-Says Weah will outdo predecessors
The selection of Finance Minister Samuel D.Tweah as the 171st Independence Day Orator, many believed, was another opportunity for the ruling party to once more trumpet its Pro-poor agenda; lay blame at the feet of past administrations for the precarious economic situation that the new administration claims it inherited, and finally a chance to open another tutorial class on the economy—and graciously too, he did not disappoint.
Tweah’s oration, which was described by President George Weah as “properly written and well articulated,” could be considered by some as a sermon, because its contents have been reverberating in the public-sphere since the ascendancy of the new administration. After all, the President himself just elaborated upon many of those things few weeks ago when he addressed the country on the state of the nation.
Mr. Tweah talked about the bad economy bequeathed unto the CDC leadership by former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the slump in prices of traditional commodities and the infiltration of the financial market by “unwholesome elements.”
As expected, songs of praise for President Weah highlighting his humble beginnings and his conquest of the world in the field of soccer took a good measure of the oration. It was, however, short of caution to the government and officials, which in the view of the public tended to suggest that the administration has no lapses or shortcomings so far.
In his speech, delivered at the Centennial Pavilion in Monrovia yesterday, Finance Minister Tweah said that 24-men and a woman have occupied the Liberian presidency, but the country has not been able to give social and economic justice to the majority of its people, “a task President Weah is frantically endeavoring to achieve.”
Though the country is currently faced with a precarious economic situation, Mr. Tweah said that President Weah’s outstanding achievements stand as a monument to the power and possibilities of Liberians’ dreams and ambition.
He disclosed that in a few weeks, government will launch its Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development—a development instrument that should provide the roadmap for addressing the country’s long-term economic problems.
“This plan will bring all actors in the Liberian economy together to address the problem of value addition and expansion of the private sector,” Tweah said.
As anticipated, the plan looks to invest in road infrastructure, aiming to “pave more than 1,000 kilometers of road, which is about the length of roads that have been paved in the past 171 years. The plan will transform agriculture as we know it, and push the boundaries of domestic production far beyond the possibilities of the past several decades,” the Finance Minister boasted.
However, many in the public complained of not hearing anything sobering from yesterday’s speech. According to some individuals at a local Hatai shop, the oratory was good, but the speech appeared to have been well scripted from the government’s pro-poor books. “This is not what it’s meant to be. It has not been this way before. We should have kept the pro-poor script out of it. After all, the day is not meant for an economics tutorial,” others said shortly after the speaker concluded, adding that he was the wrong fit for the national oration.
But a vetting process conducted by a committee constituted by the President to select a young national orator between the ages of 15 to 35 saw Tweah, born in 1971, emerged as a winner.
The aim of that process, according to the Chairperson of the committee, Monrovia’s Mayor Jefferson Koijee, was to discover a talent that was not already universally recognized, unlike with past Independence Day celebrations. The committee however failed to indicate how Minister Tweah emerged as its choice.
The orator took aim at the political opposition insinuating that few politicians are still smarting from defeat in the 2017 elections as they are trying to politicize what is a fundamental structural economic problem.
“And this is the very kind of politics that has destroyed Liberia, a destructive politics that has no place in our new national dispensation,” Tweah told his audience.
He added that a six-month old government cannot solve a problem most African governments have not been able to solve in 60 years. “And to believe that Liberians, as smart as they are, can be misled into thinking that a six-month old government should solve a 60-year-old problem in six months is to think too low of Liberians.”
There have been calls from many Liberians for the cancellation of this year’s celebration as there is nothing to celebrate amid poor economic condition, but Tweah said that in as much as there are genuine concerns within those calls, there is a darker message for not holding these celebrations.
“If we did not hold the celebrations, we as a people would be succumbing to our worst fears by giving up on the ideals that inspired our country’s founding; we would be showing that we are less than the sum of our fears; we are stronger and braver than that,” he said.
In a brief statement, President Weah called on his compatriot to join him in building a better and prosperous country.
“The task of building a vibrant nation is a momentous challenge that requires all hands on deck. He prayed God’s blessings, direction and guidance as Liberians endeavor to chart a new course for the country in order to move ahead and achieve sustainable development, we must be united, and be at peace with ourselves; we need a strong union and the peace that abide in our hearts for the prosperity of our beloved country,” President Weah declared.
He then called upon all, irrespective of ones political persuasions, to join him to build a better Liberia.