Liberian masses, perhaps like their counterparts in other developing countries, are so fond of their leaders. Some call it innately traditional, particularly in Africa. And this is when the people give their best gifts to their leaders even though they (the masses) are found chronically indigent. And there is a tendency by some of the leaders to act coercively as if they deserve those gifts and the respect from the masses or as if the ordinary people are under obligation to treat the leaders gingerly. President Weah made a clean break with that tendency. He turned the coin around, looking in the faces of the people who were jostling to lavish praises and honor and gifts upon him and telling them: “Don’t thank me for being your president and for doing the things I do as President; I must thank you for making me your president. It’s you who made me what I am.” The Analyst reports.
Citizens and residents of Grand Bassa County lifted traditional welcome and hospitality in Liberia to new heights, particularly since President Weah began his countrywide tours in February. The people of Bassa flooded the tarmac highway from Farmington River near Margibi to the Fair Ground in Buchanan City, through Compounds One and Two, on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
The combination of efforts by executive appointees including youthful superintendent Janjay Gbarkpai and former Foreign Minister Gbezohngar Finley as well as the legislative caucus of the county produced the human tsunami which swallowed up the Presidential entourage and gave the guests a sense of Liberianess and solidarity.
Pundits who witnessed the outpour of humans in the streets and communities of Grand Bassa are still arguing whether or not the crowd competition that has popped up amongst the counties of Liberia in receiving President Weah and his entourage to their communities is settled in favor the Bassas.
There are those who still believe a number of counties, if not all, are outstanding in their memorable, colorful and clamorous welcome as may be argued in favor of Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Maryland and even Grand Kru. It is also being argued now that the Bassas’ expression of love and fraternity for the President and his administration by their numbers in the streets, coupled with the over seven “giant cows”, amongst other gifts, presented to the president remains unmatched in its own right.
Other puts are of the view that the citizens of Grand Bassa did not put up such a near-incontestable show for nothing, or just from the clear blue sky. The county and its people are a huge beneficiary of the Weah administration not merely in terms of several of its citizens, mainly young people, serving in prominent positions in the current Government; they also have got a lion’s share in development deliverables delivered concretely on the ground.
Mammoth Commendations for the President
From one speaker to another during town hall meetings held on Wednesday—whether it was the youth, the women, the traditional chiefs, the religious communities or students—the commendations for the President and his Government were endless and deafening over development projects undertaken for the people.
The young people were particularly ecstatic as they commended the President for free college tuition which most of them attending the Grand Bassa County Community College are currently benefiting from. They were also thankful to the President for the upgrading the City Sports Field, which he dedicated.
Another beautiful project, easily visible in the county, is the Fair Ground Pavement, something according to the Superintendent Gbarkpai is the first since Grand Bassa was annexed to the Republic of Liberia over 170 years ago.
Testimonies were commonplace on how the Fair Ground, where most public facilities and local nongovernment organizations have their offices, was often a no-go area particularly during the raining season.
“Now this area which is the epic center of activities in the city of Buchanan is no more a no-go area,” said a prominent citizens talking to journalists on the sideline of the town hall meeting held with the President.
He continued: “Whether rain or shine, we don’t worry anymore. See how this place is laid out and beautified by the contractors that build the road. We are very proud and happy. And thank God we elected a man that changed our history.”
For the first time in the protocol of President Weah’s nationwide visits since February, Superintendent Janjay Kpakpai broke records not only in the size of his crowds pulled but also for being the first superintendent of a county to do a PowerPoint presentation providing summaries of critical projects undertaken in the County under the CDC government as a form of report.
He presented a catalogue of development initiatives undertaken with their costs and support sources.
He reported that his ascendency to the leadership of the county underpinned by the support from Central Government has witnessed the cascading of important development projects that had not been possible in the history of Grand Bassa County.
Weah: ‘Don’t Thank Me’
Apparently overwhelmed by what his eyes had seen in the streets of Buchanan, and before that in communities lining the highway from Marbigi borders, President George Manneh Weah responded enthusiastically and emotionally.
“As I sat in my seat listening to every speaker, I was amazed that everyone was thanking me so passionately,” the President said as he took the podium during his town hall meeting with the citizens of Bassa.
“I heard people thanking me about free college tuition, about free WASSCE, about the expansion of electricity, the building of paved roads, amongst other things. Yes, you are right to say these things, to show your appreciation. But I think I am the one who should thank you, after all. It is me who owe you so much gratitude and appreciation.”
President Weah told the citizens that when he was misrepresented by his opponents who contended that he was incapable of running a government, and that Liberia would retrogress under his leadership if elected, it was the people who ignored the propaganda and voted him to power anyhow.
He recalled: “Too many negative things were said about me. My opponents attempted to scare you with me. They painted me black and evil. They called me all kinds of negative names. They said I was a mere footballer who knew nothing about governance. In the face of the bad stuff they said about me, Grand Bassa County defied all odds. You gave me over 74 percent of your votes in this county.”
“So, you see: I should be the one to thank you. I am the one that owes you much,” President Weah said further. “This is why I am here with you today; to tell you thank you for reposing your confidence and trust in me to serve as your president. This is why you see the lot of things that I am doing for this country and for Grand Bassa in just three years of my president.”
The President added: “And this is not to boast. Check the records: there is no president in the history of this country that match my records, in terms of achieving in their three years the level of development I have achieved I my three years.”
“And because of what you did for me in 2017, and besides all that I have already done for the people of this county, you can consider all your proposals for development as contained in your statements today done by my administration,” the president declared amid thunderous applauses from the audience. “I will not cross anyone of them. You will have them.”
But the President was also quick to lay the responsibility on the lawmakers of the county without whom developments intended for Grand Bassa cannot be realized.
He called on the lawmakers for cooperate with him and ensure that they include the felt needs of the people of Grand Bassa in subsequent national budgets.
“When you work on the national budget, which your responsibility to exercise, and submit same to people with things the people of this county desire, I will sign to them without delay,” the President said referring to the lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the President continues his citizens’ engagement tours outside of Buchanan City. He is expected to dedicate projects, hold town hall meetings in Districts 4 and 5.