that as Covid-19 infections began to be reported around the world, in January of 2020, many countries responded by shutting down schools, workplaces and international borders in order to curtail  the spread of the virus. We had our share of temporary lockdown and fought back the disease until recently when we have been hit again with a new wave that is reported to be even deadlier than the first.

He said in spite of this reality, it is worth noting that according to Liberia’s health statistics, the country’s infection rate is decreasing with a maximum average of 42 new infections reported each day.

“This is 23% of the peak, which was the highest daily average reported since 8th July 2021, Prof. Nelson reported.

“We can confidently declare here today, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, that just as we together defeated the Ebola Virus Disease, we can, and we will certainly defeat Covid-19. Together, we will fight on until the invisible enemy “COVID-19” is defeated and eradicated from within our national borders,” he added.

Howbeit, he said that means, Liberians must all galvanize their efforts, drop the blame game, pull together our resources, as a nation and people, and get each and every hand on deck, and fight this deadly virus together.

He stated that in order to effectively fight COVID-19 together, Liberians need to adhere strictly to all of the prescribed health protocols, and among others, government needs to disburse the needed funds allotted for the fight against Coronavirus, to the right places and on the right medical weaponry to eradicate the disease from Liberia.

“In order to fight it together, we need to exhibit a high level of accountability for all resources entrusted in our care,” Prof. Nelson also stressed.

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