Liberia: “Certain Signs Precede Certain Events” (Cicero)
It is indeed funny how times can change. Only yesterday they were hailed as heroes just about everywhere around the country. To most people, they held the magic wand which they could at one stroke wave away all the problems of the nation.
Victory is always new, always sweet also. And so it was with George Weah and his Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). Immediately following the official announcement of the CDC victory at the 2017 polls thousands of their supporters took to the streets in wild jubilation.
Many, in the mistaken belief that prices would have seen a drastic reduction, openly boasted about what they believed was imminent coming from a government that had declared itself ‘PRO-POOR’.
A euphoria of victory and triumph clearly hung in the air and there was nothing anyone could do about it. But the euphoria was not to last as reality began to sink in, albeit slowly.
Fast forward to 2022, now five years since the CDC ascended to power, the national mood is different. Mass discontent is spreading through the country owing chiefly to the very difficult and declining economic situation with no upturn insight anytime soon.
More to that, public discontent is fueled by the ostentatious and flamboyant lifestyles of public officials depicting luxury and opulence in the midst of extreme difficulty and suffering.
Corruption, which President Weah had solemnly promised would have zero tolerance in his government, appears to have taken over the reins of government. News reports of corruption on the part of public officials have become pervasive.
According to analysts, public officials appear to be in a state of frenzy, desperately seeking to stash away money for the rainy day which, a number of top officials believe, is a mere 16 months away.
For them, according to analysts, prospects of a CDC victory at the 2023 polls appear very dim. Consequently, a number of them are exploring options as eventual fallback positions.
A top choice according to analysts is a seat in the Legislature.
One such top official (name withheld) is said to be exploring options in Bong County, away from his native Gbarpolu County.
Analysts see this as a sign which can possibly be interpreted to mean President Weah may not contest a second term, contrary to widespread public perception that he will.
A highly placed source has told the Daily Observer that this is a source of deep seated concern for their political future, given the rising level of public antipathy towards public officials, especially those perceived as very corrupt.
Such was the situation with the two most powerful individuals in the Weah government, Finance Minister Tweah and State Minister Nathaniel McGill.
They were booed and chased by angry students from the University of Liberia (UL) campus when they went to inspect ongoing renovation work at the Capitol Hill campus.
Both men, according to eyewitness reports, had driven to the UL campus in a motorcade with blaring sirens and flashing blue and red lights.
No sooner had they disembarked and began walking towards the buildings under renovation, their wahala began with shouts and cries of “boo, rogue, rogue, teefee, teefee”, forcing the pair to take to flight.
To the astonishment of onlookers and bystanders, in an unprecedented move, neither the Police nor the Security escort intervened to assault students or stop their chase.
A former security official, commenting on the events on Capitol Hill, told the Daily Observer that this could be a sign of things to come in 2023, during which the widely predicted electoral violence will come to naught.
According to him, this is because the security forces, especially the AFL, may more likely than not act with resolve to curtail attempts by individuals or organized groups with intent to foment violence to intimidate the political opposition.
Further, according to the former security official, should the 2023 polls be attended by mass orchestrated violence, the Police may find themselves overwhelmed to the point where it may require the intervention of the military, which could then possibly seize power and put paid to 2023 ambitions.
But is President Weah actually contemplating throwing in the towel in 2023 without a fight to the finish? It is difficult to say at this point, but informed sources insist that the matter is being discussed at very high levels.
This is because, according to sources, President Weah may be reading the national mood sufficiently enough to understand that he is virtually swimming alone against a rising tide with swift currents.
But the hawks and hardcore diehards in his inner circles, according to informed sources, appear sworn to take things to the wire to ensure victory.
One such idea, according to informed sources, which is gaining traction in their circles, is to plant agents as seeds of destabilization in the various political parties, especially those viewed as principal contenders to the throne.
An example of such, according to sources, is the fracas within the CPP which contributed substantially to its breakup.
Further, according to informed sources, influential figures within that collaboration have allegedly been on the take, receiving huge cash handouts for their alleged destabilization activities which may be wide ranging.
As to whether President Weah is aware of such allegations, it remains unclear. However, whatever the case might be, it appears that the downward spiral of the economy, if not checked, could spell doom for the political future of this government.
With elections hanging just around the corner, it appears unlikely that the success envisioned by Minister of State McGill, as stated in his recent exhortations to public officials to buckle-up or face dismissal, will materialize at all.
Cicero once wrote, “Certain signs precede certain events”.
In Thomas Campbell’s “Lochniel’s Warning”, the Wizard warning Sir Donald Cameron of Lochniel of the English victory over the Scots says:
“Lochiel, Lochiel! beware of the day;…
And coming events cast their shadows before.
I tell thee Culloden’s dread echoes shall ring
For the bloodhounds that bark for thy fugitive king.”
Ministers Tweah and McGill should find this instructive.