DR. BENONI W. UREY – THE MAN
Benoni W. Urey was born on June 22, 1957 to the union of Mr. Daniel Webster Urey, a farmer, and Emma Boyce Urey, (a schoolteacher), in the City of Careysburg, Montserrado County where he has spent most of his life. He is the seventh of eleven siblings.
He married Mrs. Mai B. Urey in 1986 and they are blessed with four daughters – Danielle, Telia, Jebbeh, and Benita.
Dr. Urey attended preschool to first grade at the Careysburg Public School, where, having exhibited a high aptitude for education, he was awarded a scholarship by the American Government, through the Voice of America Relay Station located in Careysburg, to attend the American Cooperative School (ACS), in Monrovia, from Grades 1 to 12.
He matriculated into Cuttington University College in Bong County where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1979, majoring in General Science with emphasis in Chemistry. Whilst at Cuttington, he was elected and served as President of his Senior Class, and President of the Mason Social and Athletic Club.
In recognition of his academic and on-the-ground excellence, Dr. Urey was awarded a Scholarship by the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC). In 1986, through that award, he earned a Masters Degree in Public Finance and Human Resource Development, as well as a Master of Science Degree in Public Private Planning from the University of Southern California in the United States of America.
Today, he remains extremely grateful for the opportunities afforded him by his parents, the U. S. Government, and the Liberia Electricity Corporation to pursue and further his education which has had a significant impact in shaping his character and influencing his outlook.
Immediately upon receiving his undergraduate degree from the Cuttington University College, he served as Training Officer at the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC). After graduation from the University of Southern California, he returned to Liberia, and was appointed Deputy Managing Director for Planning and Training at the LEC Training Institute – a position he held from 1986 to 1990 when the civil conflict brought most activities to a halt.
1990 to 1992
Dr. Urey worked as a Consultant at the African Development Bank (ADB) in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast in various capacities.
He was recruited and returned to Liberia, where he was appointed Managing Director of the Liberia Rubber Development Corporation in Bong County.
Dr. Urey was appointed President of the then inactive Agricultural Cooperative Development Bank (ACDB) by Professor Wilton Sankawulo, Chairman of the Interim Government at that time. Renegotiating the many outstanding loans owed the bank, Dr. Urey, used repayment amounts to establish a subsidiary of ACDB to purchase and export rubber, which resulted in the complete restoration of the Bank.
1996 – 2003
The same Interim Government appointed him Commissioner of the Bureau of Maritime Affairs and President Charles Taylor reconfirmed this appointment after his election to the presidency. Dr. Urey held this position until October 2003, when, as a result of the Peace Accord in Ghana, he relinquished the position to the agreed upon Government of Chairman C. Gyude Bryant. His achievements included:
- The setting up of measures to ensure that Liberians be employed in responsible positions in the operation of the Maritime and Corporate Programs; and in particular, the positions of the Deputy Commissioner for Financial Affairs and Maritime Comptroller, the Deputy Commissioner for Corporate Program and the Deputy Commissioner for Legal.
- The encouragement of young people, particular students, to pay keen attention to their education and stay in school. By this, Benoni went ahead to provide Maritime Scholarships internationally and locally in MARITIME DISCIPLINES. Many Liberians (students) benefitted from this exercise and graduated with honors from universities and colleges around the world: such as, The Marymount University, the Main Maritime Academy, The California Maritime Academy, The University of Rhode Island, and the Seamen Churches Institute (New York); all in the United States of America. Others were: Alexandria Maritime Academy in (Egypt), The World Maritime University in (Malmo Sweden), The Maritime Law Institute in (Malta), the then Regional Maritime Academy now the Regional Maritime University in (Accra, Ghana). In Liberia, the Liberia Maritime Institute in Marshall City, the University of Liberia, the Cuttington University, and the AME Zion University, to name a few. He also ensured that cadets were employed with many ship owners around the world.
