By: Hoe’u Kabouto

MONROVIA-A very careful and futuristically positioned negotiator in the industrial terrain, Mr.  Joel Q.  Borbayjee in one of his lectures to a group of craving-to-be industrialists on the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) sector, made it clear to them that in the first place, based on competing priorities, FDIs do not waste their time with an undecided partner who finds great pleasure in playing poker and hide-and-seek with golden opportunities.

Many investors, especially serious-minded ones like Arcelor Mittal, move for transparency and development for the betterment of everyone.

 while others are craving to at least attract one as a partner to jump-start their stalled operations in the supreme interest of their people and state, serious-minded companies aim at forward movement. 

Bringing out the  people-centered interest and devotion driven by commitment as the uniqueness,  are exhibited by a very limited amount of FDIs (this quality and respectability for their partners)  of which ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) is among the very few available outstanding as the torchbearers. 

This should be seen by many people in a good context as an honor, power, and glory that the government of Liberia is toying with, providing not a cogent justification for intentionally downplaying the ratification of the third Mineral Development Agreement (MDA).

The continued delay of the government to ratify this agreement, denying Liberians  of their most glorious and golden opportunities to get massively employed, and adequately trained to engage neo-tech powered by modernized (computerized) machinery on the global markets,  is becoming embarrassing by the day.

As the lecture began to paint a vivid picture of distant hope and aspiration of golden days just ahead of them, yet so far away because of the government’s posture in calling space a space, needs to be considered.

They started wondering why is the very government conducting itself in such a form, manner, and fashion; a government that proclaims to be the champion of the people’s decent livelihoods, a sustained future loaded with chances to excel productively, could be the very one chunking or throwing banana peels in their direction.

How possible will that be and how far the government believes they (citizens) can get while jogging on the banana peels?

Then they x-rayed AML’s commitment, and cooperation determination to move Liberia far ahead of its own limitations in various dimensions of growth and development out of a devoted win-win partnership cataloging the many contributions made to enhance the government’s capacities to reach out to its own people in very meaningful ways. Today, it is seen, ranging from rehabilitating and contracting roads including the pavement of the Ganta-Sanniquelle Stretch, extending to erecting, and renovating school buildings, updating the port of Buchanan, providing employment for the citizens with a much larger portion of people to be absorbed in the workforce, it is about time that this Government takes a serious interest in doing the most and best investment practice.

In addition to that, running equipped hospitals in both Counties (Nimba and Buchanan of its operations, and taking on the lead role as a sponsor in the just-ended County Sports Meet, needs to be considered too.

If the government wears its people-centered cap and lets the people enjoy their God’s gifts in the embodiment of rich mineral and natural resources, it will be seen that the government is sensitive to the plight of its people which will open the opportunities-gate. When an investment partner expresses deep interest and concern about education, health, national growth, and development coupled with recreational centers for the children to meet and play by getting the heat off their chests; as the maxim goes.. “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy;” indeed such partner should be handled with utmost care like a broken fruit cake by the host partner. 

Mr. Borbayjee was also quick to draw the attention of the many participants, mostly from the two Counties (Nimba and Buchanan) in Monrovia that the delayed tactic government is applying while chance, time, desire, and goodwill are freely given on a silver platter plate, is no different from the cat and a lone rat when famine and drought teamed up together to stall growth and development.

Then unfortunately, this lone rat lost its way and ran right before the weary hunger-strike cat, Instead of the cat utilizing the starvation bonus by turning the rat into a nice delicious survival meal for it and its family in such a mean, rough and tough time.

But  tactically looking around for at least a little hole to appear for it to make its quick ‘solo’ move, it did not go that way.

Soon the rat saw a little hole, began to inch to it carefully, and finally got closer while the cat was still performing. The cat then got ready according to its term to act, but before “key-dee” (kitten) could lick its tail, the little long overlooked rat jumped into the little hole leaving the cat and its siblings gravely plunged into a harsh and perpetual hunger thereby the siblings protracted period of hunger began, because you know why? 

The narrowly escaped poor rat took with it the stunning message characterizing its ordeal and the rest of the rats avoided coming to town  in such a difficult time when just a thing to bite on becomes a stitch in time, which obviously  without a second thought, saves nine. 

