-As he addresses nation today
An anxious nation, it appears, is virtually on pins, waiting to hear from President George Weah, amid the precarious state of an economy characterized by high unemployment, rising commodity prices, falling real income and the ever plummeting value of the Liberian dollar. Liberians also want to know what the CDC-led government is doing to improve or remedy the economic fragility that the country faces.
Other pressing national concerns, such as the ever-increasing tension, and perceived security vulnerability, are issues which Liberians want the President to address or at least provide some reassurance to the people that things will not get out of hand under his watch. Unfortunately, it appears this wait has been much too long.
But if news filtering from the Executive Mansion is anything to go by, the President, will be speaking to the nation at mid-day, May 30, 2019. “President Weah will address the nation Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at 12:00 noon,” a release from the Executive Mansion said on Monday, May 27.
The President’s address, the release noted, is expected to speak on prevailing national developments, including the state of the economy and the recent report submitted to his office by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) on the US$25 million mop-up exercise.
The last few months have witnessed an unprecedented but disturbing hike in the prices of basics commodities on the market, resulting to hardship and undermining the government’s Pro-poor agenda for prosperity and development.Liberians appear worried that the country is sliding into economic uncertainty under the CDC government which ascended to power in January 2018. Many are also questioning the way the country is being governed.
Politicians are of the opinions that poor governance, mismanagement and corruption are also scaring off investors, while frustrated donors are reportedly withholding funds. Yet the government has claimed that everything is well on course, much to the consternation of a doubting public.
The Liberian dollar has drastically depreciated against the US dollar since Weah took office in 2018. Inflation has soared as high as 28 percent and, according to Mark Nagbe, a petty trader at the ELWA Junction, “These are the issues we are expecting the President to address, because the economy of the country is in a bad state, and we expected the President to speak ever since, but better late than never”.
Nagbe added that it is in such a difficult time that a leader stands out. “He tries to inspire his people and give them hope, but it has been sad that it has taken the President too long to speak out on those issues. President Weah needs to man up, because he is now leading a whole nation,” he said.
For Emmanuel Guannu, an address from the President will bring assurance to an already perplexed and weary nation. “The President’s address, I believe, will help calm the tension that has engulfed the nation. The people need to be spoken to, because they need to know what their government is doing,” he said.
Sardia Wilson added that the nationwide address inspires and brings about a sense of direction for a nation that does not know what is actually happening. “It is inspirational and assuring when a leader speaks to a nation that is as anxious as we are, practically not knowing where we are headed as a nation in such difficult conditions,” she declared.
The country is on edge in the run-up to what promises to be a mass protest on June 7, entitled “Save the State”, that is being organized by a group of citizens dubbed Council of Patriots (CoP).
There appears to be consternation among some Liberians, who fear that June 7 could ignite bloodshed given expressed opposition to the planned June 7 protests by some officials and supporters of the Government, some of who are reportedly armed but, organizers continue to assure the public that the protest will be void of violence.
Many of the President’s supporters are hoping that his address will focus on the state of the economy, and how he intends to swiftly introduce measures aimed at remedying the current harsh economic situation fueled by a steep rise in the exchange rate between the Liberian and United States dollars.
The last time President Weah addressed the nation was almost a year ago when the country was also being faced with a similar situation which, unlike now, was not spiraling out of hand. He at the time announced austerity and other measures to help halt the skyrocketing prices of commodities and steep rise in the exchange rate between the Liberian and United States dollars.
It was during that address President Weah announced an immediate infusion by the Central Bank of US$25 million into the economy to mop-up excess Liberian dollars—a move that has since worsened the economic situation as a result of the fraudulent manner in which it was conducted.
Nation Waits as Timothy Plays?
News broke from within government circles that the President was to speak to the nation last weekend — a pronouncement which had long been awaited by the Liberian people — a flare of hope among Liberians both at home and abroad.
This news was precipitated by an earlier pronouncement from Minister of Justice, Frank Musa Dean, that he had made several recommendations to the President in regard to the findings of the recent GAC Audit Report, and that President Weah would have spoken shortly thereafter.
“The President should have spoken to the nation on last Friday (May 24), but was postponed again to Monday. Commerce and Industry Minister, Wilson Tarpeh, did not address a planned press conference at the meeting, because he had thought that the President would have spoken on the same issue on Friday,” a government source said.
Government sources later indicated that the address would have been on Monday, but this schedule was missed. Impeccable sources informed this newspaper that the President could not address the nation on Monday, because he had an earlier schedule to watch his son, Timothy Weah, who is currently on national duty with the USA U-20 soccer team, play against Nigeria.
The encounter, which was the second for the American team at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup that is being held in Poland, ended 2-0 in favor of the USA after a brace from Tim’s teammate, Sebastian Soto.
Other information had it that the President could not address the nation on Monday, because his speech was not yet finished.