There is no doubt that Mr. George Oppong Manneh Weah reached the highest pinnacle of his current station in life by dint of his world class soccer skills. Mr. Weah, who was popularly known locally as “Oppong”, and internationally as “the Cheetah” because of his unparalleled agility and speed, confounded critIcs, admirers and the Liberian elites, bundled together, when he democratically won the presidency in 2017, right after Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, herself a trailblazer. But three years into his maiden tenure, Africa Best and World Best acclaimed George Weah’s once sterling star now seems to be fast dimming, as the country battles galloping inflation, spurred according to economic experts, by gross mismanagement of scarce priorities and other exogenous factors; a situation which has caused one of President Weah’s childhood soccer colleagues to send out a “tough-love” message to his idol, his friend, his “cousin”, that all is not well.
By now, most Liberians know the love-hate relations between President George Weah and his childhood friend James Salinsa Debbah, a relationship that has often been characterized as familial, but which during the turbulent period of Weah’s quest for the presidency, seemed combative.
In the heat of politics, Weah and Debbah parted ways. Weah became leader of Liberia’s biggest opposition in 2005, while his childhood friend and professional soccer mentee would align with the ruling party at the time. Through the years, Debbah would become head coach of the Liberia National Soccer team, while his “cousin” would later win presidency of Africa’s oldest republic, a reversed positioned that saw Salinsa axed as Lone Star head honcho.
Despite their respective differences and stations in life, James Salinsa Debbah has come out to send a strong caveat to his childhood friend and brother, President Weah, regarding how he (Debbah) feels Weah is allowing a serious opportunity slip through his hands.
In an uncharacteristic social media post last Monday, Mr. Debbah unreservedly cautioned President Weah: “Mr President, your time is running out, but I believe you still have time to make amends with your people, the Liberian people.”
According to Debbah, President Weah should stop singing and preaching and pay more attention to the basic necessities of the Liberian people.
“Hate me or love, but I will always tell you the truth. Your real friends are those who will tell you the truth, not those gravy seekers and leeches around you. Your real friends are those who have been in your entourage the last 30 years, those who broke bread with you from the very inception. Open your eyes Mr. President,” Salinsa cautioned.