— says Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee, questions President Weah’s leadership ability
Liberian Nobel Laureate and peace activist, Laymah R. Gbowee, has been known for years for her outspoken stance against corruption in government, as well as misplaced national priorities. When she was invited to serve as the 2019 National Orator for Liberia’s 172nd Independence Day celebration, she held back no punches and took no sides. In that speech, she cautioned Liberians of all political persuasions — and lack thereof — that we all had an inescapable responsibility to make Liberia work and move the country forward.
Barely a year since that speech, not much has changed, it seems. In a recent interview on OK FM in Monrovia, she criticized Liberian lawmakers for signing documents into law without performance of the required due diligence.
“Who signs documents, pass a bill, and then when the actual spending starts happening they go on social media to say we didn’t know that’s how this money business was going to be. Do they read at all?”
Although Gbowee did not name any lawmakers specifically, her comment comes a month after both houses of the Legislature signed into law a recast budget that contained US$25 million as government’s contribution toward a US$30 million for coronavirus food package without reading it.
Later, some of the lawmakers began criticizing the very document after it had been passed and disclosed that the US$30m for coronavirus, the food package was a loan.
“What we are going to get out of this particular thing,” she said. “Because nobody understands what the hell is happening. The executive is at loggerhead with the legislative and those in opposition…, and you know it says that a house divided against itself will never stand.”
Gbowee, who is not afraid to speak truth to power said Liberia is currently a dysfunctional country — and is not functioning the way it should — under President George Weah, who appears to be weak when it comes to showing leadership.
“We have a dysfunctional country. I’m sorry, and Liberia is not functioning the way she should function.” Gbowee said recently in an interview with OK FM.
According to Gbowee, there is a serious global pandemic happening, under which a civil society group just did a survey that reported that about 40 percent of health institutions in Liberia lack personal protective equipment (PPEs).
“It is God that is on the extra watch for Liberia because everyone here is just going by the mercy of God. There is no leadership. How many times have we heard the president’s voice during this coronavirus crisis?” she asked.
Gbowee argues that every citizen needs to hear from the head of the country because the leader’s “voice portrays the leadership, even if what he says will be written by someone else.”
“Where is that voice? During the Ebola crisis — and I’m not comparing good or bad — I’m just saying President Sirleaf was consistent in talking to the people. If you watch the global news… presidents and leaders are out there talking in different countries of the world.
“Where is President Weah’s voice? Leadership matters in these times, as the father needs to get up and show authority, the one that she says Liberians do not see,” Madam Gbowee added.
However, the number of confirmed cases of the virus is now far higher in the country than they were initially when Mr. Weah first declared the State of Emergency in early April, which had the country placed under lockdown.
As at Friday, July 24, Liberia had a total of 1,115 confirmed Coronavirus cases, 453 of which are still active. However, 631 cases have recovered, while 71 have died.