Liberty Party Reacts to President George Weah’s State of the Nation Address

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MONROVIA – The opposition Liberty Party (LP) has reacted to President George Weah’s State of the Nation address, describing it a “rhetoric intended to cause his unsuspecting audience a self-inflicted mental agony when they are no longer under the sound of his voice”.

According to the former LP chairman Steve Zargo of Lofa County, the President’s address explained the incessant reports of rape cases with no guarantee of the victims being served justice.

“Mr. President, right in our Foreign Mission in Abuja, the daughter of a senior staff of the Mission was raped. And although the Ambassador and your Minister of Foreign Affairs are in full knowledge of the incident, its being several months now and the case remains a fiasco.

“Not until the father of the little girl began to raise alarm on international wires, did your government begin to show concern. Even so, the Ambassador who had tried consciously to cover up this incident is still serving in the post. Where is your concern for the protection of human rights, especially rights of our girls?”

 Senator Zargo also raised concern about investigative on the death of four auditors in less than two weeks.

“Where is the justice system? What about the case of the three young men who got missing at St. Moses Funeral Home? Are these deaths not of serious human rights concerns? In a report published on October 20, 2020, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) called on the US State Department to investigate the ‘mysterious’ deaths of the four Government Auditors. Has it dawn on your government that these are a part of this government’s international profile?”

Zargo warned that the observance of rule of law is a guarantee for increased international cooperation, including attracting investments to a country. “Yes, we are an independent, sovereign nation and must do for ourselves what others would not do. We must remember, however, that as a member of the global community, our actions are checked by others.”

 He further said the, contrary to the President’s comment on the state of the nation being peaceful and strong, He said, the mere absence of the sound of gun fire does not mean peace.

“Even as you preparing for the delivery of your SONA on Monday, there was already huge presence of armed security forces at major street corners. Why? Because we are living a negative peace on account of the miscarriage of justice in the land.

“What is it about an election case involving an individual duly elected by his people that cannot end? Why are the people of Lofa County being marginalized? Why are they being denied proper representation? Why is justice becoming unattainable? Why are poor people not being accorded justice in our courts? And you say the state of the nation is peaceful and strong?”

Despite the criticism, the party through its chairman recognized and appreciated some of the efforts of the Weah government to continue with projects that he inherited from the previous administration and certainly, new ones that his government initiated.

“We note the opening of community roads and other infrastructural development drives. May we remind you, however, that Liberia was plunged into a long period of civil conflict not because we were lacking in infrastructural development. There was a time in this country when LEC power came on by 7 PM in most parts of the country, and children studied their lessons under bright lights. We had paved roads than we probably have now. There were zinc shacks that contained TV sets. People fetched water from running pipes. yet, we entered the theatre of conflict. Why? Because of bad governance, abuse of human rights, lack of rule of law, etc. so, while it is true that all of those social services were available, Liberia still entered conflict due to bad governance. People’s human rights were being violated. People were killed and nothing came out of it. It is therefore of paramount concern to most Liberians, and even more so, to our international partners, that the rule of law is the foundation that guarantees increased opportunities and stability for any nation and its people.”

Economic Revitalization

“Mr. President, the Liberian economy needs bold policies and prudent implementation, if we are to move forward in the 21st century global economy. Our reliance on natural resource export alone is a failed strategy and seems to be the only playbook this administration is using. What worsens this strategy is failure of the government to curtail runaway expenditure at a time when there are downward pressures on traditional exports on the global market. To revitalize our economy, we need to create opportunities that build the skillsets of a middle class.

“We have to train a future workforce so they are prepared for the jobs we can create in our country. We must feed the entrepreneurial spirit of our people so their creativity can spur economic growth. To do so, our government must rethink how it appropriates the budget. We must reduce unnecessary spending and redirect savings to workforce development. We must invest in our women and our youths, who make up the bulk of our population.

“In one of our previous Economic Policy Briefs, Liberty Party stated that, there is inadequate support for agriculture from government in the form of extension programs, exacerbated by the lending environment that makes it impossible for farmers to secure funding for that sector of the economy. As a result, agribusiness is far from realizing its potential. In fact, the sector is obstructed in its growth by the lack of available support.”

 Governance

Speaking on governance, the LP Senator said, unfortunately, the shortcomings of the Weah administration have not been limited to poor economic performance, but also extend to poor governance and the rule of law because after four years in office his administration still has not shown a clear predisposition to meaningful governance reform.

 While he recognized initial reforms started in the local government sector, for example government’s pilot project in Margibi County which is geared towards revenue retention at the local level, he says local government reform must be seen to be holistic. “With the passage of the Decentralization Act, it was expected that the government would make periodic progress report to the Legislature though the Ministry of Internal Affairs.  This has not been the case.”

Corruption

Speaking on corruption, he accused President Weah of pretending to be battling corruption, when he failed to report to the people of Liberia on any specifics relating to his fight against corruption.

“What has become of the $20 million corruption scandal? The Water and Sewage case involving its Managing Director, and other unresolved and unprosecuted corruption cases.

“Mr. President, you should have realized by now that an effective battle against corruption must begin from the top, or else punishing junior employees of government, while the “big shots” are allowed to walk away only serves to embolden corrupt government officials. Remember the Liberian adage—the fish starts to rot from the head.”

He said, giving the overwhelming evidence in support of the President’s “lack of resolve” to fight corruption, especially when his friends are involved, it is difficult not to conclude that the President’s fight against corruption are gimmicks designed to impress members of the international community.

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