Liberia: Mixed Views on Country Being “Far Better Today” After 1 Year of CDC Government in Power
Monrovia – As he concluded his State of the Republic Address on Monday, January 28, President George Manneh Weah declared that the nation has become far better off than a year ago when he took it from former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Report by Mae Azango [email protected]
“I can confidently state that Liberia is far better today under our leadership, than it was twelve months ago when we were entrusted with the mandate to serve our people. This is also because of the diligence and tenacity that we brought to the process,” President Weah said.
This bold declaration from the Liberian leader has received mixed reactions and is being debated very hotly in the public.
FrontPageAfrica took our voice recorder, pen and pad to gauge the views of some Liberians in Monrovia on whether what their President had said was the prevailing reality.
Monrovian Irene Toe said the President’s statement was far from the reality on the ground because things are very hard (tough). “The prices of rice, gas and transportation have not improved from where they were a year ago. They are just going up. We only heard about the “Pro-poor rice,” but we never saw it. Was the pro poor rice only meant for certain group of people or all Liberians? President Weah is not doing anything about reducing rice price because a small bag of rice is sold for L$2,900 (US$18 @L$160 to US$1). So where are we heading? President Weah and his ministers are just building houses while we are suffering. His supporters are saying he had money before he became President. Why he did not build all these before he became President if he was a millionaire? If President Weah wants to know if people are doing well, let him get down and walk in communities and see people eating gari with red oil because they cannot afford to buy a cup of rice for L$40. How can President Weah say our life is better when we are suffering? I am suffering presently than one year ago, because I cannot even afford my house rent, like I was doing before his administration.
Abraham Nyeh, another Monrovia resident, stated that the President’s address was political. “As you know, the President is a very popular person, so even if he is not doing anything, he will put the people under the impression that he is doing something. The President has refused to tell us where he took the economy from. Since President Weah took over, he has not told us how much was the budget but he has only said he took over a broke economy. Now we are being told that we are going to experience a budget shortfall of US$225 million, which alone debates the President’s comment that Liberia is better off than one year ago. I do not want to believe the statement from President Weah; how many job opportunities have they provided for us? His government said it was going to provide about 600 jobs to take us from poverty, but they have not told us how many people they have taken from poverty. If the President is saying we are better off than yesterday, in other words, I will say yes, if he were talking about the elite, because before he took power, we were made to understand that he could not support his own daughter in the US because he said he was making US$1000 as a Senator. Now he is constructing palaces that he was not constructing before. His loyalists say he had money, but somebody who was dragged to court because he could not support his own daughter, that alone defeats his argument. So to me, he was talking to a certain group of people in his government who are now building mansions. If indeed President Weah had US$83 million as his cronies are saying, he would have immediately declared his assets before he started building mansions. His statement is a complete mockery to the Liberian people because while he and his cronies are building mansions, Liberians continue to languish in poverty. He is using his popularity to damage the economy.”
Raza Kanneh, a resident of Bomi County asked how could the President be happy to declare that things are better off than one year ago. “I think probably he is referring to his homes he is constructing and how things are better with him then the common people who voted him into power. The President’s statement is a mockery to the Liberian people because his current statement has no impact on the economy. Since the President spoke, what have you observed that has changed? The price of rice is still the same; students are sitting on the floor because of no chairs; crazy people are still walking the streets. This is scaring away investors. There is no food on the market; what change have you seen? I do not agree with his statement. If he said things will change in time to come and we should bear patient, it would have been better. In the President’s first speech, he stated that he took over a broken economy, but the former President rubbished it on international wires. The issue of broken economy should have been dealt with a long time ago, so why the President keeps saying he took over a broken economy and yet he is constructing homes.”
Sekou Sherrif thinks that the President’s statement was a very sincere one and that the current situation in the country is far better than one year ago. “The pieces of evidence are very clear. If you look at the historical data, they tell you that it is the first time in Liberia’s history for WASSCE or WAEC fees to be paid for students by the President. Indeed, Liberia is getting better. If you look at the University of Liberia, it is the very first time for tuition to be paid for students by the President. Since 1847, it has never happened in the history of Liberia. It is the first time to see the construction of a military hospital. So the President was right to say things are better, look at the paved roads across the country. Therefore, the President was right to say he has made immense progress over one year that was not happening before. This is the only President, who came to power with his own wealth. The man ascended to the Presidency as a millionaire and not a poor man. Those accusing the President of building private homes have not shown any evidence. They go on Face book and take pictures of Nigerian structures and say the President owns them. They are all liars.”
Rufus Heneh agrees with the President one hundred percent. According to Heneh, by the President standing for over two hours without drinking water while he delivered his State of the Republic Address, shows that he is energetic. “Go and see the development in Doe Community. People are enjoying and cannot sleep. President Weah has brought down his ministers to the level of the citizens where we can interact with them at any time. Do you see our “Pro-poor rice? It is affordable, and things are getting better, so the President is right.
James N Walker
James N. Walker doesn’t only see the aspect of the nation being better off as deceptive but the President’s entire State of the Republic Address. “Five dollars cannot even buy a cube or a common black plastic bag and the President is telling us over lives are better than before. My life is not improving but rather decreasing; not only my life alone but lives of most Liberians. Students are suffering; no money for transportation. Price of transportation is on the increase. I will agree with the President when he says his life is better than one year ago. When he says the lives of his ministers are better, I will agree with him. But when he says the lives of the Liberian are better, I do not agree. Not a single bag of the “Pro-poor rice” the government brought has reached in Maryland County, where I come from. The people have not seen the pro poor rice he said he brought for the poor people. The day he delivered the speech, the same partisans who are saying their lives are better, were fighting for food to eat after the program. So why are they saying the country is better?”