And so it is said that when you sleep late you are bound to miss a lot of sunlight. In other words, he who is anxious for the lion’s share with a clandestine conning heart is bound to lose everything. This government is where it has found itself; and as such, does not need angels from Heaven to tell it to wake up from its sad slumber before the wheels start to fall out. Now, it must, for and in the supreme interest of the people and country rapidly begin to ratify AML’s third MDA to open up the gate and doors of opportunism. This is so because looking back and seeing where AML has taken us from and traveled with us in good times and in bad times, and is still here more settled and re-calibrated to work with us much more through a respected and genuine people-centered partnership totally grounded on a win-win for all therein. It is fair enough that we re-open a similar corridor in good faith for sure. From the strike of any image in these trying times in the life of a county and its leadership, AML is true, a fruitful ‘solid partnership’ bridge over Liberia’s troubled waters. 

Make no mistake, for life, has taught us that one must have two or more to choose from whereas, the simple logical arithmetic is when one has only one prevailing prospect, progressively, dynamically fruitful, reliable, and dependable a partner in the embodiment of ArcelorMittal Liberia whose prime objective as a foreign direct investment contains a tested unwavering operational goal, is true, a shared win-win platform for it and Liberia.

Equally, let’s pause here and ask just what actually is the government’s fear to play praiseworthy, open, and substantive partnership ball with AML when in fact the people and the resources will continue with the management of the state and all therein; even after this current government’s term ends constitutionally.

AML is the solid fruitful partnership bridge, firm enough to keep Liberia’s troubled waters under the bridge established to reflect a cemented bond geared toward ensuring collective maximum growth and development which will mirror the glowing achievements of AML and Liberia’s shared win-win partnership cruising joyfully, happily and peacefully on the highway of success and proud advancement. 

We cannot quit speaking out until this agreement in the interest of the people and country sees the daylight of truism and reality, Let the government be told that with all due respect, the voice of the people is the voice of God. “Even when the poor (have) cried, (great) Caesar wept”                                      

Moreover, when a would-be government of trust and protector of legitimate agreement and productively tested with progressively proven results, overwhelmingly presents itself to be eclipsed by a wanton pressure that stabs and bleeds authentic understanding.

AML Liberia boss

 Based on ‘cheery-picking’ to appease a specific sector by equally undermining the established foreign direct investment, it may be seen as bamboozling through political maneuverings which puts the government above the cannon of legal procedure; like in the current saga of AML and Solway/HPX, then it is badly troubling and deeply, but sadly worrisome.

It can be recalled, that even Finance Minister Samuel Tweah has described AML’S US$800 million agreement as a good deal that will help the government to transform the energy sector. Tweah added that the government’s agreement with AML is a “significant improvement to an existing contract” that will enable the company to contribute to the shared cost of energy

It is critical, according to him, for the Legislature to pass the agreement so that AML can expand its mining operations by building a massive processing plant in Nimba which will require an enormous power supply from the Corte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Lone, and Guinea (CLSG) line and help government shoulder energy cost

He warned without missing his words that for the next nine (9) years, no other company will be able to use the Buchanan-Yekepa railway if the legislature fails to pass the AML’s MDA before it; arguing that the agreement was well negotiated by some of the best experts in the sector.

Minister Tweah noted that “AML has exclusive right over the rail in the current agreement, and for the next nine years, no one else will be able to use it”. He continued, “for the government to bring anyone else to use the rail according to the agreement, AML has to agree”, adding “that’s what is in the law.”, he stressed, and cautions that Liberia must handle the new AML agreement with care and if the legislators refuse to pass the amended Agreement which is before them, the company could ask for an extension after tits remaining years.  

Meanwhile, former Montserrado County Senatorial Candidate Shiekh Al Moustapha Kayateh cautioned President George M. Weah and his officials against “mishandling the ArcelorMittal agreement. He told the system that the Liberian people are not interested in vain projects, but are concerned about a major improvement in the economic activities that can put food on the tables. 

Urging the President and his officials to see the over US$ 1 billion of AML’s agreement as an opportunity to advance economic development and alleviate the Liberian people from abject poverty. It could also encourage other international partners to come over, because when they talk about investment in Liberia, AML is the only company that other foreign investors will contact, and they will tell them the kind of government they are about to deal with.  

A hint!

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