11 December 2012

Liberia: President Sirleaf Accepts Vision Statement On Behalf of Liberia?s Youth - Highlights Government?s Support to Post-Gbarnga Declaration

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has accepted the Vision 2030 Statement, dubbed the Gbarnga Declaration, on behalf of the youth of Liberia, who she says will primarily be responsible to implement the Vision.

The Vision Statement expresses faith in the future of the country, love for country and a commitment to mobilize resources to achieve the aspirations expressed, of “One People, One Nation, United for Peace and Sustainable Development.”

The Statement advances several recommendations, including a clear strategy for disseminating the Vision throughout the country and the Diaspora; a clear strategy for operationalizing that includes a clear alignment or realignment of the Agenda for Transformation and the National Reconciliation Roadmap with the National Vision; and the development of a clear implementation, coordination, monitoring and evaluation mechanism that supports the achievement of the Vision.

According to an Executive Mansion release, before the ceremonial acceptance of the Vision Statement, President Sirleaf requested the National Organizing Conference Committee to turn the podium over to the representatives of youth groups and civil society organizations, as they will have the responsibility for implementing the Vision.

Accepting the Statement, the Liberian leader vowed that this Gbarnga Declaration will not become another Vision paper that will end up on the shelves, in libraries or in book bags; rather, she said, the government, along with youth groups, civil society organizations and others will begin implementing actionable recommendations almost immediately.

“As we conclude this phase of the National Vision 2030,” President Sirleaf said, “it is imperative that the outcome of this process takes the form of actionable recommendations to ensure implementation as represented by the aspirations of the people of this country – the aspirations of our young people who spent all those months in 156 districts, 5 regions, the Diaspora, and in focus groups talking about the future they want for their country.”

She reminded Liberians that the implementation of National Vision 2030 is not the responsibility of government alone, but of all Liberians – the youth, civil society, non-governmental organizations, traditional leaders, everyone – as this is indispensible if Liberians are to achieve this objective.

Highlighting government’s planned support after the National Conference, President Sirleaf stressed the need for the formation, by civil society organizations, of a consortium to liaise with appropriate government agencies in the execution of certain measures. She also challenged donors and partners to consider funding some of the actionable recommendations and determine which ones they are prepared to support.

To demonstrate its own seriousness and commitment, President Sirleaf said the government, working with the National Legislature, will contribute reasonable and affordable seed capital to get some of the recommendations started. Among them, she mentioned government and partner support in outsourcing to a consortium of CSOs all of the scientific research papers documenting the knowledge base of the National Vision 2030, to be published and disseminated nationwide. The President also called for the immediate appointment of a small ad hoc group from civil society to conclude a study and draft appropriate recommendation on Liberia’s National Symbols, including National Awards.

President Sirleaf mandated the Ministry of Education to undertake, in close collaboration with relevant CSOs, a comprehensive National Curriculum Review to include issues of a National Language. She urged the already established Constitution Review Committee to speedily conclude its work, since many things in the National Vision 2030 require constitutional change. “If the Constitution is not changed, we will not be able to do those things because we are bound by the Constitution until you have the amendment to accommodate those recommendations. So we ask them to please hurry up.”

President Sirleaf recognized a National History Writing Imperative, and hoped CSOs will also take on that responsibility. She recognized, with appreciation, the association that has worked on the Declaration of Arts and Culture. She also tasked the National Archives and the Museum with the responsibility to lead the effort on “Memorialization.”

Continuing, President Sirleaf said, “We can’t change our past, no matter what we do; whether it was good or bad, we can’t change it. What we can do is to set the future that we want, and that is what this document attempts to do.”

The President again reminded Liberians that the Vision does not belong to any government, individual, organization, party or group. She said: “This is the Vision we have adopted tonight for the Liberian people to change course in what we do, how we think, what we say, how we work, how we collaborate, how we show our commitment to the country, how we build a new Liberia, not so much for us, but for you, the youth, because this country belongs to you.”

Elsewhere the Vision Statement, as read out by Miss Kula Fofana, Co-Chair of the National Vision 2030 Conference Committee, draws three conclusions from the deliberations that led to the adoption of the Vision: Many of Liberia’s problems are deeply rooted in the country’s social fabric, economic structure and governance arrangements, among others; that the Developmental State Scenario, as contained in the Vision, is the optimal framework for sustainable growth and development; and that the development contemplated will be possible only if Liberians are committed to change, since citizens’ participation in formulating and implementing the Vision will be critical for its success and sustainability. With the Vision determined, the challenge, according to the Statement, can be expressed as moving from what Liberians desire to creating the conditions that will make the desirable achievable.

On Wednesday, December 12, the final day of the National Conference, Internal Affairs Minister, Blamoh Nelson, will present the National Reconciliation Roadmap. Later, Finance Minister, Amara Konneh, will present the Agenda for Transformation, the successor to the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

The closing ceremony will include remarks from the leadership of the National Legislature, the United Nations Mission in Liberia, the Diplomatic Corps, a representative of political parties and the National Traditional Council of Liberia. President Sirleaf will make a final statement, thereby concluding the National Vision 2030 National Conference.

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