“President Weah’s SONA An Affront to Liberians Amid Living Condition” – SUP
Monrovia – The University of Liberia’s oldest student movement, the Student Unification Party (SUP) has branded President George Weah’s recent State of the nation address (SONA) as an affront to the ‘harsh’ economic condition grappling ordinary Liberians.
In a statement issued days following President Weah’s second SONA, SUP said the speech was flawed as he failed to speak on key issues affecting the economy.
Excerpt of the statement: “Conscious students and patriotic Liberians, the poor-scripted, incoherent and jumbled State of the Nation Address delivered by President Weah was not only deceptive but an affront to the harsh prevailing economic condition that our people are faced with daily. The economy is in a downward spiral as the exchange rate is again at an all-time high (L$163 – US$1). Inflation has swallowed real wages while wage bill of civil servants remains static even though the cost of basic commodities is rapidly increasing.”
According to SUP, under Weah’s administration, youth unemployment is at an all-time high as partisan identification card remains the primary qualification of the country; thereby depriving qualified and competent Liberians the deserving opportunity to contribute to the growth of the State.”
In the midst of these, SUP noted that the President deliberately refused to inform the Liberian people about any meaningful and achievable plan to tackle the ‘collapsing’ economy of the nation; something it said is a clear demonstration that the government of president Weah is running a ‘clandestine’ enterprise that is predominantly eclipsed by innovation scarcity.
“Under the Weah first year, the government demonstrated nothing substantive to improve the livelihood of the citizens; the people are still living in sad times – basic amenities such as food, health, sanitation, safe drinking water, quality education, housing, and job remain a mystery; conditions are terribly worsening every day that passes; hospital are closing down; medical standard has deteriorated even at health centers that are still functional; drugs are unavailable at various government hospitals; people are dying daily from curable diseases! Are these Weah’s fulfilled promises – Yes would be appropriate for an answer considering these existing realities,” SUP declared in the statement signed by its Secretary General S. Ephraim T. Nyumah and Chairman, Carlos T. Edison.
SUP in the statement further noted that the President has failed in his promise to make Liberians key players in the economy, adding: “sadly, Liberians have now become watchmen and professional onlookers of their own economy as the President and his cabal of looters and foreign capitalists milk the wealth of the nation. Today, the Liberalization policy is now an addendum to the president toiletry as he prioritizes foreign businesses over Liberians-owned businesses.”
The student movement also denounced the President for his ‘deliberate refusal to mention the status of the EBOMAF and ETON loan agreements as well as the break down report of the US$25 million that was infused in the economy to mop up excess liquidity.
Although, the President stated US$17 million has been infused, while US$8 million is being kept in the Central Bank’s reserve.
Declared SUP: SUP wants to categorically state that President Weah’s deliberate refusal to mention the status of the EBOMAF and ETON loan agreements as well as the report from the US$25m that was “infused” in the economy to mop up excess liquidity is totally unacceptable. These two loan agreements were passed into law by the 54th National Legislature; as such, the Liberian people deserve to know the status(es) of these loans.”
“SUP also wants to inform the Liberian people that the Weah-led government has failed to stabilize the economy. Prices of basic commodities on the Liberian market are skyrocketing on a daily basis and the living condition of the ordinary citizens is unimaginably appalling. The wage bill of our teachers, nurses, doctors, police officers, army personnel and civil servants remains very low while officials in this CDC-led government are acquiring ill-gotten wealth and swimming in luxury at the detriment of the downtrodden masses.”
Education and Health
On education, SUP averred that Liberia remains the only country in the ECOWAS region that is spending less than 20 percent of its national budget on education; adding that the government’s commitment to upgrade the education sector is a ‘complete’ lip-service as the personal budget of the President and his vice president including the Legislature is far bigger than the total budget of the entire education sector.
It furthered that investment in education remains very low, couple with lack of quality in the education sector, while the student loan bill still lingers under dusty files at the legislature.
“SUP believes that president Weah’s pronouncement on free tuition for all public universities and colleges is a mere publicity stunt that lacks shape in terms of sustainability. There has been poor investment in the education sector since the inception of this government. As it stands, the total amount allotted for education in the current national budget is far less than the 20 percent; this alone indicates that the paramount concern of the Weah-led administration is not education, but self-enrichment,” the it noted.
Rape and other Forms of Violence
Meanwhile, SUP in the release avowed that since President Weah took over, there have been exponential increase in rape cases and sexual gender-based violence in the country, noticeable among them is the More Than Me Sex scandal and many rape cases that have led to the death of women and teenagers across Liberia.
“Sadly, the president did not say a word on these human abuses that have overwhelmed the nation. Instead, this President Weah has become the chief priest of falsehood and pretense as was clearly demonstrated during his SONA at the Capitol when he struggled to present loaded fallacies coupled with deception and fairytale,” the student group averred.
SUP also condemned the ban on student political activities and the clamp down on critical media institutions and journalist, adding: “As we speak, there is a ban on student political activities at the University of Liberia. The continuous attack on critical media institutions and practitioners which was initiated by President Weah himself when he openly attacked BBC-Liberia correspondent, Mr. Jonathan Paye-Layleh followed by his Information Minister who in recent time branded the Press Union of Liberia as a “useless” body and the nonstop invasion of the campuses of the University of Liberia by armed men and the notorious SABU Unit controlled by the most incompetent GUCCI City Mayor; these incidents are sufficient to declare that the Weah-led government is anti-democratic and does not respect free speech, press freedom, and freedom of assembly. We are calling on President Weah to stop pretending as a democrat and a defender of human rights! Weah is a dictator and a black fascist”
SUP further stated in the release that despite agriculture possessing the greatest potential for absorbing the huge level of unemployment in the nation, sadly, the amount allotted under the pro-poor regime to agriculture is less than two percent of the national budget.
“While the poor peasants who live primarily depend on subsistence farming and the struggling agriculture students at University of Liberia were waiting to hear the government’s plan to improve the agriculture sector, their hopes were left in limbo as the president could not say anything genuine or meaningful to improving the agriculture sector of the nation besides empty promises intended to please his fanatic. The only plan we think this government has had in year one is to continuously beg foreign countries for food aid.”