|Liberia At Crossroads -Ellen Delivers 6th National Address|
|Published on January 26, 2011||Email To Friend Print Version
Liberia faces a momentous national choice between sliding backwards or surging forwards towards a bright future, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told the nation in her Annual Message delivered on Monday 24 January.
“These are not ordinary times for Liberia” the President told a rapt audience in the National Legislature and radio listeners around the country.
“As a people, we will soon choose which direction we want to travel. We have done a lot, we still have a lot do, but we have a lot to lose. This year is a crossroads in our country's history: we only have to look across the border to know we could go backwards as easily as we could go forwards.”
The President said that the job of rebuilding Liberia was not yet finished, and laid out her vision for the future if the country stays on course.
“We have created freedom for people. Now we must create opportunity” she told the audience, citing jobs and education as top priorities. “This is our moment. In ten years, we can double the size of our economy, get hundreds of thousands of Liberians into work, especially our youth. We can put more children in school, further reduce crime and transform our agriculture, roads, health and infrastructure.”
She declared “The foundation is in, now we can build the house. Keep your faith and we will keep the promise.”
Reporting on the state of the nation today, the President outlined the massive changes under this government, and reminded the audience of the state of the nation when she was elected President in 2006.
“Our people had been battered and oppressed for so long that they started to slip into the deepest form of cynicism and despair. The nation was gripped by economic distress, social decline, and political disarray. So much has changed since then it is easy to forget.”
The President cited unbroken peace and stability and the restoration of safety and security, including the proud new Armed Forces of Liberia. She applauded Captain Geraldine Janet George, the AFL's first female captain as a patriot. The president said stable peace has enabled stable economic growth, huge debt relief of US$4.9 billion and an influx of sensible investments which are creating jobs and social benefits for Liberians.
She cited rebuilt roads, schools, clinics and drains, as well as low cost housing and reductions in tax and increases in pay. She also reminded citizens of the new Freeport and resumption of direct flights to the United States through Delta, linking Liberians to their cousins in America.
The President also said that the country is freer than ever before, with freedom of speech and conscience, contrasting this state of affairs to the past.
The President said every Liberian shares the credit for this progress: “There is no doubt that we have reached this far in our national renewal because of the resilience, patience, and understanding of the ordinary Liberian citizen. Without you, it would have been impossible to make such great strides in so short a time.”
But the President also acknowledged that much remains to be done to create the future of opportunity. All the gains cited must be extended, and she said her priorities are jobs and education. She also acknowledged that the fight against corruption, despite great progress in structural reforms, remains long and hard and promised to keep fighting.
The President closed the speech with a rallying call for unity and common purpose. “Our destiny is tied together. We rise and fall as one one nation, one indivisible people, one common destiny. There is therefore no place in our politics for those who would divide us, for a house divided can never stand. We have been there before; there is no going back” she said.
She told the nation “Every Liberian shares the credit, and now every citizen shares the responsibility to this future. The progress belongs to you, and the future is yours for the taking.”
The vision I have outlined is a collective vision but we should be under no illusions about how difficult this will be to achieve. There is a long road ahead of us, and that road will not be smooth. We will need great courage and determination to get to our destination.
I have faith in you. I have faith in the Liberian people, and I have faith in a God who promised, having brought us thus far, not to leave us.