By Jimmey C. Fahngon Email:firstname.lastname@example.org; cell# +231886542169/+231770123243
Today, we begin our maiden edition of “Know Your Aspirants,” with Dr. Jeremiah Z. Whapoe, Standard Bearer of Vision for Liberia Transformation Party (VOLT), one of the many presidential aspirants for the pending October elections.
Born on June 28, 1968 unto the union of Mr. Peter Z. Whapoe and Madam Sarah Doe Whapoe, Dr. Whapoe, Gio by tribe, hails from Nimba County. He is married to Mrs. Kou Leesah Whapoe with five children, two boys and three girls. Dr. Whapoe is a nephew to the late Jackson F. Doe, founder and former Standard Bearer of Liberia Action Party (LAP).
He holds a high school diploma from William V. S Tubman High School, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology, Master of Arts Degree in Social Work and Ph.D. in Organizational leadership from Universities in the United States of America. The Presidential aspirant is the author of several books including Diagnosis and Prescription to Combat Terrorism, Altruism, The Way Leadership Should Be: A Classical Review, among others.
In an interview with The NEWS Thursday at his party’s headquarters in Sinkor, Dr. Whapoe gave reasons why he wants to be president of Liberia. The aspirant said his vision for Liberia is to declare war on poverty by launching an agricultural revolution across the country. He said VOLT vision scales mechanized farming as top priority that would lead to massive food production, thus enhancing the country’s ability to food production and eliminating capital flight. Currently, he said Liberia is spending over US$480 million annually to import rice, Liberia’s staple food.
The presidential aspirant said with agriculture being the bedrock of any nation, Liberia being no exception, the amount spent on importing rice will circulate in the local economy thereby eradicating poverty and building a stronger middle class. Whapoe said through mechanized farming, there will be universal healthcare, adding that with this, every citizen will be eligible for subsidized healthcare.
The VOLT flag bearer attributed Liberia’s problem to its inability to feel itself despite the abundance land and good soil it has. He said past and present governments have failed and continue to fail in addressing Liberia’s problem because the agriculture sector is not prioritized. Whapoe said no nation can boast of independence when it cannot feel its people. To this, he said under a VOLT-led government, the agriculture sector will be prioritized which he believes would contribute toward poverty reduction. He said a vibrant agriculture sector will increase employment opportunities for jobless Liberians.
Dr. Whapoe said though it is the same rice issue that led to the 14-year civil war, yet the government has failed to pay attention to it. He said for someone to find solution to a problem, he or she must first know the problem, saying “we at VOLT has discovered Liberia’s problem…that is why we are well placed to solve it once given the opportunity.” He said many Liberians continue to die because of poverty, “when people do not have food to eat, how will they get money to go to hospital? Poverty is responsible for the short life span of Liberians. Once the issue of poverty is addressed, Liberians will live a prosperous life…”
Dr. Whapoe said under his administration, everyone will have equal access to the resources of Liberia, unlike what he claimed is happening now. He said his government will incorporate every sector of the society including the disabled and street boys who are called ‘Zogos.’ “Look, those on the streets that are called Zogos, are there because of poverty…they are not there because of choice but by chance…if they are given the opportunity, they can become better citizens…we need to care for them…the government is responsible for them being in the streets…it does not have any program to get them out. But under our administration, zogos will be useful in society,” Whapoe said.
He also said his administration will ensure that companies’ produce 25 percent finished products of iron ore and rubber that lead the country. “It is unacceptable for us to have abundance iron ore and rubber leaving Liberia but not one item is produced here…we have rubber but we buy tyres from abroad…we have iron ore, yet we buy steel rod from abroad. This must stop! I assure you that my leadership will ensure that this is done,” the VOLT Standard Bearer said.
Asked, what makes him think he can be a better president of Liberia, this is what he said “I am the most qualified presidential aspirant. Leadership is about service…it is not about those in power, but those who elected them. You must be a servant to be a leader. I am a servant, not master of the people…I am simple and accessible…I understand the people’s problem; I know the solution, so I am well suited to lead them. I have the vision to make Liberia a better place. I am the most formidable candidate in the race… if elections were held today, I will win.”
Quizzed as to what he has done for Liberia, Whapoe said this question does more harm to Liberia because it denies people who are better placed the opportunity to lead Liberia. The presidential aspirant said Liberians should not be looking for what an individual has done for Liberia, but should look at policies and programs he or she has that can transform the country. However, he said, he has contributed immensely to the empowerment of farmers across Liberia, because his interest is in the agriculture sector. Dr. Whapoe also said he has huge investments in Liberia that are providing employment for Liberians. He said several students have benefited from his family personal tuition contributions at university level.
He also said he has a farm in Loyee, Nimba County that has produced rice over the years and is benefiting citizens in the area. Dr. Whapoe disclosed that he is sponsoring several agriculture projects in Liberia including a farm in Bomi County, Margibi County, among others. During the Ebola crisis, Dr. Whapoe said he lobbied with friends, Churches and other organizations to send over US$ 1.5 million worth of food and medical equipment to Liberia. The VOLT Presidential aspirant said during his stay in the United States of America, he was always supporting his compatriots back home.
Dr. Whapoe said the time has come for the people of Liberia to give new breed the opportunity to lead. According to him, the older generation has massively failed Liberia; as such they should not be given the opportunity to lead again. After almost 170 years of independence, he claimed that there is not much that Liberia can boast of relative to development and empowerment of the people.