What Liberians Want Is A Transparent, Accountable Government, President Weah!!!
PRESIDENT GEORGE MANNEH WEAH, on a trip to Gbarnga, Bong County at the weekend lamented that he was disappointed in the manner Liberians are reacting to his efforts to develop Liberia, particularly in terms of efforts being made for the construction of roads.
SAID PRESIDENT WEAH: “I don’t know what Liberians want. I told them that if you elect me, I will build your roads. I am trying to build the roads, they are criticizing me. From 1847 to 2018, we Liberians still don’t know what we want; if you don’t want road and good health system, let me know”.
THE PRESIDENT’S FRUSTRATION over criticisms stemming from two loans amounting to nearly a billion dollars was evident when he declared: “My people, don’t listen to those criticizing for lobbying for loans. Those doing so are enemies of the country. The loans I am taking will be able to complete the roads in three years. When I am asking partners for loans, any of them who tell me that they want complete the roads in six years, I can say no because I know in the next six years, if I don’t do anything for you, I will not be re-elected”
THE PRESIDENT WENT CONTINUED to vent his frustration when he said he feels bad about how his own people have begun to criticize what he is trying to do. “I can feel bad when my own people, who are from the slum community, criticizing me”. The elite people… I mean people who grew up from wealthy backgrounds) who served as presidents since 1847 failed and had not been critics like the manner I am being criticized.”
THE PRESIDENT EVEN went on to say that during his days in the opposition, he never criticized his predecessor. “I didn’t criticize Ellen.” I kept my cool, but I don’t know why the opposition is criticizing in my first six months.”
TO THE CONTRARY, President Weah’s predecessor, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf endured a multitude of criticisms from President Weah’s supporters including the likes of Rep. Acarous Moses Gray, youth leader Jefferson Koijee and party chair Mulbah Morlu.
IN FACT, THE CURRENT party chair Mr. Morlu in 2014 led a major Ellen Step Down campaign in a bid to draw attention to what the then opposition party described as rampant corruption and nepotism. This led to Mr. Morlu’s arrest on October 9, 2014 after he was found distributing T-shirts to supporters of the campaign.
MR. GRAY, one of President Sirleaf’s fiercest critics, took the former President to task after she was quoted as saying that women stole their sons’ voter cards to help her win the 2005 presidential elections. Gray charged that Sirleaf “have brought the presidency to public disrepute” and the president “deserves resignation.”
THE LAWMAKER ADDED: “As I speak to you,” Gray said, “we are speaking to like-minded lawmakers besides the Congress for Democratic Change along with a crack team of lawyers to ensure whether we can get a possible bill of impeachment during our January sitting against the president of Liberia.”
PRESIDENT WEAH is being insincere when he begins to label critics of his administration as “enemies” just a week after resubmitting a bill to the national legislature with modifications, to repeal some sections of the Penal Law of Liberia in an effort to decriminalize free speech and create an unfettered media environment.
The Bill submitted May 31, 2018 seeks to amend Chapter 11 of Penal Law of 1978, repealing Sections 11.11 on criminal libel against the President; 11.12 on Sedition and 11.14 on criminal malevolence.
IN RESUBMITTING THE BILL, President Weah described the action as a proof of his government’s commitment to uphold the constitution, Table Mountain Declaration and other International Treaties relating to the Press and press-related activities.
THIS IS WHY WE ARE PUZZLED at the language now being thrown around when critics are being labeled as enemies.
THE TRUTH of the matter is Mr. President, no Liberia or any one of your critics, including some in the media are against your efforts to develop Liberia. Each and every Liberian want to see roads connected to rural Liberia so that travel can be more accessible and farm-to-market roads more feasible for farmers.
WHAT MANY ARE troubled about is the lack of vetting of the companies involved and the clear violation of the code of conduct regarding conflict of interest.
