SOURCE: JALLAH E. GRAYFIELD, III
When he was finally declared free from political bondage and captivity,
the erudite state man Benoni Urey voiced out his quest to contest the
Liberian Presidency come 2017.
He sees himself as the only man on the ground who stands ready to succeed Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and fast track the development of the country from where the female president will stop. This he has indicated in the loudest tone on local and international media.
But is Urey really prepared for the first job in the land, can he stand the headache, the political pressure and all the wahala associated with the presidency, what kind of president does Liberia really need in the first place?
There are in fact many people who think, Urey is a “Congo Man” and that he is no different from the Tubmans, Tolberts, the Sirleafs and their likes, and giving him state power would be like putting old wine in new bottles.
Mixed views have emerged, and continue to emerge since Mr. Urey announced his presidential ambition; many see him as an associate of a detained war crime convict Charles Taylor who was the master of destruction and death through wars in the MRU basin.
But others see him as a very good man who can better stir the affairs of the state after madam President. He is being considered by many as a patriotic Liberian who has lots of investments in Liberia that are benefiting the ordinary people through employment, as well as his investment in the human resource of the country.
Since he declared his presidential bid, Benoni has come under suppressive political fire, that he is not the right man at this time and he should be politically baptized and natured, while waiting for the election after 2017.
Their argument is Benoni has got no orientation in politics and might just be learning on the job.
Granted that he is not a politician by birth, which of course any well minded person might think that politics is not tied to people when they are born, but they are schooled to be veteran politicians, and not even all the brains who read politics are the best politicians, but yet economist and people in other fields can be the very best politicians one could ever imagine.
When Augustine Kpehe N’Gafuan was appointed as Foreign Minister by Madam President Several years ago, not many persons knew he could have performed exceptionally well as he is, the arguments were, he is not a diplomat, he is not schooled in the area of diplomacy and he could be a failure, I personally differed with those arguments, astoundingly Ngafuan proves to be one of the best the foreign Ministry had ever produced and can boast of.
The Liberian politics is often surrounded by loud mouth criticisms, like Urey himself criticizing President Sirleaf for abandoning Liberians in the face of an Ebola outbreak in Liberia, but contrarily, Urey had not assumed the presidency, but a little reaction from the seat of the presidency on his criticism of President Sirleaf had sparked out harsh words between his team and the presidential spokesman Piah.
Urey’s team had not allowed sleeping dog to lie, nor hear Liberians response to Jerolimix Piah’s comments and description of Urey as a farmer, jumped and threatened Piah with a law suit. That from whence I saw it was wrong and did not show tolerance from the camp of a heavy weight political figure who wants to lead our country. That was more a like a political sycophancy which should not be condoned nor supported by Urey himself, because supporting such, will send different message to the voting populace which could imperil Urey’s presidential ambition.
Leaders need to be tolerance, that’s one of the paramount attributes of anyone who is called to leadership, not only the presidency, but in all spheres of society. My experience with Urey for the last six years as Manager of His Love FM 105.1 and TV-Channel 7, had so far put me in a position to believe that the man has a good level of tolerance and stands a better chance for the big job.
Even with his ringer face that scares many people coming in contact with him for the first time, he does not easily turn down people even if he disagrees with their positions on things. Howbeit, Liberians are concerned about Urey’s political life and his educational surroundings. A western magazine quotes Urey in this manner:
“At this point in the live of our nation, we need somebody with the requisite experience and know how to run the country. I have worked in several governments; I have both political and business experience. I have the requisite ability, and I have been able to show that I can use all of these things to run the country” Urey told the African News
Urey a Congo Man:
It is clear that Urey was a Taylor’s associate, and that he is a Congo Man born of a Kpelle woman and grew and schooled in Bong County, there is no doubt about that, but what matters now is that Liberians have to be cautious about this divisive politics and concentrate on how to build their war tattered state.
There have been, and there still are comments by many Liberians that Urey is a Congo man just like Tubman, Tolbert, and even Ellen who are responsible for the backward state of our nation and we should not entrust him with the presidency.
From whence I see it, this is divisive and borders on huge sentiments of tribalism, for I believe that Liberia has only one set of people, and that the state is not divided between Congo and native. I truly believe that when one gets the requisite education, get a great degree of civilization and live an appreciable life, Liberians consider such person as Congo.
Benoni is a native Kpelleh Name. Benoni in the kpelle Vernacular Means to drop the Rice grain down, in the village when kids are growing up, they eat in the same dish pan, usually a law is passed by the oldest with the consent of the others, that anyone who drops a grain of rice will sit and watch his friends take one handful each, to deter the others from wasting the food.
That’s the historicity of that name Benoni. No doubt that Urey speaks a very good Kpelle. Tubman was a native of Cape Palmas in Maryland county, he spoke the local vernacular, but yet he is considered today by many as a Congo man even after empowering disadvantaged Liberians to make ends meet and make them rise from their slumber. From 1944-1971 Tubman’s presidency was marked by great changes in the economic, even though he is still being considered an “elite Congo man.”
Urey a Taylor Associate:
Let’s agree that Urey was an associate of the former President Charles Taylor, so were many of our public officials including the Head of state President Sirleaf. Do you know that the Madam was a close friend to Taylor when Benoni was nowhere around, where was Urey when Madam President and her likes at the African Sub Committee Meeting in September 1989 in the US planned to overthrow Samuel Doe, so is he more an associate than Madam President?
