Monrovia – President-elect George Manneh Weah has a lot to grapple with when he is inaugurated as President of Liberia.
Employment for the nearly 85 percent unemployed youth in the country is one of his daunting tasks.
For most of them, he’s the man with the magic wand to make all their dreams a reality in a very short period of time.
Their expectations are so overwhelming that his political party — the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) — is now grappling with handling the misconceptions about his first 100-day deliverables.
It is widely believed among them that a 25kg bag of rice – the country’s staple food – would be sold for less than US$10 as compared to its current average price of US$20.
Very cardinal for the young followers of the President-elect and youth across the country is the creation of employment opportunities.
As he is gearing up to be officially sworn into office on Monday, January 22, his party has initiated a scheme for 2,000 young people to carry out voluntary cleanup exercise in various communities and along major streets before the inaugural ceremony.
The chairman of CDC’s youth league, Jefferson Koijee, told FrontPage Africa that the party has made no financial commitment to the thousands of young people who are signing up for the exercise.
“The young people, who overwhelmingly voted for Ambassador Weah want to further prove their love for him by voluntarily cleaning their communities, the streets, the RIA highway before the inauguration."
"This is the way they have decided to demonstrate their love,” he said.
FrontPageAfrica was keen in grilling Koijee about compensation for the 2000 youth and how the amount would be raised.
He, however, insisted that at no point in time they promised to pay them and there has been no agreement, whatsoever, between those who are being enlisted for the exercise and the CDC, for financial compensation.
The understanding is different with the hundreds of young men and women, who flooded the CDC headquarters on Monday and Tuesday of this week.
Many of them who spoke with FrontPageAfrica believe they’ll be paid a minimum of US$10 per day times the number of days for the temporary job.
Wiping the sweat down his face with a curved finger and smiling at the same time, James Cole told this newspaper: “I came to write down my name because I heard the Senator (President-elect Weah) was offering job to us. They say he’ll pay us US$10 per day.”
Koijee doesn’t foresee any embarrassment being caused for the party and the President-elect in the future, after the exercise, in terms of demand for pay.
“We have our mechanisms in place. We’ve given them forms to fill so that we’ll easily identify those we’ll be working with. "
"We know that some people may mix among them thinking that we’ll pay them. But we already have our mechanism in place to ensure that we put everything under control,” he said.
Contrary to Koijee’s assertion that those who they’ve enlisted for the voluntary job are fully aware of the nature of it, Satta Morris said she lives in Marshall (over an hour drive from Monrovia) and has come to the CDC headquarters twice seeking to be part of this ‘job opportunity’.
"Since last week, I heard about this job opportunity but since I came no one from the party has come to talk to us; how much we will be paid or how long we will clean the city for,” she lamented.
Some who said they were waiting for officials of the party to include their names on the list of ‘hired workers’ have already begun sweeping along the Tubman Boulevard.
According to him, they want to encourage the party to hire them, too.
They go the CDC headquarters daily with brooms, shovels and wheelbarrows.
Musa Kubah, a resident of the New Matadi Community expressed confidence in the Weah's leadership, saying, “The Ambassador will do his best in improving the lives of the Liberian people.
"We are happy to undertake this initiative as Liberians; this is the time we’ve long been waiting for and thank God."
"We have the people's government already waiting to solve our problems," Musa Kubah said.
Most of the job seekers expecting to be hired frowned on the delay of officials of the party to conclude negotiations with them.
"We are happy to hear that they are creating jobs for us the young people and we appreciate that whole heartedly. The only thing and problem we have right now is the delay in the process," Yassah Young said.
Moses Freeman hoped that the scheme would not end up like the Mary Broh’s vacation job saga in 2011 that ended up in a riot due to the delay in paying the hundreds of students who were offered vacation job by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
"I am hoping that this will not be the Broh job scam that almost killed young people in the riot between state security and students."
"We want the new government to be careful about this before it embarrasses them," he said.
"We don’t want early embarrassment for this new government so they need to take their time with the young people," Joseph Zazay, another job seeker advised.