Liberia: Totally Unrealistic Pro-Poor Day, As the ‘mASSES’ Drown Deep in Poverty

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SATURDAY, JUNE 30, is one day that would forever be printed on the pages of this country’s historical leaflets—books, pamphlets, satirical handouts, etc.

THE DAY, WHICH THE ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) dubbed, “Pro-poor Day,” began with President George Manneh Weah and some senior members of the Liberian Government, including Finance and Development Planning Minister Amos Tweah and House of Representatives member Saah Joseph, singing songs that in all fairness should not be sung in the open by them.

IN A VIDEO POSTED ON THE social media network, Facebook by one of their very staunch members, the three men and others met on the playing pitch of the Barclay Training Center (BTC), which encompasses the Ministry of National Defense and the Headquarters of the Armed Forces of Liberia.

THE PRESIDENT IS VERY clearly seen in the video making rounds on the Internet, singing songs reminisce of 2017 political period when the country was totally divided along party lines.

WHEN THE CAMPAIGN for the Presidential and Representatives Elections began in July 2017, some of the songs sang, were the identical songs that the President jubilantly participated in on Saturday morning, including lyrics like “Ain’t they say we can make it ah ha we na come with fire.” Now, Mr. President and all other CDC partisans, who still don’t want to remove the cloth of politics, if your opponents said you could not ascend to state power, you are now there and there for everyone — partisans and none, as well. So, please stop singing such songs now in the public.

WELL, MR. PRESIDENT, Liberians from all walks of life, overwhelmingly voted for you and your CDC so that the political divide can be done and over with. But we think that your Saturday morning jam at the BTC wasn’t in the best interest of all Liberians.

BESIDE THE EARLY MORNING jolly jolly at the BTC, later in the day, CDC partisans from across the country came to the call of their ever-firebrand Chairman, Mulbah Morlu, who had posted an announcement of the day on Facebook on Monday, June 25. Cidians assembled in their drove at their party headquarters along the Tubman Boulevard to celebrate the so-called ‘pro-poor day’ with their standard bearer, President Weah.

IT WAS A DAY OF MERRY making, including huge consumption of alcoholic beverages of all types, at the expense of taxpayers, some of whom are facing the worst economic crisis this nation has ever experienced.

WE THINK THE DAY’S celebration was a total mockery of the true meaning of the phrase ‘pro poor.’

‘PRO-POOR’ IS A TERM that has become widely used in the development literature. The general understanding that can be drawn from this literature is that pro-poor policies are those that directly target poor people, or that are more generally aimed at reducing poverty.

LOOKING AT WHAT GLARINGLY taking place in Liberia at the moment, we think the above idea or meaning of pro poor cannot be synchronized into what being practiced by the George Weah-led administration since ascending to power nearly seven months ago.

IN FACT, ONE POLITICAL pundit said that the term pro poor has two meanings in Liberia. One of the meanings applies to the officials of government while the other to the ordinary mAsses.

ACCORDING TO HIM, the government officials’ version of the term is “come in poor and get out rich. And for the ordinary Liberians, it is get in poor and stay poor or be contended in your poor state.”

HE COULDN’T HAVE PUT it any better than his observation above. We see it in the first few months of this administration’s ascendance to the helm of power.

AMID THE PRESIDENT’S RELUCTANCE to declare his assets as required by law, in the first month of his reign, he simultaneously embarked on the construction of his dream home and at the same time started to reconstruct his 9th Street property while construction works were also taking place at his Thinkers Village Jamaica Resort.

PRESIDENT WEAH last declared his assets in 2005 when he contested the presidency but lost to former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

FOLLOWING HIS ASCENDANCE to the Presidency, calls came from every nook and cranny for him to do the honorable thing of doing a new declaration since he was sworn in as President on January 22, 2018 in the spirit of curbing corruption, ensuring accountability and transparency. All of those calls have fallen on deaf ears. It is nearly 200 days in office, the President is yet to comply, neither have any of his appointed officials venture to do so.

LIKE PRESIDENT LIKE Minister, the Minister of State and Presidential Affairs, Mr. Nathaniel McGill, who, too, followed his boss’ footstep without declaring his assets, in the first few weeks, went straight to purchase a US$200,000 home.

TAKING CUES FROM that pundit, they are going to get out having amassed huge wealth at the expense of the people, who lifted them into power.

AS THE PRESIDENT AND his fellas met to merry make their so-called pro poor day on Saturday, the exchange rate on the streets between the United States Dollar and that of its Liberian Dollar counterpart, continues to skyrocket daily with no visible action from the regime to mitigate the hardship.

ONE CAN FIND DIFFERENT rates at different locations around the city and entire country. The high rate is directly affecting the prices of basic commodities, including rice, the nation’s staple.

THE EXCHANGE RATE has now climbed to L$160 to US$1. Economists are predicting that the worst is yet to come and that Liberia risks hitting hyperinflation. The Liberian dollar has become worthless and can highly purchase anything meaningful. Transportation cost has doubled. Ordinary Liberians are feeling the pinch so badly.

SO, WE THINK THAT THE so-called pro poor day that the ruling party celebrated with the nation’s President wasn’t in the interest of ordinary Liberians. It was a mockery!

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