Liberia: Leading by Example in Fight Against Drugs
— President Boakai, VP Koung, others complete drug tests, urge other officials to do same
As a way of leading by example in the fight against drug abuse, President Joseph Nyuma Boakai and Vice President Jeremiah Kpan Koung have undergone drug testing, fulfilling their promise made during the recent State of the Nation address.
The test results from the Wellness Partners Clinic came back negative for both leaders. President Boakai emphasized the importance of starting the journey towards a drug-free Liberia with the leaders themselves. Dr. Nicole Cooper, the CEO of Wellness Partners Clinic, confirmed the negative test results.
With this step taken by the President and his VP, it is becoming evident that he meant business when he declared war on drugs (narcotic substances), decrying their effects on the population, especially young people.
Boakai, during his maiden State of the Nation address on January 29, declared drugs and substance abuse a public health emergency in the country.
The declaration comes amid reports of growing waves of drug-related deaths involving young people and the regular arrests of hundreds of drug traffickers and users in Liberia.
President Boakai observed that illicit drugs, especially “KUSH,” are destroying the future of the country. He made the declaration during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) to Liberians through members of the 55th National Legislature at the Capitol Building on Monday, January 29, 2024.
“The drug epidemic, especially the use of “KUSH”, in our country is an existential threat eating away at the future of our children and the country. We must stand up and face this national security risk together. Given the need for immediate action to make good my pledge to the thousands of families burdened by this crisis, I am hereby declaring Drugs and Substance abuse as a Public Health Emergency,” the President said.
The President further announced the establishment of a multi-sectoral steering committee against the public health emergency. It is against this backdrop that the Lower House is setting up a corresponding committee to help the Executive in the fight against the menace.
However, during the disclosure of the results of the President and his chief lieutenant, The founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Wellness Partners Clinic, a Liberian-owned facility, Dr. Nicole Cooper, noted the tests were conducted through urine specimens taken by doctors at the Executive Mansion on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.
After his status was revealed, Boakai said his government intends to make this country drug-free, and achieving that must begin with both the president and vice president.
He expressed optimism that everyone will subject themselves to taking the test because this administration intends to make Liberia drug-free and it has to start with the leaders.
The duo was tested for several substances, including cocaine, marijuana, and others, Cooper said.
Boakai said his decision to personally take the test underscores the seriousness with which the government is willing to combat drug-related issues and sets a precedent for transparency and leadership.
Boakai said his administration is here to do the right things, which were promised to the Liberian people, stating, “I am so happy that we have lots of things that can be done here, and we want to lead by example.”
“We want to assure the Liberian people that we are leading by example, and tomorrow I will declare my assets. Though this is a difficult time, we are committed to doing the people's work. We want Liberia to be respected all over the world,” Boakai said.
He said Liberians have to be patient as his government is here to do the right things for the sake of the country, Liberia, stating, “We want to do all we promised the Liberian people, but it will take time.”
“What we have done is just to show our commitment to what we say and what we will do. Thanks to the team for the professional work, but this is just the beginning,” Boakai said.
Boakai stated, a moment after his test, that the fight against drug abuse is far from over, and his actions serve as a reminder of the ongoing need for vigilance and cooperation at all levels of society.
As Liberia continues to confront the challenges posed by drug addiction, the President's commitment to addressing the issue remains unwavering.
This development comes as the nation grapples with a prevalent drug epidemic, prompting the president to lead by example in the fight against substance abuse.
Some officials of the government who also took their drug tests are: Finance Minister Boima Kamara, Minister of State Sylvester Grigsby, EPS Director Sam Gaye, Foreign Minister Designate Sara Beysolow Nyanti, Health Minister Designate Louise Kpoto, LDEA Director General Abraham Kromah, Justice Minister Cllr. Cooper W. Kruah, and others.