The Worth Of Pres. Weah’s Recent Tour
-Liberia’s Political Editor Provides Analysis
As critics and supporters of President George Manneh Weah debate on the President’s recent three-Nation visit, particularly over whether the money used for the trip was appropriate or not, Sherman C. Seequeh, one of Liberia’s best political editors, has joined the debate by providing an analysis on his Facbook page countering critics’ arguments. “President George Weah needed to walk from Liberia in his travel to Senegal, Morocco and France to familiarize himself with the global political and economic communities and to make a case for a country we all—critics and supporters—agree that needs every opportunity to graduate from underdevelopment. Also, President Weah, in making the rounds and for the stated purpose, needed to go alone. He did not have to carry even a security guard or secretary with him. But he did not walk. He took an aero-plane, and made the three-nation trip along with a few other Liberians. The most radical critics of the trip put the cost at US$63,000. And there came volleys of censures that the President committed a seditious crime for spending that money to take a plane along with a delegation of Liberians to visit Senegal, Morocco and France.”
According to Seequeh,the “patriotic” critics contended, perhaps still contending, that an impoverished country like Liberia, a “broke nation” inherited by Pres.Weah, did not have to incur or spend a US$63,000 to make a trip of such; either he should have sat home to face the impoverished and broke nation, lamenting all day, or he should have trekked his way out of the country in making the trip; or he should have simply gone alone instead of taking a dim from state coffer.
In the view of the critics of the trip, the Weah administration which has pillared its nation-building, transformation vision on a pro-poor agenda, needed to refrain from making trips abroad or when he makes them, he must do so without laying a hand on state coffer or without tipping on such amount as US$63,000.
So, while the President along with his team was pleading with friendly countries and peoples, hypnotizing them to take an empathetic look at the impoverished country and broke nation, and rally material, human and financial resources to support the pro-poor agenda, discussions and debates were seething in the media, street corners and communities at home over the use of a US$63,000. The nation became poised to see what would come out of the trip—whether the money in question would be merely for ‘plijay’—pomp and pageantry—as doomsayers were projecting or whether the trip would turn the tide for the better and bolster the pro-poor governance agenda of the CDC government.
But the political Editor said, despite the hollowness and cynical nature of the criticism against the new President’s trip and its financial cost of US$63,000, “there is admittedly a sense and a context in which the uproar developed.”
According to him, “yesterday, we saw rapidity of meaningless and unachieved presidential foreign tours with colossal hurts on state coffer. Yesterday, we saw a nearly two-dozen man presidential delegation costing the nation more than a hundred and fifty thousand United States Dollars without tangle return to the country and its people. Yesterday, we saw throngs of cabinet ministers and other top government officials making trips abroad—for instance a single official spending more than twice of US$63,000 on a single trip—trips that brought no corresponding yield to state coffer and to national development. So, there is a understandable sense in which some citizens were concerned about the cost of US$63,000 funding President Weah and delegation’s three-nation tour—a delegation of at most ten strategically selected delegates for seven days; something that means that on the average each delegate, including the president had US$6,300 for seven days to include all that foreign travel entails.”
He noted, even at that, many are still asking, “Does the trip worth it? Does it hold and earn anything beyond the US$63,000?” Was the spending a waste of taxpayers’ money? In other words, is there any reason for Liberians to celebrate that President Weah made the trip? Or does the trip and all that it cost to get the President and delegation to France through Senegal and Morocco join many other presidential trips of yesteryears that brought no gain to the country except for the personal glory of the head of state?”
Taking a brief look at the news from Paris that certainly is not too pleasing for the critics of the trip, Seequeh said, France has pledged an initial grant of €10 million Euros to Liberia for immediate road maintenance in addition to modalities for a more comprehensive and sustainable development assistance package for Liberia.
The delegation and the World Bank concluded that an additional budget support of US$20 million which will be provided in June of 2018. The Paris deal follows an earlier US$24.7m budget support provided by the WB.
The Liberian Journalist narrates that Pres. Weah also secured additional financing of US$5 million from the World Bank Social Protection Program to enhance his sports agenda.
“President Weah also initiated discussions leading to the front-loading of US$45 million of additional financing from Liberia’s 3-year allocation of $210 million to help stabilize the Liberian economy.”
The French Government has promised to introduce its new Economic Empowerment Program dubbed, “Agriculture through Sports” and Liberia stands to benefit from the construction of sporting facilities and the provision of sporting materials and other logistical support.
“If the mathematics is done, the cash worth of the trip by the new President and delegation as consummated in Paris, France alone is over US$80m or largely more if you include the EEP or “Agriculture through Sports” program promised and FIFA support pledge.”
He urged critics of the trip to subtract the money reportedly used during the tour and compare its dividends. “Now you can subtract the US$63,000 and get the net worth of the trip in France.”
Meanwhile, according to his counterargument, the gains from Senegal and Morocco are counting, adding that “what’s better for a broke government and a pro-poor agenda than this?
I know some will still say, it’s not better so long US$63,000 was supposedly used for the trip and as long the President didn’t walk his way abroad and didn’t go alone.”