CSOs Want Weah Show Leadership in COVID-19 Fight

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Anderson D. Miamen, Executive Director, CENTAL

-Call for concerted efforts to combat virus

Groups of influential Civil Society Organizations are calling for a concerted national effort to be led by the President of the Republic of Liberia, George M. Weah, to combat the virus that is now affecting the population at an alarming rate.

The groups, which are  working on Democracy, Governance and Accountability issues, said such national effort must rally the support of all stakeholders, including political parties, private sector, religious community, civil society and media, traditional leaders, women and youth groupings etc.

The CSOs include the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-Liberia), Accountability Lab Liberia and Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL),

Speaking on behalf of the group at a press conference in Monrovia, Anderson Miamen said the CSOs are concerned about the current national health pandemic (COVID-19), which could potentially undermine the economic, social and political stability of Liberia.

“As these threats loom, the CSOs are calling on President Weah to show leadership if Liberians are to emerge victorious out of this crisis,” Miamen said.

“At the moment, we are not seeing the level of leadership, coordination; community engagement and timely information sharing that characterized the fight against Ebola,” Mr. Miamen, said, “Therefore, we wish to call on the government to build on existing structures and resources used during the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) to save resources and timely eradicate the virus.”

The group wants the government to strengthen its COVID-19 response preparedness and make contingency plans in an event of escalation in cases.

“This preparedness should include, but not limited to support to health centers and getting health workers prepared to deal with the outbreak; providing the necessary resources; incentives and rallying around for adequate PPEs and other equipment. At this moment, it is imperative for a stronger decentralized rapid testing to identify and respond to cases,” he said.

As the number of COVID 19 cases surges with 3 reported deaths already, it is imminent that the country will have to go on a lock-down, drawing examples from countries where the virus is far more perilous.

As such, Mr. Miamen noted, “We are concerned that in an event of a lock-down, the attending economic impact on poor and vulnerable communities will be dire as many families will face hunger and starvation.”

He recommended that the government makes provisions to address the economic impact of any imminent lock-down on poor and vulnerable communities, especially women and children.

He said the CSOs are concerned that in an event of a lock-down, the attending economic impact on poor and vulnerable communities will be dire as many families will face hunger and starvation.

To help boost communication and reporting of cases and citizens accessing online information about COVID-19, he called on the government to consider re-introduction of the unlimited three-day free call and data package for at least 3-months;

“We also call on the government to intervene by requesting all commercial banks to suspend loans and interest payments for the period of 3-months. This will alleviate the pressure and economic impact on businesses,” he said.

To enhance transparency, accountability and bolster public trust and further enhance donors’ confidence, the CENTAL head called on the government to establish a framework that regularly tracks and updates the public on all Coronavirus related donations (financial and non-financial) and expenditure.

“We wish to encourage all international partners, civil society organizations and media institutions to integrate health awareness and COVID-19 in their programs,” he said.

The group cautioned against what it called selective isolation and quarantine of preserved persons who may have come in contact with asymptomatic individuals. “We believe that this undermines the fight against the virus especially contact tracing and therefore call for vigorous enforcement.”

The four organizations expressed commitment to remain constructively engaged in supporting national effort to combat COVID-19 as was done during the Ebola Virus Disease in Liberia.

Many have frowned upon the President’s decision to work from home at a time when he should be leading the national efforts to combat the virus. The CSOs said they are yet to see any semblance of leadership from Weah that would ensure a successful fight against the COVID-19.

“We saw the level of leadership that was exerted by President Sirleaf and the massive mobilization that she and her team employed during the Ebola the country. Those efforts led to a successful fight that even made country to be the first to be declared free of the virus,” a CSO leader recalls.

Weah has been working from home since the country recorded its first two cases. Many are wondering as to his actual involvement in the response as the president of the country.

