– He is Liberia’s first official Millionaire
For sometimes now a major topic of discussion has been the need for President George Manneh Weah, who became a millionaire long before coming into the political arena to spearhead officials of his government, to officially declare their assets, as usually done by Presidents and Heads of States in most African countries.
It is becoming a controversial issue whether Presidents and Ministers of governments especially in developing countries declaring their assets will ever serve as a deterrent for them not to engage in corruption practices while in office, as ministers and other appointed officials in the executive branch of government who have declared their assets can sometimes turn out to be among the most corrupt.President Weah stands out unique, as the first Liberian president to officially come to power already a millionaire. Others only became millionaires while in office and after they have declared their assets if ever were asked by the public to do so. The joke around is that the only Liberian that has become a globally recognized millionaire in the private sector, with nothing to do with public funds has been Ambassador George Weah.
President Samuel Kanyon Doe who came to power in a bloody military coup that claimed the lives of 68 people after the official count on the grounds of the Executive Mansion on April 12, 1980 came to power with abject poverty as a Master Sergeant in the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
In fact Doe was on his hustle as an illicit diamond miner in the Bomi Hills area while his wife Nancy was a charcoal seller at the Rally Time Market prior to toppling the government on eve of April 12. Either he declared assets or not, what is true is that he was already unofficially a millionaire before his untimely death in September 1990.
Liberia’s 19th President, William R. Tolbert Jr was also never officially a millionaire up to the time of his death on April 12, 1980. His assets he left were not enough to consider him a millionaire. His late brother Finance Minister Stephen A. Tolbert, was on the way of becoming Liberia’s first millionaire from the Mesurado Group of companies in the private business sector. His business ventures compromised his status as Finance Minister. He died in a plane crash.
President William V.S. Tubman, one of Liberia’s longest serving President as he ruled for 27 unbroken years from 1944 to 1971 can equally not be officially considered a millionaire up to the time that he died in a London Clinic in Britain. He however laid the foundations of several significant development landmarks in Liberia today especially in the areas of health, education, roads, local government administration and infrastructure.
Liberia’s First President Joseph Jenkins Roberts was also never a millionaire although he ruled the country on two different terms. History recounts that he was one of the few settlers from America who came to Liberia after completing a Bachelors degree in the United States of America, something that gave him an edge over other settlers of the American Colonization Society. His brother was a farmer but was not considered a millionaire.
It is therefore hoped that President George Manneh Weah will make good on his promise to adopt zero tolerance to corruption, by ensuring transparency and to ensure the full implementation of government projects earmarked, or in the implementation stage in partnership with the international community and other stakeholders, so that Liberia can move up a step further and on the UNDP’s Annual development Index.