Liberia: “Under Weah, Too Many Dreams, Hopes Dashed”
Several opposition figures have sounded a warning to Liberians that re-electing President George Weah would be a mistake that endangers the country’s survival.
Three separate warnings from Alexander Cummings, Senator Nyonblee Kangar- Lawrence and Debah Vapilah came in response to the President's final State of the Nation Address on January 30, which informed the Liberian people that he would seek re-election to consolidate the gains his administration has made.
While each of these politicians spoke at different occasions, they sought to portray the Weah administration as a failure, aiming at Weah struggling with high levels of unemployment and poverty rate, as well as with generally poor levels of economic and production activity.
In his speech, Cummmings, the Standard Bearer of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), claimed that unless Liberians vote out Weah, the country is doomed to sink deeper into poverty, with more suffering, stealing and wasteful spending of public resources.
He noted that Weah's five years of rule has rendered Liberia weak, with no jobs, broken promises, while dumping Liberia in a deep hole with nearly “US$1 billion borrowed” and spent mostly among themselves.
“In the last six years, too many dreams have been shattered, too many hopes dashed, too many promises broken, too many lives lost mysteriously, while too many families continue to grieve and are hurt with no hope of closure for the deaths of loved ones, some of whom were breadwinners for the family,” Cummings said.
“It is frustrating that even after graduation, Liberians cannot find jobs, amidst broken promises by the President of creating one million jobs,” he added. “While the President's six year rule dashed the hopes of Liberian businesses, not only making them spectators to their own economy, but threw them outside the stadium.”
Under Weah, too many young people have continued to be at risk and have lost their future to drugs and crimes, while Liberian businesses continue to unfairly struggle, and many are denied opportunities and left to suffer, Cummings said.
According to him, Liberia deserves better as too many streets, hospitals, public utilities and governing systems are all broken down and crumbling, saying so many people's lives depend on the country.
Weah, while announcing his reelection bid, pledged to pursue transformation, growth and peace, saying “Let me assure you that the state of our nation is strong; the state of our nation is stable; the state of our nation is peaceful and secure and we intend to keep it this way.”
The Liberian leader took office in 2018 in the West African country’s first peaceful change of power in seven decades and is constitutionally eligible to run again in the October 10 polls.
The 56-year-old leader promised to end endemic corruption his predecessor, Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was widely accused of failing to address.
But corruption remains endemic in the country, with the watchdog Transparency International saying in its 2022 report Liberia is one of the few African countries that have yet to show improvement in fighting corruption.and that since Weah took state power in 2018, the country ranking has continue to declined on the Corruption Perception Index.
The United States last year imposed sanctions on three Liberian government officials, including Weah’s chief of staff, for what it said was their ongoing involvement in public corruption.
But Senator Lawrence noted that the President spoke about a country that is different from the one she knows and lives in, saying it was a calculated attempt to mislead the world and downplay the issue of the failure of the Weah administration.
The political leader of a faction of the Liberty Party added that with the dim state affecting Liberian businesses, the President, in his address, went on yet another wild promise spree to cajole the public about his government’s achievement when nothing has been done.
“It is no telling that the Weah/CDC-led regime has significantly failed over the last five years to empower Liberian owned businesses. The president promised that Liberians would no longer be spectators of their own economy, but today, the regime has done little to do business with Liberians,” the Grand Bassa County Senator said.
“This is evidenced by the fact that records of domestic debts paid to businesses for the past five years cannot be displayed despite uncountable requests and demands by courageous members of the Liberian Senate to establish proof of inclusion of Liberian businesses. Unfortunately, the dreams of better opportunities for Liberians have been replaced with the hashed reality of failed promises that are repeatedly made at public forums.”
Meanwhile, for Vapilah, Unity Party UP National vice Chair for Administration, the issue was not just only the Weah handline of the country, which she claimed has seen no economic returns but being given credit for laying the foundation for financing of major infrastructure projects of which the president “benefitting”.
Vapilah, whose party is the former ruling party noted that the President should give credit where it is due and should not pretend to take all of the glory as though he was the one who initiated and sourced funding for those projects.
“President Weah at the SONA boasted of the ongoing construction of about 400 kilometers of primary roads, including the Lofa Road, but shamelessly refused to give credit to the role played by the Unity Party-led government in getting those projects finalized,” she said.
“Most of the road projects currently being implemented by this government were engineered by the UP-led administration. We have consistently prioritized roads in all of our development plans including our current platform,” Vapilah added.