Distinguished Interim Officials and Members of the All Liberian Party (ALP);
Officers and Members of Other Political Parties Here Present;
Officials of Government;
Members of the Diplomatic Corp;
Members of the Friends of the Benoni Urey– At Home and Abroad;
Members of the Fourth Estate;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
Today is an historic occasion for all Liberians, and we are equally privileged and blessed to be participating in the birth of a new Liberia. The sheer sight of so many people – citizens and friends of Liberia, alike – evokes both tears of joy and immeasurable pride; for never had I anticipated so large a gathering of true stalwarts of the All Liberian Party (ALP) to be present in this setting. Truthfully,and in all humility, I deeply confess my absolute bewilderment by your presence, which expresses the hopes you carry for the purpose of the resurrection of Liberia, and I thank you profusely. The Statement you have made today compels me to rededicate myself to the process of transforming Liberia, our common patronage, this Glorious Land of Liberty.
Fellow Liberians: What is happening here is a clear manifestation of the saying that an idea whose time has come cannot be stopped. I cherish the presence of all our foreign friends who are here with us today, those who have stood steadfastly with us through the darkest moments of our history – our Brothers of the African continent – the African Union (AU); the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); and especially our Sub-Region – the Mano River Union (MRU). We also want to amplify our thanks to the International Community;in particular, the United Nations (UN); and the European Union (EU); but most notably, our age-old friend, the Government of the United States of America! While we proffer our profound thanks and gratitude to all of them, we are never remiss that the role of the US Government has been outstanding and, without them, the course of our struggle would have been more harrowing. Indeed, God bless America!
The fact that all of us here hail from our 15 counties, 103 political districts of Liberia, our God-given heritage, gives testimony that we are all Liberians, one people, with one destiny. We jubilate with the assurance that the Good Lord has inspired our action toward this great beginning, to attend the affairs of Liberia, and bring solace to our dwindling spirits, following many decades of high expectations and low realizations.
Fellow Partisans and Friends: Our rich diversity and political differences -irrespective of all our divides – is the basis for the strength of our Party. We attend the problem of youthfuleagerness which, although largely impatient, calls for better opportunities ahead; the guidance of our elders who, endowed with wisdomderived of age, can encourage us to walk softly. We have come together to pay worthy attention to their aches,and the struggle they face in finding sustenance. These are some of the many challenges we face as a Party, because we are propelled by our conscience to do the right things.
Irrespective of our tribal and traditional origins, which cry for compassionate concern and genuine unity, the ALP will see you through. We Liberians areentrenchedwith religious diversity,we all acclaim our One God. The ALP is a God-fearing Party and with Him, we are empowered to forge ahead with Grace and Courage. Our challenge is to be our Brother’s Keeper, never failing to bring succor to our Partisans.
My Fellow Partisans: We have assembled here at this momentous time, not just for Benoni Urey -which I well understand- but, more importantly, for the embodiment I represent, through the will of God. And we are all here as Liberians, without exception,and with one special purpose: To launch a political Party, which is stoutly committed to the cause of bringing all Liberians together. Our Party belongs to no one man or woman; no select group or a privileged few. The ALP is for every Liberian and, indeed, all others desiring to become members. Indeed, our acronym – ALPs – signifies our zeal to reach the highest point: the pinnacle of our Party’s aspirations to raise the Liberian fabric, its flag and proud family, to heights unreached before. This is our purpose, my fellow Partisans and Friends. And even after we are eclipsed by physical death,this Party, which belongs to all Liberians, must continue to exist.
Fellow Partisans: Today, as we launch our Party, the compass that navigates us on our journey to the Executive Mansion, let us be reminded that, whether we hail from Voinjama, in Lofa, we are one people; if we hail from Saclepea, in Nimba, we are one people. If we hail from Fassamain Gbarpolu, we are one people; if we hail from Sinje, in Grand Cape Mount, we are one people; if we hail from Plibo,in Maryland, we are one people; if we hail from Fishtown in River Gee, we are one people; if we hail from Greenville in Sinoe, we are one people; if we hail from Sanoyea in Bong, we are one people; if we hail from Sasstown, in Grand Kru, we are one people; if we hail from Swen Mecca, in Bomi, we are one people; if we hail from Bentol, in Montserrado, we are one people; if we hail from Harbel, in Margibi, we are one people; if we hail from Hartford,in Grand Bassa, we are one people; if we hail from Cestos City, in Rivercess, we are one people; if we hail from Zwedru,in Grand Gedeh, we are definitely one people! Indeed, we are one people, and the time has come for us to chart the course that leads us towards the good things that God has stored up for us.
