“But disaster will come upon you; you will not know how to charm it away. A calamity will befall you that you will be unable to ward off. Devastation will happen to you suddenly and unexpectedly.” (Isaiah 47:11)
As the clock ticks to June 7, signs are becoming clear that the protest demonstration will go ahead as planned, despite fears and misgivings on the part of officials of this government about an outbreak of violence and chaos during the protests.
It does appear that President Weah has become seized of the matter to the point where he was driven to engage the opposition in talks aimed at staving off the pending June 7 protest. It was hoped that protest organizers would have submitted a laundry list of their demands which would have placed government in a position to respond.
However, the organizers of the protest remained unyielding and declared that they would do just that on June 7 in a petition to the Government of Liberia. And so for now the standoff continues with neither side appearing ready to make concessions.
Judging from the tone of the public discourse so far, there are concerns which must be addressed as a sine qua non to any agreement on the way forward. Key amongst those demands are the dismissals of Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, Minister of State Nathaniel McGill and Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray who, according to sources, are chiefly responsible for the downward slide of the economy and the resultant hardships being faced by the people.
President Weah should be reminded that the Liberian people are not unaware of the fact that he inherited a broken economy. Similarly too, the Liberian people are not unaware of the fact that President Weah, by virtue of his stint as a serving senator for at least two years prior to his election as President, was in the know of things.
But if he claims that he was not aware of the situation then he has himself to blame simply because as senator with oversight responsibility on the Executive and Judiciary, he should have been fully aware of the ins and outs of the government. This is a lazy excuse which he, in all honesty, should not be parroting as is the case now.
A much as some of the President’s supporters would wish to pretend otherwise to convince the people that all is well or will better, the Liberian people know the hard truth. They do not need to be taught or told by others that things are hard, extremely hard in the country, for they feel the excruciating pains daily.
The Liberian people see and know what is unfolding around them and do not have to be told they are catching hell, so to speak. When the price of a 25kg bag of rice formerly sold at LD$1,600 is now sold at LD$2,500 and mineral water formerly sold at 2 sacks for five dollars is now sold at LD$10 per sack, no one needs to be told that things are difficult.
Yet the people see public officials flaunting their new but ill-acquired wealth while they continue to scrounge for survival. They do not need to be told that they are catching hell for they are feeling the pinch daily in the form of rising prices with an ever depreciating value.
This brings us to the GAC audit commissioned by President Weah into the US$25 million mop-up exercise which was led by Finance Minister Samuel Tweah. The audit has since been completed and submitted to the President, who is reviewing the report for further actions in keeping with the findings. The audit report is also published on the GAC website.
From a cursory review of the report, the Daily Observer cannot help but conclude that it is indeed a very damning report which indicts the TEMT and provides more than adequate reasons for the immediate dismissal of Finance Minister Tweah and Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray and the levying of criminal charges against both individuals.
Just why these individuals were not indicted along with former CBL officials defies reason except, of course as some suspect, Tweah and Patray may hold secrets which could possibly link President Weah to the entire fiasco.
Rather than demand from protest organizers a laundry list of their demands, President Weah should act quickly to defuse the situation at least partly by having Minister Tweah and Governor face charges for malfeasance or nonfeasance or both.
This newspaper has consistently reminded President Weah that he is the leader of this nation and not Samuel Tweah or Nathaniel McGill, the self-declared leader of Liberia. As such, he is expected to lead from the front and not from the back. Above all, he needs to realize the gravity of the situation he faces which requires strong action.
For example, his vow to audit past officials is the right thing to do and it is what he should have done from the onset of his administration, but failed despite huge public expectations.
Against this backdrop, President Weah’s call for an audit of past officials is belated and appears more like a knee-jerk reaction to calls by political parties and interest groups for mass public protests on June 7 rather than a genuine desire for actual change.
For us at the Daily Observer, calling Government’s attention to the issues, presenting the facts in an unbiased manner for the public to judge and reminding Government of her obligations to the people, is a duty but is one which has often meant a deliberate refusal to pay outstanding obligations, yet they expect us (the Media) to “hold our peace” while we are being penalized.
President Weah must act decisively and rid his government of the flotsam choking his path. Now a pastor, he should heed the words of the Prophet Isaiah in Chapter 47:11. The Prophet warns: “But disaster will come upon you; you will not know how to charm it away. A calamity will befall you that you will be unable to ward off. Devastation will happen to you suddenly and unexpectedly”.