Local News

NCCU professor running for president of Liberia

Posted December 30, 2010 4:47 p.m. EST
Updated December 30, 2010 6:40 p.m. EST

— Half a world away from his homeland, a North Carolina Central University economic professor has laid out a plan to lift the country from the depths of poverty and violence.

James Guseh is taking a one-year leave of absence from NC Central, beginning this weekend, to run for president of Liberia.

The small nation on the west coast of Africa was founded in the mid-19th century by freed blacks from the U.S. In recent decades, however, it has endured bloody civil wars, rampant corruption and desperate poverty.

"There is just no vision (there). There's just no direction. Nobody seems to just care," Guseh said Thursday. "That has to be changed."

Guseh, who has six college degrees, served in the Liberian government in the 1980s before emigrating to the U.S.

"That's my country, and I cannot sit here in America in luxury while I see my people suffering," he said. "I have the energy. I have the drive. I have the experience."

Yet, he knows the challenge he faces. "This is not a cakewalk," he said.

Guseh could face 20 other candidates in the September election, including incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Harvard University-educated economist and former Liberia finance minister.

"She does not have the political will. That's the key," Guseh said of Sirleaf. "People are corrupt, and she's doing nothing about it."

If he wins, he knows the challenges only get bigger.

"I'm calling on all Liberians to join me. We can't just sit back and allow our country to continue to deteriorate. It is time for change," he said.