Liberians everywhere can take great pride in last week’s announcement by the Tony Elumelu Foundation that it has selected two young Liberian for its 2017 Entrepreneurship Program.Why? Because the two Liberian entrepreneurs, Menekenu Waritay and Michael Pewu, have been selected from among a staggering 93,000 applicants from 55 African countries! The average Liberian is quickly asking the question, “Da smor tin dat?” meaning, “Is that a small thing?”No, by any standard, it is not. This spells hope for a country whose economy is totally in the hands of foreigners, leading the German Ambassador a few years ago to tell Commerce Minister Miata Beyslow, “Liberians are not entrepreneurial.”Why? Because the Ambassador noticed that mostly foreigners were manning businesses in the country and Liberians were still trading dokafleh (used clothes) bitter-ball and pepper. The means of production and distribution (wholesale and retail) were firmly in the hands of foreigners.This newspaper has long urged the University of Liberia, Cuttington and other universities to introduce entrepreneurial training in their curricula. At the onset of his administration, Dr. Emmett Dennis, with encouragement from no less a person than Alexander Cummings, a Liberian and now former CEO of Coca Cola International, started an entrepreneurial training program.During his administration as president of Cuttington University, Dr Henrique Tokpa introduced a vibrant entrepreneurial program. The Sierra Leonean Vice President, who was commencement speaker one year, embraced this program and vowed to introduce it to universities in his country.We understand that the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU), under the leadership of President Joe Isaac, has also recently introduced an entrepreneurial program.The Daily Observer has also urged our elementary and high schools to introduce entrepreneurial training to their students, from sixth grade onwards. We have often stressed the URGENCY of this training, for things have GOT TO CHANGE if ever we will and must rise up from our poverty and powerlessness in our own rich country.All Liberians must encourage these two young Liberians, Waritay and Pewu, who had the courage and determination to participate in this great program initiated by one of Africa’s leading and most innovative entrepreneurs, the eminent and most successful banker, Tony Elumelu.Immediately after this program was announced, the Daily Observer wrote an Editorial encouraging and urging young Liberians to participate. We are happy that several did, and most appreciative and proud that two of them won!Waritay has already shown signs of great innovative and intuitive initiative. He makes T-shirts of all kinds and uses scrap metal, including used offset printing plates, to manufacture freezers.All of us, along with our government, especially the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which happens to be headed by another young man, Axel Addy, should extend a hand of encouragement to Waritay and Pewu and follow them consistently until they succeed in their innovations and win great approbation from the Elumelu Foundation and beyond, including, of course, the marketplace.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Political directive…Top Cop only aware of SOCU’s operations after arrests…business community condemns moveActing Police Commissioner David Ramnarine was not immediately aware of the Tuesday afternoon arrest of several members of the previous Government, among others, by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). The arrests were made just after midday, but around 15:00h Ramnarine said that he was yet to be briefed onActing Police Commissioner David Ramnarinematter.When contacted by Guyana Times about 15:00h, following the arrests of former Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon and former President Bharrat Jagdeo, Ramnarine said he had just gotten out of a meeting and would have to be brought up to speed on the matter.Dr Luncheon and Jagdeo were among several persons detained in connection with SOCU’s investigation into the Pradoville 2 case.Public Security Minister Kemraj RamjattanThe Top Cop reminded that SOCU fell under the Guyana Police Force (GPF).The objective of SOCU, which was established under the previous Government, is to support the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in investigating organised crime.Ramjattan’s announcementSOCU’s actions against former Government officials come merely one week after Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan announced that charges would be laid against former Ministers of the previous Administration within a week. He had told sections of the media that SOCU having completed investigations into the operations of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), would now be seeking to have members of the previous Administration prosecuted.Notably, forensic audits, which were conducted by the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU) and SOCU, have been used as an intimidation tool against members of the previous Government. SARU is headed by Dr Clive Thomas, who has made several public pronouncements about the need for members of the previous Administration to be criminally charged. Like Thomas, Eric Phillips, who also plays an integral role, has publicly called for such criminal proceedings.Tuesday’s move was vigorously condemned by members of the business community and civil society. This newspaper was told by an influential Private Sector player that the move by Government, through SOCU, did not augur well for Guyana’s business climate.Meanwhile, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has maintained that it is ready to strenuously defend any such actions brought against members of its Government.Only recently, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall had contended that when applying the same logic, the current Cabinet acted unlawfully when its members approved a 50 per cent increase in their salaries.He was adamant that the price for which the land was sold was similar to, or comparable with, the price at which the Government sold lands under its housing programme to individuals as well as developers at that point in time.Nandlall had also argued that, applying the same logic, criminal charges should be instituted against Forbes Burnham’s family, who received five acres of prime land east of Sheriff Street, in the vicinity of the Botanical Gardens, given to them by transport by former President Jagdeo.Nonetheless, Jagdeo has already signalled his intention to file private criminal charges against Government officials on certain matters, including the 50 per cent salary increase situation.Meanwhile, Nandlall had objected to assertions that the then Government had in fact paid to have removed a National Communications Network (NCN) transmission tower in order to use the land to develop it into a high-end residential area.He pointed out that the tower was removed long before any work had begun at Pradoville 2.He highlighted that the tower was removed to facilitate the expansion of the Eugene F Correia International Airport at Ogle, East Coast Demerara.