4 COMMENTS

  1. The government of President Weah needs to work with all stakeholders and be transparent to all. This will informed people’s preparedness. No one knows the magnitude of what is possibly ahead of us a nation.
    With limited capacity across the government, it is about time for the government to leverage on the skills and resources of the private sector and civil society organisations. Hopefully, it does not get worst but, this is not just a seasonal health challenge. In reality, it is a serious national security threat to the very existence of our nation. We do not want to see people in mass if it happened as we are seen in other countries on the back of inaction, we could head to serious national security problem?

    It is an economic, health and security challenge unfolding, if the government can create a collaborative space, we will survive it as a nation. Let us work together. May God bless Liberia.

  2. It seems to me that the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) of Liberia sometimes pick the wrong fight. For instance, a call by the CSOs for Weah to “combat the virus that is affecting the country at an alarming rate” is in my view a typical example of picking the wrong fight. The truth of the matter is whether the CSOs jar or not on this particular issue, Weah will do what his health authorities tell him to do. On the other hand, I understand why the CSOs are concerned about the economic devestation that could be caused by Covid-19 if the government fails to act appropriately. But unfortunately, such a call by the CSOs is unwinnable and probably a complete waste of time and energy.

    The CSOs of Liberia should know better. By constantly fighting the government to do this or that, does not enhance the economic wellbeing of the proletarians. The CSOs must fight in order to win the consciousness of the Liberian people. Some of the areas in which the CSOs can become effective are:

    (1). A call to “slash” the high salaries of the country’s lawmakers. The lawmakers of Liberia earn approximately $15-16,000 per month.That’s terrible! Liberia is very poor. By paying such huge sums of dollars to the country’s lawmakers, the majority of Liberians suffer economically. Therefore a call by the CSOs to “slash” lawmakers’ would be a good way to win the support of the Liberian people.

    (2). Public schools are overcrowded and most of the schools do not have enough textbooks! The issue of education is very important. The CSOs can make a concerted effort to call for the “purchasing of used textbooks” in countries like the US, Canada, Britain or Australia. The aforementioned are English speaking countries. Instead of picking a fight such as working cooperatively with the government of Liberia, sometimes the Liberian CSOs do politics for the heck of it. There agenda cannot be advanced by picking the wrong fight, neither can curruption be eliminated by doing the wrong thing.

    I hope the Liberian CSOs will regroup. It’s certainly in their best interest.

    As always, peace.

  3. Tons of literature abound on the topic of leadership. But one single most important area where the opinions of the leadership experts always converge, is communication. The leader must be a good communicator. And this leads us to the public controversy over Weah’s abilities to lead Liberia. Is this man capable of providing the kind of leadership needed to continue the path of economic recovery and genuine reconciliation?

    When I hear the phrase, “…aha moment” I always think about George Bush, Jr. Upon his ascendancy to power, he was thought of as an incompetent and uncommunicative president. What happened during 9/11? America was amazed when the man, whom had been publicly perceived during those first few months of his presidency, got out of his shell, seized the loudspeaker, and began to inspire the firemen and other emergency workers. In his uniquely edible voice, the nation heard President Bush making his first major extemporaneous address, “…we are all in this together!”

    This was Bush’s ahad moment. And from that moment, America was never the same again under Bush. The citizens rallied around their president massively to help their country recover from the ashes of that disaster.

    Bringing this home, where are the Weah’s “aha moments”? After two solid years of being in office, the citizens have witnessed none. Several incidents have occurred where Weah would have exerted his eloquence and leadership skills if he has any to reshape the public opinion, and begin to inspire hope and courage into the citizenry, but he lost the valuable opportunities. His psychology militates against him.

    To begin with, he is enamored with the fact that he has won an election, and so public opinion will always, unwaveringly sway in his favor; in his thinking, under no circumstances will his followers realize his shortcomings and begin to look the other way for remedies to their national paralysis. Next, in Weah’s world, he believes staunchly he has done and continues to do remarkably well for the country and that the impediments to progress come from the opposition groups whom he feels hate him because of his success.

    So to answer the question above whether Weah is qualified to lead Liberia? I would say no because he has no clue of leadership and neither is he knowledgeable.

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