LIBERIA: LPP Response To President Weah’s Final SONA
Leadership at the very top of the CDC-led Administration is wanting as indicative of the State of the Republic Address delivered by President George Weah at the Joint Session of the Legislature on 30 January 2023.
The statement issued by the LPP said during his over 3-hour speech to the Legislature and other dignitaries, Mr. Weah painted a bleak picture of the state of affairs in Liberia and failed to provide any good plans for his last few months in office before he is sacked by the Liberian people on 10 October this year.
Mr. Weah claimed, “enormous progress has been made” in achieving peace in Liberia by “ensuring the strict adherence to the rule of law”. This cannot be further from the truth as the Weah Administration has a history of being the worst respecter of the rule of law in post-war Liberia.
It can be recalled that during the July 26 Independence Day celebrations in 2022, thugs from Mr. Weah’s government and auxiliaries of his political party attacked students from the University of Liberia and nearly murdered student Christopher Sivili Walters who was severely beaten and left for dead. In 2020, four auditors died mysteriously, including Emmanuel Barten Nyeswua, Director-General of the Liberia’s Internal Audit Agency; Gifty Lama, Acting Manager for Tax Services at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA); Albert Peters, Assistant Commissioner for Audit Services at LRA; and Auditor George Fanbutu of the LRA, as well as Melvin Earley, an Officer of the Executive Protective Service (EPS), who was killed in Tappita (with the Weah Government preposterously declaring that he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, stomach and leg). The perpetrators of this mayhem continue to enjoy their freedom with no consequences for their actions.
The general crime rate in the country has spiked with mob action becoming normalized making nightlife nonexistent in Liberia, which greatly affects the night economy. Adherence to the basic standards of decency is practically nonexistent in the enforcement of the country’s traffic laws. Nearly every government official and some civilians drive around with sirens and motorcades.
As stated in the Better Liberia Agenda of the LPP, the rule of law will be a priority under the incoming Gongloe Administration. While the rights of citizens to peaceably assemble to petition will always be respected regardless of political persuasion, no one will be allowed to break the laws of this country with impunity.
On the state of the country’s economy, Mr. Weah admitted that his government continues to lack the capacity to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and is now almost totally reliant on the generation of domestic revenue from an economy that is so constrained that it is at a breaking point
While reliance on domestic revenue generation is a good thing, the Weah Administration has done nothing to spur growth in the economy or increase revenue due to uptake in business activities or value addition to domestic production. The government has instead opted to continuously increase taxes on the forever-dwindling service sector, money transfer services and income tax even on donor monies provided to the country while borrowing heavily.
Alluding to the total debt portfolio of the country, it is an undisputable fact that Liberia’s external and domestic debts have ballooned from US$942Million in 2018 (according to page No. ii of the Liberia Debt Management Unit Report dated 30 June 2019) to US$1.8Billion (See page No. 61 of the 2021 Central Bank of Liberia [CBL] Annual Report), an increase of US$833Million or eighty-eight percent (88%) in less than six years. President Weah deliberately failed to mention this astronomical increase of 88% in the nation’s debt portfolio within five (5) years accrued via the reckless management of the economy by the CDC-led Administration. It must be recalled that Liberia’s total debt stood at US$4.5Billion when President Weah’s predecessor came to office in 2006; when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf left office in January 2018, total debt stood at US$942Million.
How can Mr. Weah now boast of a rosy economic outlook for Liberia when he is leaving the country in more than 88% of total debt in 5 years compared to what he inherited from the previous Administration, accumulated in 12 years?
Except Mr. Weah lives on a different planet, it should be easy for him to know that most Liberians are poorer now than they were when he took the oath of office in January 2018. Under Weah’s leadership, poverty is surging and it is estimated 64% of the population lives below the poverty line and 1.3 million of those living in extreme poverty according to the World Food Programme (WFP) and 16% of children are physically not in school in Liberia according to United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) data.
Mr. Weah should know that no one can be fooled into thinking that their stomach is full when they are hungry. Most Liberian people are hungry and cannot even afford to get a proper meal a day. For him to elect to tell them that they are living a fabulous life is a callous dereliction of his duties to work to improve the economy of this country.
Under the Gongloe Administration, the food insecurity situation of Liberians will be treated as a critical national security emergency, which will be focused on as a priority issue throughout the tenure of the government with plans to smartly increase local production of food, especially rice, Liberia’s staple.
Like his predecessor, Mr. Weah has no plan to address the war-era impunity that continues to characterize Liberia’s labored move towards entrenching peace in the country. In his address, Mr. Weah downplayed the crimes committed against peaceful demonstrators during the rice protest of April 14, 1979.
Mr. Weah’s decision to dwell on the failure of the Tolbert Government to murder political leaders during that unwarranted attack on peaceful civilians in April 1979 speaks to his very limited understanding of the historic governance challenges that this country has gone through and continues to experience.
The Liberian people have an historic opportunity in October this year to end the horrible state of affairs that Mr. Weah has presided over for the last five years. This country cannot take another year of the mayhem that this government continues to visit on its own people.
Finally, President Weah will go down in history, may be in the Guinness Book of Records, as the Liberian President who brought more shame and disgrace to the office of the President by producing scandals, including the missing L$16Billion, US$25Million “mop-up exercise” to stabilize the exchange rate between the US and Liberian dollars; the unauthorized use of funds belonging to nine diplomatic missions that were taken by his government from the CBL-an action that engender an open letter to the President of Liberia demanding a restitution of the funds; the failed ETON Finance Limited and EBOMAF US$536Million loan agreements due to lack of due diligence, with some Weah officals ridiculously saying, “Even if the money came from the belly of devil, we would receive it”, they would receive it; the sanctioning of five officials of government under his administration; the construction of more privately-owned buildings by the President and his close associates, far more than the number of public buildings, when most Liberians are getting poorer daily; the information that his property on 9th Street in Monrovia was rebuilt by his son, Timothy, which was not true; and the fact that the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium was declared unfit for international football under his administration, given his background as a football legend, amongst others.
Every Liberian should get prepared to register to vote and turn out to vote in 253 days in order to end this nightmare.
A Better Liberia is Possible!