The All Liberian Party (ALP), led by businessman turned presidential aspirant Benoni Urey, says President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during her state of the nation address, last Monday, did not confess her administration’s failure to be truthful to the Liberian people.
The ALP statement is the first major response to the President’s annual address by an opposition political party. Urey is on record, having vowed to do all within his power to see to it that no member of the Unity Party administration is re-elected to public office in the upcoming elections.
The party recalled that when President Sirleaf stood on the grounds of Capitol Hill on January 16, 2006 on the balmy day, she promised more than what she told Liberians last Monday.
On that day, 11 years ago, President Sirleaf said, “We know that your vote was a vote for change; a vote for peace, security and stability; a vote for individual and national prosperity; a vote for healing and leadership. We have heard you loudly, and we humbly accept your vote of confidence and your mandate.
The ALP statement, issued by N. Dickson R. Tamba and signed by National Chairman J. S. B. Momo, Jr., challenged the president about the truth of her statement above and asked whether President Sirleaf’s promise on January 16, 2006, promising to give “us individual and national prosperity, national healing and leadership has in fact been achieved?”
“Is Liberia today a nation that is truly healed and have we been afforded the guiding leadership that brought us national prosperity?” the party asked in their statement.
“In the President’s annual message on Monday, she acknowledged that indeed, despite all the litany of achievements outlined, and she promised not to provide us a laundry list, because ‘there is still poverty, want and deprivation,’ these milestones will ring hollow.”
ALP said “Not only is there deep and abiding national poverty in Liberia and little individual prosperity, but the country continues to be among the poorest in the world.” The release quoted a World Bank Atlas Method that stated that the per capita gross national income of Liberia is only USD380, making Liberia the 5th poorest country in the world and 11th poorest at the bottom of the United Nations Development Program 2015 Report. The Daily Observer could not verify the report.
The ALP said in 2015, the total economic output, in terms of Liberia’s Gross Domestic Product as reported by the Central Bank of Liberia was less than 900 million US dollars, for a country with 4.5 million people.
Among other statistics, the ALP said not only has Liberia not increased productivity and provided opportunities to its citizens to significantly improve their livelihoods, “but the official and unofficial actions of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration have obstructed the expansion of economic growth and development.”
The ALP gave three examples, noting the failure of the government to fund agriculture as a result only a limited amount of bank loans, as little as four per cent to the agriculture sector; the lack of long term funding in the country’s financial system obstructing financing to housing, mortgages, and other aspects of Real Estate development and excessive taxation of businesses and a poor regulatory environment that have caused the decline in the country’s ability to attract meaningful foreign direct investments to Liberia as the 11th worst place to do business in the world.
The ALP said only in 2016, 11 years into her administration that President Sirleaf has submitted bills that will include the establishment of the National Housing & Savings Bank and the Agriculture & Cooperative Development Bank.
“With only 12 months before the end of Administration, the ALP believes this is a halfhearted attempt meant to score political points and not a serious effort to expand economic growth by attracting long term funding to the financial system,” it said.
Agreeing with the President on the nearly 14 years of uninterrupted peace, ALP however reminded the President that the sustenance of peace has been supported by the generosity of the international community, the peaceful actions of Liberians and with the existence of thousands of United Nations peacekeepers in the country.
In another quote of President Sirleaf: “We have the potential to promote a healthy economy in which Liberians and international investors can prosper. We can create an investment climate that gives confidence to Liberian and foreign investors. We can promote those activities that add value in the exploitation of our natural resources. We can recognize and give support to our small farmers and our marketers who, through their own efforts over the years, have provided buoyancy and self-sufficiency in economic activity, even during the difficult years of conflict.”
The ALP said the above promises have been hollow because “the investment climate has been ruined by the corrupt actions of the President’s officials, who do it with naked impunity. Fraudulent concession agreements; granting of concessions to unqualified companies; payment of bribes to legislators and officials to change laws in order to favor an investor have all combined, along with nepotism, crony capitalism and extortion, have made Liberia a ‘no go’ area for serious international investors.”
The ALP objected to President Sirleaf’s statement that endemic corruption in the country is due to the limited progress on the scourge of corruption and blaming families, schools, mosques and churches for being responsible for theft of government assets.
President Sirleaf said, “We have not fully met the anti-corruption pledge that we made in 2006. It is not because of the lack of political will to do so, but because of the intractability of dependency and dishonesty cultivated from years of deprivation and poor governance. We could not reap – you cannot reap – in government what has not been instilled in families, schools, churches, mosques and society in general.” ALP further said when the president does not prosecute her friends, family and political allies who engage in large scale corruption, she must not blame the people of Liberia.
ALP called on Liberians not to just listen to flowery speeches and grand promises from politicians and must make them accountable.
“The ALP does not expect miracles from a government of mortal men and women, but the level of support from the international community, billions in aid and the full cooperation of the Liberian people demand much more progress than the president has shown.
The ALP accused the president of the lack of political will and commitment to the cause of the nation’s development agenda responsible for most of the promises that have not been fulfilled.