Monrovia — Former Liberia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Madam Olubanke King -Akerele, has challenged graduates of the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) to use the knowledge acquired, self-innovations, and talents adequately if they must live a better life and immensely contribute to the betterment of their country.
Madam Akerele pointed out that though government remains obligated to create an enabling environment for the wellbeing of its citizens, Liberians, especially the recent graduates of the AMEU, should seek mentorship and engage into volunteerism to ensure their full participation towards addressing issues affecting the nation and its people.
She made these comments when she served as Convocation Speaker at the 20th Commencement and Convocation program of the AME University held at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville, outside Monrovia on Wednesday, November 25.
About 586 persons obtained degrees in various disciplines from the university.
She maintained that several Liberians have engaged into positive ventures intended to among other things reduce the high rate of illiteracy, promote peace and reconciliation, and empower women and girls in the country, and as such, citizens must join hands with their counterparts to engage into positive ventures that will prepare them for leadership in the future.
Madam Akerele maintained that the graduates must also constitute themselves into organizations and render consultancy services in their respective expertise to immensely contribute their quotas to Liberia's development.
According to her, the graduates are emerging leaders, and as such, they should possess the values of leadership to guarantee their success in the future.
"I refer to you all as Africa's emerging leadership because, you are not there yet. Each emerging leader must be prepared for that leadership both academically and character-wise. The collect values must be seen in them; character driven values such as integrity, honesty, civility, responsibility, critical thinking, accountability and above all- patriotism"
"Leaders are needed at all levels and spectrums of the society. The future is for those who prepare for it. We must confront the challenges facing us today. How you deal with or respond to them with leave a legacy upon you the graduates. You don't have to wait for government jobs; come together and provide services that are necessary".
Madam Akerele maintained that the realities of present-day Liberia should be critically looked at by the graduates to make a determination on which area to galvanize help and support for.
Foreigners taking over
Meanwhile, Madam Akerele observed that foreigners are taking over the economy of the country.
She expressed disappointment over the influx of foreigners into the country's economy, while citizens continue to play a spectator role.
She maintained that a 50% Liberian participation into businesses being done by foreigners must be introduced as a way to empower Liberians in the country.
Madam Akelere said businesses set aside exclusively for Liberians must not be ventured into by foreigners.
She underscored the need for actions to be taken, instead of mere talks which are not helping to address the current situation.
She further called on Liberians to reject dual citizenship because, "Liberians are no part in our own economy".
According to her, the December 8 national referendum is "untimely and confusing." And as such, the process must be suspended by the government, through the National Elections Commission (NEC).
"I am among those who believed that the referendum is untimely. There needs to be proper consultation. Why is government not listening to its citizenry? Why are the advisors not talking truth to the Executive Head of government? What is wrong in asking the state to abide by the constitution? What legacy are we passing on to the nation's future leadership"?
Madam Akerele further urged citizens to take government to the ECOWAS court if it fails to adhere to the recent ruling from the Supreme Court of Liberia detailing errors by the NEC to proceed with the conduct of the referendum.
She called for the upholding of the Liberian constitution by government officials in a bid for Liberia to regain its position among the comity of nation and a legacy to be left behind for the next generation of future leaders.
"If we do not protect the constitution, we are at risk and this is very, very important".
Madam Akerele, however, stressed the need for the dependency syndrome to be discouraged in Liberia.
Speaking further, Madam Akerele observed that the failure of Liberians to support each other to excel remains a major challenge in the country.
According to her, most citizens do not love to see their fellow compatriots succeeding.
"The challenge is us Liberians. We are our own worst enemies. We do not want to see each other succeeding".
She used the occasion to commend Liberia's former Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, for his selection as Country Manager of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to Uganda.
According to her, the selection of Mr. Ngafuan brings "proud and dignity" to Liberia and its citizens.
Madam Akelere commended the graduates for making their families proud, and urged them to put to work what they were taught by their professors and lecturers.
She urged them not to allow the politics that continue to destroy the nation to be "the order of your day".
Also speaking, the President of the AME University, Dr. Alvin E. Attah urged the graduates to make meaningful contributions to impact their country and the world at large.
"You have done your works and today mark your ending and beginning. You have written papers and chapter after chapter; you have over certified the requirements needed. You have survived the storm".
For his part, the Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Education, Alexander Duopu, challenged the graduates to be innovative and creative to help rebuild Liberia.
He urged them to go out and be "good citizens".
Minister Duopu further urged the newly graduates of the teachers' college at the university to take advantage of the pending recruitment of about 1000 teachers by the government, through the ministry.
According to him, the ministry will work with authorities of the university to ensure that these graduates are accorded the opportunity to serve their country at public secondary schools in Liberia.