As Liberians observed 28th November, the birthday of President William V.S. Tubman, Liberia's 18th President, there were discussions held in isolated groups about the personality of the late Liberian leader.
Indeed while there are those who hail Tubman as a charismatic leader that stamped Liberia's influence on the global political map, there are those who consider that him as a power greedy dictator that lacked democratic credentials.
President Tubman's style of leadership has been illustrated in several literary works. In fact it appears that more books, both positive and negative, have been written about President Tubman's 27 years rule than that of any other past Liberian President.
President Tubman is the architect of Liberia's unification and Open-door economic policies. It was during his regime that new economic opportunities opened up in Liberia with the arrival of iron ore and other mining companies such as LAMCO and the Bong Mining companies. Companies like the Liberia Produce Marketing Company (LPMC), the Liberia Refining companies (LPRC) began operations in Liberia during Tubman's era.
It was Tubman that initiated Liberia's unification and integration policies, going the extra-mile to declare National Unification day as a national holiday in Liberia to be observed annually.
According to reports about how unification day was declared, in those days Tubman used to travel across the country in hammocks carried by indigenous Liberians held high on their shoulders, the President is believed to have asked the question why is it that one section of the population is enjoying the fruits of government at the expense of the vast majority lack even basic needs. It was then that he himself decided to work towards bridging the income earning gap between the rich mostly the settler Liberians and the poor mostly the indigenous Liberians by declaring national unification day.
What is no hidden secret is that although Tubman enunciated the unification policy that aimed at integrating the indigenous into the country's mainstream of economic life and he was highly revered as one of the 'God-fathers' of African independence in the early 1960s, a book about the history of elections in Liberia written by journalist Kenneth Y. Best castigates Tubman as a manipulator of presidential elections to maintain him in power.
Almost all the elections that were conducted under the Tubman administration were flawed and manipulated in a way that he used state power to weaken every form of oppositions to his rule irrespective of the consequences. An example of Tubman's iron-fist rule is also demonstrated by a journalist that later became a lawyer Tuan Wreh in a book called: The Love of Liberty, The Rule of President Tubman in Liberia.
We are therefore of the opinion that there are many lessons that other Presidents of Liberia can learn from Tubman's divide and rule tactics, so that they can guide themselves against. There is a need for other Liberian leaders to guide themselves against President Tubman era's lack of democratic credentials, the holding of fraudulent elections, guide themselves against the lack of respect for fundamental human rights.
Although it was an era that gave a boost to infrastructural and human development, it was during his era that the University of Liberia was extended in 1951, Cuttington University College, while major hospitals such as the JFK hospital were founded in Liberia, it was also a moment of the gross abuse of public office. We take this opportunity to congratulate all Liberians on the auspicious birthday anniversary of President William V.S. Tubman, the architect of Liberia's unification and open-door policies!