Monrovia – On January 22, 2018, Liberian historians will begin to pen down new lines of history.
First, the country will be witnessing democratic transition where one democratically elected government will be turning over to another democratically elected government. This is a feat that has not happened in decades.
Second, to spice it up, it will be happening in a spectacular form when Africa’s first and yet only democratically elected female President — Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, after serving two six-year terms — will be turning over to date, the only African, who won the Africa Best, Europe Best and World Best Player of the Year, President-elect George Manneh Weah.
Ahead of this historic event, which might likely take place at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex (SKD) in Paynesville, FrontPageAfrica has been soliciting views from cross sections of Liberians about what they expect from their “new government,” which will be led by President Weah and assisted by Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor.
Morris Waygba Jr. Money Exchanger, Red Light
“For me, my expectations will not be too high because it is a new government that will just be taking over. I don’t expect it to solve all the problems as once. I believe that as a Liberian and others, we made the right choice and Ambassador George Manneh Weah can make a change in our society.
This is why most of the young people are pulled over to him. We believe the incoming administration can address the issue of youth empowerment. Some young people are in the streets taking in illicit drugs and doing a lot of bad things.
I hope President George Manneh Weah will do his best to change these guys so that they can be better in the society. But, we cannot depend on Ambassador Weah alone. We all have to work together and make Mama Liberia a better place for everyone.”
Abraham Dominic, Money Exchanger, Red Light
“We young people have been following the day-to-day activities of this out-going government. We want the new government to be a better one to improve our lives and function better than the past government.
From 2005, we got to know the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC); we know that the incoming President, Ambassador George Weah, whom the young people love so dearly, will bring change to this nation. It’s a fact that we all expect him to do better than this government because the support of the masses is too huge for him.
The first and foremost thing I want George Weah to do is for him see to it that those corrupt officials, some supported him and other didn’t, are brought to book. Let him be prosecuted because these are the people who are causing great harm to our country.
They are the cause that children are not going to school because when money is put in the budget for education, they will steal all and the masses keep suffering. Why should one man make US$25,000 monthly while thousands of Liberians go to bed with hunger and cannot even afford a dollar? So, I want Ambassador Weah to bring all of them to book; whether they are his supporters or not, so that this corruption can be minimized.”
Real Cooper, Money Exchanger
“I want him to firstly have the fear of God in his leadership and to always ask Him for direction. Secondly, he should put to stop to abuse of women. I want the government to clamp down on those involved in the sale of illegal drugs. It is destroying our youth (both boys and girls). Corruption should be stepped on hard. It should have no place in our society.”
Christopher Pewee, a small business owner
“My expectation for the incoming government is not high. This is because our expectations for the past governments were so high and at the end of the day they let us down. So in retrospect, if my expectation is high for this new government, then I will be depending on a broken stick. Until we see what he will do after 90 or 100 days in office, then we can build our expectation. But for now, I don’t trust any government anymore.
Those people we are seen behind him (George Weah) are the same people we saw those days. We saw them before. Some of them serve as Speaker of the House, some ministers and deputies and directors. Now, they are the same people who are gathering around him. So for me, I will wait to see, but I don’t have interest in these people until I see changes.
However, if I am given the chance to advice him, I think it will be prudent to count on the counsel of the outgoing Vice President, Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai. I think this will guide him carefully in making decision because in making decision you have to be wise. And the Vice President has been in government for 42 years.
He knows the loop holes; he knows the failure of this government. So with the Vice President coming on board to help him, this will show him those loopholes in government and he can be able to close them. But if he cannot get good people who will help, definitely he will go down the same old path.”
Morris Dennis, Money Exchanger
“It is too soon for us to start yearning for too much. All we have to do is to help guard him in the process, instead of us saying that George Weah will reduce the price of rice; he will do this and that, no. Some of what people have started to demand are not government works but ourselves. Government is continuity.
We the citizens have to work in line with the incoming administration in order to make things better for the future. If we just sit on the fence and say, “George Weah’s Government will be the best government in Liberia,” then we will be wrong.
If we the common people’s expectations are high, then we all will become failures tomorrow. Notwithstanding, the CDC-led government should try to live up to its slogan.
The slogan, “Power to People,” means you should empower the people through basic things like education and create jobs; because if you don’t do so, the people will go against you. On the fight against corruption, no government can eradicate corruption totally, but the government should do all in its power to minimize it so that the common man will know that it is working.
There should be no recycling of corrupt officials. People who are accused of corruption should be prosecuted. Our lawmakers and ministers are using US$50,000 to US$100,000 cars. They are all for nothing flamboyancy. All they have to do is to cut down these expenses; build our health sector, build our educational sector and improve our living condition.”
Gaydou Sumu, Small business owner
“The market is so hard these days. The exchange rate between the US Dollar and that of the Liberian Dollar is too high. When we buy our goods from the store (whole sailors), we do not get profit. Because the exchange rate is so high, at the end of the day, we just suffer and can’t get any profit. So we want the incoming government to work on price control. This is because the outgoing government said it has no control over the prices of goods on the market.
For this reason, the Fulanis, Lebanese and Indians (all wholesalers), use it to get exploit us. They price their goods any way they feel and we are forced to buy. At the end of the day, we petite traders become the losers. It’s so frustrating. We are suffering.
At least the government should be able to work on price control to enable us sell and get something good to be able to feed our children and send them to good school so that they can go beyond where we were not able to reach. We are talking about Liberia. Next is the tuition. The Government should be able to regulate the tuition.”
Mark Freeman, Professional Photographer
Agriculture should be the primary concern of this new administration. We should grow what we eat. One who eats rice should grow rice and one who eats cassava should grow cassava. In short, the government should support our local farmers to enhance our local crop production. People will be looking at infrastructure development, but first thing is food.
What should follow next is the harmonization of the foreign exchange rate. The rate of the United States Dollar against the Liberian Dollar is high. Right now, in some Fula and the Lebanese men’s stores, something that should be sold for 50 Liberian Dollars, people in those stores will charge you one United States Dollars or more. Therefore they should introduce a new style of leadership and new way of living in this 21st century.
William Sumo, Motorcyclist
“I thank God for our new President. We congratulate him and we take him as our brother and also our President who will help us. When Ambassador George Weah was not a President, he used to settle misunderstandings between the police and motorcyclists. Now that he is the President, I know that he will do it for us. Some of us went to school and some didn’t go to school; while some are high school dropouts.
We want him to open vocational school for us so that we can learn other things that we will live on when we leave motorcycle business. Riding motorcycle will not only be our portion. We need to change our status. We are not militia; we are not rebel. We are people who are fighting to find food to eat; to make life and to sustain our families. There’s no job. Even high school graduates and college graduates are riding bikes to sustain themselves.”
Cecelia Yeaney, small business owner
“Some of us made lot of sacrifices for this new government. We lost our relationship and friends just because of our love and support for George Weah. From 2005 up to 2007, we have been fighting for this government to take power. Now that they are about to come in, they should not let us down.
Let them prove it to us that we didn’t suffer for nothing. They should paid attention to the girls, who have gone astray and roaming the streets. It is said that when you educate a girl child, you educate a whole nation. So they should put in place measures to take these girls from the streets and send them to school. Next is the high exchange rate. The new government should address it.”
Glen Saye, Concerned Citizen
“This government should bring correct changes. We want Moses Law (the death penalty). Anyone who kills must also be killed. Corrupt officials should be given harsh punishments and the United States currency should not be used in Liberia legal tender only our local money should be the official currency.”