YES, indeed;Liberians are deeply anguished by the politics of divisiveness – fighting endless political battles through the narrow-minded approach of deceptive politicians, whose only interest in the people comeswhen it is election time; only so quickly to fade away when they have achieved their victory which is derived fromus. Can you not see what I mean, when almost every political actor who has attained power, becomes impervious to our afflictions? Can you not see what I mean, when the democratic principle of checks and balance has been abandoned and abdicated to the Third Branch of Government? Can you not see how wrong it has become for vital funds in the budget to be truncated and declared a shortfall? Can you not see, can you not see, my Fellow Citizens? All of these abuses seem endless, and our unceasing cries only land on deaf ears!
Our cries come from excruciating pains; for the facts are clear: We live in a country without good health care, safe drinking water, whereninety-nine (99%) percent of us do not drink from pipe-borne water; where 1,072 out of 100,000 of our mothers and sisters die in child birth, if not immediately after delivery. We live in a country without good schools, where many of our children cannot read or write, and even the President has woefully declared: “Our education system is a mess.” Even more lamentable is the observation that those who want to make a difference, to change and improve our dire circumstances, are left to fend for themselves in thisabhorrent world and, more tearfully, at the worst position within our own West African Region.
Not too long ago, when Liberia shone as a Beacon of Light on the African continent, when we could boast of the second fastest economic growth rate, there were those who bitterly complained – and whose achievements have never been visible. Those same people continue to criticize the past and make more dismal any prospect for our future. Their mission has not ended, and they want to destroy every fabric of promise in our society to retain power for their personal aggrandizement. We have been fooled for too long, misused beyond measure, abused without ceasing and kept wanting for far too long. They have divided us on multiple lines – ethnic, religious and social – which we must reject. And without any compunction, they sit supinely blazing in power, still attempting to make a further mess of our lives!
Fellow Liberians: This is the business of the ALP.
The question is asked, “What is our vision?” Clearly, we envision a nation that rises from the ashes of a devastating civil conflict to one that feeds itself. We see a nation that harnesses its resources and, with creativity and innovation, emerge to a land of self-sufficiency, even in the production of energy to fuel its economy. We yearn to seeshining light bulbs that burn throughout all villages and towns across Liberia, where “current” will no longer signify a dividing line of inequality between our citizenry. We see an elevated Liberia that can boast of a health care delivery system that is on par with other progressive nations, where our people are attended by the best physicians and aided by top-notch equipment. No longer will we take envious note of only the wealthy being able to fly out of the country to seek medical services, while we negate the requirement for the poor and wretched to suffer in pain, and remain at home until they die for simple services. We envision a nation where pipe-borne water is accessible not only to the 5,000 customers that reside in Monrovia, but to the entire population of four million people.
Some may ask: “Who is Benoni Urey? – How is he familiar with the plight of the poor and struggling masses? What gives him the credentials to be our leader?” To those who ask these wrenching questions, I will say: Yes, I do know and understand the harsh realities of poverty; for I too, did not grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. I come from a family of many children. My father was a poor Up River man in a very poor city, called Careysburg. My mother scratched and scraped to feed us. Anyone from Careysburg will tell you that the family of Daniel Urey, IV, lived in a zinc frame house on a dirt road. For many years, I know what it feels like to run around on dirt roads without shoes. I know what it is like for jiggers to tear into your flesh. I also know the pain of a son, whose father languished in prison for yearson trump up political charges. We also know how it feels to have the rights given you under the Constitution of your country being denied, because you have political differences with people.
And I also know that it takes hard work to move oneself from poverty. But in order for that to happen, there must be a spirit of selflessness, one that brings forth your best efforts to achieve an education. And that is why we must prioritize education because, with education and its tools, I was able to merit positions of authority and opportunities, both to raise myself, and to extend a hand of compassion to others.
We must give thanks to God for allowing them to temporarily take away some of our God-given rights as granted in our Constitution, by the imposition of travel band and assets freeze. We want to state here categorically that we hold no malice against the International Community for these actions, because Liberians campaigned, using Liberian Government funds, to have these sanctions imposed and maintained on fellow Liberians; only because of our political views and refusal to align ourselves with them. However, we thank God that, during the period of the sanctions, we were able to invest in our country and live with our people, during both the good and bad times.
It is time for Liberians to stop misinforming the International Community for their personal aggrandizement. There is a compelling need for Liberia to elect a new leader, who can show empathy with those who are with pains, and those who agonize.Liberia must never elect a President based on what they say they will do for us, as we have tried this many times in the past, and it just does not work.We must be able to evaluate anyone who is a serious candidate.As a consequence of lies, deception and dishonesty all too prevalent in Liberian politics, many of you have lost all hope in politics and politicians; therefore, I, Benoni Wilfred Urey, stand before you today and declare in all sincerity that I am committed to the renewal of your faith in a government of absolute inclusion,and dedication to service. We can escape the experiments that have brought nothing, except suffering and hardship, to our people. I offer unimpeachable sincerity, glaring integrity and an example of a host of successes, by virtue of the soundness of my leadership in service to Government, as well as the management of my private enterprises.
