A 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow Makes a Sincere Request to the President of Liberia: Calls for the Appointment of A Youth Policy Advisor To the Office Of the President

A sincere request to Mr President: Appointment of A Youth Policy Advisor in the Office of the President

Dear Mr President,
I have followed you for donkey years especially your involvement in the upliftment of young people in our country evident by appointing young junior ministers in your government. These are pieces of evidence that are undeniable regarding your role played and continues to play in promoting young people.

Ambassador President, you’ve gone almost 3 years in your presidency leading the people of this great noble land, but up to now, you haven’t appointed anyone in the position of Youth Policy Advisor to your office. LISGIS is still reporting that 65% of our country’s population accounts for youth. This is a clear indication that bulk of our population constitutes young people, therefore, it’s extremely concerning to create space for youth participation and enable them to sit around the seat of reasoning thereby influencing the Liberia and future they the desire. Even during our 14 years of devastating and bloody civil unrest which left Liberia sternly war-affected, and its citizenry grossly detached and disenfranchised, the vast majority of Liberians affected by the war were youths. Majority of them were either witnesses or major perpetrators of the horrible carnage during the civil war.

President Weah, studies have shown that when young people become dispossessed, alienated and having no or very little opportunities and voice in the development of their country, they resort to become potential tools available to the advantage of politicians to instigate violence and war. And this is also found evidence in the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Final Report of 2010 and several international organizations reports on Liberia including USAID Youth and Conflict report 2005. The unvarnished truth we must also accept is to admit that the future of Liberia rests on the shoulders of the youth. Therefore, the medicinal antidote to achieve a brighter future for Liberia and its vexing youthful population is to massively invest in the human capital development of young people. National government needs to see it imperative to have youth empowered and engaged through a well-coordinated office (Youth Policy Advisor to the Office of the President of Liberia).

The primary responsibility for the Youth Advisor is to develop, coordinate and lead activities inline with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, The Federation of Liberian Youth, The Liberian National Student Union and other related youth organizations within the country. This time around, a Youth Desk should be assigned in all of the fifteen counties to report early warning or threats to the central office in Monrovia in order to mitigate problems that will arise through proactive means. For instance, some of the protests that went under your regime wouldn’t have escalated in some of these forms and manners if we have had a proactive Youth office running in the office of President advising him how to handle some of these troubling scenarios. Many of the participants in these protestations are young people, it is therefore expedient for young people to engage each other to settle issues that affect them or advise the president on potential threats these things would cause if actions are not taken seriously.

Ambassador Weah, youth participation to the growth and development of Liberia is a matter of essence and degree importance. Youth participation is a fundamental democratic right. It should be an end in and of itself to remove existing barriers that have the proclivity to undermine our democracy. From a more purely pragmatic perspective, if young people have the perception that their voices are not reachable and or attractive for listening; this can ultimately shape their attitudes for a lifetime, with potentially long-lasting negative impacts on a country’s political culture. It has been found evident through research that in new and emerging democracies, the inclusion of youth in formal participation especially at the level of the Head of State is important from the start. Through their active contributions, democratic values can come to life – paving the way for the overcoming of authoritarian practices. In countries where youth led-protests have forced authoritarian regimes from power, significant frustration is likely to arise if youth are not included in new formal decision-making procedures, and it might have a threatening effect on democratization.

To conclude Mr President, there are potential young people in this country that can serve that position even from your own political persuasion (the CDC), many of whom are development technicians, Leaderships Specialists, Mandela Washington Fellow, YALI beneficiaries, former student leaders, Policy Mechanics, Peace and Conflict practitioners, etc. Give them the opportunity to coordinate with their colleagues and solve some of the major problems we are currently going through within the youth and student community.

Thank you very much as I look forward to seeing you accepting my request in good faith. inshallah

Vallai M. Dorley
Your Peking from Clara Town

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