George Weah One Year of presidency— My Perspective on the State of Affairs.
My fellow Liberians, I maintain, we do not need a perfect president to change the narrative of bad governance that our country has experienced for 171 years of its existence. Liberians need an honest and a sincere President whose ambition to deliver is driven by the impoverished and precarious living conditions of our people; knowing that the epicenter of leadership is selflessness [service to mankind].
On January 22, 2018, George Weah was sworn in as president of Africa's oldest Republic and I was at the inaugural ceremony. I saw smiles on the faces of a crowd of cheering people. I saw an overwhelming expectation of joy, change and hope from the Liberian people. In my view, we were thoughtful of a new day with one of the indigenous sons of the land from an economic-challenged community (Gibraltar) as head of state. The first shocking news we heard at the occasion was the announcement by President George Weah that his predecessor former President Ellen Johnson led government didn't leave any money in the treasury of the country, President Weah convinced us to believe that the country was absolutely broke and we should be patient with his government as he intends to resuscitate the damaged system across the country. Amb. Weah also raised our hope when he declared that his victory as president was a clear mandate by the Liberian people to bring an abrupt end to fraud, waste and abuse of public resources for personal gains [CORRUPTION], considering the fact that corruption has caused a huge deficit in the circle of public service. I can still remember how we celebrated that proclamation. " If we are to grow our economy for the general good of our citizens, I can assure you that Liberians will not be spectators in their own economy under my Presidency"; those were the words of George Weah.
Fast forward, in the first five months, we were hit by Inflation, our local currency depreciated significantly against the USD, we were also informed that the government was still planning and developing in theory its working document called [Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development], and the President was still appealing to our consciences to give him time, which some of us felt was reasonable enough to consider. As a result of the myth that the country was broke, Article 37 & 39 of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia were violated because the government said there was no money to conduct the senatorial by-elections in Montserrado and Bong Counties respectively, and the conduct of national census within the legal timeframes. The government negotiated and signed into law loan agreement with Elton and Ebomaf in the sum of $USD1 billion without proper background check about the legitimacy of those bogus and 419 companies, to our dismay, everything about those companies turned out to be fake. President Weah then promised the reduction in the price of our staple food, rice and other commodities, yet the prices skyrocketed. The President promised to reduce his benefit by 25% and also challenge the legislature to follow, yet the budget of the President for his first fiscal year 2018/2019 surpassed that of his predecessor. We didn't hear anything from the Legislature. Salary disparity remains a huge challenge for the hard working civil servants whose salaries cannot commensurate with the high cost of living. Many other things and promises were made and yet it is a dream.
But, we started to realize that something was hidden from us by President Weah when former President Ellen Johnson disagreed with him about the country being broke and clarified that she left the national treasury liquid. This was proven to be right that the country was never broke when we heard about the alleged missing $LRD16 billion and the $USD25 million the president said his government was going to use for mopping up excess liquidity of Liberian Dollars in the economy. Up to date, there is no account/report about those monies. In the face of all these controversies, we continue to see primitive accumulation of wealth by influential government officials including the president, building mansions overnight and living in luxury while they tell us to wait and be patient.
It is also patriotic to recognize few defining achievements in the first year of a regime lacking the political will to fight corruption. To reference few: the construction of the Doe Community to Clara Town road, and other communities roads, the payment of WAEC fees for secondary school students (12th graders) across the country, the launch of a development program for his government, the declaration of free tuition for all public universities at undergraduate levels, and the few foreign donors support to improve other sectors among others.
I recommend an IMMEDIATE RESHUFFLE of the government, beginning with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I recommend the employment of qualified, competent and experienced Liberians both at home and in the diaspora irrespective of their political persuasion and social status, if the president really wants to succeed. I also challenge the president to demonstrate a new sense of fighting corruption by ending the mass looting of our resources and restore independence to those anti- graft institutions responsible for fighting corruption. Meanwhile, I recommend that the President apologize to the Liberian people about the missing $LRD16 billion and $USD25 million that cannot be accounted for.
President Weah needs to distance himself from [the irresponsible, reckless, uncivilized and undemocratic statement from the notorious Warlord, Senator Prince Johnson, proposing George Weah President for lifetime of the Republic of Liberia. The government needs to focus more on succeeding in its activities and focus less on insulting opposition leaders. We also want to condemn in the strongest term the threats on the lives of critical voices against the government.
May God bless Liberia!
About the author:
Michael Tipayson is the National Youth Leader Chairman of the
Opposition United People's Party (UPP). He can be contacted through [email protected]