What is our vision for Liberia? We see a country joined together at the umbilical cordby one shared vision: Equal opportunities for all Liberians; specifically, through hard work, discipline, patriotism, nationalism and unrestricted love for one another. This is what is required for us to recapture the greatness of our past, the Liberia ofprosperityand international renown; indeed, whose voice was synonymouswith African redemption.
Our first priority is central to everything, and that is to promote human security; for, human security must be built upon a foundation that recognizes the fundamental rights of all citizens and friends residing within our borders.
The right to worship, freedom of speech, right to freely associate politically–all such salient rights that can never be compromised – and so we must strive toward these noble goals. No longer can Liberians be denied their fundamental rights, and any government that seeks not to achieve these fundamental hallmarks of democracy is doomed to failure. Not only will this failure lead tochaos, the legitimacy of its leadership will be challenged. The God we worship will help the ALP to steer its course in honorably respecting the fundamental rights of all Liberians as guaranteed in our Constitution.
We will endeavor not to grant economic and social rights on the basis of whether an ALP government favors you or not.Our history tells us that any system of government that does this is bound to alienate the majority of its citizens. The ALP will ensure that all rights – security, social and economic – are accorded all citizens and friends, alike.
Today, we ask the question: “What do we, really, own in our own country?” To this, I am keen to state:We crave a vision that Liberians will control our economy. Indeed, I share the knowledge that most of our land, buildings and companies are factually owned by foreigners and, begrudgingly, we have allotted most of the land to foreign concessions, generally without prudent plans for agricultural expansion, to produce foodand feed ourselves. Virtually the same exploitation has been documented in agreements pertaining to our rich mountains and pristine rivers. In almost every case, these precious endowments are now the preserves of foreigners. Companies and Concessions with no significant Liberian involvement should be made to understand one important point: the ALP is not against giving foreign concessions, rather we are for and insist that there must be Liberian involvement in the ownership of these concessions. At last, all too sadly, this is the widened scenario with our oil blocks, where, virtually all of them have been conceded to foreign hands that allow little option for Liberian ownership.
My Fellow Partisans and Compatriots:We own little or nothing in our own country, and the majority of our people are at the bottom of the economic ladder – tapping rubber trees, selling waitermarket, driving taxis, riding pan-pan and attending sick people. Don’t we deserve better?Are we not capable of owning and runninglarge farms?Let’s be positive: Surely, we can become engineers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, store owners, factory owners, telecommunications moguls; we can create and develop our own movies industry, as well as an entertainment industry here in Liberia; we can become business executives within large corporations; we can become importers of new vehicles and large equipment; we can own our own airline system; indeed, we can organize and runour own construction companies and pave our own roads; we can expand our private technical and vocational schools; And when we do this – finally–Liberia, this Glorious Land of Liberty, will truly be ours!
We continue to repose confidence in the National Election Commission and their commissioners. The road to 2017 will be an uneasy task but, by the conduct of their stewardship, we can all look forward to a free and fair election, come 2017. And may we voice out thisall important message to all Liberians and the World at large, that we will accept nothing less than a free, fair and transparent election; and I repeat, we will accept nothing less than a free, fair and transparent election, as we have already starting to hear remarks from people who should be neutral, and control this process.
Ladies and Gentlemen: It is now time to thank the many Liberians, individual and collective, who have been in the vanguard to make this day possible: Emanuel Lomax; Friends of Urey; The Chairman Emmanuel Lomax and Organizing Committe of the ALP; Daniel Gayou, Head of the Friends of Urey, USA; Samuel P. Jackson, Chief Strategist, and Henry Costa.
Finally, my abundant thanks, in every way goes to my wife, Mai, and my four girls – Danielle, Telia, Jebbeh and Benita, and other members of my family, who have all been the pillar of my strength;they have all given up their comforts to pursue my dreams. To my friends and supporters, all who believe in me and in our quest to make Liberia a better nation where we can refocus the beacon of hope to the many who have lost faith in the historic purpose of this nation.
Through the will of God Almighty, having experienced the ungodly practice of ruling parties that assert their power through the practice of showing mercy to only those that they consider their partisans, through His mercy; should we, the All Liberia Party (ALP), rise to the call of leadership, it shall be our policy to be the Party ofAll Liberians, showing no malice toward those who have kept us from partaking in the opulence of our country over these many years, simply because of our political differences. We will offer a wide embrace of inclusion not only to every man and woman; it will be extended to little boys and bigger boys, to little girls and bigger girls; and it will be felt by all those who live among us! The time of sharing has come. The hour of forgiveness is here. The moment of the struggle for the emancipation of the disheartened, disadvantaged and disenfranchised is about to be seen, and we beseech God’s guidance in our path of JUSTICE and GOODWILL to all men.
I THANK YOU!
(Happy Thanksgiving Day to all, for we can never stop thanking our Lord, God Almighty, for His countless blessings to us, both as a people and as a nation.)