Liberia: Ahead of June 7 Protest: Costa Gets “Mammoth Crowd” Welcome

Henry Costa with raised fist was given a massive welcome back from the US by his supporters, who turned out in a record crowd

Monrovia – Ahead of the much-talked-about June 7 #SavetheState planned protest, thousands of young people, mainly men, Thursday, May 16, thronged Tubman Boulevard and other streets in Central Monrovia to give Mr. Henry Pedro Costa a heroic welcome, befitting of a national leader. 

Costa, inarguably the leading critic of the Liberian Government, under the leadership of President George Manneh Weah, is the lead organizer of the June 7 protest.

Costa, who is the lead host of the riveting Costa Show on Roots FM, became a praise singer for the Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC) government for a little over 11 months when President Weah assumed the Presidency on January 22, 2018. 

However, before the above date, he was a fierce critic of Weah during the 2017 Presidential elections runoff, which was between former Vice-President Joseph Nyumah Boakai and Senator Candidate George Weah. 

For those 11 or so months following Weah’s ascendance to the nation’s highest office, Costa became a part of the President’s “praise and worshipers” stating that it was time for every Liberian to put all ‘hands on deck’ to help the government make Liberia a better place and to give the new government a chance.  

However, by mid-2018, Costa’s unflinching support to the regime began to dwindle and by the turn of 2018, he had gone back to be the Henry Costa most people knew him to be during the former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf regime. He was very critical of most things Madam Sirleaf and her regime did. 

Henry, who lives in the US, returned yesterday to, along with others, begin massive preparations for the June 7 protest, which he and other organizers have dubbed #SavetheState.

Ahead of the protest, President Weah had met with some of the organizers on Tuesday, May 14, which fell on Unification Day, a national holiday in Liberia. Before this meeting, there had been rumors of a list of demands which included the resignation of Finance and Economic Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, who heads the government’s Economic Management Team and Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray; the establishment of a war crimes court and prosecution for those accused of stealing government money, notably the alleged missing L$16 billion and the fate of US$25 million intended for infusion in the economy to curb the rising US dollar exchange rate on the market. But those who represented and spoke on behalf of the “Council of Patriots”, organizers of the protest, didn’t present any demands on that day. However, one of the speakers, Mr. Abraham Darius Dillon, asked the President to provide adequate security for Liberians who will turn out to demonstrate their grievances on June 7. 

So, ahead of the June 7 date and as a prelude to this date, those who had turned out to give Costa this “mammoth welcome” showed what Monrovia might see on this day.

Costa touched down at the Roberts International Airport from Accra, Ghana and drove to Monrovia along with some of those who had gone to meet him at the airport. In Monrovia, his convoy stopped at a very busy intersection — Airfield Junction — and his supporters disembarked their vehicles and began marching ahead and around his car towards Central Monrovia, where he (Costa) has his Roots FM radio station on Ashmun Street. 

The station’s 102.7 frequency used to be crystal clear but since Costa began calling for a massive protest, the station is being jammed so much so the listeners barely understand anything meaningful when he is on air in the morning. Without any substantial proof to the media, he has always accused the National Security Agency (NSA), the Liberian government’s most powerful secret service, of being behind the distortions during his broadcast time.

As the marchers proceeded toward Central Monrovia, the crowd kept growing in size and before they reached the headquarters of the United Nations offices in Liberia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which hosts President Weah’s offices, Costa’s supporters had now swelled so much so that the police had to be summoned to help in controlling the crowd and making way for the vehicular traffic to be possible on the opposite lane. 

Henry’s sympathizers were inarguably the biggest crowd post 2017 elections to be pulled by a single individual, who is not a political leader but a mere talk-show host, who has gained relevance because he speaks to the hearts of ordinary Liberians. He exposes the everyday alleged dark deals of the government and this has won him more enemies in high places and earned him many admirers among the ordinary people, who wield the power to vote.   

The marchers had printed postal sheets with inscriptions such as: “Henry Costa, Welcome Home Our Hero”; Welcome Home Our Hero, The True Son of The Soil”; Welcome Back Our Leader”; etc.

As they walk through the streets of Monrovia, they chanted political slogans, including: “…Forkyklon, this kinda stealing we na see it Ellen time.” They also chanted Costa’s name as being the “savior, a friend and a voice for the poor”. 

The Liberia National Police was seen controlling the crowd and making sure that there was free flow of traffic.

This is what Costa told FrontPageAfrica Thursday: “The massive reception today is a sign of things to come on June 7. It was a warm-up, prelude, if you will. Going forward, mobilization and mobilization; we will be going to the communities to talk to our people. I am deeply touched and humbled by the mammoth show of love and support today. History is in the making.”