Pro-poor Working for the Poor or Killing the Poor? A Critical Analysis of George Weah’s Transformation Agenda

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By Kadiker Rex Dahn, MA, M.Ed, PhD

Background

There has been confusion in the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) with respect to the direction President George Weah will take to transform Liberia for the better. At one point, the former press secretary, Sam Mannah, responding to the Alternative National Congress’s political leader Alexander B. Cummings’ recommendations to President Weah and his CDC, said that President Weah does not need any strategy to lead as the President is a leader and knows the problems facing Liberians. In fact Mr. Mannah was so naïve in his statement, suggesting that President Weah will not accept recommendations from a man like Cummings, who sold Coca-Cola drinks. Mannah failed to realize that Oppong as a soccer player was under strenuous training throughout the day, week, month and year to be on top of the game, but leading four million people will not need a strategy?

With such statement from an uninformed presidential spokesman made us think and believe that ordinary Liberians, especially the have-nots, are set to suffer under Weah’s presidency. To undercut the proposition that ordinary Liberians will suffer under the leadership of President Weah, CDC without critical thought, analysis and implementation strategies, gave birth to the Pro-poor agenda. We ask, is the Pro-poor agenda of the CDC working for the poor or is it killing the poor? The purpose of this article is threefold:  First, argues that President Weah and his government may not understand the term pro; Second, President Weah and his government may understand the term pro, but chose to fool Liberians, and Third, the outcome thus far of the Pro-poor agenda of the CDC is a failure and an indictment of President Weah and his government.

Discussions

Etymologically, pro interchangeably can be tied to Latin and Greek with certain semantic attached. We want to believe that the common modern sense of pro as construed by the CDC is Latin, and means in favor of or proponent of. In this context for example, when one is pro-American or pro-life, means that person accepts the values of Americans and values of pro-life. The opposite of pro is anti, which means opposed to or against. So when President Weah and his CDC claim to be pro-, and advanced the idea of the Pro-poor agenda, they are making the public, especially the poor, loyalists and youths to think and believe that they are in their thoughts, and minds and the concerns of their electorates and wellbeing are of priority. In other words, CDC will advance strategies that will honestly ameliorate the lives of the people.

We ask, with respect to where we are now in the history of our country, where the poor have been neglected, where the have-nots, who were yesterday critics, and members of the opposition, who once upon a time championed change for hope have become rich overnight with don’t care attitude towards the poor that brought them to power, can such hungry group of individuals be trusted? Does George Weah have the human capacity based on knowledge, education and experience within his CDC to deliver on the Pro-poor agenda? The answer is a resounding NO!

We maintain that President Weah and the CDC have failed, first their partisans and Liberians. We said failed their partisans and Liberians, because in the context of the Pro-poor agenda, the CDC’s government has made life extremely difficult for all Liberians, including the majority that voted them. The just ended by-elections of Montserrado County, where opposition coalition is poised for victory, is a red flag — an indictment and indication that George Weah and his government have failed the people.

When President Weah came to power, a half bag of rice was sold for L$1,700 but in Monrovia, it is L$2,900. When President Weah came to power, a US$1 scratch card was sold below L$150, but now it is sold for L$210 in Montserrado County, a CDC “stronghold”. When George Weah came to power, petroleum was sold for L$300, but now in Montserrado County, CDC’s “stronghold”, it is sold at L$650. Prices of food and other commodities have all sky-rocketed with no sign of improvement. Does George Weah think that the Liberian people are bunch of nincompoops, who do not know their left from their right? How can a sitting President campaign naively under the theme, “That’s Our Time?”

We ask: is it your time to build mansions and loot the national cake for you and your selected few, while our hospitals, clinics, schools among others, are in dilapidated conditions? Is it your time, Excellency, to enjoy while civil servants, soldiers and police go without pay? Is that the change for hope you claimed? If these claims are true, in our opinion, it is not hope but hopelessness.

Excellency, President Weah is a Kru by tribe, but we wonder whether he fully understands how the Kru people in New Kru Town are living? We wonder whether the President knows that most, if not all of the Kru people, members of his ethnic group, who overwhelmingly voted him, are struggling and need better amenities like all other ethnic groups in the country? How can you say, Mr. President, it is the poor people’s time when the poor have been neglected?

President Weah, it seems to us that you have abused the goodwill shown to you by Liberians over the years where most, if not all of your supporters voted to bring you to power. Mr. President, you divided L$5,000 each on the Zogos, a terminology for street ‘criminals,’ but why not send them into medical institution for rehabilitation? Excellency, is it not a conclusion that by dishing out money directly to the Zogos is the same as encouraging them to do more of what they believe as their livelihood, which is to consume illicit drugs? Dividing money among the Zogos to buy more harmful drugs without rehabilitation, while our security personnel and civil servants are not paid, in our opinion, is a disservice at the highest level. The people will hold you to account.

Conclusion

Considering these many difficult constraints Liberians are undergoing, it seems best to us to conclude that the CDC, under the watch of President Weah, fully understood the theoretic and pragmatic meaning of “pro,” but deliberately, willfully and intentionally decided to make mockery, and life difficult for the poor. The truth must be told. President Weah and his government are against the poor.

With such deceit and duplicity, the electorate in Montserrado County, without holding back, said to President Weah and his CDC, “enough is enough.” You have over and again lied to us, therefore, during these by-elections, we will demonstrate to you that the power is inherent in us, the people, and so will vote against your candidates. Certainly, considering everything across the board, it is fair to conclude in our opinion that the Pro-poor Agenda of the CDC is not working for the poor; instead, the agenda is killing the poor.

About the author: Kadiker Rex Dahn holds a PhD in Historical, Philosophical and Social Foundations of Education from the University of Oklahoma. He once served as a Deputy Minister of Education and Deputy Director General National Commission on Higher Education, Republic of Liberia. He is a member of the North America Scholar Consortium, membership with Highest Honor. Contact: [email protected]

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