The Civility of Liberian Politics: The Story of A Sitting President

By Justice Wongar*

As we witnessed the press conference of Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai, I could not help characterizing it as another civility in Liberian politics. It was far removed from how the current Football President would have stated, had kit been him. I thought about all of the politicians who, having failed to convince the Liberian people that their quests for leadership of the country were sincere and been rejected, now sought refuse under the wings of the worst Government and worst President the nation ever had. I also thought about those candidates who, having failed in their quests for the highest office in the land, professed to not take side. I wondered what they mean by “taking side.” As on many other occasions, they have misunderstood what the current contest is about. It is not a contest between the current President, George Manneh Weah, and the former Vice President, Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai. No friends, the current contest is between George Manneh Weah and the Republic of Liberia. It will determine, from an examination of the last six years of the reign of President Weah, whether Liberia, in the face of the challenge from President Weah, survives as a nation.

Since the beginning of the year, and even before this year, we tried to be civil in everything that we did; we have tried not to launch any personal attacks on our opponents, especially the officials of the Coalition for Democratic Change and officials of the George Weah Government. It was not that we did not know what they were doing or the numerous criminal acts that they were committing, both against the Constitution, the statutory laws of our beloved country, and the Liberian people as a whole. We watched while public officials, including the President, enriched themselves at the expense of the Liberian people, while they mortgaged half of the nation ’s resources to satisfy their greed and corrupt disposition and exhibited the nerves to lie about what they were doing. One only has to examine where these people were in 2017 and where they are today. Yet, this document is not about personal attacks; rather it is to let the Liberian people know what these people have done to Liberia and to alert them that giving them another six years could be inviting death for Liberia as a nation. But more than that, we have decided to voice our concern because since our birth a long time ago, we have never seen a group of people whose seemingly sole aim is to destroy the motherland; we have never seen a group of people who have shown nothing but disgust for the Liberian people; we have never seen a people who have shown such insensitivity for the plight of their people; we have never seen a group of people who have determined to sell their nation away as this group; we have never seen a group of people who have shown such recklessness for their nation and their people; and we have never seen such people who are prepared, in furtherance of their desire for enrichment, to subject their people to the lowest poverty level in the world. We can see no other words to described them and their organization, the CDC, as “CRUEL DEMONIC CRIMINALS.”

Let us look firstly at President Weah. No one disputes that during his football career he made nearly one hundred million United States dollars. But we can agree that at the end of his career he was virtually bankrupt. Indeed, one only has to examine the declaration of assets made to the National Elections Commission in 2005 when he first declared his candidacy for the Liberian presidency. In that declaration, Mr. Weah stated that the total assets he had were worth just over three hundred thousand United States dollars, a food store which he had in Florida, and which accounted for almost three hundred dollars of the assets he said he had. An inspection shows that almost all of the candidates were richer than Mr. Weah. Counsellor H. Varney G. Sherman, for example, stated that he had assets just over eight hundred thousand United States dollars. Mr. David Farhat, also a presidential candidate, stated his net worth to be almost five million United States dollars. At the time, it was a condition to seek the office of president that a candidate declared his/her assets, under oath. So, as of 2005, Mr. Weah had mismanaged his personal resources of almost one hundred million United States dollars to just over three hundred thousand United States dollars. It was clear that if he was given the highest position in the land, he would almost similarly run the country into bankruptcy, which is basically where the country is right now. We challenge Mr. Weah and those supporting him to show how much he had in his bank accounts on the day of his inauguration as President of Liberia.

But Mr. Weah’s habit of bankruptcy does not stop there. Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, knowing of the habits of Mr. Weah, but trying to get him into a better financial position, made him the peace ambassador and put at his disposal half a million United States dollars. He cannot account for a penny of that money. The Mr. Weah became Senator and a member of the ECOWAS Parliament. It is well known that at the ECOWAS parliament, he credited from colleagues religiously to satisfy his craving at extravagance, such that at the end of every month, he was forced to use his entire allowance t pay off his debts. This set him into another round of crediting so that there was a full circle of the same every month. If you do not believe this, ask his friend and colleague Senator Edwin Snowe.

Then, as if he had not done enough damage to the Liberian people, he had the Liberian Legislature allot to his wife annually almost one million dollars in the budget. If he was taking this money from his private resources, we would not care. But he is taking this money from the Liberian people, from the budget of the country. When calculations are made, one can see that over the last six years of his presidency, Mr. Weah has given to his wife almost six million United States dollars of the Liberian peoples’ money. Ask him how much he gave to his wife out of the almost one hundred million United States dollars he made as a footballer. She can show nothing, except what he may have spent on her education, whole he refused to go to school, determining that it was better to remain ignorant and illiterate. Again, when calculated, one ca see that what Mr. Weah has given his wife of the Liberian peoples’ money could have constructed more than sixty clinics to care for the health of our people or could have built more than sixty elementary schools for the education of our young ones. How could this man not have any conscious for his people and his country? 