- The separation of the then Bureau of Maritime Affairs from the Ministry of Finance thus making it an autonomous agency of Government.
- The establishment of a Port State Control inspection of ships. To effectively carry out foreign ship inspection, an agreement was reached between the National Port Authority and the Bureau for the construction of a Port State Control Building within the Free Port of Monrovia, which still exist today.
- Supervision of the rebuilding of the Liberian Maritime Training Institute in Marshall, Liberia and insisted that Liberian trained Sea-fearers be employed on ships flying the Liberian Flag at various ports around the World.
- The successful negotiation of the management of the Liberian Maritime Program with the Liberian International Shipping & Corporate Registry (LISCR). As a result of this management contract with LISCR, the Government’s annual revenue increased from US$4 million to over US$12 million, from the combined the Maritime and Corporate Registry programs.
- The conclusion of arrangements for the Government of Liberia (GOL) to benefit from the INMARSAT fund.
- Invested in INMARSAT fund, which accumulated a profit of over US$3 million to GOL over the period of his stewardship at Maritime.
- Lobbying and winning Liberia a seat on the Council of the International Maritime organization (IMO).
- The vast improvement of the salaries and benefits of employees and ensure all were received on schedule.
- The awarding of contracts to Liberians for the renovation of the Liberian Ambassador’s Residence in Washington, D.C and the Residence of the Liberian Ambassador to the United Nations in New Rochelle, New York.
- The instituting of the “Lock Box” system which prohibited only the agent from disbursing funds (both the LISCR and GOL had to issue their respective passwords for funds disbursements), ensuring proper accountability.
- Setting up of a system whereby all maritime funds were deposited directly in accounts the Central Bank of Liberia and not those of the Bureau of Maritime Affairs.
2009 – 2011
Dr. Urey was elected by the City Council and served as Mayor of the City of Careysburg, an election which was subsequently endorsed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. As Mayor some of his major achievements, which he is proud to note improved the livelihood and dignity of the citizens of Careysburg, included:
- Renovation, modernization and furnishing of the Administration Building (the seat of the City Administration);
- Negotiating and supervising of the rehabilitation of the Magisterial Court;
- Negotiating with UNMIL for the rehabilitation of the police station;
- Renovating the city Market Building which houses hundreds sellers;
- Starting the construction of a local low-cost housing estate and the completion of 3 units with personal funds;
- Reconstruction and maintenance of all city streets, including the erection of street signs;
- Improving the effectiveness and lifting the morale of the City Police Force by purchasing vehicles, motor bikes, uniforms and ensuring regular payment of salaries and benefits;
- Setting up an educational committee, which renovated school structures and equipment, employed qualified administrative and teaching staff (most of whom held Bachelors Degrees), ensured the continuous stock of curricular and reference material, textbooks, library books, stationeries and other supplies, provided nutritious meals for all students, and offered stipend to all staff to augment government salaries;
- Reduction of the crime rate in the city and its environs;
- Creating and reestablishing roads to various villages, including some farm to market roads;
- Establishment of the Voice of Shiata; a community radio station which airs free announcements for all city dwellers and establishments; and offers programs of education, health, information, and entertainment;
- Ensuring the city was kept clean at all times;
- Beautification of city streets with trees and installed trash bins;
- Renovating the clinic, improving salaries for nurses, and ensuring the clinic was stocked with supplies and drugs;
- Reintroducing community Church service, which brought together all Churches in the community for collective worship every 5th Sunday;
- Established an Inter Religious council.
In December 2013, in consultation with his family, Dr. Urey formally declared his intention to contest the Presidency of Liberia in the upcoming 2017 Presidential Elections.
Benoni Urey’s concern and passion for the uplifting of his fellow citizens manifested itself very early in his life. He organized social and athletic groups or took part in organized ones for the positive improvement of its members. Always concerned about empowering the underprivileged, he pursued professional training, which prepared him for the herculean task of rebuilding a damaged nation. He believes that every human being MUST be afforded the necessary opportunities to attain the best of life.
