Written by: Zwannah Massallay, a contemporary thinking economist
The Civil Crisis in Liberia created a huge gap in the Country’s Human Resource Capacity Sector. As a result, the young became more vulnerable. The infrastructures of the country were destroyed. A country with a population little over 4.5 million inhabitants.
The key actors and actresses that perpetuated mayhem were the politicians who used the young people and conscripted them into child soldier to fight the 14 years war. Greedy politicians only used the youths to achieve their selfish and insatiable agenda. They were not only used to perpetrate crimes but were denied the right to education, sexually assaulted and were forced to consume harmful substances.
In 2004 to 2005, the United Nations in collaboration with the interim government of Liberia under the regime of the late Gyude Brayant launched a program called the Disarmament Demobilization Reintegration and Rehabilitation (DDRR). The goal of the said program was to create an opportunity or hub for those young people who were victimised by the 14 years senseless war to be integrated into society.
It’s saddening to note that the young people were never treated fairly in such an arrangement. Said program was a conduit by which some political elites enriched themselves at the expense of those young people.
The young people have always been the sacrificial lambs for achieving leaders and politicians goals and objectives in Liberia. In 2008 a research was done by the Liberia Institute of Statistic & Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) – which says the population is around 3.5m people. According to a statistic that was done over a decade ago. According to the Liberia Youth Fragility Assessment in (2009), Youth (ages 15-34) is 25% of the total rural population and 33 % of the urban resulting in the youth population to 58%. Except those under the age 5, virtually all children and youth in Liberia were traumatised in some way by the 14 years of war.
A report done by the World Bank says in Fiscal year 2013/2014 draft National Budget, the Ministry of Youth and Sports was allotted a total of USD 1.3 million (LRD 1.3 billion). The amounts listed in the budget are in USD. It is unclear what proportion of this amount is pointedly for the youth. Research has also shown that the impact of youth participation in donors funding is very little.
In Liberia, the youth are the most vulnerable group of people without any fearing contradiction. Liberia is a country that does not hold any opportunity for young people. In Liberia, the only easy way to youth employment is to be a motorcyclist. As a result of this, there are increased number of youth in the street called ‘Zokos’, a Liberian slang.
In recent time, we have witnessed President Weah being more supportive of seeing these young people being more of a liability to society by dishing out $ 5000.00 to each of them to continue taking harmful drugs than useful citizens in the society. It is unarguable that Weah led government has created more space in making young to become militants whose goal is to alter violence. As a result of the above mentioned, the youth have been seen in the minds of many as a group of unserious people.
Notwithstanding, the young people are always being very instrumentals in many elections processes. Many of them have understood their civil responsibilities and have contributed to the election of many leaders in Liberia. With all their efforts to make society better, they are never treated fairly. Many times, I pounder why is this so. Fast forward, the youth is everything that’s wrong with our society and everything that is promising about our society.
The young people are the cornerstone of an open civilize society. They lay the groundwork for the future direction of the people’s lives and the society we live in. They are the foundational channel and an essential fraction of every society. Our leaders must understand, for the full exercise of all other human rights and for social, political and economic participation, the young people need to be in the centre in every national decision-making.
I have always held the view that one major goal of most African leaders, especially in Liberia, is to impoverish the people. And when the people are impoverished, they look up to politician for what I called instance gratification.
Because once the people are impoverished, it creates a space to control their conscious thought and direction. A good leader must create equal opportunity for all regardless of their economic, social, political and religious status.
To the youth, let us not gamble our future to those visionless leaders just for temporary gifts. As my mentor and teacher, Dr. Nyei always advises me & QUOT; Never allow yourself to be victimized by injustices & QUOT; quot country with its population constitutes a significant portion of its population to be youth, that country is expected to experience exceeding growth only if investment in youth education and programs are prioritized and considered.
According to the father of the nation, Mohammed Gandi, in one of his famous quotes said, “It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result”. Therefore, colleagues, let us keep fighting for our future.
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