But this was not unexpected. Ask Mr. Weah, out of the almost one hundred million dollars he made as a footballer, did he build a single school in Liberia? Did he build a single hospital in Liberia? How much of that amount did he expend on his country and on his people? Was it not only after he became President of Liberia that he chooses to have UL students have so-called free tuition, paid for by the Government? Was kit not after he became President of Liberia that he had the WAEC fees of students paid from the Government resources. None of those payments came from Mr. Weah’s personal resources, out of the almost one hundred million United states dollars he earned as a footballer. Is this the man who claims to love his people and his country? If Liberian are not careful, this man could sell their country and their freedom.

So again, it is worth asking, where did Mr. Weah get the funds (millions of United States dollars) to construct in the first few months of his presidency the massive dozens of apartment complexes? He was bankrupt. Indeed, he told the court in the United States that because he had no funds, he could only afford to pay one hundred and fifty United states dollars for child support. The court’s records are there. Further, the word is also around that he has other massive apartment complexes and houses in and under the names of close associates, employees, and girlfriends.

However, as the President seems to have gone on the war path with opposition political leaders, we have determined that the time has come to expose him for what he is and to alert the Liberian people that another six years of Mr. Weah as President will result into a total destruction of our mother land. Our old people use to say that if you lived in a glass house, do not throw stone. The Weah administration do not seem to appreciate that in all they have done they are living in a glass house and pretending to be forgetful of what they have done to the Liberian nation and people, that they are living in a glass house. Since they insist on throwing stones, we have decided to take off the gloves of civility and to expose his shall house to the Liberian people.

In the last several days since the National Elections Commission declared that campaign for political offices have begun, Mr. Weah has gone all-out to characterize his political opponent in all kinds of demeaning ways. The NEC has said nothing off this, as we expected that they would not. When opposition politicians put up posters in and around various places, they were condemned, even by their own radio stations who had allowed themselves to be compromised. He called them dishonest, liars, etc. and he dared them to show what they had ever done for the country and its people; castigated the previous government and taken credit for most, if not all of the developments that have occurred in the country over last one hundred and seventy-six years of independence. 

Before we proceed to debunk his assertions of being the best leader Liberian has ever had, let us take a closer look at his administration and what it has done since je assumed the Presidency. Let us start with the question that was posed by the United States ambassador on the birth anniversary of Liberia’s first President, Joseph Jenkins Roberts. The Ambassador asked the question, what would Joseph Jenkins Roberts say about Liberia today if he was alive. We had a ready answer to the question although we did not venture to respond. But given the new direction of the Government, we believe that the time is ripe for a response. Joseph Jenkins Roberts would say that given how Mr. Weah has practically sole out half of the country to his destructive Lebanese and Indian buddies and Fula money makers and its resources since he became President of Liberia just under six years ago, had he been Liberia’s first President, Liberian would have ceased to exist as a nation and the name of Liberia would have become only a memory. There is a second thing that President Roberts there would said: That Liberians would not be where they are now and that Mr. Wah would have, without hesitation continued the slave trade and would have continued to sell them as slaves. He would have sold off the entire country are the century and people who had made no attack in many ways his political opponents and to characterized them as liars and dishonesty people. [STATE WHAT HE HAS CALLED THEM]

But let us take the first challenge of Mr. Weah. He challenged the opposition candidates to show what they have done for Liberia. They have not bult roads, hospitals, schools, etc. as he has done. That was an unfair challenge to begin with because the challenge should really have been not what they have done for Liberia to want to be President. It was not for Mr. Weah to tell the opposition candidates what they had done for Liberia and stop there, but rather to challenge himself to show what he did for Liberia prior to becoming President, because this is the point at which the opposition leaders are. So, the question more appropriately is what did Mr. Wrah do for Liberia whilst he sought to be President of Liberia. The blunt answer is nothing. Let us compare his records with that of Mr. Cummings, just as an example.

When Mr. Weah played soccer and was internationally recognized as one of the most valuable soccer players on the Africa Continent and in the world, he boasted of having earned more than One Hundred Million United States dollars. How much of that One Hundred Million United States dollars did he infuse or invest in Liberia, the mother land? The answer is ZERO. He cannot show a small hospital, a small school, a small palaver hut, a small football field, a small dirt road, a small anything. This was the ZERO contribution or investment Mr. Weah had made to Liberia when he took over the helm as President of Liberia. Indeed, Mr. Weah did not even have a presentable house in which to live and the house that he did build prior to becoming President of Liberia, he had to rely on the magnanimity of his friends who had to come to his rescue. The only contribution Mr. Weah can show that he made to Liberia out of his more than One Hundred Million United States Dollars comprised of a few football booths, a few football jerseys, a few football caps. We challenge Mr. Weah to show anything of substance that he contributed to the mother land. 