With this craving as an impetus, early in his professional life, he made the great and unusual decision of applying family resources as a basis for establishing economic entities that would generate livelihoods and empower his fellow Liberians. His steadfast efforts and commitment have resulted in the following entities, which provide empowerment through employment opportunities to over 25,000 Liberians; capacity building, education, food security, and many benefits to the nation:
- Lone Star Cell/MTN – Liberia’s largest GSM Telephony Company
He serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors, is a shareholder and one of its founders.
- Wulki Farm I and II
Wulki Farms I, an agricultural venture, situated in Careysburg, on the same land farmed by Dr. Urey’s great father, was established in November 1998. It is the largest livestock and vegetable farm in Liberia and is involved in the following agricultural areas:
- Poultry (Layers, Broilers, Turkey, Geese, Ostrich, Ducks, Quails and Guinea Fowls)
- Cattle Breeding
- Crocodile Farming
- Fish Farming (Tilapia and Cat Fish)
- Pineapple Juice Production
- Pineapple Farming
- Hatchery (Capacity-9000 Eggs)
- Snail Farming
- Vegetable Farming
- Cocoa Farming
Wulki Farms I has partnership agreements with smaller poultry farms around the country as a way of empowering smaller farmers and boosting the poultry sector.
In addition to the above activities, a natural resort – Farmers’ Paradise, has emerged from our venture and includes a restaurant, bar, conference facility, lodging, tennis and basketball courts, site and animal tours, and a swimming complex. Coming soon to Wulki Farms is the 18-Hole world-class Shiata Golf Course with an associated driving range.
Wulki Farms II in Margibi County is the 2nd largest Liberian owed and operated Rubber Plantation.
The Managing Director of both farms is Mai Urey, while Dr. Urey serves as Chairman of the Boards of Directors.
- LIB 24 and Shiata
Being of the conviction that the people must be kept informed of societal developments, media houses were formed in 2003 – comprising a television and two radio stations, which, together, provide top-quality programs – national and international news, national development programs, informational Programs (Educational, Agricultural and Health), sports and entertainment. Both TV and radio transmissions have a wide coverage in the country.
This Real Estate Company, established early 1990 specializes in the acquisition and development of properties, has had a good measure of success and is now operational nation-wide.
- U-Car Rental
An Automobile Rental Service offering a fleet of modern vehicles.
All of these entities provide much-needed employment for Liberians and help to develop and improve the capacities of our human resource.
Early 2014, U-Foundation, a charitable and non-governmental organization (NGO) was established by Dr. Urey’s wife, with a vision to work with vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals, families and communities through the provision of quality services and programs intended to bring them to a level of self-sustainability, independence and confidence.
U-Foundation has four areas of intervention: health, education, agriculture and development. The vision of the foundation is to transform Liberia through faith, charity and hard work. Again, this initiative is not limited to Monrovia and Montserrado County, but is evident in many counties.
The U-Foundation is renown for its pivotal role in saving lives during the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic in Liberia. The foundation established a home-care program and treated over 6,000 suspected and infected Ebola victims in the 5 hardest hit counties in the country. U-Foundation is also noted for it’s “Training of Teachers’ Literacy” Program in which teachers all over Liberia are being trained in methods geared at teacher students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 how to read using phonics. The Foundation’s agriculture program includes linking producers with buyers with the aim of boosting production for farmers.
In addition, Dr. Urey:
- Sponsors an appreciable Personal Scholarship Program in Liberia, both in dollar value and number of recipients averaging over US$50,000.00 per year.
- Serves as a pro-bono Member of the Cuttington University Board of Trustees; Secretary of the College of Physicians & Surgeons; Member of the Board of Directors of Redemption Hospital.
- Associates with Liberians of all walk of life across the country; and identifies with and supports sports programs and activities.
