MONROVIA – With less than a year to climax his six-year tenure, President George M. Weah is yet to implement nearly two-third of all his promises made during his campaign for the presidency and after he became president, according to a latest report issued by Naymote Partners for Democratic Development.
Naymote is one of Liberia’s pro-democracy advocacy organizations that has been tracking the promises of President Weah and his Government over the last five years through its President Meter (WeahMeter) project which tracks and reports on promises made by President Weah and the CDC government.
In this fifth edition of the report, 292 promises were extracted from the President’s Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Manifesto of 2017, speeches delivered during the 2017 presidential campaign, the President’s inaugural address, annual messages to the Legislature, Presidential Priority Projects (3Ps) and the Government’s flagship development agenda, the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), among others.
Of these promises tracked, Naymote said only 24, constituting eight percent, have been completed, 91- amounting to 31 percent still ongoing and a whooping 177 – equating to 61% has not started.
“The findings of this assessment show that President George Weah and his government are yet to implement nearly two-thirds of the promises they have made to the people of Liberia,” the report stated.
“Numerous promises have been made, over the years, on poverty reduction, infrastructural development, social service delivery, rule of law, government accountability, and decentralization, among others. Delivering promises made in campaign manifestos and policy statements is important for sustaining trust between the government and the citizens; conversely, failing to deliver undermines trust and confidence in the authority of the government.”
Naymote stated that the government’s focus on infrastructure, needed to spur jobs and growth, is understandable, but at same time, it expressed concern over the slow pace at which the government is implementing promises on crucial reforms needed to strengthen anti-corruption institutions, improve delivery capacity, and implement decentralization. “Undoubtedly, these reforms would build the foundation and systems required to manage public infrastructures, sustain growth and retain jobs,” the CSO group said.
It pointed out that making the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Procurement and Concession Commission more effective and efficient would potentially reduce waste, fraud and abuse, and save resources for investment in social services and infrastructure. It then called for the need to accelerate these reforms through both the policy and legislative processes.
Delving into the report
Of the 292 promises, 65 came from the CDC Coalition for Democratic Change 2017 Manifesto, 34 from campaign speeches, policy statements, presidential priority projects (3Ps), and Annual Messages to the Legislature, six from the COVID-19 State of Emergency (SoE) relief support 8 from Pillar 4 of the PAPD, 167 from the President’s Nationwide County tour of 2021 and 2022, eight from the President’s speech at the U.S. Summit for Democracy held in December 2021, and four from the President 65th Armed Forces Day Message on February 11, 2022.
The majority of the promises implemented are promises under Pillar 2 of the Manifesto (Economy and Jobs), according to Naymote – and these constituted 56% of all completed promises. Specifically, promises on infrastructural development received a high completion rate — constituting 38% of all completed promises, the report noted.
Some of them include payment of the WASSCE fees for all 12th grade students (public and private schools) renovation of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, passage of the Land Rights Act Reduction of salaries for public officials under the Executive Branch of Government, pavement of the Doe Community Road to Clara Town and other feeder roads in Monrovia and Paynesville, construction of New Kru Town Fire Victims Homes Revised and launched of the National School Curriculum (Grades 1-12), suspension of the Pre-Shipment Inspections (PSI) penalty until otherwise notified, construction of a modern state-of-the-art market structure in Omega, construction of the 14th Military Hospital, donation of 30 Sewing Machines to Women in Shcieflin Township, Duazon, District #1, Margibi County.
Others include the construction of state-of-the-art modern referral hospital in Gbediah Town, River Cess County, Emirates Hospital in Bopolu, Gbarpolu County, a youth resource center in Foya, Lofa County, provision of vehicles for traditional leaders, expansion of street lights project to River Gee County, construction of a market building in Bo-Waterside, Grand Cape Mount County, lighting of the main street of Gbarma, Gbarpolu County provision of street lights for major streets in Zwedru, donation of motorbikes for Grand Gedeh Christian Council, provision of additional street lights in Gbarnga, Bong County, construction of a market building in Salala, Bong County, and the completion of the Clar Marie Weah Vocational Center for Army Wives at the Edward Binyah Kesselly Military Barracks.
Naymote noted that Pillar 1 of the manifesto (Power to the People) which has a total of 106 promises, has the lowest completion rate of 8%, the report revealed; adding that although the completion rate under Pillar 4 (Governance and Transparency) remains the lowest, the assessment observed that implementation of some promises under this thematic area was ongoing, but could take several years due to the complex nature of the institutional and legislative reforms that may be required to fully implement them.
Additionally, the assessment found that there was limited efforts by the government on promises centered on ‘Physically Challenge and Senior Citizens’, and action was taken on only 1 out of 10 promises. However, it noted that the government made progress by taking action on all eight promises under ‘Gender Equality’.
The report gathered that despite the slow pace in completing projects, efforts were being made to fulfill more promises (91 or 31%). It pointed that 70% of all promises made under Pillar 4: Governance and Transparency had ongoing activities during the assessment.
However, it stressed that implementation of activities under Pillar 4 may take several years due to the complex nature of the institutional and legislative reforms that may be required on a number of the promises – for instance, on decentralization, and on strengthening anti-corruption institutions.
Hurdles and Recommendations
The report is being released amid a crucial election year that will see President Weah opting for re-election. While the government is yet to respond to Naymote’s latest report, it has maintained that President Weah has fulfilled most of his promises and if successful in his second-term bid, he will complete them. In addition, Weah’s surrogates, without documented evidence, have consistently accused Naymote of presenting false statistics and representation of the Government’s activities.
However, Naymote has maintained the initiative is non-political and seeks to promote transparency and political accountability to cement the social contract between Liberians and their elected officials. “The aim is to inform citizens about the President’s performance against promises he made during the period under review, and to improve communication between the people and the government,” Naymote’s Executive Director Jarwolo said.
Jarwolo added that the project was based on theories of change embedded into three thoughts- the when citizens have access to reliable and timely information on status of promises, they can make informed decisions at the ballot box; when they are more informed about government’s actions, it leads to democratic accountability; and When citizens have access on the status of government’s promises, it makes misinformation less attractive to the government.
On behalf of the organization’s partners, he expressed hope that citizens would use the information provided in the report to measure the performance of their government and hold the government accountable from a more informed position.
Payment of the WASSCE fees for all 12th grade students (Public and Private Schools) Renovation of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital The passage of the Land Rights Act Reduction of salaries for public officials under the Executive Branch of Government Pavement of the Doe Community Road to Clara Town and other feeder roads in Monrovia and Paynesville Construction of New Kru Town Fire Victims Homes Revised and Launched of the National School Curriculum (Grades 1-12) Suspension of the Pre-Shipment Inspections (PSI) penalty until otherwise notified Construction of a modern state-of-the-art market structure in Omega Construction of the 14th Military Hospital Donation of 30 Sewing Machines to Women in Shcieflin Township, Duazon, District #1, Margibi County