THE PRESIDENT’S decision to submit a US$420 million loan agreement to the national legislature for passage just a week after being forced into revealing his friendship to Mr. Mahamadou Bonkoungou, the Burkinabè businessman and owner of the company the administration intends to give a major construction, and supervision of road corridors in Monrovia(Somalia Drive-Kesselly Boulevard to Sinkor) and northeastern Liberia – Tappita-Zwedru Road, including Toe Town to La Cote D’Ivoire and Zwedru-Greenville.”
THE PRESIDENT’S DECISION shows a clear disregard for the rule of law, especially considering that Mr. Bonkoungou has made his airplanes available for the Liberian president’s travel?
THE ADMINSTRATION has also failed to vet properly, a US$536 million loan arrangement under a shady company which has been struck off as an entity in Singapore.
THAT LOAN, IS GEARED toward the construction of a coastal corridor connection of counties’ capitals road project, via the construction of the Buchanan-Cestos City to Greenville to Barclaryville Road, the Barclayville to Sasstown Road and the Barclayville to Pleebo Road. Other roads to benefit from the loan include; the Medina to Robertsport Road and the Tubmanburg to Bopolu Road. Also, to be constructed are ‘rest stops’ and ‘roadside service areas.’
THE PRESIDENT, his aides and members of the national legislature totally ignored the red flags and warning signs over Eton, particularly relating to documented evidence that on May 7, 2018, this year several weeks before the Liberia Loan arrangement, Eton Finance Private Limited re-applied to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) to be reinstated under the same name and Unique Entity Number, 200510984K, and re-naming the same shareholders and directors (Receipt Number ACRA180507174296).
ETON HAD SEVEN MONTHS EARLIER, declared its annual Return in Singapore, on September 5, 2016, that it had been dormant since its formation, Elton Finance Private Limited with the unanimous consent of all the Directors of the Company and all the shareholders of the company filed an “Application for Striking Off” under its Unique Entity Number 200510984K, essentially delisting and/or dissolving itself as a company.
FURTHERMORE, A FrontPageAfrica query of the Singaporean Business Registration Portal (www.bizfile.gov.sg) using the Unique Entity Number obtained from the Eton Finance Private Limited, 200510984K, shows that the company status is still listed as “Struck Off”, raising more questions about their capability to raise the money for the Liberia loan.
ALL THIS POINTS to the fact that the two loan arrangements do not pass the smell test and is likely to cause major embarrassments down the road for this administration. In the same vein that previous governments ignored warning signs in past arrangements to the detriment of Liberia and Liberians.
PRESIDENT WEAH, obviously upset with his critics, asks: “What is it Liberians want”? The truth of the matter is, not very much. Only a leadership and government that respects the rule of law, that invests in integrity institutions and a government that ensures that companies and loans are thoroughly vetted and scrutinized.
A GOVERNMENT THAT invest in these will have nothing to fear and a lot of support in its corner for whatever initiative it aims to embark on.
NO ONE IS AN ENEMY to President Weah or his government. The media, critics and those raising red flags are simply helping the President and the government to be more transparent and accountable.
PRESIDENT WEAH himself will agree. He said it when he was inaugurated:
“I further believe that the overwhelming mandate I received from the Liberian people is a mandate to end corruption in public service. I promise to deliver on this mandate. As officials of Government, It is time to put the interest of our people above our own selfish interests. It is time to be honest with our people. Though corruption is a habit amongst our people, we must end it. We must pay civil servants a living wage, so that corruption is not an excuse for taking what is not theirs. Those who do not refrain from enriching themselves at the expense of the people – the law will take its course. I say today that you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
IN THE PRESIDENT’S OWN WORDS, his predecessor, Sirleaf made all this possible by her tolerance toward her critics and “protected the right to Freedom of Speech as enshrined in our Constitution. Now, in my turn, I will go further to encourage and reinforce not only freedom of speech, but also freedom of political assembly.”
WE ARE DOING our best to hold this president and this government to that…