The Guest Speaker of the Engineering College graduation, Mr. Elie Saleeby, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, has warned graduates of the University of Liberia’s College of Engineering to be aware of the serious macro-economic challenges facing the nation as they leave the walls of the University, encouraging them to create job for themselves.
“I am sure that most of you are aware that our country is faced with serious marcro-economic challenges that definitely impact the environment awaiting you after graduation,” he said. This current environment is characterized by: an almost moribund real sector, high unemployment, a shrunken revenue base, a temporary pause or reduction in multilateral and bilateral assistance, as well as near cessation in foreign direct investments.”
Mr. Saleeby said that the bad economic outlook is further exacerbated by the Liberia’s high rate of domestic inflation, unfavorable world market prices for most of our export commodities, and low level of private sector activities.
The former governor said the net effect of the current macro-economic situation, offers, at best, very limited opportunities for professional employment for the new graduates, warning that many of “your dreams may have to be deferred.
“This unfavorable economic situation has been in the making for well over three to four years, and should not be expected to be corrected in the short term,” said ex-governor Saleeby during the commencement that witnessed 156 students graduating from the college.
He emphasized that Liberia is currently faced with the scourges of high rate of domestic inflation, unfavorable world market prices for most of its export commodities, as well as and low level of private sector activities, stressing the need for graduates to be more innovative to solve problems.
“Even under the most circumstances and a sound policy menu, meaningful improvements can only be achieved over the medium term,” he said, starting at with efforts to first arrest the deterioration in the economy, calling on every Liberian to patriotically undertake civic duties and make sacrificial and unprecedented contributions to the social and economic rehabilitation of the country.
Mr. Saleeby said building Liberia requires an inter-disciplinary approach, with attitude, commitment and patriotism as the main bonding ingredients and catalyst.
He hailed the Government of Liberia for declaring education free at public tertiary institutions and called on Liberians to embrace the move as a way of helping to mitigate national problems.
“It is undeniable that to whom much is given, much is expected. So this brings me to wonder how many of you, at this time, including beneficiaries of the tuition reprieve, would seriously consider making sacrificial contribution to our national rebuilding efforts,” Mr. Saleebly said.
“The tendency to think that one is too ‘small’ or too ‘low’ on the hierarchy to make a difference is in fact a fallacy,” claiming that passive patriotism has no place in nation building.
He added if the economy of Liberia will make a significant and sustainable turnaround, Liberians must change their attitudes and concept of citizenship, and its duties and responsibilities.
“We must also get rid of the belief and attitude that it is the government’s duty to provide, and ours to consume and criticize.” Mr. Saleeby said.
The former Governor of the Central Bank concluded his speech by donating US$25,000 dollars to the College of Engineering College to buttress efforts aimed at improving the college.
“As my own way of helping to improve this college, may ten thousand go towards industrializing the Civil Engineering Department, ten thousand for the Mechanical Engineering Department and five thousand for the Department of Mining and Geology,” he said, receiving thunderous applause from the graduates and audience.
In her regular greetings to the convocation, the President of the University of Liberia, Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, expressed optimism that the proposed undergraduate program in Mechanical Engineering would commence academic year2019/20.
To the graduates, she said, “As a College of Engineering, Professionals are trained to build our bridges, our roads and survey our land, and hopefully minimize land disputes and conflicts. You were given knowledge to help devise ways to minimize spending of our little resources, and to add value to our resources to help our economy. You are professionals who are trained to help maintain our hydroelectric plant, resolve our electricity challenges, who will devise smart and innovative ways in which we can develop renewed energy and simultaneously minimize destruction of our forest.”
A total of 156 students graduated, including 137 males and 19 females, in civil engineering, electrical engineering, geology and mining engineering.
The valedictorian of the Class of 2018, Mr. Michael Sunnyboy GbeForh, said his colleagues must embrace the desire to succeed and overcome mediocrity with knowledge.
“We should not return to our communities and boast of degrees without doing what our degrees require of us. Let’s create jobs for ourselves,” Mr. Forh said.
Mr. Forh urged his colleague to inhabit attitude reflective of their brilliance with the mindset that they were given the tools to succeed in nation building.
The College of Engineering is the newest of the eight undergraduate colleges at the University of Liberia.It was established in May 2016.