I certainly believe that one thing that continues to divide us as a people is labeling a group of people as associate of our past governments or leaders, that has left many people dead and continues to hunt many and make them suffer even in this new dispensation.
After the 1980 coup in Liberia, Master Sergeant Samuel Kayon Doe, the Military coup leader and his men, labeled Liberians who had fought for the improvement of the Liberian state as Tolbert’s Followers, officials of government were killed indiscriminately and others made to flee to exile. When Charles Taylor won the 1997 election, he set up a system that only those loyal to him got the biggest Jobs and make the biggest money at the disadvantage of the majority poor.
After him, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf still see people who were close to Taylor as threats to her regime, she puts many of them though qualified aside and picked few who had been long time friends, many of those Taylor’s associates are today around without jobs, those who could not make ends meet in Liberia went into self imposed exile.
Now toady a close Taylor Associate, Urey has declared his intention for the presidency, but yet we hear people say, he is a Taylor Boy and should not be entrusted with the presidency.
If we say this, then Madam President should not be in the driver’s seat today, reason been, she was a founder of the NPFL rebel group that created carnage for our people, she admitted given ten thousand dollars to the NPFL as humanitarian support, even though the NPFL was not a humanitarian group but a executioner establishment.
But there are few things that many of us don’t understand. Do you know that Charles Taylor was overwhelmingly elected in 1997 as president of Liberia because the Liberian people pardoned him in spite of the mayhem he caused them, why do you think Liberians lined the street to welcome Taylor from Gbarnga in the mid 1990s? These are questions to ponder
In 2005, when Liberians including me stood under the scorching sun to vote Madam sirleaf to power, meant that the Liberian people had forgiven her, in-spite of her contribution of ten thousand dollars to rebels to kill and destroy our land…
Senator Prince Y. Johnson, now an evangelist, in September 1990, slaughtered and mutilated the remains of ex-president Samuel Doe, but yet he was elected, that speaks of forgiveness and reconciliation amongst thyself.
I certainly, feel that it is about time to carefully examine these names that are surfacing in our political terrains. Urey is just one of the few, though the Mills Jones’ presidential story is not clear, many names would surfaced just at the birth of 2017 like Speaker Alex J. Tyler who had begun touring the country on a political mission.
In 2005, Liberia recorded the largest presidential candidates in its history, 22 Persons were eyeing the presidency, but some were dropped along the way because they were not qualified, in 2011, the Number reduced and a female president was produced.
Eighty –five percent of those who were recorded for these presidential contestations were from the Diaspora, they were completely disconnected to their ancestral land and their own people, and as such they could not just fit in the political land space in Liberia, their distance connection, and their simply lack of understanding of the Liberian geo-politics made them complete novices to the politics of land.
From these Experiences, and from whence I see it, I think Liberia really needs a “ Made in Liberia President”. A man or woman, who had resided with his or her people, know their problems, feel those problems and had helped to solve the Liberian people’s problems.
I think Liberians are tired with these brief case politicians who come from America and other parts of the world vacationing only to take part in elections.
This is why I would like to salute President Sirleaf, when she lost the 1997 election, Madam President did not totally abandon her people, even though the country was hostile and politically charged, Madam Sirleaf organized an NGO called Mesuagon that operated in several counties in Liberia.
That NGO, Mesuagon touched the lives of Liberians who I believed even remember the name of madam Sirleaf on the 2005 ballot box that made her president.
Unlike other Liberian politicians, they usually abandon their constituents and hurry back abroad dashing the hopes of their supporters, where is Madam Masangie Cecelia N’debe, the Loud speaking female politician who said Ellen stole her votes, Dr. James Gueseh, GD Galapor and others. They promised to build bridges where there were no waters for Liberians if they won the presidential elections, where are they today?
From whence I see it, I think choosing a Liberian from the soil to make him or her our president would be a great thing, and I have no doubt that one person who is capable for the job would be Urey, his contribution to our nation’s economy is enviable, his impact on the lives of the haves-not is incalculable.
Since the evolvement of the middle class in the 19th century, Liberia had not had a middle class, but today Liberia can boast of the emergence of such class by mentioning Urey, Dr. Kpoto, and Ambassador John Gbeisay amongst others. Outside of government employ, Urey like Dr. Kpoto John Gbeisay and even Cyril Allen continues to provide thousands of jobs for destitute Liberians who don’t see government job as the only means of survival.
With his refined education, a salaried professional and a manager above all, Urey remains a blessing in putting the human resource of the country back on course with the infusion of more dollars in the education of young people in all spheres of life.
Born on June 22, 1957, Urey is a Graduate of Cuttington University, and holds a master degree From the University of southern California, and married to Mai Bright Urey
Just as Africa’s biggest Freedom Fighter Nelson Mandela never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and learning, despite terrible provocation, and that he never answered racism with racism, neither did he fight the white man for suppressing the blacks when he took over as President, so I think Urey can
What is expected of the businessman turned politician, and all other politicians eying the high seat in the land , is to remain an inspiration to all Liberians who are oppressed and deprived; to all those who are opposed to oppression and deprivation, this Nelson Mandela’s style of leadership if followed, can bring a better result.
To those who are throwing their hats in the presidential race including, like the scholarly Benoni Urey must take also take this advice from General Collins Powell.
“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”