“Why do so many people love the President but hate his government to the bone?” was the rhetorical question posed to the public by Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon at a recent Ministry of Information press conference.
Fahngon’s listed a host of what he called achievements under the leadership of President George Weah. He cited the construction of new market buildings, roads, paying of civil servants for seven (7) months while they remained at home. However, he failed to mention that the stay at home was due to officially imposed anti-COVID measures.
But his remarks appear to have aroused immense public interest and stirred intense debate. Analysts say Fahngon’s remarks are but thinly veiled references to what they say is the poor leadership quality the President has demonstrated over the last three years as the nation’s chief helmsman.
“The just concluded elections demonstrated that the Liberian people have signaled their intent to vote President Weah out of office in 2023, if he does not measure up within the remaining three (3) years of his tenure” says a former legislator (name withheld), who spoke to the Daily Observer.
He said prior to the elections he had observed that some media outlets were predicting a massive win for the CDC due to what was perceived as cracks in the opposition CPP alliance that would have adversely impacted their fortunes.
But all such predictions fell flat in view of the massive defeat suffered by the CDC at the recent polls. Those officials who were spending tons of cash, boasting and providing President Weah false assurances of victory have been brought to shame and public ridicule.
Not even the threats of, or the use of violence against, opponents of the CDC apparently proved sufficient to deter challenges to it at the polls. In Gbarpolu County, the Town Chief acting in concert with vigilantes and state security officers prevented the leading candidate, Madame Boto Kanneh, from entering the populous village/town of Nomodatonnau.
Some members of her team, including her brother Cllr. Boakai Kanneh and Cllr. Aloysius Toe, as well as some females accompanying them, were arrested and detained. Both men were reportedly physically assaulted and had their phones confiscated while some of the women were reportedly raped while in detention.
Madame Boto Kanneh was forced to flee when the town chief brought the traditional Bush Master (Country Devil) to town, thus compelling the flight of members of her team as well. Accusing fingers have been pointed at Minister of State Nathaniel McGill, a native of Gbarpolu County, for instigating the violence in an attempt to stave off impending defeat by Madame Kanneh in his own backyard.
Despite these troubling developments, President Weah has maintained a stony silence aside from the statement of condemnation he issued following the violent attacks against opposition elements in Grand Cape Mount almost immediately prior to the elections.
Residents from the area have told this newspaper that the fact that Madame Boto Kanneh (ethnic Mandingo female) won heavily in the district, from which her opponent (an ethnic Kpelle) hails, suggests that support for Madame Kanneh is based on her contributions and achievement, not on tribal connections.
Whatever the case, President Weah needs to do some stock-taking on this and reflect on the potentially negative consequences for his government that such violent and reckless action may incur. As the results from the elections show, the level of public discontent is rising by the day.
This is why he needs to do the urgently required stock-taking if he means well for the future success of his party and the longevity of his government. His failure to do so in a meaningful way could be very costly and his dreams of a second-term could prove to be just a pipe dream, according to a retired Liberian diplomat now living in the US.
And, to answer Deputy Information Minister Fahngon’s rhetorical question, the people hate officials of this government to the bone because, according to a retired Liberian diplomat, officials of this government have shown by their conduct that they are bold-faced liars, reckless, profligate, greedy, murderous, contemptuous of the Liberian people and completely lack respect for the rule of law.
And if Fahngon’s utterances are anything to go by, it means that President Weah stands alone, encircled or surrounded by a coterie of publicly despised individuals who keep telling him he is the best President that Liberia has ever produced.
And the tragedy is President Weah apparently believes in such gross falsehoods, while his greedy officials with voracious appetites continue to steal public funds with impunity.
However the results of the December 8 polls have exposed their lies and now they have begun backpedaling, with the hawkish Fahngon now conceding to the massive defeat suffered by the CDC and admitting to what the public has long since flagged – that is, obvious dysfunctional governance under the leadership of President Weah.
But as perennial optimists, we still hold the belief that President Weah can turn things around for the better. And he can do this only if he can muster and demonstrate the requisite political will.
As this newspaper has always pointed out, that based on past experience, in the final analysis President Weah will bear his cross alone, going by the results from the elections and referendum.
Now, a member of his inner circle has admitted that the officials of President Weah’s government are hated to the bone, although the people dearly love their President.
But as past experience shows, those officials will do all to exonerate themselves of any blame. “We used to talk o, but the man head was too hard”, is what they would most likely say. By then it will be much too late for comfort, for it will just be “water under the bridge”. According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms, ‘Water Under the Bridge’ is used to refer to something that is in the past, cannot be changed and should not be considered important or worth being concerned or worried about.