But more than that, Mr. Weah went completely bankrupt, such that at the end of his football career, he had nothing to show. Indeed, prior to his bankruptcy, when Mr. Weah contested the Presidency, believing that the only criteria for assuming the office was that he was one of the most valuable footballers. He was sued in the United States for child support. The Courts records show that he pleaded he was poor and that he could only afford to pay US$150.00 monthly to support the child he did not deny having outside of wedlock. 

But more appalling is the fact that after Mr. Weah had squandered his wealth and resources and was in a state of virtual bankruptcy, he took on a contract with a company under which he allowed himself to parade butt naked before a group of women showing all of his private parts not only to the cameras but to all of the women present, as he held a waiter with a bottle of cologne or perfume on it. This is the George Weah who is now President of Liberia and who is asking the people of Liberia to give him a second term to complete the destruction of the country which he has started.

What made people think or believe that a man who had squandered more than US$100,000,000.00 of his own money, ran himself into virtual bankruptcy, and could not show any evidence that he ever made such amount, be entrusted to run the nation with an annual budget of more than US$600,000,000.00. It was clear that he would run the country into bankruptcy. He lacked the intelligence to know how to run a country, least to oversee its budget. His only qualification was that he played football. In that case, Liberia broke the world’s record—a footballer whose only claim to fame was that he played football, with no evidence of any ability to achieve anything beyond soccer. But there is more evidence of the ability of Mr. Weah to squander wealth and resources entrusted to his care. 

He was made Liberia’s peace ambassador by Her excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and in that role was given US$500,000.00 to travel the country and preach peace. He used the funds on his own personal satisfaction and greed for women, the same as he had done when he played football. We challenge Mr. Weah to give a full account of how he used the US$500,000.00 received from the Government of Liberia, the travels he made, the places he traveled to, receipts for any expenditures he made as Liberian’s peace ambassador, people he met in the performance of the functions associated with a peace ambassador. 

Then there is the Winston Tubman dilemma and how not being a member of the Congress for Democratic Change nevertheless became the stander bearer of that Party. We know for a fact that he contacted several lawyers requested them to commence a suit against George Weah for receiving from him US$250,000.00 in return for Geroge Weah’s relinquishing his claim to the Standard Bearer of the CDC and becoming the vice standard bearer and nominating Winstone Tubman as standard bearer. We know that all of the lawyers approached to commence litigation declined to take up the case both because it would put both men in trouble but also because they were not party to the negotiations and could not confirm that any exchange of funds occurred. It would be good for George Weah to explain to the Liberia how a complete stranger to the Party (CDC), Winston Tubman, became the Standard Bearer of the CDC and therefore the CDC’s contestant the presidency in 2011. Again, this is a clear reflection on a desperate man’s attempt to have access to funds after he had effectively gone almost completely broke but still wanted to maintain his flamboyancy of impressing people that he was living in a high class, without having them discover that this desperate man was living beyond his means.

Further, one needs only to ask the members of the ECOWAS Parliament about Mr. Weah’s financial dealings at the ECOWAS Parliament; how he credited money from other members repeatedly and had to pay them back upon of receipt of his monthly allowance to which a member of the ECOWAS was entitled. Ask Mr. Senator Snowe about it. He may deny it, but the evidence is amongst the many persons who served on the ECOWAS Parliament at the time. Query: It Mr. Weah was a millionaire at the time, why was be continuously crediting from members of the ECOWAS Parliament and had to pay the, back only from the allowances he received from the ECOWAS Parliament. Again, Mr. Weah needs to explain how he was able to construct a forty plus structure at the cost of millions of dollars within a few months of becoming President of Liberia. The only explanation is that at the very onset he began to steal from the Liberian people, caring not at all that the funds he was using to construct these facilities meant that the Liberian people could have the health care, hospitals, clinics, educational facilities, training of teachers, doctors and other professionals to education our children, all of which they were entitled to under the laws, including the Constitution of Liberia. 

We challenge Mr. Weah to a debate on the issue so that he can explain to the Liberian people where the funds came from to construct those buildings since he was broke and virtually bankrupt and could not afford such money; of let him tell and show the Liberian people where he took the loan(s) from or which bank or other source(s) he credited from which he used to build the massive compound costing millions of United States dollars. Let him provide the Liberian people with the same bogus excuse provided by his former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill, when questioned as to how he was able to move from a rundown rented apartment building to ownership of a mansion within a few months of assuming the position of Minister of State for Presidential Affairs.

