By: Anthony Q. Jiffan, II
Disadvantaged youth in Liberia commonly referred to as “Zogoes” Tuesday, January 8, 2019, expressed disappointment over the failure of the George Weah-led Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government, saying that the government has let them down.
The Zogoes, in their outrage compared the former regime to the CDC regime saying that the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did better than that of President Weah in terms of catering for the welfare of disadvantage young people.
Zogoes are the set of Liberians that are usually looked down upon for their behavior in society, including untidiness, drug addictions, robbery at car stations, and pick-pocketing in the street corners, etc.; reasons for which they are often considered criminals.
In spite of the vices associated with them, politicians often use them to ascend to state power. During the 2017 elections, the zogoes popularly supported the Congress for Democratic Change of Ambassador George Weah who was opposed to the Unity Party’s Joseph Boakai who lost to Weah at the polls. It was said that CDC campaign team promised to change the lives of the underprivileged, including the zogoes should Mr. Weah win the presidency.
Speaking in an exclusive interview on Buchanan Street in Monrovia, however, the group of zogoes said they were important to every politician during the electoral period. A spokesman of the zogoes especially pointed to President George Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change who, were always in every nook and corner of the streets to crusade for votes from anyone including the Zogoes.
Mr. Joseph Teah, the spokesman of the zogoes, popularly known as “Panayorkie” who is also the General Secretary of the group of disadvantage young people under the banner of Determined Youth against Poverty (DYP), surrounded by his colleagues, told The ANALYST that it is astonishing for this government to turn its back on them in no time after the 2017 elections.
With his statement punctuated by slogans chanted by the zogoes out of frustration, Teah said they were told that upon the election of the CDC to state power, they would have been given proper attention and care. They were promised the establishing of rehabilitation centers as well as job opportunities for competent and qualified amongst them.
The spokesman for the Zogoes indicated that they have exerted every effort and popularly voted to the country highest seat, President George Manneh Weah as the standard-bearer of the CDC, believing that he would have liberated the zogoes from their appalling condition.
Noting that the government is reneging on its promise to better the lives of the disadvantage, grassroots and underprivileged zogoes, Teah said nothing is done about their condition to justify the promises made to them by the president and his team during the campaign period.
“We are surprise that this government has turned her back on us so soon, after encouraging us that they would have established rehabilitation centers, provided training and made our lives better when we elect them” Teah added.
According to him, the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has done better than that of president Weah in term of catering to the welfare of disadvantage young people who they thought would have done the best to give them a better living condition.
Comparing former and current regimes, Teah added that the government of former President Sirleaf was able to transform some Zogoes through rehabilitation process which, he said make some of their friends useful to the Liberian society.
Irrespective of the goodwill indicated to them by past regime of the Unity party, Teah noted that they still voted to power the CDC government with the belief that President Weah would have done more, considering his background as a slum dweller and man from the ghetto.
“The way we expected this CDC government to care for us the disadvantage young people, even thee zogoes, they are doing so; we think that President Weah would have paid full attention to us because he told us during the campaign that he was once one of us – a boy from the ghetto. But I think former President Sirleaf’s administration was better for us than even the government we called our own” Teah asserted.
Also speaking, a female zogoe who claims to bed a university drop out and a beautician, Frances Woods, called on the government through its relevant institutions to establish a rehabilitation center to cater for the disadvantage people in the country.
She said many of them in the streets are educated, but have found themselves there due to the effect of drugs, which has made their living condition unbearable for many persons in the society including them.
Frances revealed that many of them are tired with the street life and want to leave the street and drugs, but find it difficult in the absence of proper care like medical attention and counseling, which can only be provided by external individuals or organizations like government and/or NGOs.
She furthered that when the government gets few persons from among them for rehabilitation and used them as ambassadors to fetch their friends from the ghettoes its dream of making them useful to the society will be achieved.
“When the government can only come and take few of us and train us, we will serve as ambassadors to get our friends from the ghettoes” She added.
Other zogoes that were around talked with expressed similar sentiments, and craved the government’s intervention.
It can be recalled that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) following their election held a party for Zogoes in celebration of Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor’s birthday which lifted their hope of better living and made them happy.