By William Q. Harmon
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s constitutionally dictated absence at the upcoming 2017 presidential election will not be missed, gender-wise, as the first female aspirant has emerged saying that she has the requisite credentials and is prepared to lead the country.
MacDella Cooper said she has not just come to ensure gender balance at the polls next year, but to lead Liberia from where President Sirleaf leaves it.
At a well-organized program held at a resort in Monrovia yesterday, Ms. Cooper broke her silence, indicating that she will be a contestant in the 2017 presidential elections, because there is a lot to do in a country where the masses still live in abject poverty amid abundance of resources, adding that she is prepared to lead a charge that will emancipate Liberians from their current impoverished state. Cooper is the assumed political leader of the Union of Liberian Democrats (ULD), recognized and certificated by the National Elections Commission (NEC).
She indicated that the country’s current condition cannot be laid at the foot of the current administration– which she said has tried to do its best–conditions that emanated from the prolonged civil crisis coupled with bad governance and the marginalization of a huge portion of the population for so many years.
“We have gathered here because we believe in the prospects and potentials of our great country. Liberia is the greatest country I have ever known. Though we have had a lot of setbacks as a people as well as having a situation in the past when only a minute portion of the country’s population enjoyed the wealth of the land… with a MacDella Cooper presidency we will make Liberia a great nation where everyone will be treated equally and given the same opportunities to bring out the best in them.
“I can’t change the whole world but I can help our kids and young people get better education that will lead to a better future. These will be the ones who’ll transform our nation.” With the nation’s youth as her priority, with emphatic hopes for girls’ education, Ms. Cooper is expanding her efforts to work with women and children across Liberia and in the Diaspora.
She lauded President Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph Boakai for their services to the nation and noted that it is high time that the latter have a well-deserved retirement rather than contesting for the presidency after twelve years as vice president.
She also lauded Senator George Weah for being the face of the country during his time in Europe, but noted that he would be a better sports ambassador during a MacDella Cooper presidency.
Her commitments, she said “are founded on the moral imperative to effectively improve the basic needs and social services for Liberians. Over a third of all Liberians continue to live on less than $1 a day. That is just unacceptable.”
Union of Liberian Democrat’s chairman Solomon Khan said with Ms. Cooper as the face of such a “noble party” victory is certain because she comes with all it takes to lead a country like Liberia. “MacDella is a humble, educated visionary and above all compassionate as evidenced by the level of work she has done in the country,” Khan said.
Cooper, a fashion model turned philanthropist, is the founding chairman and president of the Board of Directors of the MacDella Cooper Foundation (MCF) Inc., a not-for-profit charity that has provided educational opportunities and basic necessities for abandoned children in Liberia since 2004.
The foundation in 2010 created Liberia’s first tuition-free boarding school for orphans and the poor as well as an agency for youth development designed to help youth make good choices and to foster future leaders in Liberia. The school is located in Charlesville, around the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County.
Cooper, like many Liberian children, was not spared the brunt of the civil crisis. Just a kid when the war began, she was deeply affected by the conflict and separated from her family. She managed to flee to the Côte d’Ivoire where she remained until 1993, when she and her two older brothers migrated to the United States thanks to the kindness of a school teacher.