But let us go further with Mr. Weah. When he first contested the Liberian Presidency in 2005, as was required from every candidate contesting an elective office, Mr. Weah filed with the Elections Commission a statement of his assets, duly sworn before a notary public. In that statement, Mr. Weah declared that his net worth was just around US$350,000.00 (Three hundred and fifty thousand United States dollars. His biggest asset, de declared in the statement, was a restaurant he owned in Florida was worth around US$275,000.00. we know for a fact that that business went bankrupt, leaving nothing of any value. This meant that, unless Mr. Weah could show how he accumulated more wealth at the time that he took over the Presidency of Liberia, he had virtually nothing since even with his salary and benefits as a Senator, he had domestic obligations which he had to meet and therefore could not have accumulated the millions of United States Dollars which he used to construct his many facilities. How then was he able to construct in less than three months the massive structures he put up with millions of United States dollars. The only assumption is that he must have stolen government’s money. We challenge him to sue us. We will demand and secure the benefits of the discovery process where he will be instructed by the Court to produce every bank account he had at the time and all assets otherwise that he possessed at the time. He will be able to show nothing. Yet, he claims to be honest and to be the best leader Liberia has ever had.

Then there is the incident involving the withdrawal of 25 million United States Dollars from the nation’s reserve and the explanation of the Minister of Finance and Development that he had changed the 25 million United States monies at the money changers I corners areas of the City of Monrovia. There has been no authentication of what the Minister of Finance and Development Planning did with the funds or how the funds were expended, except that at the same time Mr. George Weah was constructing his millions United States Dollar apartment facility.

But it does not stop there. Mr. Weah has become the only President in Arican and the world to demand and secure for his wife One Million United States dollars annually in the budget because she was married to him. This was not money from his salary or any personal account. This was the Liberian people’s money paid directly from the Liberian people’s budget. We challenge Mr. Weah to show whether he even give his wife one hundred thousand dollars out of the more than the One Hundred United States Dollars he claimed to have made as a footballer. In the six years he has been President of Liberia, he has had the government pay to his wife around Six Million United States Dollars (US$6,000,000.00), even when at the same time he had the Liberian civil servants’ salaries reduced by more than forty percent under the pretext of harmonization. One can calculate that this amount which Mr. Weah gave to his wife over the last six years could have constructed more than sixty complex schools for the Liberian school system in the country at an estimated cost of One Hundred Thousand United States Dollars (US$100,000.00) per school; or it could have constructed sixty clinics in the counties at a cost of US$100,000.00) per clinic. But Mr. Weah believed that satisfying his wife’s demand for wealth which he did not believe she was deserving of while he squandered his more than One Hundred Million United States Dollars (US$100,000,000.00) during his football career. Now he demanded that the Liberian people pay the price for his marriage. Now he is asking for another six years so that at the end of that term, he would have given to his wife from the Liberian people’s money, not his own money, unless he believes that the Liberian peoples’ money is his private money, so that his wife can boast of having been given twelve (12) Millions United State Dollars of the Liberian peoples’ money to do as she pleases, either placing into her personal accounts in Jamaica and other parts of the world or developing massive structures in Jamaica which she did not have prior to her husband becoming President of Liberia, and certainly not a penny from his wealth he boats about from paying football but which he misused and became virtually bankrupt. How can he use the Liberian peoples’ money to build up the infrastructure of his wife’s foreign nation. This translates into President Weah giving to his wife funds that belong to the Liberian people which could have built more than 120 elementary and junior high schools. Or this money could have been used to construct 120 clinics and support the training of nurses to work in such clinics. Should we be happy this, at a time when the nation is in dire need of schools and hospitals which have hit rock bottom since Mr. Weah took over as President?

Then there was the construction of the Invisible Sports Park. Which country places a sports part over the health and education of his people. The costs of the sports park could, like the allowance he gives to his wife from the national Budget, is worth several million dollars. Yet he praises himself for not devoting such resources to an invincible sports part in preference to the education and health of his people.

Currently, he has withdrawn all of the resources from all of the public corporations, institutions, and even from the Central Banks of Liberia to support his presidential bid. It seems that Mr. Weah has the capacity and is determined to send the nation bankrupt the same as he did with his personal fund which he made from his football career. The Elections Commission, one of the most incompetent in recent times, has said nothing about this or even query as to where all of the resources being spent by the CDC has come from.

It is unfortunate that the CDC, having strived for so long to take on the helm of leadership of the country by a democratic process will now be at the forefront to destroy the fabric of the Liberian society.

*The opinions expressed in this article are of the author and not necessarily those of the Daily Observer.