EDITORIAL: Liberia’s President Weah Biggest Enemy? Himself


Resignation of CBL Governor Nathaniel Patray, Latest in Long List of Unfulfilled Promises

LIKE HIS PREDECESSOR Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President George Manneh Weah, eighteen months into his presidency appears to be grappling to make the tough choices and decisions that could help his administration deal with the troubling economic and political crisis posing serious predicament for his survival.

THE PRESIDENT continues to make avoidable mistakes while allowing an inept bunch of hires to pose repeated embarrassment to his administration.

SADLY, IN THE MIDST of an economic crisis that is seeing a rapid increase in the US dollar exchange rate to the Liberian dollar now taking a toll on the government’s ability to provide the basic necessities for those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder, the President continues to drag his feet on one of his own declarations regarding the Central Bank of Liberia.

ON MAY 29, 2019, the President, in a speech to the nation declared: “The Executive Governor is scheduled for age-related mandatory retirement in the next three months. During that period, we will work to transition the bank to a new management.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS, the President Weah said the overhaul was necessary to restore confidence in an institution that has been beset by scandals and is hampering efforts to deal with an economic crisis.

AS A RESULT, the President, in July 2018, ordered a $25-million injection into the economy to mop-up excess Liberian dollars. An investigation by the state auditor found that only $17 million was used for this purpose. Another inquiry, the USAID-backed Kroll report into the alleged disappearance of about $100 million in cash that was printed abroad found that while no money was missing, there were lapses in the accuracy and completeness of the central bank’s internal records.

ALL THESE REPORTS, the President averred, pointed to a major lapse of controls at the CBL and “calls into question the ability of its present leadership to effectively revamp its internal mechanism to provide greater accountability and professionalism.”

EVERYONE AGREES that President Weah is not an economist, and in his own words, “he will never pretend to be one.” But the burden is on him and his officials to find solutions that Liberia direly needs now to end the economic stalemate it now finds itself.

IT IS IN THIS LIGHT, that the President appointed Nyemade Pearson as Acting Deputy Governor/Operations, replacing Charles Sirleaf and also appointed Dr. Musa Dukuly as Deputy Governor for Economic Policy. 

THE DEADLINE for the governor to take his bow came to an end on Thursday, August 29, 2019, Mr. Patray continues to hang on to the post while inflicting more damage to the detriment of Liberia and the suggestions of the International Monetary Fund(IMF) which has been pushing the government to slice its wage bill, a key move for resuscitating the economy.

THE PRESIDENT can do himself a world of good by beginning to put his words into action if he has any hope of salvaging his government from crumbling further.

AT THE  OPENING SESSION of a national economic dialogue Wednesday, the President trumpeted the conference as an important initiative of his administration to stimulate a broad-based conversation among all stakeholders within the Liberian economy, concerning the best and most feasible way forward to sustainable growth and development.

HOWEVER, NOTHING can be accomplished only in words. The Weah-led government must begin to take concrete steps toward restoring faith in its administration and confidence in the local economy.

THE PRESIDENT can no longer continue to ride on the rhetoric that his administration inherited a broken economy. That train left the station the day President Weah was inaugurated into office.

YES, THERE WERE structural challenges which would require major adjustments if they were not to continue to have a negative impact on macro-economic stability but this government ran on a mantra of change to fix whatever bad actions its predecessors inflicted on the citizens.

THUS, THE ONUS IS ON President Weah and his government to make those necessary adjustments if it is really serious about getting the job done.

THE PRESIDENT CLAIMED in his address at the opening of the economic forum this week that in the eighteen months since his incumbency, his government has exercised best efforts as a Government to address the issues currently dogging the government. 

IF ONE OF THOSE efforts include his decision to announce the resignation of Governor Patray from the CBL then he owes it to himself to see it through. 

EVERYONE AGREES that President Weah is not an economist, and in his own words, “he will never pretend to be one.” But the burden is on him and his officials to find solutions that Liberia direly needs now to end the economic stalemate it now finds itself.

THE FACT of the matter is that no amount of dialoguing on the economy will fix what is unfolding; only concrete actions beyond words will do the trick.

TO SAY THAT THE economy is in dire straits is an understatement. It has progressed beyond that stage. What is needed now is for President Weah to take the bold step of eliminating the worst enemy from within his rank, himself.

THAT ENEMY could make the difference between winning and losing, successes and failure and how serious Mr. Weah is about cementing his presidential legacy. The truth of the matter is that the man who rose from a humble beginning and defied the odds to become president of Africa’s oldest republic is doing more harm to himself than good – with every little flawed error in judgement and every misstep along the journey he is currently embarking.