Liberia: A Need for Youths to Change Attitudes and Mindsets

The First Vice President of the Federation of Liberian Youths (FLY), Brezhnev D. Paasewe recently made a significant point when he urged youths in the country to prefer engaging authorities in the country constructively rather than resorting to violence to seek solutions to problems and challenges confronting them, adding that resorting to violence can only make things worse and plunge the development of Liberia backwards.

Indeed it is not a hidden fact that Liberia has gone through nearly 16 years of civil crisis which left a formidable impact on the attitudes and mindset of the youth of Liberia, given that over 70% of Liberian are a youthful population born in the 1980s when development was at a very low-ebb.

It can be recalled that the 1980s and the 1990s are sometimes considered years of economic decline in Liberia. President Samuel K. Doe's Presidency from April 1980 to September 1990 were marked by political instability, liquidity crisis and the loss of international confidence in Liberia, given that after the military coup that brought President Samuel K. Doe to power, Liberian dissidents in the USA resorted to blocking U.S assistance to Liberia through the U.S Congress.

Meanwhile to add salt to injury, preceding decade of the 1990s was ushered in when the civil war had already started, thereby increasing the country's, socio-political and economic woes as the war did not only divide the country into two halves but delved and excruciating blow on the youths and Liberia's human resource development, as the war disrupted formal education.

The war-years brought development to a complete standstill, with the youths and kids being forcefully conscripted into the ranks of rebel troops as child-soldiers. The youths and kids became narcotic drug addicts, to help them get the will to kill or be used at battle fronts. Rape and prostitution, using children to sell or do menial jobs and forced marriage of girl children among other vices became commonly heard stories.

What cannot be forgotten is that it were during the decades of the 1980s and the 1990s that 60-70% of the Liberian youths of today were born according to available statistics furnished by the LISGIS or the Liberia Statistics and Geo-information Services. It is however laudable that President George Manneh Weah and past administrations have been putting measures in place to bridge the education and training gap incurred as a result of Liberia's many years of war.

The war-years phenomenon has led to a high illiteracy rate among the youth in the country, an increase in crime rates, high unemployment rate and a large development deficit that President Weah's administration is grappling with to address. The need remains to build more vocational schools and narcotic drug rehabilitation centers, create avenues for micro-credit and scholarship opportunities as well as access to cheap health care delivery.

As the FLY Executive has observed as a means of reducing tensions that can lead to conflicts and violence, it would be necessary to minimize land disputes by ensuring that people who buy lands will always have legal guarantees to their ownership enhanced by existing laws.

The Drug Enforcement Agency ((DEA) and the Liberia National Police (LNP) should engage in widespread awareness and sensitization campaign to educate Liberians on how they are enforcing laws in the country. The youths of Liberia need to understand that Liberia can only be developed by Liberians, and not through total reliance on foreigners to do, what we ourselves as Liberians can do for ourselves.

Certainly the war has ended several years ago, so it would be naïve to always cast all our blames on the war. We should focus on what measures to take ensure that contentious issues such as the LD$16 Billion and the US$25 Million mop up exercise saga are no more repeated in a very constructive manner as after all government is striving to deliver social services and development in line with constitutional mandate.

This is why the NEW LIBERIA ONLINE newspaper believes that Liberia's peace and development can only be sustained, if all Liberians put hands on deck to adopt peaceful dispositions in their agitations for their rights enshrined in the constitution. We also need to join President George Manneh Weah irrespective of political affiliations, as he strives to implement the pro-poor agenda for prosperity and development programs by creating the avenues for job creation, increase quality education, construct at least 1,000 miles of paved roads across the country and enhance the health care delivery programs.

We view that listening to or encouraging frustrated politicians, whose aim is to use the youths as tools to achieve their hidden political agenda, by we as youths helping them to engage in dishing out hate messages on social media, and circulating destructive propagandas that lack no iota of truth can only help us to scare away investors from the country, thereby contributing to the underdevelopment of the country.

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