Mills Jones speaks about who a leader should be

Presidential hopeful Dr. J. Mills Jones ( dressed in white, middle) and the UNICCO delegation

Presidential hopeful Dr. J. Mills Jones ( dressed in white, middle) and the UNICCO delegation

2017 is just around the corner and the fact that Nimba County is second only to Montserrado County in term of voting population is not lost on politicians aspiring for the Liberian presidency. So we are the ones everyone wants to talk to as the countdown begins towards the 2017 general election; Nvasekie Konneh writes.

So, fresh from the inauguration on Saturday, September 3, 2016, the first official engagement of President Nya Dokie was the meeting with Liberian politician Dr. J. Mills Jones. Calls came that the presidential aspirant wanted to meet the leadership of the United Nimba Citizens Council (UNICCO) and for three hours on Sunday morning, the UNICCO officials led by President Dokie listened to Dr. Jones as he explained his tenure as governor of the Central Bank of Liberia and his accomplishment in that capacity.

According to Dr. Jones, when he took over, our national reserve had only five million dollars and by the time he left office, it was 500 million dollars. He believes that ending poverty in Liberia was his goal and the best way he did that was to help Liberian business women in the marketplace. He said that the only way to end poverty in Liberia is to economically empower the Liberian people through a strong private sector development and the starting point for that is to engage the business women by creating a favorable financial lending condition for them and other Liberians desirous of doing business in Liberia.

When he took over, commercial banks were lending to the Liberian business women at 20% percent interest rates and were expected to be paid back in six months. He said under his administration, he provided a better deal to the market women through the commercial banks that allowed them to keep more profits, thereby allowing them to expand their businesses.

Dr. Jones emphasized that if poverty is to be eliminated in Liberia, providing lending opportunity to Liberian business people is the way forward and went on to say that anyone who wants to be leader in Liberia should have a clear agenda of how to lift Liberians out of poverty, noting that he has already demonstrated that by the number of Liberian business people who are doing well now as a result of his policy of economic empowerment.

Konneh ( right), the writer of this piece, presents a copy of his book to Dr. J. Mills Jones

Konneh ( right), the writer of this piece, presents a copy of his book to Dr. J. Mills Jones

He went to the extent of saying, “No body has the right to be a leader if he or she does not have the desire and the capacity to change the people’s lives for the better,” Dr. Jones went on further to say that he would have gladly accepted to attend the just-ended inauguration if he was approached “because wherever our people meet we want to be there.”

In responding to Dr. Jones, President Nya Dokie said that as Nimbaians in the US, “we are very happy to have the opportunity to meet and listen to what you have to say.” Similar sentiment was expressed by other NImba officials who went with the president. Among them were Nathan Biah, Chairman of the Board of Directors of UNICCO, Martin Dorlier, former president of UNICCO, President John Pearson and VP Nancy Yeaney of the Maryland Chapter of UNICCO as well as James Harris of the Georgia chapter, who is heading the committee working on the Women Empowerment Center to be built in Ganta.

On behalf of his committee, Mr. Harris told Dr. Jones that the Women Empowerment Center is a project the current UNICCO administration wants to complete and deliver to the people and as such “we seek your support as we are appealing to all NImbaians as well as Liberians in general to help make this project a reality.”

In responding to our request for help on the Women Empowrment Center, Dr. Jones said, “as a Liberian who is interested in development of his country, we are committed to helping the Nimbaians in completing this project.” According to him, he believes that all parts of Liberia needs development and all counties should benefit from development projects that will lift the people out of poverty.

It was a proud moment for me personally as President Dokie and other officials introduced me to Dr. Jones as “Our publicity committee chairman and author of three books.” As such, I presented a copy of one of my books, The Land of My Father’s Birth to Dr. Mills Jones.

Of course this was just a listening tour and as time goes by, many presidential contenders will engage the Nimbaians at home and abroad as we inch towards the general election of 2017.