Liberia: It All Boils Down to Trust, Mr. President

Flashback: President Weah makes remarks at the closing of the three days retreat held in Nimba County, Ganta City  


President Weah, at the close of the cabinet retreat in Ganta, Nimba County, threatened to dismiss underachievers and non-performers in his government according to a story written by reporter Alvin Worzi in the Friday, July 15 edition of the Daily Observer.

The President recounted that there are still sixteen months left on the tenure of his government during or within which much can be done for the Liberian people.  In this regard, according to him, it is important that his government achieves success in specific areas in order to increase and strengthen his 2023 presidential re-election bid.

And it is for such a reason, mainly, that he is urging his cabinet to redouble their efforts in order to realize the goals set under his economic flagship program styled “Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

The PAPD promised to be “a framework for inclusion and a more equitable distribution of national wealth and economic growth by increasing productivity through value chains with a focus on agriculture.”

But with a mere 16 months to go, successful achievement of the lofty goals set under the PAPD, which include equitable distribution of national wealth and economic growth with agriculture as the key driver, is indeed a very tall order.

The fine speeches and chest-thumping relayed, re-echoed, and bandied in the local media appear to suggest that President Weah genuinely believes when his officials tell him that enormous strides have indeed been made. But the question to which his officials appear to have no answer is whether the Liberian people actually believe what they are being told — that things are well and fine.

This is because the Liberian people are really catching hell, so to speak, and nobody needs to ask except those who are living and enjoying life on a flowery base of ease and contentment.

And if one were to take a poll, most Liberians will agree that they are catching hell and that they do not believe that life will get any better for them by or before the October 2023 presidential and general elections.

At least this is kind of the feedback we get from the public when this question is put to them. For them, the issue is trust. For example, according to a retired teacher (name withheld), President Weah had from the very onset of his administration pledged to take a strong stance against corrupt officials.

However, he has not since matched his words with action, citing several cases/instances in which corrupt government officials have been tolerated and allowed to function as though nothing is wrong.

Particular mention was made of the Minister of Agriculture who was criminally accused by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and likewise the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC) including a deputy at the Liberia Water and Sewer, described by some staffers as a “CDC millionaire”.

The logic is if those criminally accused officials who have not been dismissed or at least investigated and tried after having been criminally accused, can maintain a pride of place in this government, carrying on with business as usual, how then can it be expected that the people will believe in all the lofty pronouncements made at the close of the cabinet retreat?

Put simply, it all boils down to the issue of trust. From what it seems, trust between the government and the people appears to be in very short supply.

And perhaps President Weah, through his pronouncements and actions, could probably turn things around favorably for himself and his political future before the 16 months left on his tenure.

For now, one can only say ‘perhaps’. In the final analysis, it all boils down to trust.