Today I want to thank God for this country I love so much, the land of my forefathers. Oh, how I love Liberia. A land so rich with massive vegetation and precious minerals. Oh, how I love the sound of the ravishing ocean waves, the beautiful sunset on the Atlantic, the breath-taking waterfalls of kpatawee, the majestic Mount Nimba, the dazzling Mount Wologisi, the lovely Bong Range and the magnificent features of Lake Piso (fishermen’s lake). I also love the stunning beauty of the Sapo National Park, the gorgeous blue lake and the Grand Gola National Forest. Oh, how I love Liberia!

Fellow Liberians, Happy Independence Day! I am grateful to be at home in the midst of this horrific covid-19. It is my desire, prayer and hope that together we will conquer this monster with the help of the Almighty God.

Now, we have been blessed and created by God to handle the affairs of this nation and to take dominion over all things. It is written in Genesis 1:28, And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over EVERY living thing that moves on the earth”. It is with this proclamation, that I call on all Liberians, local and abroad to intervene in this global pandemic by directly or indirectly taking steps to prevent and dismiss the presence of covid19 in Liberia and around the world.

We have the power and mandate to impact what happens in our geographical location. Some may say, it is the responsibility of the government to protect us and deal with this crisis. You are wrong. This responsibility is on all of us and we must play this important patriotic role. Some of us are religious leaders, medical professionals, market women, security personnel, parents, public servants, media practitioners, business owners, pen pen riders, etc. We must take ownership wherever we find ourselves.

During his inaugural address on January 20, 1961, the Late U.S. President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – Ask what you can do for your country”. Liberians, our country needs us now more than ever before to fight this invincible enemy. For once, let’s put our political, religious, tribal and economic differences aside and unite in this fight.

I love these lyrics from our national anthem that states, “with heart and hand our country’s cause defending, we’ll meet the foe with valor unpretending”. Today we are fighting the corona virus. A few years ago, it was ebola.

I recall during the early stages of the ebola crisis, Liberians were fighting one another and blaming each other for where we found ourselves at the time. The more the fighting persisted, the more our people began to die. It was only when we realized that we were all equally affected, we began to work together. Once we became united, Ebola had no choice but to go! This is the spirit of “In Union Strong; Success is Sure”.

We are a strong and resilient people. There is nothing that we cannot do if we combine our skills, resources, community engagement, advocacy and benevolence.

As I travel the length and breadth of this nation, I see Elders with vast knowledge and wisdom, I see women of virtue and courage, I see men of strength and dedication, I see youth aspiring for greatness while yearning for opportunities. We are more than overcomers. Together, we are more than conquerors.

Through our international and private networks, we have been able to mobilize in-kind support for various communities and medical institutions in the last two months. This week, we will be reaching out to couple of communities with food and medical supplies. In a few weeks we will have additional PPEs and medical supplies arriving in country as our contribution to the national crisis. This is only a small representation of our people that we are able to reach. That is why, I am calling on all Liberians to join this fight if we are to transition back to normalcy.

I want to thank our President, His Excellency, Dr. George Manneh Weah for the measures he has put in place to provide ease of movement, the observation of social distancing, the wearing of face masks and other preventive measures that are being enforced by various government agencies.

Romans 13:1 says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established”. We must therefore support and respect the efforts of the governing authorities as we navigate through this difficult period. It is the will of God. I therefore call on the inter-religious council and all believers to pray for our nation. This is the time to stand in the gap for the nation.

Today, I express enormous appreciation to our health workers and medical practitioners for a job well done, for the dedicated and continuous services rendered on the front line. The nation is beholden to you for your selfless service and pray for your safety and protection.

To our joint service men and women, I say thank you for your steadfast and tireless service to the nation. When we are inside working you are under the sun and rain, when we are at sleep at night, you are up serving and protecting us. Your unwavering and devoted service is not going unnoticed. I pray for God’s provision and protection over you and your families.

As we battle covid 19, I see that we are also fighting rape and other violence against women and children. These crimes have the propensity of destroying our nation and the future of our women, girls and boys. In some instances, these heinous crimes lead to death.

Today, I re-echo our message of “NO MEANS NO” and emphatically declare that there is no place in our society for rape and sexual gender-based violence. These acts are unacceptable and intolerable at all times and must be dealt with the full weight of the law. We call on the judicial system to expedite all rape cases as to bring perpetrators to justice.

