Liberians are desperately impatient for change in Ellen’s last 90 minutes’ grab on power: Is Liberia now a failed state?

Written By: Jefferson Togba

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ever since 11 years ago, President Sirleaf’s widely recognized and supported administration is yet to manageably give Liberians their desirous hope for a better economic standards of living. Liberians are just barely less than eight months away from the most talk about General elections on 10 October 2017.

But the clock is turning too slow to ease the unbearable economic experience daily by many Liberians. It is an open secret that many people are living in abject poverty in a nation hugely blessed by God with so much natural resources.

The argument isn’t borders on much, but few can clap their hands and smile well whereas, many live hopelessly to see this administration perpetually expire in their minds and thinking in daily conversations about this regime. As we make some inquires on our state of affairs today (February).

It beats many imaginations to note the uncontrollable exchange rate by the National Government has dropped considerably from US$1.00 against L$100.00 in some quarters barely 48hours during these72 hours’peaceful protest organized by Patriotic Entrepreneurial of Liberia(PATEL) and chaired by Prince Howard.

On 23 November 2003, the situation now in Liberia vividly reminds me when the people of the Republic of Georgia got extremely tired with their leader and built a peaceful protest called “orange rose revolution” that forced president Eduard Shevardnadzeto resign under the chairmanship of Student Baka Berekashvilithat enthusiastically organized more than 100,000 protesters,whileLiberians were celebrating a negotiated three months of peace as we experienced relative stableness since thedeparture of former President Taylor’s from our body politics in August 2003.

Even though, the protests have similarities but two separate goals and objectives. The Georgian protest organizers pushed for leadership change unlike PATEL, on the hand, demanding immediate economic change and improvement. We think the Liberians have waited for too long and they don’t have time in their favor to listen to deeper political falsehoods and appeal, butsomewhat they want economic transformation.

Today, our economy is in complete shock and at a standstillwhere aggrieved taxpayers demanding National Government intervention on six count petition to reduce tariffslevied on the importation of goods and most especially taxes in general, and the prevailing economic hardship experienced by Liberians on a daily basis among others.

This clearly suggests to anyone that enough is enough. When we listen to the organizer of the protest, he had always maintained, “Our protest is peaceful and void of violence since the government is insensitive to the Liberian peopledifficulties and we need engagements for actionable and quick solutions”.Even the Government of Liberia is also allegedly using the barter system spree on the citizenry by continuously imposing huge taxes while it provides negligible services. The barter system enables two parties to exchange goods or services based on mutually perceived value, however, each party benefit from the transaction.

Exchange rate

An uncontrollable exchange rate that could not be reduced by our own Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), its monetary policies have harshly responded to the Peaceful protest in less than 72 hours from US$1.00 @L$115.00 to US$1.00 to L$100.00 which is still abnormal compared to few months back. To a larger extent, the protest is working, but it’s too late, in the meantime especially when the government is wrapping up.

Price is out of control

As prices are out of control, the suppliers gain from the “barter system”for the exchange of goods and services leaving the demand size with little effort or no chance to negotiate since there are fewer supplemental goods for most of what we consume on our local market. Even the Government of Liberia is also allegedly using the barter system spree on the citizenry by continuously imposing huge taxes while it provides negligible services.

Even the 25kg bag of rice that was sold few months ago for L$1,450.00 (US$15 @ L$95.00) has jumped to L$1,980.00 (US$18.00@L$110.00) just in the latter part of September 2016 to January 2017. So isthe 3 and 5 gallons cooking oil is now purchased at US$17.00 and US$36.50 that were sold at US$13.50 up to US$15.00 and US$28.00 respectively.  Other basic commodities have equally increased by more than 30%. Straightly speaking, things that are locally grown on our soil demand higher price relative to the high foreign exchange rate.


Transportation is very costly for all

The cost of transportation has increased extremelyon an hourly basis since there is no control in the so-called “barter system” because the one in need spends more than the supplier. We can’t afford to walk from Paynesville City to Central Monrovia visa vie Monrovia to Brewerville City or Caldwell to Paynesville city as well as from Bensonville (Bentol) city to Red-light.

The Government is fully aware of the transportationconstraints and struggles citizens face every day when commuting to and from work (morning and evening hours) mostly students, while donated buses are on hired or chattered by Government Corporate Entities like the National Port Authority(NPA), the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) amongst others.

 Arbitrary hike in the Price of Gasoline

Yes, indeed, it has been admitted by the Commander-In-Chief (CIC) President Johnson-Sirleaf that her administration does not have control over prices, and as such, the situation has left many businesses with no alternatives but to profiteer and in many cases exploit the already economically overwhelmed and stressed out people.

At some points in our thinking, we want to agree with the president that “the store owners are the problem to our problem because they are collecting money and packing it in their suitcases and send it abroad”. So, the question is who is really responsible for this problem spoken about by the President? She added: “I am meeting with my cabinets and Economy Advisory Council”.Though she was quick to conclude without being briefed by whosoever was left in charge to help her make informed decision, she offered to meet with the same store owners that were accused for bagging the money out of the country.

If the Government of Liberia has not created the space for the already profiteering anxious vampire’s business entrepreneurs seekingmore income from little spent on goods and services., they won’t have exacerbated our sinking and worsening economic scenario gravitating from the shock of the Ebola virus disease.

Since the arrival of TOTAL Liberia Inc., much haven`t been perceived by stakeholders to note the high of cost petroleum products on the Liberian market, has been increased by its filling stations around the country. This situation often times leaves us with a question in minds as to why smaller gasoline filling stations will be offering a little lower than the French petroleum Giant Company (Total Liberia, Inc.)

In sum, the government has little to fear other than if this would have been on the spot as circumstances drain down the people’s lives from the very beginning of the regime, Anyway, this is new history entirely different from the infamous “1979 rice riot” that didn’t survive 24hours, but carried many lives to their early graves, the destruction of properties and huge military presence in central Monrovia and its suburbs and security tightened at borders posts across the country.

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About Cholo Brooks 15816 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.