MONROVIA: Despite some of the attendees coming out of the meeting with the President elect Joseph Nyuma Boakai stating that the gathering went on well and that they resolved on the mainstay of the meeting to support the Speakership bid of Representative Richard Nagbe Koon of the Unity Party Alliance contrary facts have emerged that much was desired from the President elect after he reported said that he will dish out sums of money which according to some attendees range between USD5k and USD25k to each of the 73 electoral districts to celebrate his inauguration
Interestingly, District #1 Representative, Grand Kru County, Nathaniel Bahway, who attended the meeting in a video recording being circulated said he and others were promised $25k each for their respective districts and though the money has not been given, he was sure it will be given “because I trust the President elect.”
“Thank you very much, I was there when the old man made it very clear that he will be giving $25k to each individual to see reason to support their district because district dwellers will be coming to Monrovia and some will be going back so there is a need to serve them.
“You don’t need to go back to him to say I want to send my people back home. I have not receive it yet but I will receive it”, he said.
Speaking to newsmen yesterday in his office, Bahway who initially said he was supporting Deputy Speaker Fonati J. Koffa before making a U-turn to back the speakership bid of Representative Richard Nagbe Koon, said he was confident that the USD25k will be given.
According to some of the representatives who attended the parley, it was just out of courtesy that they decided to end the meeting after the “intent for which we were cited which was for acquaintance and having an insight of our legislative agenda before the inauguration” turned out to be a campaign stunt for Representative Koon who is vying for the speakership on the ticket of the Unity Party alliance.
Our source said after the self-introductory session, President elect Boakai spoke briefly about what he intend to do in his tenure but then attached a condition to it that there will be success in his mission if none of the two branches of the national legislature is controlled by the Coalition for Democratic Change(CDC) which he referred to at the meeting as “our main opponent”.
“He was blunt about it and made it a point repeatedly that he needed what he called a friendly legislature that will not put up any hostile posture; will accept everything that will be sent over and it got to a point some of us where not comfortable with him especially for us that are neither CDCian or supporter of UP. How can you say you don’t want to work with a legislature that is headed by an opposition?”, one of the lawmakers said.
Our source said the President elect “took the backdoor to smuggle Koon’s campaign” to them to avoid being construed as a “pay to play” game when he announced that each electoral district in the country will be given $5k for the celebration of the inauguration and that the amount will be given directly to the lawmakers for possible onward presentation to their constituency.
“Nothing was as deceiving as the mention of the $5k knowing very well that the money in question was not adequate for celebration for any district in Liberia where an average district in Liberia is not less than 20,000 people. So what can $5k do? But for some of us that have this discerning mind, we know it was a pure bribe to vote for Koon and we saw it just as that”, one of the representatives who craved anonymity said.
Another representative who said he was looking beyond the $5k said with the information provided that the outgoing government will be committing $650k, it was inconceivable that the President elect and his team will be deducting $350k from the approved inaugural budget for the 73 electoral districts. He said it was expected of the incoming government to come clean when it comes to public funds, adding it was too early in the day for the incoming government to have a lot of missteps hanging around what it is doing when it has not even been inaugurated.
“Of course you know between you and I that the inauguration will need more than $300k, that is the balance that will be left when they give $350k to the 73 electoral districts. So this $350k definitely is not from the inauguration budget of $650k. It is from somewhere else and they need to tell us the truth. The Liberian people are watching”, he said.
Another issue that raised the eyebrows of the representatives, especially those from the Southeastern extraction of the country was the emphasis the President elect placed on why the region did not vote for him but gave their overwhelming support to President George Manneh Weah whom Boakai alluded to as their “own son”.
Our sources said the President elect who by then knew those from the region at the meeting keenly looked at them one after another to express his displeasure even though he had won “our son and still talking about it in that manner repeated while looking in our faces”.
Boakai reportedly said though the people of the Southeast did not vote for him, he will still undertake development projects in the region especially road construction to address the deplorable road conditions in the area.
“The statement was not necessary at all and for me who is not from the Southeast, it touched me a lot but then I threw signs to some of my southeastern colleagues to disregard. I think the President elect did not do well with that statement as it only vindicated those who have long had an impression of him that he is vindictive, someone who does not forgive so easily and it is not good for the country”, he said.
The promise made by Boakai that the roads in the Southeast will be paved by his government was said to have been discounted by some of those at the meeting who are knowledgeable about the progress made by the outgoing government to secure funding for the construction of roads in the Southeastern corridors of the country.
In June 2023, the Government and the World Bank Group three financing agreements totaling $157m for the enhancing of infrastructure, especially for roads in the Southeast and another agreement between the government and the EU for $62m for pavement of roads under the Southeastern corridor under the Southeastern Corridor Road Asset Management Project(SECRAMP).
Additionally, the government under President Weah was able to secure funding for the Coastal Highway from the African Development Bank and work is expected to commence this year.
“So the whole promise of constructing the Southeastern roads cannot be taken seriously. It was not the initiative of the President elect. He inherited these projects with funding and wants to use them to sell a promotion stunt to the Southeasterners that he is the one who is bringing the projects. It cannot work and if he wants the southeasterners to appreciate him, he should forget about being vindictive against them”, one of the representatives from the Northcentral region of Liberia who attended the meeting said.