Liberia: What’s Pres. Weah’s Worth? Ministers Provide Conflicting Information
MONROVIA – In 2014 when George Weah ventured the Montserrado County senatorial seat his assets declared under oath was worth less than US$4 million.
By Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
In the declaration to the National Elections Commission (NEC) Weah disclosed that he had four properties, two in Florida, USA, one on 9th Street, Sinkor, Monrovia and another in Rehab Community in Paynesville.
The 9th Street property, according to that declaration was worth US$150,000, the Rehab structure was valued US$100,000. The Miami, Florida property – US$1.4 million while the other property in Florida was put at US$900,000.00.
He further declared at the time that he earned US$200,000 over a period of 12 months (July, 2013 to June 2014) from his real estate in the United States.
The only savings mentioned in that declaration was US$50,000 in Chase Bank in the U.S.
In a 2016-17 child support case brought by Mannete A. Gono against Weah in the United States, Weah, then Senator of Montserrado County told the U.S. Court that he earned only US$1,090 as Senator. He, therefore, insisted that he could only afford US$160 as monthly child support fee. He added that he had two other minors born in 2000 and 2012.
When Weah became President this year (2018) he came to power amid high hopes and expectations from a citizenry that overwhelmingly voted him to power. There were so many promises made – leaving many to believe that there is now ‘hope for change’.
Ironically, things were still at a standstill and Weah had told the Legislature that the economy was in a bad shape, yet there were massive improvements on the his private properties going on simultaneously.
There was a total demolition of the US$150,000 9th Street property and a new structure is so quickly springing up. The Rehab property received a facelift, Jamaica resort also getting major renovations while the construction of massive buildings believed to be his dream home are ongoing on the Roberts International Airport.
All these constructions began when Pres. Weah’s asset declaration forms were still pending. Many wondered where the money was coming from. Others counter argued that Pres. Weah having earned millions from his football career is wealthy enough to earn whatever property he wanted.
However, from his 2014 declaration, it was glaring that Pres. Weah at the time was not wealthy as he was being professed to be.
What’s the President’s Actual Asset?
To date, the President is still facing criticisms over his assets. The declaration made in June 2018 remains a secret. Both the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) have refused to release copies. The two entities have referred various Freedom of Information requests to the court.
The Minister of Finance, Samuel Tweah, last week bragged Pres. Weah earned US$80 million when he was playing active football, therefore, his properties under construction should be questioned.
Tweah: “He was born to make history. He made history in football, he’ll make history in politics; you’re wasting your time. Some people are born and you can’t fight it. What ‘God’ has chosen, man can never fight. There is a reason why ‘God’ took him from Gibralta to become the President today. So, whether you write fake news on FrontPageAfrica, you go on some kind of show and lie about a man who earned money – US$80 million and more – the man whose son is a millionaire, the man who made a lot of money, to say he ain’t got money to build his own house because he’s President, that’s a black wicked evil lie.”
On Christmas Day, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe while speaking on Fabric Radio said no law bars any official of government from speaking on behalf of the government. But Minister Nagbe when questioned about the President’s worth, his assets and Min. Tweah’s statement, he quickly argued that Min. Tweah isn’t the accountant of the President. He also attempted to clarify that Min. Tweah said Pres. Weah “earned US$80 million” contrary to the interpretation that he is worth US$80 million.
This statement coming from the Information Minister casts doubt over the Finance Minister’s assertions about the President’s wealth.
The Gibralta Snafu
In April 2018, former Press Secretary Sam Manneh made a public relations bluff that Pres. Weah was spending his personal money to re-roof houses in Gibralta, the community he grew up. This gesture, Manneh said, was the President’s way of giving back to the community and an expression of his love for them.
Gibralta is a slum community in Clara Town on the Bushrod Island. The community is mostly made of shanty structures.
However, a FrontPageAfrica investigation found that the project was funded from the government’s coffers. FrontPageAfrica found that a questionable US$1 million and more was spent on the re-roofing of 205 houses in that community.
FrontPageAfrica also discovered that the project was supposed to cost US$800,000, instead, US$1,075,000 was used.
In defense to this, Information Minister Nagbe said it was the President’s initial decision to personally fund the project, but cabinet decided it be made a national project and should therefore be funded by the government.