Benoni Wilfred Urey (1957- )

Benoni Wilfred Urey
Benoni Wilfred Urey
Photo by liberialove101 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Politician, philanthropist, and investor Benoni Wilfred Urey is one of the wealthiest Liberians and the founder of Lonestar Cell Mobile Telecommunication Corporation (MTN), Liberia’s largest nationwide mobile network. Urey was born on June 22, 1957, in Careysburg Montserrado County, the Republic of Liberia, to Daniel Urey, an agriculturist, and Emma Boyce Urey.

Benoni, the eighth of eleven children, graduated in 1975 from the American Cooperative School in the capital city of Monrovia. Afterward, he enrolled in Cuttington University College (now Cuttington University) in Gbarnga, Suakoko, and received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry in 1980. During his tenure at Cuttington, he excelled in history. He was also active in athletics, music, the Mason Club, and was President of his Senior class.

In 1986, Urey earned a Master of Science in Planning from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. With a degree in hand, that year he returned to his native land to serve as Deputy Director General for Planning and Training of the Liberia Electricity Corporation Training Center in Monrovia with the administration of President Samuel Doe.

During the early stages of the First Liberian Civil War, which began in December 1989 and involved Charles Taylor‘s National Patriotic Front of Liberia, Urey left the country for neighboring Freetown, Sierra Leone out of safety concerns. Later in 1989, he became a consultant with the Banque Africaine de Développement in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, until 1993.

In 1994, Urey was back in his country, holding a leadership position with the Liberia Rubber Development Corporation in Monrovia. The following year, he served as President of the Agricultural Cooperative Development Bank of Liberia during the reign of the Interim Government of Liberia. In 1996, he was appointed Commissioner of Maritime Affairs. This position continued with the transition of President Charles Ghankay Taylor’s administration in 1997 until he left the position in 2003.

From 2009 to 2011, Urey served as mayor of Careysburg City. His appointment was made by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as part of the process of rebuilding democracy in that war-torn nation.

Urey, a political leader of the All-Liberian Party, accepted the Party’s Presidential nomination in 2017 but lost the election to internationally former professional soccer player George Weah. He has received numerous awards and accolades including an Honorary Doctorate from his Alma Mater, Cuttington University. In addition, he is Deputy District Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Freemasonry Republic of Liberia.

In 1986, Benoni Urey married Mai Bright Urey. Their children are Danielle Urey, Telia Urey, Jebbeh Urey, and Benita Urey.