The National Orator for Liberia’s 164th Independence Day celebrations has called on Liberians to consider the prime interest of the country as they cast their votes in the upcoming general and presidential elections. The occasion was celebrated in Voinjama, Lofa County in Northwestern Liberia.
Mrs. Estella Garmai Korboi -Calvins urged Liberians to look beyond the pictures of candidates and instead focus on the Liberian nation.
Election, the Orator said, is an opportunity for all Liberians to contribute to the decision on who will lead the country. Elections, she also said, make each citizen a decider on the fate of the nation.
"I urge all of us to look beyond the pictures of the candidates and instead focus on the red, white and blue Liberian flag."
The Liberian nation and people, Mrs. Calvins said, "should emerge stronger from these elections, not weaker; Liberia and Liberians should emerge better from these elections, not bitter".
According to her Liberia and Liberians should progress as a result of these elections, not retrogress. Most importantly, she said Liberia and Liberians should smile at a result of these elections instead of crying.
The local businesswoman admonished Liberians to "play by the rules and go through a violence-free election that will make us a great nation – that will make you proud that you contributed to a great decision for the greater good of the motherland."
In a speech marking the 164th Independence Day Anniversary in Voinjama, the National Orator expressed concern over the lack of skills by Liberian youths to contribute to the rebuilding of the country. To address the inadequacy, Mrs. Korboi Calvins recommended the inclusion of apprenticeship as another component of formal education to improve the skills of the country’s youth.
This form of education, the local businesswoman observed, will supplement adult education, thereby assisting girls as well as a huge number of the population that have reached adulthood without much formal education. "The idea here is to help the youth acquire certain functional skills that could be useful in adulthood and for earning legitimate incomes."
The National Orator indicated that the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration continues to attract big companies to Liberia, with huge job potential in mining, agriculture, and many more for Liberians, but observed that the country lacks adequately trained Liberians to take advantage of the potential job opportunities.
"These jobs require specific skill sets. This is why our schools must be ready and get prepared to train Liberians in the skills that these companies will want to hire for. This is a key step towards empowerment. If some of our citizens can acquire skills through apprenticeship to become mechanics, midwives, caterers, farmers or small business entrepreneurs, we can gradually battle poverty and outgrow our tendencies towards idleness, deception and particularly the belief that government should provide all of our needs," she recommended.
The mother of four, Mrs. Calvins also spoke of the need to provide more educational opportunities for school-age children, particularly girls, whom she said are underrepresented at all levels of education in almost all counties.
"This is unacceptable! The bottom line is this: as long as girls do not have access, and?equal?access to education, that empowerment vision will remain out of reach, and our goals of healthier families and healthier communities will remain a pie in the sky," the National Orator cautioned.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Korboi Calvins has been conferred the distinction of Dame Grand Commander in the Humane Order of African Redemption. In a citation read out during the Independence Day program, the President praised the National Orator for her role in the promotion of the entrepreneur spirit and serving as a good role model for market women throughout the country.
The National Orator was among several other citizens and other dignitaries on whom the President conferred distinctions. The honorees included the Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai, Sr., who was conferred the distinction of Grand Band in the Order of Africa.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex Tyler (Knight Great Band – Humane Order of African Redemption); President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Cletus Wortorson (Knight Great Band – Humane Order of African Redemption); Acting Monrovia Mayor, Madam Mary T. Broh (Grand Commander – Order of the Star of Africa); and Dr. James Adama Sirleaf, Chairman & Founder, HEARTT Foundation (Knight Great Band) were also honored by the Liberian Government.
Other honorees included Ambassador Walter Fust, former Director, Swiss Development (Knight Grand Commander – Humane Order of African Redemption); Mr. David A. Straz, Jr., Honorary Consul of Liberia in Tampa, Florida, USA (Knight Grand Commander – Human Order of African Redemption); Mr. U.S. Sachdeva (Jeety), Honorary Consul General of India – Humanitarian worker in Liberia (Knight Grand Commander - Humane Order of African Redemption); Madam Edith Nahwelee, Dahwomeh Curran, Zorzor, Lofa County (Dame Grand Commander – Humane Order of African Redemption); and Mr. Henry Baysah Sellie, Octogenenarian, Classroom Teacher, Principal, Lawalazu Public School (Grand Commander – Order of the Star of Africa).
Also honored were the Senior Aide-de-camp to the President, General Jeremiah Hinneh (Knight Commander – Humane Order of African Redemption); Chief Fatorma Kamara, Senior Citizen (Knight Officer – Humane Order of African Redemption); Mr. David Doe, Public Servant (Knight Officer – Humane Order of African Redemption); Mr. Josiah N. Johnson, Veteran Sports Administrator (Commander – Order of the Star of Africa); and a Missionary and Humanitarian, Mrs. Yennida Glaydor Paygar (Commander – Order of the Star of Africa), who was posthumously conferred the distinction.