Weah’s Achievements In One Month
-A Perspective Analysis
By John Momoh
One salient quality that may be overlooked by critics is that within one month since coming to power, from January 22, 2018 to February 22, 2018, Liberia’s 45th President Ambassador George Manneh Weah’s performance in state matters is very impressive, and shows that he possesses the qualities to move Liberia forward and better from where he met it.
Indeed Weah who came to the throne amidst doubts and pessimism expressed in some quarters as a result of his limited experience in public service is proving critics wrong by making sure that his policies are convincing to the general public. He has told the Liberian people that his administration will focus on pro-poor policies, as a means of bringing development to the mass of the Liberian people, a people that have been deprived of development opportunities for so long.A casual look at his one month in office shows that he has laid the foundations for moving Liberia from the category of a failed state to a success story, as long as his ministers working with him are not tempted into involving in corrupt practices.
The pro-poor pronouncements are robustly reflected in his inaugural address to the nation and in his armed forces day message on February 11, as both are centered on raising the living conditions of the Liberian common people especially those who can hardly afford one US dollar a day for sustenance. He emphasized that the need for Liberian participation in business by stating that Liberians will not stay as spectators while foreigners take over the economy.
But this does not mean that President Weah was indifferent to some of the controversial bottlenecks to economic development in Liberia, which is the need for the Liberian people to decide through their elected representatives and through a referendum the essence of foreigners becoming dual citizens and owning properties in Liberia. Extending Liberian citizenship to foreigners has its advantages and disadvantage and it will be naïve for anyone to make hasty conclusions.
The Liberian chief executive has also ventured into making the issue of fighting corruption a priority. This is an issue that remains intractable in Liberia as up to now government officials charged with corruption come out of the hands of the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission net with impunity. One reason for this had been the absence of a special court established to prosecute corruption cases, but instead evidences in the investigations the accusations are sent before government prosecutors, where the charges very often die natural deaths.
Indeed history recalls that the endemic corruption in the country had been a major source of political instability, intolerance and backwardness of the country’ development. Why is it that despite several efforts made over the years, corruption still remains endemic in Liberia? This is a question that often crops up in the minds of many people who have the development interest of this country at heart.
It can be recalled that when President Samuel K. Doe seized power in a bloody military coup in April 1980, as the casualty of soldiers killed stood at 68, in his first speech to the nation he said he and the 17 enlisted men of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) have seized power and installed the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) government because of the rampant corruption prevailing in the country.
In a similar way when ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took over the mantle of leadership in 2006, it can be recalled that she observed that corruption is the country’s number one enemy and that they will confront it and fight it.
President Sirleaf’s 12-year stewardship came at a time when the international community became consciousof the need to fight corruption in the world on a country by country approach, thereby leading to the establishment of anti-corruption commissions in many countries across the globe including Liberia. It also came at a time when the United Nations General Assembly had decided to eradicate global poverty by half, by highlighting the Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by developing countries, at the beginning of the millennium in 2000.
It is therefore not surprising that even while on a state visit to France, President George Weahm, in explaining to the France President Emmanuel Macron reasons for Liberia’s backwardness can mention corruption as a malfeasant in the Liberian society. He also named the long years of civil war which came in two installments 1989 to 1997 and from 1997 to 2003 when the Comprehensive Accra Peace Accord among Liberia’s warring factions intervened.
Of course President Weah also highlighted Liberia’s challenges in the agricultural, educational, health and business sectors to the people of France resulting into among other benefits the French government approving a grant of ten million Euros for Liberia. The Liberian President also met with the French business caucus and some leading educational institutions some of whom have promised to visit Liberia to assess the country’s pressing needs, such as in sports development shortly. The benefits that will be accrued from that visit can both be viewed in the long and short range impact in promoting Liberia’s development agenda.
During the first month of his presidency, Ambassador George Weah who is also aware that many of the people who voted him into office were soldiers has wasted no time in bringing a message of hope that brought smiles on their faces. Some of the causes of the military involvement in politics that brought military rule in 1980, was the deliberate neglect of the welfare of the army, as soldiers were underpaid, subjected to political interference and unprofessional treatment.
This is why in his Armed Forces Day Message, he created the impression to them that better days are ahead and that there should be no cause to despair or be despondent. President Weah said he will provide for soldiers accommodation to be constructed in barracks across the country. He has also promised to build for them Liberia’s 1st-class military hospital, to be equipped with modern facilities and a training and medical school component and to be accessible by members of all paramilitary forces and their families including the police. This is indeed a laudable gesture as improving the welfare of the security sector is another way of enhancing professionalism and the climate of peace and stability in the country.
It can also be recalled that one of President Weah’s first acts of state was to take an issue out of the need to reduce the price of rice on the Liberian market, as the present cost of a bag of imported rice on the Liberian market is not at all helpful to poor Liberians.
In his quest to find a way forward to reach an understanding with rice importers and the business community as a whole, President Weah has in this regards met with top members of Liberia’s business community and also rice importers. The rice importers for example made a commitment to reduce the price of a bag of rice so that it becomes affordable to ordinary Liberians.