Liberia: Rep. Larry Younquoi Calls Pres. Weah’s Annual Message “Unrealistic and Futuristic”
MONROVIA – Nimba County Representative Larry Younquoi has termed as “unrealistic and futuristic” the Fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President George Manneh Weah to the Liberian people, through members of the 54th National Legislature.
On Monday, January 25, President Weah delivered the SONA to the nation at the Capitol Building in Monrovia in keeping with Article 58 of the 1986 Liberian constitution.
Article 58 of the 1986 Liberian constitution states that: “The President shall, on the fourth working Monday in January of each year, present the administration’s legislative program for the ensuing session, and shall once a year report to the Legislature on the state of the Republic. In presenting the economic condition of the Republic the report shall cover expenditure as well as income”.
But according to Representative Younquoi, the annual report was more “futuristic” instead of pointing to the actualities of the year under review.
He observed that since the inception of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government, President Weah has been bragging of prioritizing the agriculture sector, but he fell short of informing Liberians about how many acres of land his government has acquired for farming activities.
He made these comments in a telephone interview with Frontpage Africa recently.
On the over US$1 billion debt Liberia currently owes international financial institutions, Representative Younquoi disclosed that the Liberian Chief Executive failed to clearly point out whether the debt was accrued by his government, or the previous Unity Party (UP) led-government of Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
He added that this year SONA did not mention moves or actions taken by government towards the rehabilitation of disadvantaged youths that are roaming around the country on a daily basis.
“The President’s State of the Nation address was not really up to expectation; I refer to it as recitation. The President cannot just continue to be taking about prioritizing agriculture and can’t show any substantive or tangible. I got little bit disappointed that in the sector of health; we didn’t see or hear much. These are the issues”.
Representative Younquoi added that contrary to the reported gains made in the health and education sectors during the period under review, most public facilities across the country are finding it very difficult to adequately function due to the lack of medicines and operational funds, while students attending public schools .
“We live in these districts and we can’t see what we are doing to maintain the health status of our people. At the minimum level, government should be doing these things. We don’t pass budget and nothing is happening there outside”.
“Education-I see people carrying chairs on their heads and bringing it back when they are coming. The day they are in schools, people do not sit on chairs in their homes that they live in. These are living realities”.
President Weah burst into laughter moment after he reached at the stimulus package portion outlined in his SONA.
He reported that about one million Liberians, including vulnerable groups and households have so far benefited from the distribution of the stimulus package, which includes rice, beans and oil.
The President’s pronouncement has been described as political rhetoric intended to give false impression to citizens and international partners.
Representative Younquoi added that the report on the stimulus package was not holistic as evidenced by barrage of vulnerable groups and citizens that are yet to receive their share even in Montserrado County.
He stated that President Weah continues to pay “lip service” to the combat against corruption in the country and as such, he must ensure that service to those who elected him to the presidency are not base on political rhetoric.
From rhetoric to actuality
Representative Younquoi observed that the Fourth SONA of President Weah was full of rhetoric.
He challenged the Liberian leader to be more realistic when reporting to the Liberian people, noting that, “it is now time for us to take our governance process from rhetoric to actuality.
He expressed the hope that President Weah will in the future grasp the reality of the SONA, and report the real facts to citizens, through their Representatives and Senators.
Not clapping ground
Speaking further, Representative Younquoi expressed disappointment over the continuous habit of some government officials and others to attend the Joint Session for the State of the Nation Address only for “clapping” purposes.
He added that the habit of some lawmakers to also engage into extending hands of applause during the deliverance of the SONA, questions their oversight responsibility over line ministries and agencies that have been reported on by the President.
“Most legislators do not know what this thing (SONA) entails. That is not a place for clapping. Somebody is coming to report to you so you can digest and get back to him with your oversight on the ministries and agencies that he has reported on-and then you are clapping. It means you are satisfied and you are giving approbation to the report”.
Representative Younquoi maintained that it is “disappointing” for lawmakers to be engaged into such an act, adding that, heads of other branches of government will take legislators as “unserious people” if they continue to clap for the President during the deliverance of his annual message.