“Sawyer was my role model”

Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer went above and beyond, but his legacy remains alive and celebrated not only by his then peers and companions, but also by President George Weah, who on Wednesday revealed that the statesman fallen was his mentor and role model.

“There are many speakers here today who have praised his column and led the efforts towards peace, governance and democracy that we now enjoy but, for my part, he has been a mentor, a role model and an inspiration. for me,” Weah told his audience on the program marking 77e posthumous birthday.

The program, convened at Monrovia City Hall on June 15 by friends, family and associates of the late Dr. Sawyer, was a continuation of celebrations of his legacy as a statesman who never not only led Liberia as interim president, but also helped chart the course for peace in Liberia after just over fourteen years of civil war.

“I had the good virtues of working closely with him over the years and the main lesson I learned from him was to create harmony between people through dialogue, negotiation and compromise; and the importance of making and keeping peace,” the Liberian leader said.

President Weah went on to remark that he hopes Senator Conmany B. Wesseh, Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh and all other progressives lead the way that Dr. Sawyer followed in being tolerant and allowing space democracy free to flourish.

“Let me say one thing here, and forgive me if I misstate it: Dr. Sawyer was different among all of you. We listen to you every day. Sawyer was a man of peace and he loved everyone no matter where you came from,” he said. He recounted how Dr. Sawyer, before his disappearance, visited the Executive Mansion and they (Weah and Sawyer) had “a candid and meaningful conversation” in which he (Weah) suggested that Sawyer accept an appointment to the Council of Elders of ECOWAS.

“He graciously said to me, ‘You know you are my son. Let me go to the United States and see my doctor. I feel tired. When I return, I will accept this appointment,” he assured me,” Weah explained.

The President regretted that Sawyer did not return alive and well to take on the task. He went deeper into his thinking by revealing that the fallen political scientist had appointed him a sports ambassador and entrusted him with the essential task of carrying the message of peace to young people so that they no longer see war as a way forward.

Weah concluded by saying, “With his passing, we lost a father, a statesman who was not afraid to go his own way. He left his own indelible imprint on our history, our democracy, our governance and our peace. Although he is gone, he will never be forgotten by this grateful nation.

The event included a symposium section with several speakers, including Dr. Yarsuo Weh-Dorliae, former Commissioner of the Governance Commission.

In a remark, Dr Weh-Dorliae said Dr Sawyer had dedicated his life to building a system of governance that would ensure the full and holistic involvement of people locally and in rural areas.

“Mr President, since 2018 when you signed the Local Government Act, today is the second time I have met you. And I want to take this time to say what Sawyer meant by Local Government Act. local government. It’s about decentralizing the system of governance. Since 1847, we’ve been using the colonial, centralized system. At that time, less than five percent of the population of this country decided for the whole of the country. The centralized system has led us to war,” Dorliae explained.

He said Sawyer’s dream, as repeated by former US President Barack Obama, was to ensure that there are strong and effective institutions rather than strong men and women. Dr. Sawyer came aboard to see things change in the country, to see institutions become effective and a system of participatory democracy and our inland people receive services without having to come to Monrovia all the time like c is the case now.

He reminded President Weah directly that the county service centers built in the days of Dr Sawyer and through the government, then led by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, are no longer functioning and that people rural areas of the country are no longer directly involved. in the day-to-day formal economy of the country, resulting in huge losses of significant revenue for the government.

“We have a system here where all the funds the government receives are centralized in Monrovia. You can’t build a country like that. It’s good that people get part of the revenue and have the right to decide. Government ministers do not know what people in rural areas are going through. People know their own problems; therefore, they should have the means to solve their own problems. Decentralize and maintain county service centers. Governance in politics is not about priests and bishops, otherwise it could have been the case all over the world,” he said.

According to Dr. Weh-Dorliae, electing senators and representatives or even presidents from time to time will never change anything meaningful unless the people themselves are directly involved in their own governance processes.

He called it unfair that the Legislative Assembly continues to allocate the same amount of money for development purposes in all counties.

“Development goes hand in hand with population and some other basic factors. $200,000 for River Gee cannot be the same $200,000 for Nimba County. There is a big difference. Nimba has a larger population and demands will always be high compared to a country with far fewer people,” he said, noting that he hoped the Legislative Assembly would see reason and amend this part of the budget law.

It was after Dorliae’s elaborate and impassioned speech that President Weah immediately nominated him – right there in the program – to take over as chair of the Governance Commission, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Mrs. Thelma Duncan Sawyer, widow of Dr. Sawyer, said she could not have been prouder to see President Weah and so many others celebrate her husband’s legacy.

“I am happy that today is a special day to honor my husband. Today would have marked his 77 years of life. But it is good that we have come together to celebrate this illustrious and humble man”, said Ms. Sawyer.

She explained that she had known Sawyer for over 44 years and had been married to him for a good 38 years.

“Honey was the loving name I called him. He was my friend, my brother, my father and my husband. He was the father of our children and he was my soul mate,” she said, struggling between the tears and his speech.

Ms Sawyer said she was always proud of her late husband, mainly whenever he said: ‘If we build a capable state, it can administer the people enough to be happy, and divisions will be minimized a times the state will provide.”

She praised Dr. Sawyer’s commitment to fighting for justice for all and working for a free society.

Rebecca R. Santistevan