The decisions we make and the actions we take must serve as deterrent to those who are involved in these inhumane acts and provide a safe haven for the survivors. A life free from violence is everyone’s right. This is made crystal clear in our pledge of allegiance, “One nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all”.

That is why we have been working with the government and international organizations for the last eleven (11) years to help prevent rape and SGBV in our country. We, through our local non-governmental organization (Servants of All Prayer Assembly) are currently implementing a rape and SGBV prevention program in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in twelve (12) communities in two (2) counties. We trained and deployed men and women to these counties to engage men and boys in individual transformative behavior change, guided by the voices of women and girls, to end violence against women and girls. The project began in January of this year and will end in November. This project will make an impact only in few communities. What can you do in your community?

Liberians, we need to make a concerted effort to defeat rape and SGBV in Liberia. If you are interested in joining a team of men and women who are tired with violence against women and children, please contact us at soapprayers@gmail.com, Pastor Dro at 0770203794/0886833808 or Eric at 0777015430.

On this 173rd anniversary of our nation, I would like to thank all those who afforded me the opportunity to serve my country. Firstly, I extend immense appreciation to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for giving me the opportunity to serve at the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) while participating in successful government to government negotiations.

I would also like to thank President George Manneh Weah for allowing me to serve as Chairman of the CDC transition team at the Civil Service Agency (CSA) in 2017.

Today, I am grateful to Mr. Cherif M. Abdallah, Chairman/CEO of Conex Group, J.V. Limited for bringing me onboard at Conex to help expand a brand that will be second to none in the Mano River Union. Last week we interviewed 106 Liberians to select 50 top candidates to begin training for a career in the oil and gas sector.

Conex dreams about maximizing the Liberianization policy that aims at increasing our potentials for seasoned Liberian professionals in the private sector, job creation for Liberian youth and workforce to contribute to the economic growth of our beloved patrimony. It is against this backdrop that Conex Management and staff are assiduously working around the clock to ensure that this dream becomes a reality. It is incumbent upon us all as citizens of this great nation to contribute meaningfully to its advancement and human capacity development.

As we celebrate another independence week, I recommit my service to God, Family and Country as I am very optimistic of the future of Liberia. We must however be transformed with the renewing of our minds and hearts. This new mindset of unity, liberianization and love for our fellowman will propel us to national growth and development.

I will leave you with my final statement that has to do with LOVE. As our Lord said in the Gospel according to the Apostle John 15:12, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” it is time for us to exhibit this quality that comes from the Most High in order to move our country forward.

Love will make you share with your neighbors when they are hungry, Love will encourage you to think about the less fortunate when you have something for your own family. Love will propel you to put Liberia First at all time. Love will give you a heart for the widows and elderly. Love will move you to reach out and touch the lives of the disabled. Love will get you to say, I’m sorry when you are wrong. Love will have you protect the weak and vulnerable. Love will move you to mentor the future generation, so that one day you can retire and watch them lead.

In the light of love, we must stamp out the darkness of hatred, anger, violence, crabbery, bitterness, selfishness and other vices that undermine and impede progress. The future is great and bright. Let’s embrace it together as our lives depended on each other with one hope and one destiny. Happy Independence Day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. T. Nelson Williams, II is the Chief Operating Officer/Senior Vice President at Conex Group, J.V. Limited. Williams is also the Executive Director of Conex Foundation, the charity arm of the company. He previously served as Managing Director at the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC). His civic involvement extends to international and local boards including, ECOBANK Liberia, Teach for Liberia (Board Chairman), President’s Young Professionals Program (PYPP) (Board, Co- Chairman), The YMCA of Liberia, Cyber-Ed Christian School of Excellence (Board Secretary), the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Association of Liberian HR Professionals and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated (Area Director & Past President).

Williams is the Founder/Executive Director of Servants of All Prayer Assembly (SOAP) and Founder/Executive Director of the T. Nelson Williams Foundation (TNWF). He is a partner in Liberia HR Jobs.com and Integrity Consultancy, Inc. (Executive Chairman).

He holds a B.Sc. degree in Business and Computer Science from St. Augustine’s University and an MPA degree from North Carolina Central University. Mr. Williams earned a certificate in Public and Private Human Resources Management from North Carolina State University. He also obtained a project management certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

T. Nelson is married to the lovely Cllr. Soni Karnga Williams and this union is blessed with two beautiful girls, Hadiya and Talia.