President George Manneh Weah is one President who received overwhelming votes of the people based on their love for him.
Even though the President had nothing to share concerning his development plans and refused to honor any invitations to pre-elections public debates, Liberians from all walks of life, including the vote-rich youthful population, elected him in the run-off round of the 2017 presidential election, on the basis of “The boy loves the country; the boy has the country at heart.”
In this mere perceptual thought basically generated by Weah’s international football record, where he received accolades, such as “World Best, African Best, and European Best,” Liberians did not consider any critical view about what leadership entails but went on to vote with high expectations that the President would do what no President in this Republic had done in terms of socio-economic development.
Of course, though some who are au courant with the vicissitudes of political leadership knew the majority decision would bring about some impediments along the way, the excitement to vote the CDC to power was nothing to convince voters to eschew. Even when the late Counselor Charles Walker Brumskine took a civil approach to challenge the first round of result in the Supreme Court, a lot of Liberians called on talk shows in Monrovia to register their disdain, calling Brumskine “Enemy of progress” who was holding the country hostage. Such sentimental expressions registered how anxious people were to vote for this President and the Coalition for Democratic Change, unconditionally.
However, since taking over 2018 January the Weah Administration has brought little to meet the expectation of the people about him.
In 2018 the first corruption scandal that cast a dark cloud over the Weah Administration was the issue of the alleged missing L$16 billion and the US$25 million mop-up exercise which local and international experts said made room for fraud and money laundering. This brought up the first peaceful protest in September of that year.
But before the end of the first year into the six-year term of President Weah, he had broken down his house on 9th Street in Sinkor and commenced construction of a palatial-style estate. He had also gone ahead to build about 40 units of condominiums along the Robertsfield Highway.
In 2019 Liberians experienced one of the worst, if not the first, economic crises in the history of the country, in the form of an acute shortage of local currency. Banking customers could not access their own money deposited in the banks or receive their salaries that were deposited into their bank accounts. This disaster continued through the 2019 Christmas season, until the President asked the Legislature to allow his government to print L$4 billion before people — especially government employees — could receive their salaries.
Following this stressful and frustrating event now is the gasoline crisis. Impressionists in government have come out to assure quick redress of this crisis, but Information Minister Eugene Nagbe had recently said the relevant functionaries of government have not given adequate and factual information about the crisis.
It affects Liberians from all walks of life; students commuting across town to attend classes can no longer go because of exorbitant transportation fares; people are hindered from going to work because private and commercial vehicles do not have gasoline; and ordinary people cannot easily move about because of skyrocketing transport fare. As the hike in transport fares continues, so do prices of other key commodities, including rice.
Amid these situations, the citizens expect the President to speak to the nation on the current state of the economy and to make a decision that could build confidence and offer some sense of direction but, unfortunately, the President hardly says anything.
President Weah has to remember that it was “the love of Weah that brought us here”. And here we are, in this current economic crisis, though not entirely of his own doing, but his refusal to heed advice to audit the past administration, especially given his open admission that he agreed to protect the interests of his predecessor, render him complicit to the crisis at hand.
Also, his refusal to publish his assets declaration, in spite of multiple real estate developments ongoing in his name, while ignoring calls for transparency, does not augur well for the suffering masses who feel betrayed by his stony silence over the current state of affairs.
The President needs to know that the people are feeling the pinch of bad governance and harsh economic crisis, and their resolve to remain tolerant should not be considered their weakness that the government can take advantage of to persecute them. Mr. President, conduct self-monitoring and know where you are erring to correct it and stop listening to false impressionists who will only lead you in the wrong direction to go in history for bad legacy.