Tells marketers as he warns Liberian media against “negative reportage”
President George Weah has referred to himself as “a record breaker, talk-and-do” President, calling on Liberians not to listen to those in whose care the country was entrusted for more than 100 years and had nothing to show in terms of their achievements.
Though the President recently decriminalized free speech through the legislature, he has challenged the Liberian media to report the “positive developments,” and desist from reporting what he portrayed as “negative image” of the country.
He said while he does not intend to influence the content of the media reportage, it is important that media reports facts and truth of happenings in the country as their professional, and national responsibilities require.
“To my friends who are members of the Fourth Estate, let me indicate that we need the image of this country to be portrayed in a very positive way. When you see good things, you must talk about it; when you see bad things, you can also talk about them,” President Weah said.
The President’s remarks were delivered extemporaneously on Wednesday, August 7, 2019 at the program marking the official dedication of the Old Road Market. He said that it is “unhealthy and harmful for the peace and development of Liberia for the media to report wrong in the face of truth.”
“You cannot see the truth and report the wrong,” he said, stressing the negative effects of growing “misdirected media reportage,” according to a release from the Executive Mansion.
The President’s remarks appear a bit less rash than remarks he delivered at the dedication of another market, the Duport Road Market, where he threatened that “anyone caught insulting the President will be dealt with, according to the law.” The statement, delivered on the eve of the much heralded “Save The State Protest” held on June 7, 2019, was received with shock and dismay and seemed to earn him more negative feedback, amid the pending protest.
Pundits are now wondering whether the President has started a trend to air out his frustrations with free speech every time he dedicates a new market. This is only the second instance, and may be too early to tell.
In a related development, the President then informed residents of the Old Road Community that the construction of the “state-of-the-art market” is part of the government’s development plan to build roads, markets and invest in agriculture, as enshrined in the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
“The construction of the Old Road Market,” according to the release, marks the second time President Weah has intervened to give the facility semblance of modernity. He had earlier raised the roof of the market, which was virtually falling due to decay.
He told the marketers and other cheering residents that Liberia is bound to progress with development when Liberians learn to bear patience and work with his government.
“You have given me a six-year mandate; it will not take a day to reconstruct the country or two weeks to revamp the economy,” President Weah told the crowd in an effort to dismiss growing criticisms that his administration is not working to improve the lives of Liberians.
The President said that his government was working “untiringly” to fix the bad economy it inherited, and said that no other President before him has achieved what “I have achieved in less than two years in office.”
Though the President did not categorize his achievements over his less than two years in office, a student of politics at the University of Liberia informed this newspaper on condition of anonymity that the president has nothing positive, “except that his administration has brought untold suffering to Liberians, and has equally sanctioned the free movement suspected criminals onto the streets.”
However, the President said: “Our agenda is to develop Liberia, because my plan is to ensure the realization of promises I made to develop the country through roads construction and improve the agriculture sector.”
“This is why we are building roads, we are making sure that all untidy structures are changed and Liberians are empowered to be able to grow their own food,” the Executive Mansion release said, quoting the President.
He bemoaned the fact other Liberians continue to criticize in spite of the tremendous efforts being made to develop the country, adding, “There are other citizens, who still criticize this market to insinuate that the government is doing nothing.”
Weah continued, “Twelve years ago, you never had paved roads in your communities, because those who were in power continue to say the roads are not good, and not well paved. I am doing everything for you—something that those who spent 12 years in power did not achieve.”
He added, “I want you to join me so that together we can fix the broken economy, because criticisms will not help the situation.”
The President pledged that the government will do its best to fix the economy, but called on Liberians to maintain the peace, as there cannot be development amid conflict and confusion.
Weah: “What was damaged during the 14 years of civil war,” he said, “cannot be fixed in a day’s time. This government is focused on rehabilitating Liberians whose lives were damaged. I want you not to join those who are undermining the country through protests. Join me to rebuild the country.”
As part of his development plans, President Weah said the government was exerting efforts to change the lives of Liberians, by building concrete homes in place of the huts they have been living in over so many decades.
He promised that concrete structures for indigent Liberians will be built across the 15 counties. He said those Liberians, who worked in past regimes, and are sincerely willing to work with this government will be welcome while those that are not willing will be weeded out.
The President used Wednesday’s occasion to disclose his government’s plans to support Liberian farmers to enable them grow food and make the country self-sufficient in food production.