President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has since performed her constitutional responsibility of reporting to the National Legislature on Administration's legislative/administrative programs. As required by law, that was the 4th Working Monday of January - that is the last Monday too. The specialty about the Speech is that "it is the longest, and above all, the most perforated and criticized. Almost all of the opposition political leaders have done so, and so well, too. The latest of the "perforations," of course, comes from Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, with focus on the ironies thereof statistically and the state of the people. The New Republic unravels its arguments contained in his "State of the People Address" delivered Monday in Monrovia.
After pensively critiquing, analyzing, mirroring and perforating the "most-talked about" State of the Nation Address" delivered by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf one and half weeks ago, all-time politician, Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh has questioned the truth associated with some of the critical issues highlighted by the president, specifically the issue of the economy and growth vis-à-vis the development of the people.
Juxtaposing the facts on the ground and some of the encouraging figures provided by the President in the Address as it relates to growth of the economy over the next few years, Dr. Tipoteh, an economist by training, did not note overwhelming truths in what she provided.
Saying that his was not a response to the address but a look at some of the issues raised in the Address, particularly the issue of "the nation being stronger, safer, secure and steadier than it had been in many years."
Dr. Tipoteh did not think the President (Government) has a point in this regard because "The Republic is the people and it is not possible for the Republic to be marking progress when the people are not making progress."
Under the Lift Liberia Poverty Reduction Strategy as earlier reported, it is noted that 64% or nearly two out of every three Liberians were very poor in 2006, but the Annual Address has it that 77.9% or almost 8 out of every 10 Liberians in need of income-earning work cannot find and they cannot manage to live under the present economic conditions in the country.
However, he did not take the issue lightly, as in his view, it is seasoned with misrepresentations of existing realities evidenced in the daily lives of the people.
Saying that his was not a response to the President directly since hers was on the state of the nation, as his is on the state of the people, Dr. Tipoteh recalled what UN Secretary General Ban Ki Mon said about unemployment in Liberia.
"It is this very high vulnerable unemployment situation that made the United Nations Secretary to say that the very high unemployment in the country means that national security is fragile or shaky or not stable or it is weak and it is nothing to depend on," Tipoteh is the founding father of the Movement for Justice in Africa-MOJA- said.
Putting the facts presented by the President and others advanced by partners of the government such as the World Bank that nearly 9 out of ten Liberians in need of income-earning work cannot work to do and this is what makes them unemployed.
He also quoted the world bank as saying "Liberians living on less than US$2 a day are 95% of Liberia's population, while Liberians living on less than US$1.25 a day are 83% of the population and Liberians living on less than a 1US a day are 63.8% of the population."
These figures with which he noted some discrepancies, he indicated that the government, World Bank and IMF are in the wrong "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%. The government, World Bank and IMF are still making the gross mistake by saying that Liberia is experiencing progress because economic growth data per capita or per person is rising," he argued.
"Let us consider the situation where there are ten persons in a group but only one of them is employed, with an income of L$10,000 a year. Although, the average income of the group of ten persons is 1,000LD a year, only one person earns any money, while nine 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," a statement which presupposes that the government is counting the employment of few Liberians as progress in the economic generality of the people. Acknowledging little progress as President Sirleaf, Tipoteh who flopped in three presidential elections, noted "We must collectively do more, as the public fight against corruption, abuses and the misuse of government resources is being emboldened and intensified."
"When we speak about the suffering of the Liberian people, we are speaking about poverty, we are speaking about the people of Liberia who have less than LD$80 or the equivalent of US$1 a day to use for one person."
"There was too much poverty in the country 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 cause of the overthrow; therefore, good leadership calls for taking a peaceful action with as many persons as possible to end the poverty 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, and 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 malaria in the baby has to be present."
"The "progressive" asserted that for over 50 years, governments of Liberia, including the present one, say that there is progress in the country when facts showing the truth tells that the main way in which government take action for the production and distribution of goods and services is what brings suffering and poverty to the people of Liberia."
"The truth about this relationship between the main way of production and distribution and the poverty in the country has been openly known to the government of Liberia since 1960, based on the examination of the facts of the economy of Liberia throughout the 1950s."
"The truth is that the government of Liberia does not value highly what God has given the country. For example, the government of Liberia continues to preside over an economy owned by foreigners because it continues to allow foreigners to take the country's natural resources like iron ore, rubber and logs into their foreign countries without having factories in Liberia to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and ownership for Liberians by producing steel rods, rubber products and furniture in Liberia."
Dr. Tipoteh reminded the government that good leadership calls for leaders to take peaceful action with as many persons as possible to prevent the suffering of at least most Liberians.
He is angry that Liberia does not gain from what it produces, stressing "Liberia continues to produce what Liberians do not consume and continues to consume what foreigners produce."
"The main reason why the Liberian currency loses value is that the government places much more value on what is foreign that what is local. This longstanding bad situation dominates the economy of Liberia and it is called economic growth without economic development" or "growth without development", for short."
The economist argued that 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", Dr. Tipoteh averred.
Blaming the government for all it, he said "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 the country a better place for all Liberians."
Tipoteh's State of the People Address" was delivered Monday at 4:00pm, at the Fiamah Intellectual Center.