- Renders financial and moral support to many individuals, communities, organizations, hospitals, schools, etc.
- Urey was brought up in very religious environment. His parents as well as grandparents and siblings regularly attended Church services and were always very active in the various organizations. Today, his family and siblings continue in the tradition of his parents and he is a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church of Liberia. He also serves as the Sexton of the First Presbyterian Church of Careysburg, which his forefathers were instrumental in founding. He makes it a priority to identify with Churches throughout the country.
SOCIAL SERVICES AND CHARITIES
- Urey was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa by Cuttington University. Additionally, the Liberian Government conferred upon him the Knight Grand Band of the Liberian Humane Order of African Redemption.
- Urey is fluent in the English Language and the Kpelle Dialect.
- He holds membership in most local traditional societies and is also District Deputy Grand Master of the Masonic Craft of Liberia and Honorary Past Patron of the Order of the Eastern Star of Liberia.
- Being athletically inclined, he played basketball for the American Cooperative School, the Uhuru Kings, and the Liberian National Basketball team. He is also a founding member of the Uhuru Athletic and Social Club – an association established in the 1970s, aimed at improving the lives of less fortunate youths who pursue education, sports, and social activities.
UREY’S HOPE FOR LIBERIA
The Founding Fathers of this Republic – both from within and without – are looking down at us with deep sorrow, disappointment and despair for our failure to have promoted and sustained their vision for establishing a great African Nation that would have been the pride of Black People throughout the World. Over the years, we derailed their dreams, hopes and aspirations; we plunged ourselves into a devastating civil war needlessly; and have yet to consolidate the relative peace we now enjoy. Additionally, the standards of living of the Liberian people have declined steadily over the past three decades, such that the vast majority are struggling and toiling to eke out a living. The social fabric of our Nation leaves much to be desired and our national institutions (economic, political, educational, health, and agricultural) need robust revamping and reorientation.
Given these considerations, it is our collective responsibility to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and develop the country for the benefit of all Liberians! It therefore behooves us to revisit the dreams and aspirations of our Founding Fathers and urgently commence making the needed changes that will put us back on track.
Liberians now yearn for a Leader who understands the needs of the people, and will manage the natural and human resources in an equitable manner. They also yearn for respect of the Rule of Law where Justice will prevail and be meted out in an equitable manner. A leader who will transform their suffering into joy; their despair into hope; short lives into longevity and dreams into reality; a leadership that will restore the foundations on which to build the economic prosperity of this country; the dignity of its people and place us on the road to the lasting peace and tranquility that has continuously eluded our blessed nation. This leader must take Liberia to a new and much higher dimension of prosperity!
Where can we find the Leader who is strong, farsighted, strategic in thoughts and benevolently imbued with an undying patriotic disposition; while concurrently having the capacity and ability to unite the people?
How much longer must our nation languish in darkness and backwardness? Interestingly, our nation has a Son, a businessman and a philanthropist to lead this period of renaissance and renewal. He is Benoni W. Urey who humbly presents himself as that LEADER to transform Liberia.
Strong Points of Dr. Benoni Urey
- He has extensive domestic and international public experience
- He has extensive experience in the private sector
- His leadership and managerial skills and competencies are well proven.
- He is one of the highest employers in Liberia and definitely the highest private Liberian employer.
- He is a founding member, principal shareholder, and chairman of Liberia’s first GSM company – Lonestar Cell which directly employs over 3,000 Liberians but indirectly though its scratch card and Mobile Money network provides employment for over 20,000 Liberians. Lonestar Cell/MTN is also commended by the Government of Liberia as being the highest tax payer.
- He has the ability to make sound investment decisions: the hallmark of a good leader.
- All of his personal investments in business and real estate are in Liberia and therefore has a vested interest in a stable Liberia.
- He is straightforward and believe in conducting myself in an orderly and well-disciplined manner.
- And most of all he is deeply religious and a loving, caring, generous and committed family man.