MONROVIA-Many Liberians early Tuesday, April 12, 2022 begin to reflect on the dark day in the history of Liberia (1980) when some lower ranking members of the Armed Forces of Liberia staged the first coup to unseat a constitutionally elected Liberian, President William R. Tolbert.
It is 40 years one day today since the infamous incident occurred in the Liberian republic.
Liberians both home and abroad gave their accounts of the historic April 12 via local media and their personal social media pages.
Some of those who flashed back at the bad history said April 14, 1979 the fallen Liberian President opponents organized a rally in protest against the policy recommendation by the Agriculture Minister for an increase in the price of rice [Liberia staple] which according to them was the commencement of his political distress that eventually resulted to the April 12 military coup.
Additionally some of the accounts highlighted the execution of 13 top Government officials of the Tolbert government by the military of the People Redemption Council (PRC) headed by the late slain President Samuel K. Doe.
A Liberian also reflected on those historic achievements by the late William R. Tolbert In government beginning with the legislature. 1943, Tolbert was elected member of the House of Representatives for Montserrado County.
During his first term according to the account he sponsored over 400 resolutions and pieces of legislation including a bill calling for women’s right to vote.
In 1952, the account indicated that he became Vice President to President Williams V.S Tubman and where he served for 19 years.
According to the account as Vice President, he represented President Tubman at the historic coronation of Queen Elizabeth the Second in 1952 and at the State funeral of John F. Kennedy in 1962 and hosted US Vice President Richard M. Nixon.
Additionally In 1955, he provided a $5,000 loan to his younger brother Stephen Tolbert to start the Mesurado Fishing Company in 1955. Twenty-five years later the investment had grown into a $50 million business empire.
In 1965 he was elected Spiritual Head of the 30 million Baptists around the world as President of the World Baptist Alliance.
He became a renowned agriculturist, establishing 800 acres of rubber farm in Gbalatua, Bong County as well as 600 acres of coffee, 500 acres of cocoa, 1000 acres of oil palm and 500 acres of bananas and oranges in Todee and Bensonville.
In 1971, following the death of Tubman, he became president.
During his presidency according to the information one of his first action as president was to dismantle the PRO or Public Relations Officer system which had even members of the same family reporting each other to the security services for the slightest perceived disloyalty to the Tubman regime.
Moreover In his first inaugural address, according to the information in 1972, he addressed the Liberian people in Kpelle, the first Liberian leader to do so in the nation’s 125 year history.
The Account indicated that in 1972, president. Tolbert re-activated the Civil Service Bureau which had been in limbo and introduced a merit system as opposed to the patronage system as a basis for hiring and promotion in government service.
He then in 1973, became a champion of the non-Aligned Movement after addressing the Non-Aligned Conference in Algiers according to report.
The fallen Liberian president in 1973, introduced a policy which provided for the waiver of tuition fees in all public schools up to the secondary level, making government responsible for 50% of the cost of college tuition and subsidies for text books at Cuttington and the University of Liberia.
Additionally In 1973, President Tolbert severed diplomatic Relations with Israel over Israel’s non-compliance with UN Resolution 242 calling for Israel’s withdrawal from all Arab territories following the Israeli/Arab war.
According to the information in 1973, he was instrumental in the creation of the Mano River Union, where he was also instrumental in personally bringing together Presidents Sekou Toure of Guinea and Houphet-Boigny of Ivory Coast, both of whom were close personal friends of President Tolbert but who had been bitter rivals for years.
In 1974, the information indicated that he established a 12 million Joint Holding Company with the Libyan Government in which Liberia had a 50% equity stake.
Tolbert in 1974, was awarded the prestigious Family of Man Award, the first African or Third World leader ever to be awarded this award which had in previous year been given to 4 American presidents, John D. Rockefeller, and US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
In 1974 the information indicated that the late he proposed a Referendum limiting the Presidential term to 8 years and in his nationwide address prior to the General Elections of 1975 he declared that whether the Referendum passed or note, he would not seek reelection after his 8 year term expired in 1983.
In 1975, he began the construction of a new campus for the University of Liberia moving it from Monrovia to Fendall.
In 1975, President Tolbert lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
He rejected the philosophy of Social Darwinism which was at the core of the capitalist system and proposed his own economic philosophy in a book entitled “Capitalistic Humanism”.
During his term, he placed Paramount and Clan Chiefs on Government payroll for the first time.
He constructed thousands of low cost housing units in Gardnersville, Barnersville, Matadi, Cabral Estates, New Georgia and Stephen Tolbert Estates.
During his term he established the National Housing Bank, Agricultural Bank and Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI).
He established diplomatic relations with many countries of the Eastern Bloc including Rumania, China and Russia.
He provide sanctuary and financial support to a number of revolutionary liberation and anti-apartheid leaders from Nelson Mandela’s ANC in South Africa to Robert Mugabe’s ZANU in Zimbabwe and Sam Njoma’s SWAPO of South West Africa.
In 1976, President Tolbert was one of the few African Leaders invited to attend America’s Bicentennial celebrations.
In 1978, he was unanimously elected Chairman of the Organization of African Union.
In 1979, Liberia hosted the Annual Meeting of the OAU at the specially constructed OAU Village in lower Virginia.