Election of Weah Rebuke Kleptocracy and Embrace of Transformative Social Change

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Liberia’s post-conflict democratic governance period left the people of Liberia deprived, desperate and destitute. Liberians believe that the vast resources of the country were squandered, plundered, and pillaged. As a result, they rose-up during the election to hold Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Unity Party accountable and overwhelmingly elected George Weah, President and Jewel Howard- Taylor, vice President.

The Liberian people frantically wanted change at any cost due to their bitterness, anger and disappointment. 

After 12 years of the country’s best opportunity to fundamentally root transformative social change was squandered, Joseph Boakai became the fall guy for the country’s collective hurt.

During the presidency of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, poverty became overwhelmingly endemic, while corruption, nepotism, and patronage became the order of the day. Liberians simply could not stomach anything Ellen Johnson Sirleaf or Unity Party after 12 years of pure hell. 

The overwhelming majority of Liberians lost faith in the governing institutions of the country and in the elite that has hitherto controlled them; thereby, believing that the country has been on the wrong track for the past 12 years, so they rejected Joseph Boakai. 

The result of the December 26 runoff election was a rebuke of kleptocracy in favor of inclusion and transformative social change. The majority of the Liberian people flatly disapproved of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf performance while in office, believing that they have nothing to lose after the country’s most educated and celebrated leader failed them so miserably.

The success of the CDC coalition is quite an achievement for a party that is comprised mostly of young people, many of whom were abandoned, neglected, excluded, and marginalized by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the past 12 years. 

The 2017 elections shock the country to its core. George Weah and the CDC coalition must now seize this golden opportunity to impact the economy and the social order in a big way. The Weah victory should be nothing more than unsettling basic ideas and assumptions about development and transformative social change.

Poverty needs to immediately be tackling in order to improve livelihoods, social conditions, awareness and outlook. The enormous expectations of the young people, many of whom are unskilled, unqualified and unemployed, must constructively be dealt with in a holistic manner because the vast majority of Liberians believe that  their ‘suffering’ will come to an end after George Weah takes office in January. 

George Weah must remember that he won the presidency because his coalition was able to effectively mobilize the Liberian people to accept the hard truths that the country will be faced with over the next decade. The CDC coalition rode the wave of change generated by the miserable failure of the Unity Party lead by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Hence, they have been granted a huge opportunity by the Liberian people to make a significant difference in the lives of the youth and poverty stricken masses. The time has now come to govern and lead the country to greatness.

The Weah administration must initiate strategic policies of inclusion, and not fuel policies of marginalization and exclusion, which could allowed the country to return to violence, bloodshed and destruction. George Weah must leverage the result of the elections to build an inclusive society where the livelihood of all Liberians can be improved. 

Without delay, the state must emphatically declare as offensive and unacceptable, cronyism, corruption, nepotism, privilege, and the use of state resources for self-enrichment. As replacement, strategies must be developed to constructively engage the huge youth bulge in an inclusive manner so as to ignite transformative social change throughout the country. 

Reform measures must be put in place to make over the entire education, healthcare, and agricultural sectors to enhance a conducive and enabling social environment to improve life, wellbeing and progress. This is the legacy that Liberia deserves.

The country and its political structures must never again be allowed to be manipulated and used for personal benefit. Incompetent, selfish and greedy people must be eliminated so as to fundamentally bring about transformative social change.

Those civil and public servants who go in to assist the CDC coalition should be prepared to not use their office as a magnet for kickbacks and enticements. Extreme poverty, hardship, unemployment, illiteracy, insecurity, and hopelessness are still the order of the day for millions of Liberians.

Over 70% of our people lack education, skill-sets, opportunity and basic services to participate in and grow the economy; while, countless number of youth and women continue to experience extreme limitations in accessing opportunities and income to improve livelihood and entrepreneurial skills. 

To begin this process, the George Weah administration must immediately commission a fiscal audit and comprehensive appraisal of all concession agreements of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration.

The new government should also consider establishing mechanisms to provide robust opportunities to confiscate and repatriate stolen government funds hidden away in foreign banks. Our country’s enormous natural resource endowment must translate into economic progress and better quality of life for all Liberians.

It is disgusting and unacceptable to imagine the squandering of our national resource while children die throughout the country on a daily basis due to penury and curable diseases. After 12 years of corruption, nepotism, and mismanagement, Liberia deserves a government of inclusion, access, participation, equity and development.

Those social cancers that plague the Sirleaf administration should never again be allowed to manifest themselves or permeate our governance structures by becoming impediments, which obstruct our country from realizing transformative social change.

Our country should never again be allowed to become a destitute pariah state as it once was. The vast resources of our country should be used to provide the foundation for enviable development and economic growth, and definitely not a curse, while over 80% of Liberians lives below the poverty line. 

Francis Nyepon, Author, Policy Analyst, Environmentalist & Entrepreneur

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